Build a Drip Marketing Campaign

In addition to building ongoing and one-time mailings with Slate’s Deliver tool, you can also create automated drip marketing campaigns. 

This article focuses on best practices and outlines how to use populations, rules, and filters to efficiently configure drip marketing campaigns in Deliver. There are three broad steps outlined below, along with information about testing your drip marketing campaigns. Be sure to read through all steps, including information about testing, before activating any mailings or rules to be sure that everything is functioning as you intend.

  Why use populations for drip marketing campaigns?

Population functionality in Slate is useful for drip marketing because populations can be built in a "perennial" way: the population itself may not change over time, but the students within it will. Student records can be added to and removed from a population based on specific filter criteria within the rule used to set the population.

Step 1: Build a Population

To create a population and a rule to add records to that population:

  1. Click Database on the navigation bar and select Population.
  2. Click Insert.
  3. Set the Status to "Active" and give your population a name. For the purpose of this article, let's create a "First Year English Majors" population.
  4. Choose a Scope - generally either Person or Application.  The scope must match in several places:  Population, Population Rule, Recipient List, and Recipient List filter.
  5. Click Save.
Step 2: Build a Population Rule

Use the following steps to create a Rule that will add records to a population:

  1. Click Database on the navigation bar and select Rules Editor.
  2. Click New Rule.
  3. Name the rule and choose the "Prospects" base for the population. If using an Application population, the Base should also be "Applications," however, it's typically best to start with a person-scoped population when building a drip-marketing campaign, because a "Prospects" population can include both applicants and non-applicants.
  4. Select the "Person Population" type and place the rule within a folder.
  5. Choose the filter criteria for your rule to determine the students who should be in this population. Some filters for our sample rule could include "Student Type = First Year," "Academic Interest = English," and upcoming entry term prompts.
  6. The Action for this rule should be to set the "First Year English Majors" population.
  7. Click Save.


At this point it is important that you DO NOT make your rule active. You’ll learn more about this when we configure the Deliver mailings that will be sent to this population.

 What about an exclusivity group?

You don't want to use an exclusivity group for Populations for drip marketing campaigns because a student may meet the criteria of multiple populations at any given time. Be sure to be intentional about designing your various campaigns to ensure you do not inundate students with emails, should they reside in multiple populations at once.

Step 3: Build a Campaign

Use the following steps to create the series of campaign messages:

  1. Click Deliver on the navigation bar.
  2. Select Campaigns in the top right side of the page. The Campaigns view displays all of your populations as well as the number of mailings associated with those populations. If this is the first population in your database, then this area will likely be blank. Refer to the Populations knowledge base article for information on creating populations. It's also possible that populations are being used for other functionality besides mailings (populations are also often used for permissions). All populations will appear on this screen.
  3. Select the population that you would like use to build a campaign. This page will ultimately show all of the mailings associated with this particular population, as well as the statistics for the campaign overall. 
  4. Select New Mailing.
    (Note: By default, creating a new mailing from within a campaign will create a Person-scoped Recipient List.  If the scope of the Population and the Population rule is Applications (or another scope), create the mailing by clicking New Mailing on the main Deliver page.)
  5. Select a folder, user, method, and name the mailing.
  6. Select a Time Interval Type and enter the appropriate value for Number of Days or Start/End Date.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Begin building your mailing by clicking Edit Recipient Lists. When building Deliver messages, start by identifying the criteria for your recipients list: the records who are to receive the message. Because of the configuration selected in the previous steps, your recipient list will be partially pre-configured with the "Population Timestamp Days" or the "Population Timestamp" filters.
    (Note: If the mailing was created through the main Deliver page, the recipient list must be created with the scope that matches the population. By adding a population filter with the matching scope, the mailing will be associated with the selected population.  If the population is application-scoped, use a Population (Application) filter such as "Population (Application) Timestamp Days.")
  9. Edit the recipient list query to include the exports needed for message merge fields. Be sure to add "Email," in addition to Preferred First Name, or other desired exports. The Population Timestamp Days filter can also be modified, if a different "Number of Days" interval is desired. 
  10. At this point in the process, note that the number of "Estimated Rows" for your recipients list is zero. This is expected because the Population Rule hasn't yet been activated. 
  11. When building a drip marketing campaign, it is important to schedule your mailing to run every day of the week. In the "Send Mailing" configuration, make sure that "Ongoing: Continue running mailing indefinitely" is selected, and every day of the week is selected. This is crucial because if a student enters the population on a Friday and the mailing is only scheduled to send Monday through Friday, the student would never received the Day 1 email configured above. Slate will not cache query runs and send the mailing on the next scheduled day.


