What is Automation Studio

By Swati Bhalla

Automation Studio in Salesforce Marketing Cloud is an application where you can execute multi-step marketing and data management activities on an immediate, triggered or scheduled basis.

This is how you Automation studio instance looks like.

How to create an Automation

In Overview tab:  you see all the automation that you have configured along with their status like their last run, Completed or error and on the left side you can find the folder structure. You can even filter your automations based on status and date.

Activities tab shows different activities that you have created such as SQl, Import, data extract, filter, script that you can reuse in multiple automation workflows.

NOTE* Dont edit a running automation, If you had to do, so pause it first.

To Create an automation click on New Automation tab from your overview page it will take you to this instance

You can see three diffrenet tabs in here Summary, Work flow and Activity

Summary’s tab shows you a quick view of what information appears on the other three tabs. That view includes the automation’s scheduled status, its activity sequence, and its recent activity.

In Workflow you define your automation by dragging activities onto the Workflow canvas.

Schedule uses this tab to schedule your automation and to see your schedule summary.

Activity tab shows you all the details of the automation’s activity, including the last run date and the progress or status of the activities in each run of the automation. If an error occurs in the automation’s run, this tab shows error details and a direct link to the activity details.

So when you create a new campaign you always work on channel, marketing strategy before you launch it, similarly an automation also needs a strategy, before we set any automation we should be clear what type of automation is needed.

To plan an automation we should understad the two different starting source File drop or Schedule

File drop automations – These automations are ‘triggered’ automations that read of a file being loaded onto the SFMC FTP. They used to be called “Triggered Automations”. This type of automation is used for when you need immediate actions completed based on file being loaded to the FTP.

You should consider few things before you coose file drop as a starting source

1- Create an Enhanced FTP enviornment in you SFMC account

2- Create custom subdirectories for these types of automations

3- Follow a consistent file naming pattern any change to the name will not trigger the automation as SFMC will not be able to identify the file dropped on you FTP

4- You can only create one automation per file

5- There are no run once option in your file drop automations

Schedule automations as the name suggests can be used to run an automation on a specific date and time, you can also do a recurring setting in schedule automations. With schedule automations you also get features like Run once (Manually check your automation and see how data flows) Active and pause option. Comman use case can be filtering or Using SQL on your master data set to segment your audience and use that for sending comminications

So now that you have a clear understanding of which starting source we should choose lets build an automation  in automation studio- Drag and drop the schedule option to the canvas and complete the basic details, Start date and time, Time zone and recurring details.

Once you do that you can see all the details you selected in the above image, if you have a recurring automation you also see the next run date.

Now you can select an activity you want to perform and place it in the canvas and do the configuration.

There are different types activities available in SFMC automation studio however lets cover SQL in this article

Follow these steps to create an SQL automation in the workflow

A: Create a Data Extension. To segment the data using SQL queries, first you need to create a data extension, which is the table that will be later populated with the segmented data.

B: Create a SQL Query. The query will segment from the Data extensions from Customer Data model and populate the Data extension you have created in Step 1.

    C: Create an automation to refresh the SQL segmentation automatically

Step 1 – Create a Data extension: You can duplicate a previously used DE. Add / Delete fields you need. Review the Data retention policy of the data extension according to your needs.

Step 2 – Create a SQL Query: Go to the Activities tab and click on “create activity”. Select SQL Activity type. 

  • Name your query and select your destination folder
  • Type your query and validate the syntax
  • Select the target Data extension where you are going to insert/update/overwrite the data (created in Step 1)

Step 3 – Create the Automation: 

  • In the overview tab go to workflow and click the ‘new automation’ button (top right-hand side)
  • Name the automation
  • Drag and drop the activities from the left panel to the right 

Once you have defined your workflow, you need to fill in the activities you have included in the canvas with the ones you have previously created in Step 2.

  • Click “choose” on the SQL activity
  • Select the SQL activity you have previously created
  • Click done

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