10 Engagement Studio “Gotchas” to Watch Out For

Engagement Studio is one of the best things to happen to the Pardot platform since I’ve been a customer.  But it’s a bit nuanced… and without paying attention to the details, there are a few “gotchas” that can trip you up.

A few “did you know” things to keep in mind:

1. Triggers are Time Limited by the Program Start Date

trigger.pngYou add a trigger to a program to answer the question, “Has the prospect done this?”

Triggers “listen” for things like form fills, landing page submits, and link clicks.

But there’s one critically important thing to note here – they wait to see if your prospect did this only since they entered the program.

In other words, it’s not yes/no did they do the action the trigger is listening for, it’s “did they do the damn thing” since you hit start.

2. Landing Pages Trump Forms

When you’re using a Pardot form on a Pardot landing page, think carefully when you’re adding triggers related to this.

Landing pages in Pardot always trump forms. If your form is on a Pardot landing page, a form view or completion does not satisfy a form trigger. You have to use a landing page trigger instead.

Does this make intuitive sense?

Um… no. At least not to me. But the Pargods have spoken, and this is the way it is.

3. When People Drop from the List, They Drop from the Program

Engagement Studio Programs look pretty bad ass with super intense branched logic.  But more often than not, when I see an ESP that forces you to pull out a magnifying glass, there is usually criteria that could have been controlled more simply and elegantly via the original lists feeding the program.

Probably Overkill.png

For example, if you wanted to remove a prospect from a program based on an action or a field value, you COULD use a trigger or rule to branch this out and send them to the end of the program.

Or, you could add exclusion criteria via a dynamic list or suppression list that applies to the whole program.  This is usually MUCH more manageable and less prone to error.

4. You Can Add People Back

If someone is in your Engagement Studio program, but then they get dropped from the list feeding the program (due to someone manually removing them, them being added to a suppression list, or them no longer meeting the inclusion criteria for the list) — don’t despair.

You can add people back.  If a prospect is removed and then added back later, they start back at the step where they left off in the program.

If the prospect was in the middle of a waiting period, the clock does not reset.  If someone was on day 2 of a 5 day wait when they were removed, for example, and then they’re added back 10 days later – Engagement Studio doesn’t make them sit through the last 3 days of their wait.  It recognizes it’s been over 5 days and moves them on to the next step.

5. If You Want to Add on Later, Plan Ahead

You may want to launch your Engagement Studio Program before all of your nurture content is 100% ready.  This is totally cool, and actually something I would recommend doing (future blog coming on this).

The thing is, if your prospects reach the end step in the program before you get to building and scheduling that “someday” content, they’re donzo.  That prospect will never progress further in the program, even if you build out more steps.

To work with this constraint, consider adding a hugely long wait step at the end of the program. Like a tag that you’ll apply 365 days later:

Wait Step.PNG

This will effectively act as a buffer that stops the prospect from ever getting to the end of the road.  Then if you want to add more steps later, you can do some jockeying to get the timing right to get the content out to them.

6. Opt Outs & Bounces Do Weird Things to Tracking

If a prospect isn’t mailable, they keep moving through the program, but they don’t get emails.  So for example, if you had an email send action followed by an “add to Salesforce campaign with a status of sent,” the email wouldn’t send if they’re unmailable, but they would be added to the campaign.

To avoid this scenario, you can include unmailable prospects as a suppression list so that they’re removed from all program activity.  Or you can use rules to separate unmailables from the pack and skip steps that don’t apply.

7. If You Pause a Program, You Pause the Wait

Let’s say a prospect is on day two of a five-day wait in a step.  And then the program is paused for 10 days.

Once the program is restarted, the prospect will finish the remaining three days of the wait before moving to the next step.

8. Weekends are Included in Waits

If you enable “send emails during business hours only,” weekends are still included in the count of days when wait step timers are ticking down.

For example, if Email #1 goes out on a Friday, and you have a three day wait step, it will count Saturday and Sunday as part of the wait and send on Monday (rather than counting Monday as the first business day in the wait.)

9. Prospects Can Only Go Through a Program ONCE

Admins everywhere broke into spontaneous happy dances when the ability to loop / repeat automation rules was released.  We’re still waiting on that for Engagement Studio programs. [Update: as of June 29th, this functionality is generally available!  More on that here.]

Each prospect can only go through an Engagement Studio program once, so it if you have something that needs repeating — like a renewal campaign or a nurture tied to opportunities — you need to get a little crafty about your logic for how to accomplish this.

Not going to get too far into the weeds on the setup for this because the best way to execute really depends on the scenario, but it usually involves making copies of the program so that people who have been through the first can get picked up by a 2nd through nth version.

Consider adding a Finished[Insert Program Name] tag at the very end of the program to plan ahead for this.  Your future self will thank you if you later want to build a list to feed a new program with the people who finished the first.

10. You May Have to Turn on the Feature to Send the Same Template More than Once

Depending on how your org is configured, you may only be able to send email templates  once to a person through Engagement Studio (or through the legacy drip programs, for that matter.)  This poses a major challenge in some cases.  For example, if you wanted to send an email template as the first touchpoint, then send a week later to non-openers.

