ActiveCampaign Goals Explained (and why you should use them)

Goal steps in ActiveCampaign automations look interesting, right? But also scary, mysterious and truthfully, you have no idea how to work them or what they’re useful for.

You’re not alone. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to use a goal step when I started out with ActiveCampaign. And when I finally did, I was all “omg, ActiveCampaign goals are *awesome* and why did I wait so long?!”

You don’t have to wait – I’m right here, right now, to show you how Goal steps will simplify automations, solve dozens of use cases, help you move contacts around automations just how you want, and measure success as well. Seriously, goal steps are the undiscovered magicians of ActiveCampaign automations.

Every ActiveCampaign user can, and should, be using Goals in automations – read on, and I’ll show you how and when to use them.

Trust me, you won’t look back… you’re about to say goodbye to using a ton of if/else steps in your ActiveCampaign automations, and that’s just one of the big wins here…

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Follow these steps to get to grips with goals in ActiveCampaign:

Watch Kay Peacey explain ActiveCampaign goals so they finally make sense

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Learn what ActiveCampaign Goals steps actually are

ActiveCampaign goals look scary because they’re one of the most flexible and creative automation steps in ActiveCampaign.

I’ll tell you more, but promise me you won’t freak out…?

I’m also going to show you how to use the simplest easiest and biggest ActiveCampaign goals wins, so I promise it’s worth it…

What actions can Goals do in ActiveCampaign Automations?

An ActiveCampaign Goal step can do any combination of a few actions, involving waits, conditions, gatekeeping and measuring.

Each ActiveCampaign goal step is a sort of hybrid of some or all of these things:

  • a wait step
  • an if/else step
  • a magical teleporter that picks contacts up and drops them where you want them to be
  • a turnstile gate that only lets certain contacts through
  • a measuring and monitoring thing that records and reports on who met the goal

That’s all very lovely, but to get your head around them, I’ve found that marble-runs make sense of it all for humans who want to understand ActiveCampaign goals…

If you’re not familiar yet with automations, wait steps, if/else and working with contacts, go do our free Accelerated ActiveCampaign training first though – things will make much more sense that way round.

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Understand the 3 things Goals can do in ActiveCampaign automations

Imagine an automation as a marble run, and the contact is a marble, running down through the automation.

1 – Use a goal to skip steps in an ActiveCampaign automation

  • A goal behaves like a Giant’s hand that is ready to pick up the marble from where it is on the run, and drop it back in at the goal step.
  • The conditions you set in a goal tell the Giant when a given contact-marble can be picked up and teleported to the goal step. 
  • When the goal conditions are met, the Giant swoops in, grabs the marble, and re-positions it, skipping the steps in between, and setting it down at the goal step. Like it has a golden ticket or an all-access pass.
  • Marbles that skip to the goal move straight on to the next step after the goal step, and carry on down the automation

(Watch the video above to see this explained with arm-waving and magnets)

2 – Use a goal to decide what to do in an ActiveCampaign automation

We also get to choose what happens when a contact-marble reaches a goal step just by gravity.

When the contact-marble doesn’t meet the conditions on its way down to the goal step, the Giant just leaves it to trickle on down the run as far as the goal step, without skipping anything.

When a contact-marble gets to the goal step under its own steam, we have extra options to decide what happens:

  • Let the marble pass through the turnstile and carry on 
  • Make the marble wait there until it meets the conditions 
  • Keep the gate shut, and kick the marble off the run 

3 – Use a goal to record what happened in an ActiveCampaign automation

ActiveCampaign keeps a record of what happened every time a contact reaches a goal step. This is a fabulous way to track how well your automations are working at getting contacts to do what you want. More on that later…

How ActiveCampaign records outomes of Goals steps in automations
  • achieved = they met the goal conditions
  • skipped = they did not meet the goal conditions but were allowed past anyway
  • waiting on = they’re waiting there until they meet the conditions
  • not achieved = the were kicked out of the automation for not meeting the conditions

ActiveCampaign keeps goal activity on every contact record without you needing to do anything.

And you can see the % of contacts who passed through the automation and achieved each goal really easily – nice! Goals are a great way to measure conversions in ActiveCampaign.

Discover 4 brilliant ways to use ActiveCampaign Goals

ActiveCampaign goals are very versatile (understatement!) but there are some lovely simple classic use-cases that every business needs.

Here are four examples of how to use Goal steps in your ActiveCampaign automations, to easily solve real business problems and simplify processes.

1 – Skip steps in an ActiveCampaign automation using a Goal step

When you have a series of automation emails asking the contact to do something, you don’t want to keep on sending more of those emails after they did the action.

Use a goal to have a contact skip reminder emails when a they have already done did the thing you were trying to get them to do.  

For example, if someone has made the appointment, or purchased or filled out the form you need done.

Put an ActiveCampaign Goal step at the very end of the automation to jump the contact there when they have purchased / scheduled / filled out the form.

You can see this in action in our free Accelerated ActiveCampaign training – it’s super-easy to build, and once you’ve seen it step by step, you’ll wonder why it ever seemed scary or difficult.

Get our FREE Accelerated ActiveCampaign training now

2 – Stop an ActiveCampaign automation part way through using a Goal step

Sometimes you will want to stop certain contacts from continuing – the ones who aren’t doing what you want them to do…

For example, if they did not click on the lead magnet link, or anywhere in the first three emails you sent them, maybe they’re not a great lead. Use the ActiveCampaign goal to stop un-promising contacts from going any further.

