Understanding journey and playbook entry criteria

This page describes the difference in behavior between entry criteria with an "occurs" condition and without an “occurs” condition. It also explains what happens when the campaign is switched on or off, or the entry criteria is modified.

While this page touches on how a person can re-enter a journey or playbook, you can get more specific advice on how to purposely re-enter people into campaigns in How to re-enter people into a journey or playbook campaign.


Entry criteria with an “occurs” condition

In a journey/playbook that has the entry criteria containing an “occurs” condition, people enter the journey/playbook only when the specified activity occurs. You can also add additional criteria using an “and” condition if you wish to limit which people you want to enter when the selected activity occurs, e.g. “New trial occurs AND Referral is Google”.

Example “occurs” entry condition

Switching the campaign ON for the first time

Switching the campaign on for the first time will cause people to enter the journey/playbook only when the specified activity occurs.

A person can re-enter the campaign when they perform the specified activity again (for journeys, this is true as long as the People can be in journey setting allows people to enter multiple times).

Modifying the entry criteria while the campaign is switched ON

If the entry criteria is modified while the campaign is switched on (for example, you add an additional condition):

  • People will only enter the campaign when the specified event occurs.
    If you remove the “occurs” activity condition, the behavior will be as described in the Entry criteria without an “occurs” condition section below.
  • People who are already in the campaign (they met the old entry criteria) will continue through the journey/playbook until they meet the exit criteria.

Switching the campaign OFF

Switching the campaign OFF will stop new people from entering the campaign. 

Regarding people who were in the campaign when it was switched OFF:

  • Journeys: People already in the campaign will be temporarily held in the shape they are currently in until the journey is switched back ON, after which they will resume their journey. People will be held at that shape for as long as the exit criteria setting They don’t move for X days allows.
  • Playbooks: People already in the campaign will temporarily remain in the playbook until it is switched back ON, after which they will resume receiving the remaining messages. People will be held in the playbook for as long as the exit criteria setting No new messages are sent for X days allows.

Switching the campaign back ON

When the campaign is switched back ON (after being switched OFF), people enter the journey/playbook only when the specified event occurs.

A person cannot re-enter the campaign based on the initial activity that caused them to enter the campaign the first time, they need to perform the specified event again to re-enter.

This means that:

  • For journeys:
    • New people meeting the criteria will enter. 
    • For people who meet the criteria and have previously entered the journey, their re-entry to the journey will be determined by the People can be in journey setting:
      • For Only once, and enter one time only, people will not enter again.
      • For Only once, and enter multiple times, people that have exited the journey will re-enter.
      • For More than once, and enter multiple times, people will re-enter.
  • For playbooks:
    • New people meeting the criteria for will enter. 
    • People who meet the criteria and have previously entered the playbook will re-enter.

NOTE: If you have added a Set a last entry date filter and you remove it after the set date has passed (while the campaign is ON), the campaign entry criteria will be re-evaluated as if you have switched the journey/playbook OFF and back ON again. Please refer to the behavior described in this section to understand when people will enter (or re-enter) the campaign.

NOTE: When a journey is switched back ON (after being switched off), people will enter the journey immediately after meeting the entry criteria.

However, people who were already in the journey will be temporarily held at the shape they had reached when the journey was switched OFF. When the journey is switched ON again, it can take up to 5 minutes for those people already in the journey to be "processed" at the shape they are held at and move on accordingly.


Entry criteria without an “occurs” condition

When a journey or playbook has entry criteria without an “occurs” condition (such as tags, field values, or “has”/“has not occurred” conditions), people will enter the journey the first time they meet the criteria.

Example entry condition without "occurs" (using a field value)

Modifying the entry criteria or switching a journey ON/OFF will affect people entry differently, as follows.

Switching the campaign ON for the first time

Switching the campaign ON will cause people to enter the campaign immediately if they already meet the criteria, or the first time they meet the entry criteria in the future.

Modifying the entry criteria while the campaign is switched ON

If the entry criteria is modified while the campaign is switched on (for example, you add an additional condition):

  • New people who meet the updated condition will enter the campaign.
  • People who are already in the campaign (they met the previous entry criteria) will continue through the journey/playbook until they meet the exit criteria.
  • People who still meet the old entry criteria will not re-enter the campaign.
  • People who no longer meet the old entry criteria, but do meet the new entry criteria, will enter (for journeys, this depends on whether the journey allows multiple entries).

For the last two bullet points above, here is an example to illustrate. You have a campaign with the entry criteria “New trial has occurred in the last 14 days”. You change this criteria to: “New trial has occurred in the last 14 days OR Tag is New trial”. This is how changing the criteria will affect who can enter:

  • Person A had a new trial occur 5 days ago, and has the "New trial" tag, but because they still match the previous criteria, they will not enter again.
  • Person B had a new trial occur 21 days ago, and has the “New trial” tag, they will enter because they don't meet the previous criteria any more, but do meet the new criteria.

This example, plus additional information about campaign re-entry, can be found in How to re-enter people into a journey or playbook campaign.

Switching the campaign OFF

Switching the campaign OFF will stop new people from entering the campaign. 

Regarding people who were in the campaign when it was switched OFF:

  • Journeys: People already in the campaign will be temporarily held in the shape they are currently in until the journey is switched back ON, after which they will resume their journey. People will be held at that shape for as long as the exit criteria setting They don’t move for X days allows.
  • Playbooks: People already in the campaign will remain in the playbook until it is switched back on, after which they will resume receiving the remaining messages. People will be held in the playbook for as long as the exit criteria setting No new messages are sent for X days allows.

Switching the campaign back ON

When the campaign is switched back ON (after being switched OFF), it will complete a fresh assessment of people who can enter the journey/playbook. This means that:

  • For journeys:
    • New people meeting the criteria for the first time will enter. 
    • For people who meet the criteria and have previously entered the journey, their re-entry to the journey will be determined by the People can be in journey setting:
      • For Only once, and enter one time only, people will not enter again.
      • For Only once, and enter multiple times, people that have exited the journey will re-enter.
      • For More than once, and enter multiple times, people will re-enter.
  • For playbooks:
    • New people meeting the criteria for the first time will enter. 
    • People who meet the criteria and have previously entered the playbook will re-enter.

NOTE: If you have added a Set a last entry date filter and you remove it after the set date has passed (while the campaign is ON), the campaign entry criteria will be re-evaluated as if you have switched the journey/playbook OFF and back ON again. Please refer to the behavior described in this section to understand when people will enter (or re-enter) the campaign.

NOTE: When a journey is switched back ON (after being switched off), people will enter the journey immediately after meeting the entry criteria.

However, people who were already in the journey will be temporarily held at the shape they had reached when the journey was switched OFF. When the journey is switched ON again, it can take up to 5 minutes for those people already in the journey to be "processed" at the shape they are held at and move on accordingly.


Entry criteria with a recurring time condition

For journey campaigns, entry criteria using a recurring time condition with timezone optimization (sending in the customer's timezone) schedules entries up to 24 hours in advance to ensure that people enter in a timely manner.

As such, changes to the filter made within 24 hours of the scheduled send time may not be applied, and people who matched the old entry criteria may still enter the journey during this period.

Example "Recurring day" filter option with local timezone optimization enabled