How Recipients Move Through an Automated Email Flow

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An Automated Email Flow allows you to send personal, relevant, and timely email communication to your subscribers. As a result, you can nurture stronger relationships with them over their entire lifecycle. 

Automated email flows are set in motion by an initial trigger and typically include one or more emails in the sequence, each with a time delay.  In this article, you’ll learn how emails are scheduled to send to recipients within automation.

How Recipients Are Scheduled

Recipients enter an automated email flow when they meet the criteria for the audience selected to trigger the campaign. Upon entering the flow, the recipient is immediately scheduled for the first email, based on the time delay. A recipient is only scheduled for one email message at a time. They must move through one step before being scheduled for the next.

Example Scenario

For example, let’s say you have an automated email flow launched with two email messages. Email #1 has a time delay of 2 hours. Email #2 has a time delay of 1 day. 

A new recipient entering the flow will remain in the waiting period for Email #1 for 1 hour and then Email #1 will be sent. After Email #1 is sent, the recipient will be moved to the 1-day waiting period for Email #2. After 1 day, Email #2 will be sent to the recipient.



Note: If you have an integration that does not sync in real-time or immediately, recipients will qualify to enter an automated flow when AdRoll receives the event data. For example, if a website visitor triggers an event on your site and you have an initial wait period of 1 hour for Email #1 but AdRoll doesn’t receive the event data until 4 hours after the event took place, Email #1 will be sent 5 hours after the initial event took place.

Reordering Emails in an Active Flow

For recipients already moving through a flow, any changes made to the upcoming emails will be reflected in their journey. 

However, if an email ahead of a recipient already in a flow is moved behind them, they will not be scheduled to receive that email. It is now behind the recipient in their journey and they will not be back-populated.

Example #1
Let’s pretend you’ve launched an automated email flow with 3 emails in it and you decide you need to adjust the order of the emails.

  • A recipient received Email #1. Now they are scheduled for Email #2.
  • While the recipient is scheduled for Email #2, you move Email #3 to the very top of the flow and save your changes.
  • The recipient will be sent Email #2 they were originally scheduled for. However, they will not be sent Email #3 because it is now behind them on their journey.

Example #2 
Let’s pretend you’ve launched an automated email flow with 5 emails in it. 

  • A recipient received Email #1 and Email #2. They are scheduled for Email #3.
  • While the recipient is scheduled to be sent Email #3, you swap the position of Email #4 and Email #5.
  • The recipient is sent Email #3. Then they are scheduled to receive the next email within the sequence (originally Email #5, but now Email #4).

Adding New Emails to an Active Flow

When you add a new email to an active flow and turn it On, new recipients entering the flow will start to receive that email when they reach that step. However, recipients who have already moved ahead of that additional email in their journey will not be scheduled—they are not back populated.

Deleting Emails in an Active Flow

If you delete an email within an active automated flow, recipients entering the flow or already in the waiting period for that email will not be scheduled. The email will be removed from the flow but historical performance metrics will continue to be available to you.

You can view the historical email data by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Automated Emails tab on your dashboard
  2. Click on the campaign in which you deleted an email
  3. Scroll down to find all the emails in the flow
  4. Filter by the Deleted status



Turning Emails On and Off in an Active Flow

Each email within an automated flow can be turned On or Off. If you launch an automated flow with an email that is turned Off, recipients will not be scheduled for that email, it will be skipped. Emails that are On will be scheduled and sent to recipients as they reach that step in the flow.

Once you launch a flow, you can continue to turn emails On as they are ready or Off if you’d like to make edits. If you turn an email On in an active flow, new recipients entering the flow will be scheduled for that email when they reach that step. However, recipients ahead of that step will not be scheduled or back populated.

If you turn an email Off, new recipients entering the flow will skip that email when they reach that step.


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