Engagement Programs with Nested Programs: When do you really get that email?

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Most of the documentation out there about using engagement programs shows you just dropping emails directly into the stream. However, you can also drop programs into them, and there are many situations where you might want to put your email inside of a program instead of directly into the stream.

Why use nested programs?

  • To add additional qualification criteria, e.g. only send this email to people in Canada, even though US people are also in the stream
  • To have conditional choices, e.g. to send a different variation of the email to one sub-group within the stream
  • To include landing pages, forms, or other assets, e.g. webinar invitation that links to a landing page and form for registration
  • Because you want to get multi-touch attribution on nurture email programs
  • To add extra flow steps, such as alert emails, CRM actions, etc.

There's a lot of confusion out there about how things work when you put programs inside a nurture. To clear up the confusion and confirm my own experience, I did a lot of testing of all kinds of scenarios, such as:

  • What if a lead got the email directly in the stream and later in the stream, that same email is sent out from within a program?
  • What if the lead got the email from the program first and then the email is standalone in the nurture stream later on?
  • What if the lead already got the email in a previous program and is a member of the next program that sends out the same email?
  • What if I then take that lead out of the program and make them no longer a member?
  • What if they went through that program with one smart campaign and now I create a new smart campaign in that program and add that into the nurture stream instead?
  • What if they aren't a member of the program but they don't qualify for a filter in the smart list?
  • What if I then remove the filter they didn't qualify for?
  • What if the email is in Design Studio? In the program that's inside the nurture? In a different program?

The three main conclusions:

1. When using nested programs, deciding whether or not to send the email to a person is based on:

    • Program Membership
    • Program ID

What this means is that it does not matter if the person already got the email or not. If the person is a member of the program, they will not get that email. If they are not a member of the program, but have gone through that program ID before in the nurture program, they will not get that email. Only if you are brand new to the program will you get that email.

2. You can reuse an email someone has already gotten if you put it in a new program, regardless of where the email is stored (Design Studio, local to the program, local to another program).

The main difference with these options is the reporting and ease of use. When you use a Design Studio email in multiple programs in an engagement stream, the different sends are treated as separate sends in the Engagement Stream Performance report. In the regular Email Performance report, they are treated as the same email and all the metrics are rolled up into one line.


3. If you want to resend something, it is always safest to create a new program and smart campaign.

Level 5

Thank you, Kristen. This is awesome.

I was wondering what was happening behind the scenes when using programs in streams, and you answered everything. And you made me realize that I have to create new programs if I want to re-send the same email at a later time.

Thanks again for sharing.

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Thanks a lot Kristen.
This is exactly what I am on now.

I am just wondering how did you do an Email Performance Report while using email stored in Design studio?

If I use email created and stored in Design studio and use it in smart campaign within Email Blast program then I am not able to do Email Performance Report for this specific program as it has no local email asset (I am using email from design studio).

Thanks for any comment,


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I am not using the Email program type. I am using a Default program type with an Email channel, as this is the only kind of email program you can put inside the Engagement program.

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Hi Kirsten,

thanks a lot for your response.

Please, is there any guide how smart campaign or the whole default program should be set up while I am using them in Engagement program?

Thanks a lot,


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I usually have two smart campaigns in the most basic program. One to send the email, which at its core has a Member of Engagement Program filter in the smart list and the send email flow step. Then the second is to track program success, provided you want to do that from a reporting perspective as opposed to giving full credit to the engagement program.

Not applicable

Hi Kristen,

thanks for getting back to me. Do you switch on the first "send" campaign or should it be turned off and the cadence of the stream will switch it on automatically?

Thanks a lot,


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When you add the campaign into the stream of the engagement program, it will change to a lightbulb with a green arrow, which indicates that it's being called by the engagement program, so you won't need to activate it in any other way.

Level 3

Our website has a lot of downloads. People can freely download content. We're creating nurtures with the same content and want to stop sending content within the nurture that people have already downloaded. To do this as nested programs. Would you create a default email send with a smart list that excluded those that clicked on the content and place each email program into the stream?

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You can do that. Just keep in mind that when the rules are in the smart list, the people who get called that week for that program and don't qualify won't get an email that week at all. If you want them to still get an email, you're better off making them members of the program as soon as they download the content the first time. This could impact your reporting though, so just keep that in mind when weighing the pros and cons.

Level 10

Hi Kristen,

Thx for putting this altogether. What is stil missing in EP is the possibility to conditionally skip a content. The nested program may choose not to send en email to a given lead, but then this will have 2 drawbacks:

  1. The lead will receive no content on that cast
  2. If you do not add the lead to the program as a member, the EP will send it again to the same program at the following cast (which may result in not sending the email again

So the picture would be really complete with this idea: