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HomeOntraport for marketingAutomations > Automations overview
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Automations overview
With automations, you can create expert funnels and processes to streamline your marketing, sales, workflows and more. Here’s an overview of how it all works.
You'll learn:
  • How automations work
  • How automations move contacts through your customer journey
  • To use Performance Mode to track automations in real-time
  • The power of automation elements like goals, triggers and actions
  • The kinds of records you can use in your automations (Spoiler: It’s not just contacts!)
Instructor
Sam Flegal
Automations overview
With automations, you can create expert funnels and processes to streamline your marketing, sales, workflows and more. Here’s an overview of how it all works.
You'll learn:
  • How automations work
  • How automations move contacts through your customer journey
  • To use Performance Mode to track automations in real-time
  • The power of automation elements like goals, triggers and actions
  • The kinds of records you can use in your automations (Spoiler: It’s not just contacts!)
Course Instructor
Sam Flegal
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Transcript
Automations are how Ontraport… well… automates things. From lead follow-up and management to streamlining internal processes of all kinds. they’re at the center of how Ontraport helps you scale up your business. Once you have a basic understanding of the Automation builder, you'll be able to quickly design, launch, and optimize sophisticated marketing funnels and business processes and put them on autopilot. In this video, I'll give you a quick big-picture overview of Automations and then we’ll dive deep in this next series of videos. Let's get started.

First, what do we mean when we talk about automations? Automations are workflows built in a map-style layout tool that allow you to build a series of steps to systemize processes in your business. They’re made up of several different element types -- categorized into triggers, actions and filters -- which we’ll cover in depth in later videos.

These elements are organized on the page from top to bottom, as you add them. You can do that by clicking on these plus icons or clicking on the ‘what happens next?’ box here. You can also move or copy elements and groups of elements by dragging them by the arrows and dropping them on those same pluses. Once you publish your automation, it becomes live and that’s when the magic starts to happen. 

Here’s how it works. The triggers on your map have some settings, and the system uses those settings to monitor all of your contacts all the time. When one of your contacts does something that matches the settings in your trigger, that contact is added at that trigger and immediately starts moving down the path that you’ve laid out, from top to bottom, through the elements in your map. 
For example, you may have a trigger that says “when someone fills out this form” or “when someone buys this product”... So, whenever a contact takes that action, the trigger is fired and the contact starts here at the top. 

Pretty soon, you’ll have contacts all over the map, and you can see where your contacts are specifically located by looking at the numbers in performance mode, here. You can even click on a specific spot to see a list of those contacts. 

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of automations, there are a few more things to know. 

First, while it’s mostly true that contacts start at the top and work their way down, that’s not always the case. There are a lot of times where you’ll need to add forks in the road -- so you can add elements called conditions, which split your contacts down two paths - the yes or the no path - depending on whether they meet the conditions you set.

In some situations, you’ll also want to have contacts jump from one spot to another when something specific happens -- which we do using goals. These features allow you to deliver exactly the right experience for each contact depending upon what you know about them and what they do. For example, when someone buys something, you probably want to stop the follow up nagging that you were doing and deliver the product instead, and you’ll use a Goal to have contacts jump around the map like that. 

Plus, there are GoTo elements that can drop contacts anywhere… So, it’s not always strictly top to bottom. You can get pretty fancy with this stuff.

Second, because we’ve described this as a ‘map,’ it’s tempting to imagine that a contact can be on the map only in one place at a time, but that’s not true. You know that in real life, your customers often require multiple things to be happening for them at the same time -- like receiving your newsletter and having their product delivered. We’ve built automations to support those needs. So, depending on your settings, it’s entirely possible that a contact may be in multiple places in an automation at once. This gives you all kinds of powerful possibilities and some great reporting options that you’ll learn about later.

Third, let me draw your attention to element settings over here. There are a bunch of them, and they’re really important because they’ll change how your whole automation runs. Make sure to pay special attention to the settings in triggers and goals, which are explained in detail in the upcoming lessons.

Finally, although we’re going to use Contacts as an example throughout this series of lessons for simplicity’s sake, Contacts are not the only type of record that can use automations. In Ontraport, you can store and manage all kinds of data, and you can use automations to streamline processes for any of them. 
For example, if you are a veterinarian,  you might want to store records about each of your pets and then maybe automate a reminder to the pet owners on each of their pet’s birthdays. Very powerful stuff here and I’ll explain more on that later. 

Some automation maps can be as simple as a series of emails or designed to just update a field.  Or they can get really pretty sophisticated and involve all kinds of actions and processes. But the power they put in your hands as a business-builder is awesome, so take the time to learn this part of the platform in detail. Using automations will serve you well in your business, and make it so you can quickly turn your ideas into reality.
 
Now that you have a foundational understanding of automation, let’s take a detailed tour of the Automation Builder. Then later we’ll dive into the details of each element type, and focus on reporting in performance mode and other advanced topics.
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