As you probably have gathered if you read the first and second post in this series, the campaign builder is a powerful tool. But there are also some nuances to it, which if you aren’t expecting, can totally catch people off guard and cause their fair share of grief.

So, in this third Gotcha I want to address one of the single hardest things for people to really grasp as it pertains to the campaign builder.

In fact, on two separate occasions I’ve seen Infusionsoft Certified Partners selling education on this exact topic in which they still get their facts wrong – or, omit a critical piece.

I’m talking about what you can expect to happen when you republish a live Infusionsoft campaign that has people in it.

First of all, you should know that republishing is a whole subject on it’s own, and there are so many “what if” type scenarios that it’d be impossible to cover them all here.

So what I’m going to address is specifically what people commonly refer to as “The Rule of 7 Days”, or as I like to call it “The 7 Day Shadow”.
(Note: The Rule of 7 Days was eliminated in an Infusionsoft update in Dec 2017.)

It’s also worth calling out that the third chapter of my CB: Trilogy course dives into republishing and walks through all the important scenarios in great detail. So, if you’re looking to really wrap your head around the rest of this topic, I’d start there.

CB: Gotcha #3

In a perfect world, we’d all build our campaigns out from start to finish, we’d launch them, and we’d get it right the first time and we’d never have to go back and make any changes.

I remember talking with an Infusionsoft University attendee once and they got genuinely frustrated when I said “Just don’t make any changes to your campaigns and you won’t have to remember any of this stuff.”

And of course I meant it in jest, but the reality is that the 7 Day Shadow, and any of the other republishing nuances ONLY come into play when you are making changes to a live campaign that has people in it.

UPDATE: As of December 2017 the Rule of 7 Days, or 7 Day Shadow is being removed. I’m leaving this section of the article here for historical context, but it may no longer describe the behavior in your app.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about The 7 Day Shadow. And I’ll even explain why I like this name better than “The Rule of 7 Days”. Here’s the way that it works: When you republish a campaign, the system will recalculate the steps in each individual sequence for each contact.

Steps that have already been processed, will not be processed again.

This means that if I change the timers, and an email that you’ve already received is now scheduled to happen tomorrow, it will NOT send that email, because it recognizes that you’ve already received the email. It also means if you change the content of an email, or the subject line, it will not resend that step to people who have already received it.

NOTE: Delay timers are the only timers affected by this. Field timers and Date timers ONLY run on the exact date (or during the range) for which they are scheduled.

Changes you made to the sequence can only impact Active or Queued Contacts that are in that sequence.

This means that if you make changes to a sequence, it can impact the people who are still actively receiving that specific sequence. Or, if contacts are still in that sequence and are queued (because they haven’t moved on) it could impact them too. But any changes you’ve made will not affect contacts who are “Done” (meaning that they’ve progressed into the next sequence, or they’ve achieved a goal to exit the sequence).

Any steps you’ve added that are scheduled for the future, will be scheduled as if they were always there.

If I’m receiving your 3 tips sequence, and I’m on tip number two and am scheduled to receive number three tomorrow (shown in blue), and you decide to come in and add an fourth tip (shown in red). When you republish it will schedule the fourth tip for the future, and I’ll receive it a day after the 3rd as intended. It’ll be as if it was there the whole time. FourTips

New or updates steps scheduled to occur in the past 7 days will process immediately.

This is the hard part for people to wrap their heads around. Think of it this way – if you add a new step, or you change the timing of the existing steps – the system is going to recalculate the whole sequence (for the people that are active and queued).

And if the new step you added, or any of the existing steps for which the timing been modified, happen to fall within the last seven days, then the step will process immediately. (In most of the examples I use I’m referring to emails, but the campaign uses the same logic for all sequence steps) Let’s take a look at a few examples using two of my childhood crushes to really wrap our heads around this:

Example 1:

Topanga Lawrence has been in your nurture campaign for exactly 9 days. Your campaign is structured to send an email every three days. So, she’s just received her third email, and is scheduled to receive email number four in exactly three days. She’d be waiting on the timer indicated in red below. (I’ve built it using that “snake” layout just to keep it all on one screen) Nurture Campaign 1 Okay, so now let’s say you decide that you need to change the sequence timing. And instead of sending an email every three days, you decide that you want to send an email every two days. So you come into the sequence, and you change all of the timers, and then you republish.

