How to Create an Automation in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By Chester Bullock, Mark Pollard

Salesforce Marketing Cloud allows you to create automations. The editor view, where you create or edit automations, offers a drag-and-drop interface to add activities to steps in your automation.

The edit view of a scheduled automation appears in this image.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud automation
Tabs on the edit view provide an almost wizard-style path to creating your automation.

Use these steps to create an automation:

  1. From the Automation Studio Overview screen, click the New Automation button, near the top right.
  2. In the Create Automation window that appears, select one of the following, and then click OK:
    • Scheduled: As the name implies, this automation will run on a recurring basis using a schedule you’ll define. Or not; you’ll want to select this option also if you need to create an automation that you’ll start manually by using the Run Once function. You’ll likely use this option frequently.
    • File Drop: This kind of automation starts when a file is added to a designated folder on your Enhanced FTP location. This is a great option if you need to bring in data from an external location that isn’t being posted on a reliable schedule.
  3. For a file drop automation, click the Trigger Setup button on the Workflow tab.

    Complete the Trigger Setup window that appears and click Save.

    This window is where you:

    • Indicate the location where adding a new file triggers the automation. You can specify a file-naming pattern so that only a new file that matches the pattern initiates the automation.
    • Have the option to Disable Queuing. If you select this check box and the automation is already running when another new file is dropped in the folder location, then Marketing Cloud stops the current instance of the automation and starts working on the new instance of the automation instead.
  4. On the Workflow tab, drag the kind of activity you want from the Activities pane on the left to the canvas.

    The activity appears in Step 1. You can drag additional activities into Step 1 to instruct Marketing Cloud that it can work on both activities at the same time. You can drag activities into subsequent steps to indicate that Marketing Cloud needs to complete all the activities in the previous step before moving on to the next one.

    Activities that need to be run sequentially, such as a file extract and file transfer for the same data, should not be placed in the same step. All activities within a step are run at the same time, not in any sequence.

  5. Click the Choose button on the activity (Configure on the Send Email activity) to set up the specific information about that activity.

    If you have created reusable activities, you can select the arrow next to this button and choose the activity you created.

  6. For a scheduled automation, click on the Schedule tab and indicate when you want the automation to run.

    You can choose the date and time and how often the automation repeats, if at all.

  7. Click Save.

    If you have not given a name to the automation, the Save Automation window appears to prompt you to add a name, include an optional description, and choose the location in the folder structure where you want to store the automation.

If you’re creating a complex automation, it is a good idea to incrementally save the workflow as you are constructing it. The last thing you want is to have to start over due to a time-out or connection problem.