Journey Builder Common Error: Groundhog Day

One of the common mistakes I see with new admins in Journey Builder is users getting stuck in a “Groundhog Day” situation. For those of you not familiar with the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray – he ends up in a loop, experiencing the same day over and over again. In the Jurney Builder example, you end up with users getting the same treatment over and over again. Specifically getting the same email again and again when that was not the requested behavior.

(Yes, there are some times that this is an wanted behavior. That is a different post)

Most of the time, it is unintentional and due to not understanding how the re-entry in Journey Builder works. Before you can activate a journey you have to select one of 3 re-entry options.

  • No Re-entry – They can NEVER enter the journey again – Great for welcome flows (as you can only be a NEW customer once)
  • Re-entry anytime – They can enter the journey as many times as they qualify for it
  • Re-entry only after exit – They can’t enter the journey when they are already in it. (This is the one I use the most.)

Let me give an example that I came across just recently:
The Journey is a re-engagement campaign. They want to send one email after 4 months of no activity, and a second email after 8 months of no activity.

Audience- Everyone who hasn’t interacted in 4 or more months and is pulling in from Salesforce Data.

Here is what the journey looked like:

Descision split Logic:

  • 4 month –> LastActionDate is on or before today – 4 months and LastActionDate is after today – 8 months
  • 8 month –> LastActionDate is on or before today – 8 months
  • Remainder

We know that they have to be able to re-enter the journey or there is no way to get the second email. The problem is – as it stands, both re-entry options would enter the users in to a GroundHog Day type loop – one one a much faster cadence than the other.

The problem is due to the way the audience is set-up it is evaluating the entrance to the journey multiple times – so people will continue to qualify for the entrance audience for as long as they do not interact. For instance, each of the following people would meet the audience requirement of not interacted in the last 4 months –> 4 months of no interaction, 5months, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, etc. All of them have a LastActionDate on or before today – 4 months. And as the decision split logic is set up, they would qualify for one of the two emails at each of the above dates.

So how do we avoid this?

Well you have a couple of options, assuming we can not change the audience source or frequency-

  1. Merge them into one stream –
    1. Adjust the entrance to be “is equal to today – 4 months”
    2. Add a wait for 4 months
    3. (I strongly recommend also adding a decision split right before the email to confirm they are still in your in-active group)
  2. Separate them into two separate journey and lock the entrance to “is equal” for both
  3. Utilize a DE & Update Contact to prevent multiple email firings
    Come back on Monday to see a step by step walkthrough on how to set this option up.

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