Fortunately, this is behavior that you can change if it doesn’t fit your process and if you do want people to be eligible to get the same message more than once.  To change this, click the little gear icon in the upper right to access Settings, then click edit from the Account Information screen.

Scroll down and you’ll see this little checkbox available to edit:

Send Emails More than Once Pardot.PNG

The verbiage on this checkbox is slightly different in newer orgs (they lose the Drip reference), but you get the idea.

What Other Things Have Tripped You Up in Engagement Studio?

The devil is definitely in the deets with Engagement Studio. Take advantage of the new testing feature to preview when your messages will go out and validate that you’ve gotten the wait steps right.

Have you come across any other “gotchas” or surprises as you’ve worked in Engagement Studio?  Any questions or ideas you’d like to discuss?

Let me and your fellow readers know in the comments!

13 thoughts on “10 Engagement Studio “Gotchas” to Watch Out For”

  1. 2 thoughts:

    1. REPEATING ENGAGEMENT STUDIO OPEN BETA IS HERE! Sorry, I’ll stop yelling, but I’m excited, check it out, here: https://success.salesforce.com/_ui/core/chatter/groups/GroupProfilePage?fId=0D53A00003e8y2i&g=0F9300000001qUi

    2. The whole “send on X date” gets really tricky when you include wait steps and adding new people to a list after it’s started. This might be an edge case, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Take this scenario:

    Step 1: Send Email on May 25rd.
    Step 2: Wait 10 days for a click. Both yes and no paths both eventually end up on Step 3.
    Step 3: Send Email on June 5nd.
    Step 4: Wait 10 days for a click. (and the process repeats for however long. Sure, this COULD be a series of list emails but you want to do interesting things with rules and wait steps and you want to be able to copy this whole program and slightly alter it for other purposes, etc…)

    So, you create your list today (May 23rd), in this case it’ll be dynamic because you’re fancy like that and you want new people to be added to the program as appropriate. The first email goes out on May 25th and the wait step starts. Fast forward to June 4th, the day before the second email send, and all of your original prospects are waiting patiently for June 5th to receive their next email.

    But wait, 10 new prospects joined the list on June 4th. Are they going to get the email on June 5th? NOPE. They’re going to be hanging out at the wait step, waiting for a click event that will never happen because they didn’t get the first email. And they’ll never get ANY of the emails because they’ll be so far behind on wait steps that they have no chance to catch up.

    Is all hope lost? No, of course I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that. It can get a little ‘workaroundy’ but you can do something to mark the date of when a prospect was added to the ESP list (a custom field, for example) and then add a Rule to look at that date before each email send and if the prospect was added to the list AFTER that email send, then the rule would skip the email send AND the wait steps (and any other steps that aren’t relevant) and quickly catch those newly-added prospects up to the next email send.

    Anyway, again, maybe not a case that will be used very often, but keep that in mind so you don’t strand your poor prospects behind wait steps for emails that were sent in the past.

    Another note: I’ve only seen this played out in the “Test” tab of an ESP because I noticed the logic error before any prospects were stranded. I haven’t tested live to see if there is something intelligent in the ESP code that knows not to let a prospect wait for an action from an email they didn’t receive, but, according to the Test tab, those prospects will be stuck in the past, forever.

  2. Great points! Using a time dependent dynamic list in a “Business hours only” drip program totally bit me in the butt once.

  3. I had an issue with a campaign where I used a “7 Day Email Received” suppression list. It was a dynamic list that suppressed all people who had gotten an email in the last 7 days. However, somehow this created a situation in which I had people who got the second email in my campaign but not the first.

  4. Your first point seems wrong. From Pardot help:

    EXAMPLE An email link click trigger step is set to wait up to a maximum of three days. A prospect landed on the trigger step at 3:01 PM on a Monday. In this case, the trigger listens for an email link click between 3:01 PM Monday and 3:01 PM Thursday.

    Can you please point to the source for your first point? Thanks!

    1. Yes, triggers can have wait steps.

      I think you’re missing what I’m getting at there… it’s that triggers are time delimited by the PROGRAM START DATE.

      So, for example: trigger step is looking for a landing page submit. If Polly Prospect submits the landing page Monday, and the program is started on Tuesday, Polly Prospect is going down the “no” path. Does that help clarify?

  5. Great list! Quick question (and maybe a potential gotcha), if I send an email and include a validity time for the “clicked link” trigger of 5 days, then I’m sending a second email to those people that didn’t click. If I entered a wait time on the email of 7 days, is this wait time starting AFTER the end of the validity time (5 days) or it’s counting 7 days from the previous email?

    1. Hmmm… if the wait trigger is “up to” 5 days, and the wait on the next action is 7 days, it would be 12 days for people that don’t take the action on the first wait trigger.

  6. When I start an engagement campaign with a list and then later add more prospects to that list, will the newly added prospects automatically start down the engagement campaign or is there something I have to do to get the newly imported prospects to begin the engagement campaign?

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