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Home > Automations  >  Waits
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Waits
The “wait” element lets you create pauses between steps in your automations. Here’s a deep dive into using waits and their various settings.
You'll learn:
  • The purpose of waits in automations 
  • The five ways to use a wait element 
  • How to adjust your wait settings based on timezone 
  • Which settings to adjust before using waits in your automations
Instructor
Sam Flegal
Waits
The “wait” element lets you create pauses between steps in your automations. Here’s a deep dive into using waits and their various settings.
You'll learn:
  • The purpose of waits in automations 
  • The five ways to use a wait element 
  • How to adjust your wait settings based on timezone 
  • Which settings to adjust before using waits in your automations
Course Instructor
Sam Flegal
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Transcript
In this video, I’ll cover the wait element and its various settings. As a reminder, waits allow you to create pauses in your automations. Let’s take a deep dive so you’ll be fully equipped to set up waits -- so you can design the perfect experience for your leads and customers. 

To review, when contacts land on a “wait,” they’ll stop there for as long as the settings dictate before continuing downward through the rest of the Automation. Waits are how you create the space between a series of emails, for example.

When adding a wait, you’ll see a setting on the left side for “wait here until.” You have 5 options to select from here:
  1. Wait forever. And by forever, we mean until a goal is reached. This will cause contacts to sit on this element until they achieve a goal elsewhere on the Automation.
  2. Some time passes. You can see that this presents you with “how much time?”. From here, you can set any number of days, hours, or minutes (in 15 minute increments) you want them to wait before continuing to the next step. For example, if you wanted to send an email once every three days, you’d enter “3” into the days option. You also have an option to “then wait until the time of day is…” (which is a repeated option throughout the rest of the wait types). Use this to ensure that your marketing emails are going out at times of day when people will be interested in reading something like this. So, rather than sending your marketing email Friday at 8:00 PM, maybe you send it at 9 AM.

There is one thing to be aware of when using the “wait until the time of day is…” setting, as it can lead to unintended results. For example: Say a contact is added to a 3 day wait at 1 PM, and your settings dictate to wait until 10 AM to send your email...  your email will be sent on the 4th day, rather than the 3rd, since your contact will first wait 3 days, which will be up at 1 PM on the third day, and then will wait until 10 AM, which won’t come around again until the 4th day. So, you’ll want to carefully consider the time of day that contacts are added to the step and how that affects the wait.  

You also have the option to send at this time in your or your contact’s timezone. You can see the timezone for each contact in their record, which is something Ontraport calculates for you based on their IP address when they filled out a form. If we don’t have that data for them, we’ll default back to your timezone. 

The next option you can select from in a wait is:
  1. Specific date. This lets you specify a date when your contacts continue. This date is not relative to each contact like the last setting was. If this is set to 12/1, all contacts on the wait will move through on 12/1. 

If you select specific date, you also have an option to “Ignore the year. Wait until the day and month matches then proceed.” This means that this will work every year on, for example, 12/1 rather than just once in the specified year. You would use this for things like annual events such as birthdays or purchase anniversaries, where you want to send something each year on a certain date.

Another wait you could choose from is:

  1. A date relative to a contact’s date field arrives. This allows you to select how long before/after a specified date in their record you want to wait. So, for example, you may want to send your customers an account renewal reminder message the week before their account expires. In this case,  you could select the “expiration date” field, and set it for 7 days before which will move contacts on their specific renewal date.

Your last option is:

  1. Days of the week. This one’s simple: it allows you to wait until a day of the week -- in either your timezone or theirs. So, for example, maybe you have a “taco Tuesday” promotion… so you’d select Tuesday. 

Now that we’ve gone over the wait types in detail, let me hit you with one last important detail that’ll help you avoid some common mistakes. 

Here it is: wait steps is that Ontraport automations actually run every 15 minutes. Each time your automation ‘runs,’ the system will check to see if a contact has been on the wait for AT LEAST the amount of time dictated by that step, and if so,  your contact will move forward. If not, the contact will need to wait until the next time the system runs.

You can think of this like a bus stop. If the bus comes every 15 minutes starting on the hour, and you show up at 10 mins past the hour but you’re required to wait 15 minutes before getting on the bus (because that’s what your wait settings say), you’ll miss that first bus and will have to wait until the next one comes at 30 mins past the hour. That means you will have actually waited 20 minutes instead of the 15 that is set in your wait settings. 

The bottom line is that if you set a wait of 15 minutes, contacts may end up waiting as little as 15 and as long as 29 minutes before they’re moved forward, so you’ll want to take that into account as you design your automations. Remember: this is only true for wait steps - goals and triggers run immediately whenever the trigger happens for a contact.

Ok! That wraps up our deep dive into wait steps in automations. Now you’ve got a good handle on how to space apart the steps in your automated processes. Keep up the momentum and watch our deep dives on actions, goals, filters, and then putting it all together. 
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