In August 2020 Mailchimp has released a new interface for building automated workflows, the Customer Journeys builder.
The new builder looks promising, although it still lacks some features who should be released soon; in this article, I try to sum up what’s new, what’s still missing and how to choose between old and new Automations.
New Customer Journeys
Classical Automated Workflows
|Multiple entry trigger points||✓||—||Max. 3 entry points allowed|
|Multiple steps possible, not necessarily tied to an email campaign||✓||—||In old Automations every step of the workflow requires that an email is sent, you can’t add more than one tag for each step, which is a rather rigid constraint|
|Possibility to repeat the workflow several times||✓||—||Long awaited feature, it can fix a lot of problems with post-purchase automations and the like|
|Visual interface to build the automation||✓||—||Nice to have|
|Trigger “Buys from a product category”||coming soon||✓|
|Trigger “Time since last purchase”||✓||✓||Released mid-December 2020, this is a very useful trigger, most of all because it comes together with the possibility to repeat the same automation more and more times for the same subscriber, which wasn’t possible with old Automations.|
|Trigger “Responds to Survey”||✓||—||Surveys are an interesting new feature, released in Spring 2020; it’s nice to have a trigger that allows to automatically do something when a contact fills one|
|Trigger “receives / opens / doesn’t open / clicks / doesn’t click an email”||✓||✓||Those are very important triggers for behavioral campaigns started by specific emails|
|Trigger “clicks a specific link in a campaign”||✓||✓||As before, even more specific|
|API 3.0 triggers||✓||✓||Those are very important for advanced personalizations that imply integration with third party apps|
|Event API triggers||✓||✓||Deployed in early December 2020, it needed some troubleshooting but now it seems to work better; this kind of triggers are absolutely needed for advanced personalizations that imply integration with contacts behavior on external websites and apps|
|Delay based on activities in previous email (open / not open / click)||✓(*)||✓||Those allow adapting the workflow timing to the contact’s behavior; in Customer Journeys they’re available on Wait clause, with Open, Click any link and Click a specific link available (March 2021)|
|Manual add to the workflow||—||✓||The possibility to manually add contacts to a workflow, both importing them or letting them enter the routine via a specific merge tag *|AUTOMATION:WORKFLOWADDURL(id_campaign)|*|
|Actions “Add to / Remove from group”||✓||✓||Added to Customer Journeys at the beginning of December 2020, those are very important actions as Groups are a major segmentation criterion and can trigger other workflows|
|Action “Update merge field”||—||✓||Still missing as an action, it can be useful to manage field values in an automated way|
|Actions “Unsubscribe / Archive”||✓||✓||This is useful whenever you want to automatically handle list cleaning procedures|
|Creating a new tag while setting up a “Tag” action||✓||—||A nice to have: while you’re creating a CJ and you insert an “Add tag” action, you can create a new tag directly in the CJ interface instead of navigating to the Audience > Tag panel|
|Scheduling email in specific days of the week / hours||✓||✓||This is very important whenever you want to install expectation, create a habit, or limit the sending to office hours. Added to CJ on March 2021, they lack the “specific time” scheduling available in classical Automation, but – considering they weren’t even “coming soon” when CJ were released – I would say I’m quite satisfied (we asked, they listened to us)|
|List of queued contacts for every step of the workflow||coming soon||✓||Very useful for checking a contact’s status (and possibly remove them from the workflow)|
|Fast Google Analytics tracking of email campaigns||—||✓||The lack of this feature is unforgivable: automatic emails convert more than bulk campaigns, so we want them to be tracked in Google Analytics, and being forced to manually add utm_ parameters to every link is a pain in the ass.|
|Filtering by Groups||—||✓||Groups are not considered as a filtering criterion for Customer Journeys, but this would be important because Groups are a very important means to segment and organize Audiences|
Given all the features still “coming soon” and those available in old Automations but not mentioned in Customer Journeys documentation, not even as “coming soon”, we certainly can’t still abandon the traditional way to build automated workflows in Mailchimp; we’d rather continue to mix old and new, and build complex routines by combining the best of the two systems.
As we are talking about wishlists, I’d like to point out some additional features that I consider not only nice to have, but really needed if Mailchimp wants to fully meet the needs of advanced users:
Many of the features we have in old Automations will take some time and patience to become available in new Customer Journeys, and some of them may even not be on the to-do list. This being the case, we can continue to create complex workflows by combining several Automations, made using old and new features, in order to overcome the limits of both systems.
This would be so more effective if Mailchimp would allow “repeating the workflow” also in old Automations; the lack of this feature is an unjustified limitation that causes so many nuisances.
I’d like to hear from you about your experience with Automations, and if I missed something just let me know so I can update the post.