Steps that you must go through before creating a workflow

Workflows are customer-triggered and are tailored to the behaviour of your contacts. Therefore, spending time to carefully decide on your workflow strategy is always worth it.

This article will give you all steps you need to go through, before activating your workflow. Fool proof your automation by following the steps on this comprehensive list. 


Step 1: What is your overall workflow strategy?

First, you need to have a general idea about your overall workflow strategy. Here are some workflows you might want to consider creating:

  • A welcome series of messages
  • An event registration and follow-up with a form to enrol and survey for feedback
  • Cross-selling suggestions
  • Regular purchase reminders
  • Abandoned shopping cart reminders
  • Special occasion
  • Reactivation campaigns for dormant contacts

Where does your new workflow fit your overall strategy?


Step 2: Who do you want to reach?

Before you create a workflow that fits your workflow strategy well, you need to know your contact base properly.

Most importantly:

  • Customer lifecycle stage. Create a field in your database to tell you if your contact is a lead, a qualified lead, a customer, a loyal customer, etc.
  • Special occasions – do you know the birthday of your contact to send a specific campaign? Do you want to celebrate anniversaries from their first interaction with you – a subscription or a purchase?
  • Interests and preferences – what do your contacts respond to and what puts them off? What type of content and what kind of products will bring them closer to your brand and take them one step closer?

Use complex triggers to manage the contacts you do want to reach, as well as the contacts you do not want to reach.

  • Contacts who received a certain message, opened it or did not open it;– you do not want to send the same content twice, and to the ones who did not open it you can send reminders. Similarly you can do for campaigns.
  • Clicking behavior – contacts who clicked on a link, visited a particular page or did not.
  • Forms and survey interaction. You can branch out your workflow to the contacts who answered a certain way, or the ones who never responded opened your form.
  • The trigger can be a contact field, for example contacts who speak a certain language.
  • Web tracking is always helpful to track purchases. If a customer already purchased a certain product recently, you do not want to advertise it again.

The best thing to do is to use multiple triggers. Refine and combine them to your liking and stop only when you are sure your message will be received by the right group of people.


Step 3: What do you want to achieve?

Be very clear about what your ultimate goal is. Then, decide what that means for your automation. For example, your goal might be to boost your sales, however, you need to decide the way you translate the goal into the tools your workflow gives you. Do you send messages? Discount codes? Do you send ‘We miss you campaigns’? Does your ideological goal correspond well to the practical goal of your workflow?Think well about the practical instruments to achieve your objective.

Now you need to create your forms and surveys, messages, landing pages and campaigns that will be included in your workflow.

This is your primary objective. Do you have secondary objectives? Can you extract even more value? Let’s say your workflow is launching a promotional campaign for Christmas to all customers who have shown interest in kids toys before.

You can send one batch of messages with an invitation to buy. After a period of time, use web tracking to determine the customers who did not get to a successful purchase page. Send them a reminder with another invitation to buy. Stop the workflow for all customers who purchased this or other products. However, for the contacts who never even opened the message, launch a new workflow for dormant contacts – those who do not interact. Determining your dormant contacts in this case can be your secondary goal.


Step 4: How will the flow go?

The workflow is, before anything else, a flow. A series of logical steps with conditions and alternatives.

What will be your starting block? How do you decide if a contact of yours is the right audience for this workflow? In other words, what will trigger launching the first steps? This is usually a specific audience or characteristic. You can combine multiple ones in this block to pinpoint those specific people.

What will be your timing? A step in your mechanism will be triggered either by a specific action done by your contacts, or by a timer. How long do you want to wait between one and a next step?

How will you involve your own team? Not everything can be automated. Are there steps in your flow that require your Sales, Support or Shipping team to be involved?

Will you involve other workflows? If you create a workflow, inviting contacts to subscribe to a series of workshops, you want to keep the ‘invitation workflow’ and the ‘workshop workflow’ separate. You will send only certain contacts from the first one to the second one. Others, who never interact with your messages, you can send to a separate workflow, with the objective to spark again interest in your brand.

What will you learn? Will there be long lasting effects – will the interaction of the audiences with your workflow change your segments? Will it help you gather info to add to your database? Will it give you a contact base for another workflow? Use the potential to the fullest.

How do you measure your results? Can you use web tracking or reports to give a numeric value to your goal and track your progress?


Step 5: Can you learn from prior experience?

Once your structure is ready, ask yourself can you improve it. Look to old reports for ideas what works and what does not work. For timing. Look to other workflows you have created to avoid doubled objectives. Look to your unsubscription rates to prevent losing contacts.

Once you are done with everything, do not forget to hit your ‘play’ button and launch the workflow. You have started it right. Now, it is just a matter of time to reach your objective.

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