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Journey Builder Best Practices

When Journey Builder made its entrance, many thought this was the answer to all their prayers.

A few years later, we all have had our ups and downs with this tool which for many is amazing, but can be quite dissapointing. Is it a matter of expectations? Are we following the Journey Builder Best Practices? Or are we doing it wrong?

Basic Guidelines

1. Keep it simple. Learn to walk before you learn to run. Focus on single objectives at first, like a welcome sequence or a thank you follow-up email.

2. Plan it first. Before you actually open Journey Builder, plan the journey itself and prepare all your data and content. There’s no use in creating the Journey if you don’t have anything to put into it.

3. Start small, think big. Create single triggered emails or messages first and use that simple journey to test your approach and gather basic metrics before you add extra complexity. For example, use the Welcome Sequence with Timed Waits before adding Engagement or Decision Splits.

4. Be timely. It’s not just about the length of the journey or the time between each activity: it’s about how you time data activities. Time your data updates and automations to avoid conflicts and to make 100% sure that you have the right data when you need it for your journeys.

One of the biggest element we find issues with are data extensions. Journey Builder’s Data Extension entry source takes a data extension from Email Studio or Contact Builder or List from Mobile Connect and places all the customers into the journey according to a schedule. You can also use Automation Studio to create and refresh the data extension, or you can use an SMS List created in Mobile Connect.

Data Extensions

– Don’t forget to include fields needed for personalization or dynamic content in the data extension and to make the data extension sendable.

– As far as suppression or publication data extensions are concerned, create them in advance. These modifications can be selected and applied later on, in the email activity during configuration.

– If the journey data is stored in multiple data extensions, create a single entry source data extension using a query. You can create queries in Automation Studio using the SQL Query Activity.

– Don’t just bring everyone in to sort them out later: pre-filter your audience data extension, if possible, to speed processing. For example, link any data extensions into the data model in Contact Builder for filtering purposes.

– When testing, create a copy of the entry source data extension as sendable and testable. Use this copy as a test group of recipients in pre-launch testing.

– And always remember the difference between Journey Data and Contact Data and plan your data storage accordingly. While the Data Extension entry source allows you to place a set of contacts into a journey on a schedule, an entry event uses data about customer behavior to put contacts into a journey. Entry events generally require a change in data about the customer that triggers an evaluation of that contact for admission in the journey. For a Welcome Series journey, for example, the action or behavior is typically a customer opting in to a marketing campaign. For an Abandoned Cart journey, a contact is put into a journey when they leave items in their web shopping cart.

Re-entry settings

How do you want customers to enter the journey? Choose the best cadence for putting users into the journey, and consider your re-entry criteria. Re-entry is set at journey level to control whether contacts can enter a journey more than once.

No re-entry: contacts will enter the journey only once and can never enter the journey again.
Re-entry only after exiting: a contact must exit the journey before being allowed to enter again.
Re-entry anytime: contacts can enter the journey multiple times, and the same contact can be at different points of the journey simultaneously.

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