Automation Studio vs Journey Builder
Updated: May 31, 2019
Over the past several years working on Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I have often stumbled upon the question --
"Whether to use Journey Builder or Automation Studio when sending a communication?".
The answer is simple. Let us first understand what each of these tools are:
1) Automation Studio: This is a powerful tool that comes as a standard with mostly all the editions of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Email and Journey Builder Package). (Find out all the editions and their comparisons in this post) Automation studio allows you to automate a lot of activities that a Marketer may need to perform maybe manually in order to collate, segment, populate or modify data which they would like to use in a communication being sent through SFMC as a part of their Marketing Campaign. They could choose to add a communication like Email, SMS or Push notification as a part of an automation too. There are several activities like Query, SSJS, Import, File Transfer, User Initiated Send, SMS, Push, Data Extract, Filter etc. which can be configured and automated as a part of an automation in the Automation studio.
2) Journey Builder: Journey Builder is a tool with which a marketer can insert a contact into a multi-step campaign with certain actions can be performed at each step as per the transnational or behavioral data available to the marketer about the contact being inserted into the journey. A Marketer can choose to trigger the audience of a Journey in various ways like through an activity occurring in Salescloud (if the 2 boxes are connected through a connector that is) like creation or update of an object, or data existing in any other source made available to a journey through an automation etc. The marketers get the liberty to create a sequential series of activities like sending of an email, SMS or a Push Notification, updating the data back to Salescloud, waiting for a specific duration before the next activity, creating a decision split or an engagement split based on the transnational or behavioral data of the contact available in the contact model or the journey data itself.
Now to answer the question, which builder or studio should be used when sending a communication through Marketing Cloud, we must understand that the purpose of Automation studio is to automate the manual tasks required by the marketer in order to collate or populate the data required for a communication. The marketer can choose to send that communication to the filtered audiences as a part of the automation too but it should be considered for a burst sending of a promotional content to the targeted audiences. For example, if you wish to send a welcome email or a promotional offer to all of the subscribers which fall into a certain category, Automation Studio is the way forward.
On the other hand, the User Journeys are meant to be used for a real time 1 to 1 interaction with your subscriber where each communication or activity depends on the data or behavior of the individual subscriber i.e., the paths each subscriber traverses as a part of the journey is specific to that subscriber only. You should treat the Journeys like a real time automated solution that helps you interact with your customer based on the data or attributes of that individual subscribers.
This is my take on the Automation studio and Journey builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Please let me know your take on them in the comment section below.