The Start node is the only node on the canvas to begin with. This is the first node of your program requiring your attention.
Click on the Start node to define the criteria for when contacts are added to your program. A panel of options will slide in from the right side of the screen.
Start criteria options
You set the criteria for a contact to join your program within the start node. When configuring this, there are three areas requiring attention:
- Enrolment scheduling - here you can set a specifically scheduled time for the program builder to check for any contacts satisfying the rules to join the program, which will then lead to their enrolment.
- Enrolment rule - this is where you set the rule for the enrolment of contacts; it can either be triggered from a contact data field or triggered from a segment.
- Enrolment limits - here you can set how many times, or how frequently, a contact can be enrolled into your program.
A contact may enrol in the same program multiple times over the years, but will not be re-enrolled if they're already in the program and haven't yet reached an end node.
Click on Set enrolment schedule to open the 'Enrolment scheduling' panel.
This features four options:
- No scheduled enrolment - with this option, you're setting no scheduled enrolment time. This will allow contacts to be added to the program via the API instead.
- Daily - selecting this will allow you to set the specific time of day that suits you for enrolment of contacts to take place.
- Weekly - selecting this allows you to select a specific day of the week and a specific time for enrolment to take place every seven days, or you can select more than one day of a week (for instance, choosing Monday and Friday will mean contacts are enrolled on those two days every week).
- Monthly - selecting this will allow you to set a specific day of the month and a specific time on that day for enrolment. You have the option to either enrol on the 1st through to 31st or 'last' day of every month, or enrol on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or last Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday of every month.
- On a set date - it may be the case that you don't need regular enrolment to take place daily or weekly but rather on a specific date, in which case this option allows you to choose the exact date and time for enrolment to take place.
To set a specific time with these options, either click on the time field or on the clock icon to make the time picker appear.
To select a specific date with the On a set date option, click within the Enrol on: field to make the date picker appear.
Once happy with your selection, click Apply. Your scheduling setting will then be confirmed under Enrolment scheduling: in the Start panel. To edit this, click on your confirmed setting in the panel and the Enrolment scheduling panel will slide in again for you to make changes to.
When a contact in your account meets the rule you set here, they will be enrolled in the program. You have a choice of triggering enrolment from either a contact data field or from a segment.
Triggering enrolment from a contact date field
Click on Trigger from a contact date field if you're looking to enrol contacts based on something such as a contract start date or a birthday. To this end, you firstly have a choice of adding contacts based on a certain date, or based on a birthday/anniversary of a date (meaning a contact will be added to the program once a year).
Protip: You may be tempted to use an anniversary rule for a contract expiry. In this case we recommend you use the standard (non-anniversary rule) and store in a contact data field the contract expiry date. If the contact renews their contact, then update that contact data field such that the contact qualifies again when the new expiry date is reached.
Selecting the start rule type
You will need to choose whether to enrol a contact:
- [N] days before/after a contact date field; or
- [N] days before/after the anniversary of a contact date field.
The date fields available will be any custom date field that you have added to your account. Additionally you can trigger enrolment from the Created date, which is the date the contact was added to your account; the Last mailed date, which is the last date that a contact was sent a triggered or non-triggered email via the platform; and Last opened date, which is the last date a contact opened one of your emails (ideal for launching a simple re-engagement program).
Bear in mind that being able to use the program builder tool is dependent upon having at least one date-based contact data field, and the richer your date-based data capturing is for your contacts, the greater the choice you will have when it comes to picking date fields for your program.
Birthday program: Let's say you want to add contacts a week before their birthday, in order to send them an automatically generated campaign to remind them of your services prior to the big day. Set a start rule that sends to contacts '7 days before the anniversary of their date of birth'. It's not only a great personal touch that encourages brand loyalty but it also reminds them, if they're not currently engaged with you, that your business or service is available to return to should they want to spend any extra birthday money they might have come by!
Triggering enrolment from a segment
Click on Trigger from a segment if you're looking to schedule enrolment of contacts when they have, for example, opened/clicked/been sent a certain campaign or campaigns, made a certain number of purchases, or reached some other lifecycle point. In short, you can use the segmentation tool's rule types to construct a simple or complex segment with which to enrol contacts into your program.
Click on Generate count to quickly test that you're getting the sort of results you're expecting. Doing this will tell you how many contacts satisfy your enrolment rules, and you can click on the count to view a list of the contacts.
Remember though that this segment is a scheduled enrolment trigger and doesn't work like a standard segment: whenever it's scheduled to enrol, be it weekly, daily, or on a set date, it will check for contacts that satisfy the rule and enrol them to the program accordingly. Be wary, as it could mean situations where, as highlighted in the above example, a contact that's enrolled today could also be enrolled tomorrow, and then the day after that, and then the day after that, ad infinitum because they keep satisfying the segment rule - and you may not want that at all.
Click on Set enrolment limits to produce the Enrolment limits panel.
This features three options to choose from:
- Enrol contacts in program only the first time they meet the start criteria - this limits contacts to only being allowed to enter into and run through your program the once, not multiple times.
- Re-enrol contacts on the program every day they meet the start criteria - this means contacts can be enrolled into the program multiple times upon meeting the enrolment rule again (as long as they aren't already enrolled and have reached the end node of the program).
- Re-enrol contacts on the program if they meet the start criteria, but not if they have been enrolled in the last [N] days - this is like the above limit, however you can set a minimum time period of days (up to a maximum of 366 days) that must elapse in between enrolments (for example, 31 days if you're trying to ensure enrolment can't happen more than once a month).
Therefore the enrolment limits function allows you to create programs that will, for example, enrol a contact every time it's their birthday, or only the first time it's their birthday. The latter setting of enrolling 'only the first time they meet the start criteria' is likely to be the the one you'll want if enrolment to your program is triggered by a segment.
Example: If a segment is scheduled to enrol daily and your segment rule is to enrol contacts who have made three or more purchases every day they meet the criteria, as opposed to setting this as the first time they meet it, your program will then enrol such a contact every single day as they'll always meet the criteria of having made three or more purchases. A contact's amount of historic purchases won't go down. It's extremely unlikely that a contact being added to a program every single day in this way will be desirable!
Once happy with your selection, click Apply. Your limits setting will then be confirmed under 'Enrolment limits:' in the 'Start' panel. To edit this, click on your confirmed setting in the panel and the 'Enrolment limits' panel will slide in again for you to make changes to.
Applying your changes
Once happy with all of your start criteria, click Apply on the 'Start' panel. A statement will populate for you to read in the 'Start' node on the program canvas.
If, at any point, you want to edit the start criteria again, simply click on the Start node again to produce the panel from the right.
Enrolling contacts via the API
Contacts can be enrolled in a program using our API if this is enabled on your account. This can be done using:
- CreateEnrolment in the SOAP version of the API; or
- programs/enrolments in the REST version of the API
When a contact or batch of contacts is enrolled in a program, they will receive the first campaign in a program (subject to any delays and decisions) within 15 minutes, rather than waiting until the program's next scheduled execution.