How to keep subscribers active in sequences they get added to via visual automations
By default, if a subscriber is added to a sequence via a visual automation, they will be removed from that sequence upon receiving the last email in it.
This is because, from the automation's perspective, they are completing that step and moving on to the next one.
But there are cases where you want to keep subscribers active on sequences indefinitely, allowing you to continue adding content to the sequence on an ongoing basis (for example, evergreen sequences).
This can be accomplished with a simple workaround, which we'll cover in this tutorial!
First things first
Before we get begin, it's important to understand a couple of key factors about how visual automations & sequences work together by default:
- After completing a sequence they were added to via a visual automation, subscribers will be granted the 'Completed' status for that sequence, which effectively removes them from it. They will not receive any new emails added to that sequence after that point.
- The 'Completed' status will only ever be added to a subscriber who has been added to a sequence directly, using a visual automation. In contrast, if they're added to a sequence via an automation rule, or manually via a bulk action, they'll stay active on that sequence indefinitely unless you manually remove them from it or have a separate automation set up to do so.
Based on those factors, we can adjust the flow of our visual automation such that the subscriber is ultimately being added to the sequence using a rule instead. This will allow us to bypass the visual automation's auto-removal from the sequence.
Example of a sequence in a visual automation
Here's an example of a simple visual automation that adds a subscriber to a sequence after they sign up to a certain form:
As explained in the previous section, in its current form, subscribers in this automation will be automatically removed from that sequence once they reach the end of it.
The following steps will explain how to avoid this so that a subscriber will remain active on that sequence indefinitely, and continue to receive any newly-added emails to the sequence.
1. Create an automation rule
You can name this tag whatever makes sense to you. For this example we'll call it 'Add to sequence'.
Here's how that rule's configuration might look:
2. Remove the sequence from your visual automation
Next, if there's currently a step in your visual automation that is adding subscribers to your sequence directly, you'll want to remove that step.
To delete a step in a visual automation, hover over the node until 'edit step' appears. Click that, then Delete Action:
NOTE: As noted in the confirmation popup, deleting this node won't affect or remove the subscribers currently going through that sequence via this automation. It'll just prevent future subscribers from being added to it this way, which is what we want for this specific use case.
3. Add a tag via your visual automation
Add a new action to your visual automation, but this time one that adds a tag — in particular, the tag we used for the rule created in step 1.
Here's how that might look:
So what's the end result?
After your subscriber signs up to the entry-point form they'll be added to your visual automation and receive the 'Add to sequence' tag.
That tag will trigger your automation rule, which ultimately is what adds them to the sequence.
Since the rule is what's adding them to the sequence, and not the visual automation directly, your subscribers will not be automatically removed from the sequence when they reach the end of it.
Wait... can't I just use the rule on its own?
You sure can! Using a visual automation vs a rule is entirely up to you. We generally encourage the use of visual automations overall.
Rules will function just fine on their own, so you can choose to create a rule that directly adds them to the sequence from the form, and skip the tagging/visual automation part altogether.
NOTE: If you want to learn more about automation rules, we have a tutorial here.
Many creators do prefer to use visual automations rather than rules for a variety of reasons. We frequently get asked how to work around the fact that visual automations will auto-remove subscribers from sequences, so this method is simply to demonstrate how you can still continue to use visual automations for those use cases — just in an indirect way!
Taking it a step further
The above covers the basic steps required to avoid subscribers being removed from sequences in visual automations — but what if there are more steps in the automation after the sequence is completed?
By default, as soon as the action to add the tag runs, the subscriber will move on to the next step in the sequence right away. However, your desire might be to leave some time for them to receive the sequence first.
If that's the case, you can use automation delays strategically so that the automation waits for a specific period of time before the subscriber moves on.
Let's say you want a subscriber to receive the first week of emails from your evergreen welcome sequence, but then move on in your automation (while still remaining in the welcome sequence for future-added emails).
The solution is to add a 7-day delay using an action step, which will make the subscriber wait at that point in the automation, after they have been added to the sequence.
Here's what it might look like:
NOTE: Don't forget to make sure you actually have a rule set up that is triggered by that first tag to add them to the sequence!
Once the delay is up, they'll continue forward in the automation, and they'll remain active on the sequence as well, because they were added via rule.
Want to learn more?
If you're interested in learning more about the interactions between sequences & automations, we have another article linked below which gives further details about the 'Completed' status and more. If you've ever wondered who will receive new emails added to your sequence, this is the article for you! 👇