Understanding the Timing of a Flow

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Overview 

Understanding the timing of a flow is not only important to knowing when a certain message will send but also to gaining insight into the customer's experience. As you build out your flow, you will want to keep two different timing considerations top-of-mind:

  1. The time between components (as represented by time delays) 
  2. Timeline of each component from the trigger

In this article, we go over both considerations so you can better understand the timing of a flow's components. 

Time Between Components

Each flow represents a targeted customer experience. In order to build a series with timely touchpoints, it is important to think about the timing of each action in your flow relative to the activity or behavior that set the flow in motion.

For example, in a winback flow, you may have the first email send after 35 days. The second email may wait another 25 days, which brings the total number of days elapsed since the last purchase (the flow's trigger) to 60. 

In addition, it is important to think about how time delays interact with other components, particularly conditional splits. Typically you want to place a time delay before any conditional split to ensure that recipients have time to, for example, place an order before they're sent down a certain path. For more details, read Using Time Delays near Splits. 

Timeline of Each Component from the Flow Trigger

To help you keep track of how far your flow is stretching from the trigger, you will notice "hints" on the time delay's sidebar as well as below each action card on the canvas. Below, you will see the same winback example — notice the hint in the sidebar that appears as the time delay is configured, as well as the "Day 60" hint below Email #2.

There are certain situations when we can't determine a message's exact timing from the trigger. These situations arise specifically when you mix the following two time delay components in the same flow:

  • Wait __ Days
  • Wait __ Days and delay until a specific time of day

As explained above, when you specify "Wait X Days" and then provide a specific time, each day will be calculated as a calendar day and not a fixed 24-hour day. This means the exact delay period (in terms of hours) is not predetermined. This will vary depending on when someone enters the flow.

If you mix the two above triggers, you're combining one delay period that always has a fixed number of hours (Wait __ Days) with a delay period that has a variable number of hours (Wait __ Days and delay until a specific time of day) and we can no longer accurately calculate how many days a given message will send relative to the trigger.

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