How Visual Workflows and Action Groups work

Author: Ana SzymalaContributors: Yusuf Young


All the details about Visual Workflows and Action Groups can be found here.

Best practices & things to know

Automation is triggered by lead behavior, not bulk edits or imports.

This is to prevent imports from accidentally triggering multiple automation workflows simultaneously. Imports and bulk edits in the Contact Manager will not trigger Workflows, Action Groups or List memberships (except of course the list that you import into). Changes made through the Contact Manager to an individual contact, information submitted through forms, or changes made via the API (and thus also integrations using Zapier or PieSync) will all be able to trigger Workflows.

Changes or additions to workflow branches will not affect contacts who are already in it

When a contact is added to a workflow branch, all actions in it will be immediately scheduled. So if you add or remove an action from it, those actions will not be added to the contact. Emails in Action Groups are also immediately scheduled, so if you change the contents of the email after a contact has been added, the edits will not be reflected when the email is sent to the contacts. And if you have merge variables in your emails, then their values will be whatever they were at the time of scheduling, not at the time of sending.

(You can bypass this by creating an Action Group for each send, and including those action groups within the original action group. We can show you how to do that.)

Note that this works differently when you schedule an email to a list directly (not using an Action Group). When you schedule an email to a list, the email that is sent will be the how it looks at the time of sending (not at the time that you originally scheduled it). Any merge variables used will contain the contact's fields at the time of sending, not the time of scheduling. Everyone in the list at the time the email is actually sent will receive it, even if they were not in the list when the email was scheduled.

Avoid removing contacts from workflows more than twice.

FunnelBud gives you the ability to remove a contact from an Action Group whether it be manually from the contact profile, or automatically from a Workflow. However, a contact can only be added and removed from a Workflow twice before that contact becomes excluded from that Action Group. When a contact is excluded from an Action Group, he or she cannot be added to that Action Group again.

If you're testing a workflow but nothing happens, you probably forgot to set it as "repeatable"


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I save a visual workflow?

A: All edits are saved automatically.

Q: How can I test my workflows?

Q: What is the difference between a trigger and a filter?

A trigger is what starts the automation. Then, the Filter "lets through" only the ones who have met the filter criteria.

A filter does not start any automations. They just narrow the scope of what is let through, after a trigger starts the automation.

For example, if you say "Trigger: Form fill" and then there is a filter "Filter: Industry = B2B", it means that the form fill will start the automation, but only the people who are also tagged with B2B are let through.

But if a person fills out the form today, and then tomorrow you tag them as B2B, that will not start the automation. Because the B2B criteria is a filter, not a trigger, so it does not start the automation. It only gets evaluated when the trigger starts the automation.

(If you want to start the automation when B2B is selected, then you need to add this also as a trigger.)

Q: What's the difference between a Visual Workflow and an Action Group?

A Visual Workflow has a trigger. This is the main thing you will use.

An Action Group is just actions. If you have a series of actions that you want to reuse in many places, you can create an Action Group. Then you can insert this action group in many different Visual Workflows.


You have a process called "Qualify lead". This should:

  1. Sset the lead as qualified

  2. Notify your sales team

  3. Email your Info inbox

You have a couple of different scenarios when this should happen. For example:

  • If the contact fills out the "Contact us" form

  • If the contact gets a high lead score

  • If the contact goes through a workflow with several emails, and in one of those emails clicks the "Yes I'd like a quote" button.

So what you can do in this case is: Create an action group with the 3 actions listed above. Then, you can insert it in the different visual workflows where these actions should happen (one for form fill, one for high lead score, and one that sends a series of emails including the email they should click to get qualified).

So in short, Action Groups are a set of actions you want to reuse in multiple places.

In addition, action groups can be scheduled manually too. So if you want your sales people to be able to perform a series of actions manually, you can create an action group for them. (One example of this could be: "After meeting nurturing", which sends a series of emails and other actions which sales people can add contacts to if they want to automate a series of actions.)

Q: What happens with actions that already took place at the time when the contact gets added to a time-based action group?

If someone is added to the action group less than the prior to the date of interest, then that contact will fire only the actions that occurred within the past 24 hours of the contact being entered into the action group AND from that point moving forward.

Q: Can I rename the branches in my visual workflow?

Yes. To rename the branch, simply click on the green bar above your action group and type in a new name. The name will save automatically.

Q: How can I see how far a lead is in a visual workflow?

On the Memberships tab of the lead record, the visual workflow name will display, followed by the name of the specific branch a lead has taken part in. You can see aggregate usage, including the last time the visual workflow ran, on the main visual workflows page.

Q: Can visual workflows be repeatable?

Both visual workflows and action groups can be set as repeatable. The repeatable status of the branch itself sets whether or not all content within the branch is repeatable.

Q: How do time delays work in visual workflows?

Time delays in the visual workflow builder are structured around the timing of the prior event (not from the beginning of the workflow).

Q: How do time delays work when using action groups?

Time delays with action groups are structured around the timing of when the lead enters the action group, and not when the lead completes the action. In a workflow with a referenced standalone action group, time delays placed ahead of subsequent actions or action groups in the same branch will start before the actions or action groups.

Q: In case I have two triggers, will they be evaluated as “or” or “and”.


Q: I am testing a visual workflow and manually triggered it but none of the expected actions happened. For example, the trigger is "when someone fills out the form" and action is "send the email..." I filled out the form but didn't receive the email. When I did it the first time, I received the email as expected. What is wrong with the workflow?

Please check if the branch that should execute is repeatable. A non-repeatable branch will prevent the same contact from going through it more than once. To set the branch as repeatble, please follow this instruction.

If the branch has filters, check if the you meet all conditions in the filter.