    Select at least TWO delivery windows to ensure that the mailing is delivered as intended.

  12. Continue building all of the communications that are a part of this campaign. As you build each new email, your "First Year English Majors" campaign page will expand. 
  13. Once you have completed building all of the communications within a particular campaign, all mailings should be activated via Send Mailing on each mailing. 

The complete list of population filters includes: 

  • Population - Identifies all records that are a part of a specific population at that moment in time.
  • Population Timestamp - Identifies all records that joined the population on a specified date or within a defined date range.
  • Population Timestamp Days - Identifies all records that have been in the specific population for a defined number of days.

  Best Practice

The earliest timestamp day that can be used for the Number of Days setting is 1. Setting a population timestamp days filter to 0 excludes records that may have entered the population after the latest delivery window selected.


The mailings must be activated and running before proceeding to Step 4 for the Number of Days interval to function properly and the message delivery timing to function as intended.

Step 4: Activate Population Rule and Run Retroactive Refresh

Only after the mailings in the Drip Marketing Campaign are running, follow the steps below to activate the population rule and place Records into a population in order to start receiving messages:

  1. Access your population rule in the Rules Editor, change the status from Preview to Active, and click Save
  2. Click New Query from within the rule, add any exports (such as Name), and run the query. The particular exports you choose here do not matter, however, in order to run a query, at least one export is required. 
  3. You will be presented with a preview of the records that are eligible for your new population rule.

Select "Output > Batch Management > Retroactive Refresh." Click "Export" and then "Submit."

That's it! Since the mailings are already active, their queries will pick up these records now that they have been added to the desired population. Moving forward, newly eligible records will enter the population automatically (because the rule is active) and will be picked up by the mailing campaigns as appropriate. If a record is already in a Population and is Retroactively Refreshed, Slate does not reset how long they were in that Population. 

Testing Drip Marketing Campaigns

Sending emails from your Test Environment is disabled. While transactional communications such as form or event registration emails and one-time Deliver campaigns will post to the student timeline (as if an email had been sent), ongoing Deliver campaigns will not. Therefore, the best way to test a drip marketing campaign prior to going live is to do the following: 

  1. When building your Population rule, add a filter for "Tag" and select "Test Record" as the value. Ensure that you have at least one test record that meets the population criteria. 
  2. Change the Timestamp Days filter to "1" for all the emails in the associated campaign. This step allows you to receive all of the emails at once, instead of waiting for the entire campaign to run before going live. Conversely, you could set the days interval to any value you would like to test if you would like to wait the specified number of days. 
  3. Send the mailings, ensuring that their Status is now set to "Scheduled/Running". 
  4. Activate the Population rule, and run a retroactive refresh as in Step 3 above, to ensure that the desired test records enter the population and become eligible for the campaign mailings. 
  5. Once you are satisfied with how the campaign functions after testing:
    • Change the Timestamp Days interval on the emails used for testing back to their original/desired value.
    • Remove the "Tag > Test Record" filter from your rule.
    • Run a Retroactive Refresh via the rule again, to ensure all desired records are added to the newly created population.
    • Keep the mailing set to "Scheduled/Running," which will allow it to pick up new records that meet the filter criteria during the next delivery window. 


Emails and texts are never sent/delivered to recipients when messages are "sent" in Test, Clean Slate, or Time Warp environments, but they will appear on records' Timelines as if they were delivered. However, scheduled ongoing mailings do not automatically run in these environments, so they will not appear as if they were sent. Test ongoing mailings in Production with test records to ensure that these mailings send as expected.

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