Here’s what you can expect: Topanga has still been in the sequence exactly 9 days. But now, with the new timing, it means that email four should have been sent yesterday. It’s scheduled to be sent 8 days after someone enters the sequence. And since Topanga has been in there 9 days, email 4 would have been sent within her last 7 days. So, it’ll process immediately.

After it sends email four, then Topanga will queue up on the blue timer below waiting for Email 5. Which is scheduled for 10 days after the start of the sequence, and would be tomorrow for Topanga. Nurture Emails 2 Are you with me so far? Let’s look at another example.

Example 2:

Let’s say Kelly Kapowski is in the same sequence. But she’s been in there for 45 days. That means that she has completed all the steps you had scheduled, but she hasn’t moved on. So she’s considered “queued“. 

Now you decide to extend your nurture sequence, so you add another two day delay, and then a 6th email.

Well, when you publish this new step, the system is going to recalculate the steps in the sequence, and when it realizes there’s a new step, it’ll decide whether or not it should be sent to Kelly, based on where it falls with respect to how long she’s been in the campaign. Nurture Emails 3 Because the new step is scheduled to happen 12 days after someone enters the sequence, and Kelly has been in the sequence for 45 days, this step would not have been sent to her in the last seven days. And therefore, it won’t be sent to her at all.

Now, if you added a bunch of steps (every other day), giving you 22 total emails (over 44 days), so the last of which would fall 44 days after someone entered the sequence.

Now, when you publish Kelly WOULD receive email #22. Because it should have been sent in her last 7 days. It should have happened on day 44, and she’s been in there 45 days.

But here’s the catch, Kelly will also receive emails 21, 20, and 19. Because those emails would have been sent 38, 40 and 42 days after she entered the sequence.

So, because she’s been in there 45 days, all four of those emails are within her last 7 days. This is why I call it a 7 Day Shadow. As the contact spends time in the sequence, their shadow stays with them.

It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in the sequence a year, if you add a step that falls 360 days after the start of the sequence, that step will process immediately for that particular contact. I know, it get’s a little hairy. Here’s one way to remember it.

If A is equal to the total amount of time that a contact has been in the sequence.

And B is the amount of time from the start of the sequence to the scheduled step.

If A-B is less than 7, then the step will process right away.

There are a few things to look out for here. If there is a long gap, and you add multiple steps, it’s possible that some contacts might get the last email (email 44 in the example above) without getting the in between email. It’s also possible that multiple steps could fall within their last 7 days, and so they could receive more than one step at the same time (which could also be confusing).

So, what do we do about it, right? That’s kind of the natural question here. It’s a little tricky, and of course you want to create the best possible experience for your customers, right?

Well, there are a handful of ways to handle this, and I dive into a few options in the third chapter of the CB: Trilogy course, but for the purpose of this post I recommend a tactic I call “switching the tracks”.

  It works like this.

Switching The Tracks

When you want to make changes to a sequence that has contacts in it, and you aren’t sure what will happen. You make a copy of the sequence, and make all your updates to the new sequence.

Then, once it is ready to go, you just simple detach the original sequence, and switch the tracks to route new contacts into the new sequence you’ve now built. It’s not perfect, because you now have contacts in two sequences, and the folks in the original don’t get you fancy new updates, but this way guarantees that you know what your contacts will experience, and that no one gets emails out of order, or multiple emails at once. (It’s a gif, if it doesn’t play, click on it to open it)

republishinggif So, that’s the 7 Day Shadow. I like this better than “Rule of 7 Days” because I think it’s clearer that the rule is on a per contact basis. I’ve heard people say that changes you make don’t matter after a contact has been in the sequence for more than 7 days. This is wrong.

I’ve heard people say that after a contact has been queued for 7 days, they drop out of the sequence. Also wrong.

What matters is how long the contact has been in the sequence. And how long after the start of the sequence the step is scheduled. That’s all. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Lemme hear those questions!