Using the update list activity to create a list with a workflow

Understand the concept of lists in Adobe Campaign Classic and learn how to create a list using the update list activity in a workflow.

In this module, you’ll learn how to describe a list and explain the different ways to create a list. You’ll also learn to describe best practices for using lists and how to create a list in a workflow. A list is a static set of profiles that can be targeted in a delivery. Although lists can also contain non-profile type data, the most common use case of a list is for profiles.
There are two types of lists that can be created, a Group type list and the List type list, and they differ in how they’re populated. The Group type is manually created and populated in the client console user interface. The List type is populated using a workflow. After executing the targeting queries within a workflow, the List update activity is used to store the resulting population into a list. You can either create a new list or repopulate an existing list.
The lists can then be used as the target for a delivery either downstream in the same workflow or within another campaign workflow. Since lists are static, they should only be used to precompute recurring queries. For example, a marketer may use the same query to determine a target population for multiple campaigns. And these campaigns may be recurring as well. Instead of executing the same query multiple times, the better approach is to run the query once, store the population in a list, and reuse the list instead of querying the database each time.
Using a list avoids querying the database each time the query needs to be executed, therefore requiring less system resources.
Also, it avoids executing the query within the campaign workflow which results in a more efficient workflow. Since lists are static, they need to be updated regularly. To do this, create a workflow that executes the query and schedule it to execute after the data loading workflows. This way, after new profiles are loaded into the database, the lists are updated with any new profiles that meet the criteria of the query. And finally, as a general best practice, it’s best to limit the use of lists. For every list that’s created, a table is created in the database. Therefore, the size of the database is impacted by the number of lists which can also impact the overall system performance. Only use a list if significant performance is gained like in the case of recurring queries.
Also for that same reason, lists should be expired when they’re no longer needed in order to clear up space in the database. You can set the expiration date for lists so they’re automatically deleted when the list is no longer needed. In this exercise, we’ll continue to build the workflow called Apparel Sale for Men that we created in previous modules. From the Targeting palette, you can scroll down, and find the List update activity, and now drag that onto the workflow and attach it to the Exclusion activity.
We’re going to change the label, set this to Males under 80 or…
location is LA or New York.
Now let’s have a look at the different properties in here. So there are three options here for creating the list. Specified explicitly allows you to select a list that already exists. The other two options are both called Create the list if necessary, and they’ll both create a new list if that one doesn’t already exist. The only difference between the two is that the first one, Computed name, allows you to select the folder in which you want to create the list, and only the name of the list is computed.
With the second option, both the folder and the name of the list is computed.
So we’re going to use this second one here, the Create the list if necessary, and we’re going to pick the folder and compute the name.
So in the Folder field, click the folder icon, and then expand Profiles and Targets and select Lists. Click Okay, and the label is going to be Males under 80 or location is LA or New York.
The option Create or use a list with its own table will create a table in the database for this list. It’s best practice to use this option for performance reasons, so keep the default and leave the option checked. The option Purge and reuse the list if it exists, this is selected by default, and it means that the full list will be replaced with a new list of results. If the option is unchecked, new results will be added to the existing list. This really depends on the design of your workflow and your business requirements. In this use case, we want the list updated with the target population each time the workflow is executed. Therefore, we’ll keep this option selected. Generally in a workflow, saving a target population in a list marks the end of the workflow. So by default, the List update activity doesn’t have an outbound transition. However, if you did need to have a transition in your workflow from your List update activity, you could do that, you could add one by just selecting this option here. We don’t need that, so we’re going to go ahead and click Okay. Notice there’s no transition here. And now we’re going to start our workflow, so go ahead and click Start.
Now that the workflow has finished, we can see that the List update activity executed successfully without errors. This means that our list has been created. I just want to point out that this workflow is a great example of a use case for lists. If multiple campaigns needed to use the same criteria to determine the target population, the business practitioner would save time and system resources by creating this workflow to generate the target population and save the results to a list. The campaign workflows that send the deliveries can then use the list as the target population. They don’t need to recreate all the filtering conditions multiple times within each campaign. More importantly, the queries are only executed once, therefore freeing up system resources. Now let’s go check our list, go to Explorer.
And go to Profiles and Targets.
And select the Lists folder.
Now my list is showing up. If yours isn’t which can happen, just click on the Refresh button up at the top, and this will refresh your list.
Now double-click your list, and select the Content tab. We can click down here on the count, and we can see that the number of recipients in the list matches the target population within the workflow.
Now go to the Edit tab. On this tab, you could modify the Label and set the Internal name as well to something more custom.
We can see that the type of list is a type List. And we can also see that the scheme of it is being targeted. Here is the Recipients schema.
Then more importantly, the Expires on. So this isn’t set in the workflow. So we want to make sure that we set an expiration here just to make sure we free up that database with our list.
This completes the exercise on creating and managing lists. -