Hadley Clark Childs, Senior Customer Success Manager at Autopilot

Anne Fleshman, Director of Marketing - Demand Generation at Autopilot

Lesson 1: Ensure the Right Contacts are in the Right Journey

You’ve built a journey. You’re ready to publish… but how do you make sure you’re adding the right contacts?

Every time you connect with your audience, you have an opportunity to provide value, strengthen the relationship, and help contacts progress to the next step in the customer journey. But sending the wrong person the wrong message can cause confusion and derail success. Ensure the right contacts enter the right journey by putting these protections in place.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to:

right contacts right journey autopilot
Get your customers on the right train and take them where they need to go

Define the audience for your journey

The first question you need to ask is, “Who do I want to enter the journey?”

If you’ve built the journey with a specific list of contacts in mind, answering this question should be easy. For purpose-driven journeys, it’ll be a bit more complicated.

Consider your lifecycle nurture journey. The purpose of the journey is to engage with contacts who’ve expressed interest in your brand through activities like attending a webinar, requesting a demo, or submitting a form. Your goal is to get them to sign up for a free trial or take whatever step will lead them to becoming customers.

There are also several reasons you may want to prevent certain contacts from entering the journey:

  • The contact already signed up for a free trial
  • The contact already converted into a customer
  • The contact works for a competitor and is trying to steal your secret sauce
  • The contact is actively cycling through another nurture journey, which you’d like to take priority over this journey
Before publishing any journey, ask yourself: Who do I want to include and exclude?

Once you’ve clearly outlined why someone shouldn’t enter the journey, you can choose the right way to exclude or remove them. Below, you’ll learn how to use the two approaches we recommend:

  1. Building a qualification journey to exclude contacts from a journey
  2. Creating an ejection process to remove contacts from a journey

Build a qualification journey

To exclude contacts from entering your lifecycle nurture journey, create a separate journey in which contacts are qualified for nurture. It makes sense to do so when you have a variety of lists and triggers that you regularly make changes to.

Step 1. Determine your qualification journey triggers

You’ll first need to determine which sources should trigger contacts into your nurture journey. Carefully consider your opt-in forms, contact lists, and smart segments when making your choice.

Keep in mind that each channel should be represented by a separate trigger within your qualification journey. In other words, you should use one trigger to add blog subscribers to your journey and another to add people who submit a contact form.

Add your qualification triggers to the canvas
autopilot qualification triggers

You can always add new triggers and/or remove existing triggers that no longer apply.

Step 2. Filter unwanted contacts with condition checks

Next, you’ll want to identify the contacts who should not be added to your lifecycle nurture journey. This might include existing customers, current free trialists, generic (non-corporate) email domains, and competitor email domains.

You may also want to add contacts who’ve recently received (or opened) an email. Hint: To do so, you’ll first need to create a smart segment based on a “last email date” custom field.

Each of these groups of contacts will be represented by a condition check on the journey canvas.

Exclude contacts by adding condition checks
autopilot condition check

Notice how if a contact matches the condition check criteria, he or she will not move forward to the next shape.

In live view, you’ll be able to see where these contacts are not progressing and which condition qualified them for removal.

Step 3. Add qualified contacts to a static list

The final step is to add contacts who meet your qualification criteria to a static list using the add to list action. This list will then act as your lifecycle lead nurture journey trigger.

Qualification journey example that adds contacts to a list
autopilot qualification journey

It’s possible to include qualification criteria within your lifecycle nurture journey. Simply replace the list trigger with multiple triggers and condition checks, as shown below.

Example of qualification criteria within a lifecycle nurture journey
autopilot qualification journey

Having said that, we recommend building your qualification journey on a separate canvas. Doing so reduces the number of shapes on each canvas and allows for easier modification of nurture qualification criteria in the future. It also results in more organized journeys and makes it easier to transition to updated versions of existing journeys in the future.

To accomplish this quickly, use the “Qualify your leads for nurture” guide in the Autopilot Guide Book. Or, read more about qualifying, scoring, and assigning leads to sales in Autopilot.

Use ejection flows to qualify contacts

You can also design an ejection process to remove unqualified contacts from your lifecycle nurture journey. This approach enables you to immediately disqualify and eject contacts from the journey who match a specific criteria.

For example, you can eject contacts in any of the following scenarios:

  • When they take an action, such as making a purchase
  • When a field value (like the contact’s lead status) changes
  • When they’re added to a list or smart segment, such as your event attendees list
  • When they click on or reply to an email (perhaps one from your sales manager)
Automatically remove contacts from your marketing when they match specified criteria with ejection flows.

Keep in mind, these are just a few of your options. If you need more inspiration, here are a few specific use cases for the ejection shape:

  • Eject users from your nurture journey when they sign up for a free trial
  • Remove customers from your abandoned shopping cart campaign after they complete their purchase
  • Eject customers from a seasonal promotion who’ve already redeemed the offer
  • Disqualify contacts from automated sales outreach after your sales manager connects with them
  • Eject users who enter into a different, higher priority journey

Here’s how to set up an ejection flow using the same lifecycle nurture journey example as above.

Step 1. Determine which contacts should be ejected from your journey

Ejection flows are created on the same canvas as the rest of your journey. Simply drag and drop the triggers that represent contacts who should be removed from the journey.

In this example, we’re ejecting contacts who are already paying customers, have submitted the free trial form, or qualify for the competitor suppression segment.

Add triggers that represent who should be ejected from the journey to the canvas
autopilot ejection journey

Step 2. Include an add to list action for those entering your journey

Triggers are global, meaning all database contacts are tested against the trigger’s criteria, regardless of whether they’ve entered a specific journey.

We recommend adding contacts to a list as soon as they enter the journey. In the example below, all contacts are added to a list called “Added to Nurture” before progressing forward. You’ll use this list as a condition check within your ejection process to ensure that only those who’ve entered the journey are removed.

Add all contacts who enter your journey into a list to be used a condition check in your ejection flow
autopilot ejection journey

Adding this step prevents you from having to create specific smart segments for ejecting users from each journey. For example, you could define a smart segment trigger that includes every webinar registrant, then localize it on each of your webinar journeys by using this global trigger in conjunction with the condition check that they are a member of that journey list to eject them.

Step 3. Create your ejection flow

Finally, connect your triggers and condition check to the eject from journey action.

Pro Tip: To keep track of people who enter, but are then removed from, your journey, place an add to list action between your condition check and ejection shape.

In the ejection flow below, you’ll notice our three removal triggers, an is on list or segment condition check that ensures we only consider those who’ve entered the journey, an action that creates an “Ejected from Nurture” contact list, and finally our ejection shape.

Ejection flow example
autopilot ejection journey

Depending on your use case, use either a qualification journey or ejection process to ensure the right contacts progress through the right journeys and receive the right content. Doing so will help you prevent customers from receiving the dreaded “oops” email.

Next Lesson

Lesson 2: Transition from Old to New Journeys

You’ve published your journey, contacts are making their way through, and you’re seeing success… now what? As my colleague once said, “The journey never ends”. Journeys are meant to be ...

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