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Home > Automations  >  Triggers
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Attention: this video showcases a feature that has since been updated. Please check out the support article.
Triggers
Learn how triggers add the right contacts to your automations at just the right times.
You'll learn:
  • The purpose (and power) of triggers
  • How to add the right contacts to your automations (and exclude everyone else)
  • How to trigger new steps for contacts who are already on your automation maps
  • The way to kick off automations at a specific date or time
  • How to use triggers to see where your contacts are coming from
  • Settings options for new triggers
Instructor
Sam Flegal
Triggers
Learn how triggers add the right contacts to your automations at just the right times.
You'll learn:
  • The purpose (and power) of triggers
  • How to add the right contacts to your automations (and exclude everyone else)
  • How to trigger new steps for contacts who are already on your automation maps
  • The way to kick off automations at a specific date or time
  • How to use triggers to see where your contacts are coming from
  • Settings options for new triggers
Course Instructor
Sam Flegal
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Transcript
In this video, I’m going to do a deep dive into automation triggers. Once you learn how these triggers work, you can build triggers that serve as perfect entry points for your automations. You can ensure that every contact who belongs on your automation gets there automatically -- and those who don’t belong there won’t. It’s one of the pieces of the puzzle of delivering the right experience to the right customer at just the right moment. Here we go!

As a reminder, triggers are the main way contacts get added to your automation maps. Here’s how they work. Every time a contact is updated -- whether a field is changed, they visit a page, click a link, fill out a form, buy a product, or anything else -- Ontraport instantly combs through all the triggers in your automations to see if that update matches the settings in any of your triggers. If it does, that contact is added to the automation map at that trigger and immediately begins to move down the map from element to element until it hits a wait element or something else that stops them. 

For example, if you add the tag “interested in cardio” to a contact, the system will scan all your automations to see if there’s a trigger with the setting “when contact is added to tag: interested in cardio.” If there is, boom: your contact is placed on the map. So, you can think of triggers as an action that indicates a contact belongs on this automation.

To break it down further, just ask yourself: “How do I know someone belongs on this automation?” This automation might be, for example, a particular marketing campaign. You can answer your own question with a trigger. To create the trigger we just described about cardio, you’d click the ‘add a trigger button’ to create a new trigger element. Then click the ‘add trigger’ button to create a new trigger. In this case, you’d select the ‘contact is added to tag’ trigger. Once you select that, you’ll need to configure it by selecting the tag ‘interested in cardio.’

Notice that you can continue to add other triggers to this same element. For example, maybe you also want to add contacts here when they’re interested in strength training. In that case, click the ‘add a trigger’ button again, and configure it to look for the ‘interested in strength training’ tag. You can continue to add as many triggers as you like to this element.

But what if you only want a trigger to add contacts who are not already customers? If your map includes a new lead nurture sequence of emails, you wouldn’t want to be adding existing buyers to that automation, or you’d be bombarding them with messages they don’t need. This kind of situation is exactly what conditions are used for. 

Conditions can exclude contacts from matching a particular trigger. Returning to our example, if you didn’t want to have existing customers added here, you could add a condition that excludes people who have already bought stuff from you. That way, they won’t be receiving emails from you convincing them that strength training is good for their health. They don’t need those; they’re already buying training courses from you!

There’s a field in Ontraport that tracks how much each contact has spent. So we can use that field to exclude buyers with the condition ‘has spent a certain amount on a product’ and configuring it to say ‘has spent greater than or equal to $1 on any product.’ Of course, you can specify particular products, different amounts, or really anything you need here. In fact, you can add multiple conditions here and even select whether a contact must fulfill all of them or any of them -- by selecting ‘and’ and ‘or’ here -- to be excluded. 

Ok, that sums up conditions in triggers. But there are two more crucial settings that you need to understand in triggers, so let’s take a look at those. When you’re creating a trigger, you’ll notice the settings on the left side where it asks: Who can activate this trigger?

You have two options for this. First, “any contact in account” is the default, and this means that any contact in your account that fits the criteria will be added to the automation. “Any contact on this map” means that only contacts who are already on this automation can activate this trigger and be moved here. This option is useful in more complex maps, and it’ll make perfect sense when you need it. When you’re first starting out, chances are you’ll want to use the “any contact in account” setting for your triggers.

Another setting you’ll want to pay attention to is “if a contact is already on map, then…” This allows you to handle situations where a contact activates your trigger but is already on the automation. This is an important setting to pay attention to and, frankly, is the answer to a lot of Support questions. “Ignore” is the default setting, which means that if the contact is already on the map and activates your trigger, pretend nothing happened. If you need something else to happen in this situation, pay attention to the next two options. “Move here” will pick up the existing contact from wherever they were and put them down here, stopping whatever flow they were previously in. 

Note that if your contact is on a map in more than one place - which can totally happen - and a trigger with this setting moves them, then all instances of that contact on the map will be picked up from where they are and put down here. So, the contact will then only be on the map once, in this place.

“Add here again” will leave the existing contact where it is, but also put a copy of the contact at this trigger to begin a new, additional, flow. This is how you end up with contacts on a map more than once. You might use this when you’re trying to both convert and upsell at the same time. 

Let’s say you have an auto shop, and the main product you sell is a regular fluid change service. You have a conversion goal that tracks people who buy fluid service from your website. But when they buy, you offer to give them premium service as an upsell, with fancier oil and brake fluid. In this case, you’d need two goals to manage that experience: one for their first purchase, and one for the upsell. Using “add here again” ensures that you don’t disrupt the delivery of either the convert goal or the upsell goal. Everything runs smoothly then! 

The last setting lets you decide if you want this trigger to only work once per contact. A common example of this is someone filling out a form which triggers a follow-up automation. You probably don’t want someone starting your follow up series over from the beginning, so this is an easy way to avoid that.

I have one final nugget for you before we wrap up. There is one trigger that deserves a bit of extra attention, and that is the ‘today is a specific date’ trigger. This trigger is used to move or add contacts who are already on the map to the trigger for further follow up. It’s typically used in cases like newsletters or product launches. People are getting added to your list and you want to make sure they get the upcoming launch emails but not the ones they’ve already missed. So, a normal vertical follow-up series with emails and waits won’t work. Instead, build your follow-up horizontally, with ‘today is specific date’ triggers at the top, moving people from step to step each time you want to send another email.

With this trigger, you’re not able to use the ‘any contact in account’ setting, because that would add literally every contact in your account to the campaign on that date. This is rarely anyone’s goal and would lead to a lot of mistakes, so we removed that. If you actually want to add everyone,  you can do that with a separate trigger or add everyone to the map manually before your scheduled ‘today is date’ trigger fires. Note that this trigger will always fire just after midnight in the account’s timezone. So if you’re using this to send emails and don’t want them to be sent at midnight, add a wait step after it to wait until the correct send time. 

Finally, keep in mind that contacts who are added to the map on the same day that a trigger is set to fire will also be moved to your ‘today is date’ trigger as soon as they’re added to the campaign.

Let’s take one step back for a minute as we wrap up triggers... It’s important to realize that you don’t have to build all your criteria into the same trigger. You can create multiple points of entry for your contacts that lead to the same flow. This lets you see how many contacts are coming from each trigger. For example, if they fill out form A, or form B, or form C they can all go to the same place (using a GoTo filter, which we’ll show you later). But splitting these triggers allows you to see how many contacts are coming from each form in your reporting.

Wow, we covered so much about triggers! Now you’re almost ready to get going building automations that will take the manual work out of your business. In other videos, we’ll cover waits, actions, goals, and filters -- and then put our automations together. Let’s do this.
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