(Check out my tutorial on how to set up an easy lead magnet funnel in ActiveCampaign to see this one in action.)

Put an ActiveCampaign Goal step at the decision point, to end the automation if the contact did not do what you wanted them to.

3 – Start a contact part way through an ActiveCampaign automation using a Goal step

Sometimes you need to drop a contact (or a whole bunch of them) into the middle of an automation.

By setting goal conditions to look for a tag (like FIX: lost my marbles) and then adding the tag to the contacts, they will jump to the goal step.

Put an ActiveCampaign Goal step where you want them to jump to, add the tag to the contacts you want to start at that spot, then add them to the automation.

4 – Jump or pause using a date in ActiveCampaign automations using a Goal step

There are lots of awesome use cases using dates in goal steps – they get fiddly, but they’re totally worth it.

  • Email a contact the day before their call
  • Jump them to where everyone else is at if they joined the webinar funnel at the last minute
  • Hold them until a week before their membership expires then send some “why you should stay” incentives

This is a more advanced way to use a goal, and you need to use a date in a custom field.

Put an ActiveCampaign goals where you want them to wait until a date, or jump there on a certain day relative to that date

Date based goals are the trickiest ones to work with, but also extremely useful. We do a lot of support, training, guidance and troubleshooting on these in our ActiveCampaign Academy so hop on in when you want to master these incredibly useful goal step use cases.

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Learn how to set up Goal steps in ActiveCampaign automations

Here’s what you need to know when adding a goal step in any automation for ActiveCampaign. There are four settings areas, and you will need to understand each of them to make you goal work.

When your goal isn’t working how you want, go check these four settings – one of them at least will be in need of fixing. If you need more help, come find me in the ActiveCampaign Academy – we’re stone-cold pros at troubleshooting goal steps.

The four settings you need for goals in ActiveCampaign automations

1 – The ActiveCampaign Goal name

Does what it says on the tin – it’s a name, for this goal.

You’ll see it on the automation step, and it’s what you use to find this goal in searches, reports, contact activity etc.

Say what the goal is looking for, in as few words as you can sensibly manage, eg. “clicked to lead magnet” or “purchased” or “tag FIX exists”.

2 – The ActiveCampaign Goal conditions

This is where you set the rules for when the Giant will go pick up the contact-marble and move it past the turnstile.

It’s the same conditions editor we see all over ActiveCampaign. 

Start simple with single easy conditions, eg. Tag > Exists > FIX: lost my marbles.

3 – Where the ActiveCampaign Goal will be applied – “And when this goal is:”

You can almost always leave this set to the default option of “Below contact’s position”.

It tells the Giant where marbles are allowed to be picked up from on the marble run. If you want the Giant to pick up marbles after they’ve gone past the turnstile, and put them back at the goal step, choose the second option “Anywhere”.

If in doubt, leave on the default.

4 – What will happen if the contact does not meet the ActiveCampaign Goal conditions

This is for when a contact-marble gets to the goal step under its own steam, having not come to the attention of the Giant, because it has not yet met the goal conditions.

  • Let the marble pass through the turnstile and carry on = Continue anyway
  • Make the marble wait there until it meets the conditions = Wait until conditions are met
  • Keep the gate shut, and kick the marble off the run = End this automation

I bet you’d love to see a step by step walkthrough of setting up a goal in an ActiveCampaign automation…

Well you’re in luck – head to our free Accelerated ActiveCampaign training for exactly that, with Kay Peacey as your easy ActiveCampaign guide.

Get our FREE Accelerated ActiveCampaign training now

Read 10 best-practice tips for using Goals in ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign goals are brilliant to use to simplify, streamline and control automation paths. Goals solve thousands of use-cases and problems, and unlock potential to create really personal experiences for your contact.

Here’ are my top ten pro tips for best practice when you use goals in ActiveCampaign

  1. Be patient
    Goals run on 15-minute cycles so be patient when testing
  2. Goals only run once per pass
    A goal can only be achieved once per contact pass through an automation
  3. Use step notes
    Add a note on the goal step to say what it’s doing
  4. Wait until
    Remember to change it to a “wait until” if that’s what you need
  5. Sensible goal names
    Name it sensibly, and if the conditions get an edit, the name gets an edit too
  6. Start simple
    Goals are wondrously useful, but can be fiddly – handle with care and start easy
  7. Do you even need a goal?
    Maybe an if/else step, or a wait step, may be a better choice than a goal
  8. Use goal data in other automations
    You can use “Goal is Achieved” in triggers and conditions in other automations!
  9. Goal completion metrics
    You can see the rates on the main automations screen – handy!
  10. Duplicate goal names
    Give more than one goal the same name and you have trouble on your hands

Phew! There’s more of course – join us in the ActiveCampaign Academy for all the goals juicy details, dos, don’ts and strategy wins.

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Get fast expert help with using Goals in ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign Academy training with Kay Peacey

Checking goal conditions, testing things, knowing when to use them, and exactly how to set them… it’s a lot, I know…

We support every member of our ActiveCampaign Academy any time they need a sanity-check, fix or inspiration on when and how to use goals for big wins in ActiveCampaign.

Come join us, for consult calls with Kay, a fast trustworthy support community, trainign courses, and a big library of real life use cases, tutorials and walkthroughs. It’s the treasure-trove of ActiveCampaign know-how you’ve been looking for.

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