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Best Practices for Editing Campaign Automations

Sometimes after you have built and published a campaign automation you realize that you want to make an adjustment to its structure. When you choose to make these changes, there are some steps to keep in mind to ensure your changes have minimal impact on your participants‘ navigation through your automation. Making significant changes to your campaign automation without considering the current location of your participants can result in unintended effects on their experience and interaction with the campaign automation.

Sometimes the change you want to make can be performed by making simple adjustments. Other times you may need to completely stop your automation and build a new one. Many of our customers want to know when it is safe to make those changes and what to expect when you do make the adjustment. In this post, we will explain what to expect and offer some recommendations for different scenarios.

Who experiences the changes?

Editing a component your participants have not yet reached:

The easiest changes to make are in decision nodes that none of your participants have reached yet. When participants reach that step, they will experience the newly defined behavior per your edits.

Something as small as swapping out an email template or changing the duration of a wait timer can be done without even pausing the automation if you do not expect participants to reach that step as you edit it. But feel free to pause it before any changes are made, just to be safe.

Editing a step that a participant is currently in:

This is the riskiest campaign automation edit. Participants who are in the step or series where you are making these edits can be pushed to the end of their series prematurely.

If you delete a step someone is moving into, their participation will show “no more steps” and by default finish the automation.

In most cases, we recommend that you do not edit any series that currently contain participants. Instead, stop the campaign automation, recreate the necessary components as needed, and re-enter the participants in the new automation dependent on where they were when you stopped the last one. Manual Add triggers can help you add individuals who completed a step while the automation was stopped. This alternative is more time consuming, but it can result in fewer disrupted participants.

Editing a step that participants have passed through:

It is possible to edit a campaign automation step that some participants have already been through. However, this change will not retroactively apply to the participants who already moved past the original step. For example, if your participants received an email that had a typo and you change the template after they have moved forward to a later step, they will still have the version of the email send that had a typo. But, participants who haven’t yet reached that step will now get the correct version of the email.

When you make changes to a part of a campaign automation that a participant has gone through, you will get a notification when you view their timeline, letting you know that the current configuration was not the one in place when this individual moved through the automation. Please keep in mind when making these changes that you cannot go back and see the previous version. Before making big edits to an automation, it is important to consider the effect your edit can have on reporting for any already finished participants.

What can happen when a change impacts your participants?

One of the most common reasons you may experience an issue after editing a campaign automation is if you modify one node, but do not modify any surrounding components that depend on that node.

For instance, if you had a Send Email action preceding an Email Interaction trigger and you changed the email template used in the Send Email action, but you didn’t also update the Email Interaction trigger following it, that will cause an error in a participant’s timeline.

The issue occurs when a participant is sent the new template and arrives at the Email Interaction trigger. Because the trigger is still monitoring for interactions with the old template, these participants cannot enter and their status can become Failed.

Remembering to check your campaign automation for nodes that rely on the piece you are changing is an important part of the editing process.


The status of your participants can provide some insight into whether the edit you made impacted any of your participants.

You can view the current status of a participant and view their timeline by navigating to the participants tab. Their status is the third column in that section. It can be Running, Completed, Paused, Stopped, or if the change has impacted their navigation, their status can be Failed or Error Recovery.

When a participant experiences a Failed status, they will have an error that indicates what happened to their progress. The following are examples of timeline errors a participant could develop and why:

Current Node Id=xyz is missing. This is caused when a change is made to a node (a trigger or action in the automation) or if a node is deleted while a participant is in it. The error occurs because the participant cannot pass on to the next step and continue through the automation.

For example, if a participant is in a series with a Send Email action, a Wait Timer and a second Send Email action and is currently waiting, if you delete the wait timer from that series, your participant who was waiting may experience this error.

Object reference error. This error is displayed when the participant reaches a node (as opposed to being in a node at the time) that is missing key information or has had some of its key information changed or deleted.

For example, if you have an Email Send action followed by an Email Interaction trigger and you change the template for the Email Send action without then adjusting the trigger that is watching for an interaction, this can affect your participants. When the participant is moving into the Email Interaction trigger, that trigger searches the participant for the Email Send it believes they would have just received. Because they were sent another template, the system cannot find an Email Send with the original template for this participant and may provide you this error.

When to Pause and When to Stop

In summary, this handy chart can help guide you on editing versus building a new campaign automation.

When editing makes sense
When you would be safer building a new campaign automation
If you haven’t entered participants into the campaign automation yet If participants are in that step
If the change you need to make resides in an area participants haven’t reached yet If participants might move into the step that you intend to change
If the change will be in a step that no participants are currently in and the change can occur before any new participants reach that step If you need to rebuild a large section of the automation

Happy Marketing!

2018-01-23T09:17:03+00:00 By |Campaign Automation|0 Comments

About the Author:

Allison Fierce is a ClickDimensions Product Consultant.

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