Auto exclude is an optional feature that you can turn on and configure in your instance. It changes how you set up and manage draft and scheduled mailings.
If you turn on auto excludes for your organization, you specify a send date on your drafts, and sort drafts into an order to determine what excludes what. Typically, you place broadly-targeted drafts (that should exclude most others) at the top of the order, more narrowly targeted drafts (excluded by the broader drafts) further down, and random-sample tests (which usually exclude nothing, to get a clean random sample) at the bottom.
Our Intermediate Mailings training has a section detailing how Auto Exclude works and help you decide whether to enable this feature:
To start using auto excludes, you have to turn it on for your instance in your CONFIG, which you can access if you have SuperUser level permissions.
Now create or open a draft. On the targeting screen, you'll see a checkbox to enable auto excludes. Individual mailings can have auto excludes on or off: the ones with it enabled exclude each other as needed automatically, and the ones without it only exclude (or get excluded) by hand, via Exclude Groups -> Mailings. Even if most of your drafts use auto excludes, there might be a few urgent or otherwise special drafts where you want to to "double hit" subscribers you already mailed today; for those, you'd disable auto excludes.
Once you have two or more drafts on a given day, you'll also have to drag and drop them into an order so ActionKit can know what should exclude what. Each draft excludes those below it. Your broadest mailings (e.g., full-list) generally need to exclude the most other drafts, so they go at the top. Narrower mailings need to exclude fewer drafts, so they go further down. If two mailings go to naturally different audiences (e.g., one goes to California and the other to New York), it doesn't matter what order they're in. Often, once you've arranged mailings into a few general bins (full-list mailing, narrow mailings, random tests), exactly how you order isn't that important; if your targeting counts aren't way out of whack, you're probably OK. You can use a given draft's targeting screen to reorder any auto-excluding drafts, not just the one currently being edited.
After you submit your draft's targeting, its targeting summary will include a line listing exactly which drafts it excludes. You might notice it also has a line about sent mailings: draft for today will exclude all sent mailings that have auto-excludes enabled in order to prevent users from accidentally getting mailed twice.
On the mailings dashboard (/dash/mailings/), you'll see mailings arranged by date and in the order you set up on the targeting screen (plus a section for undated drafts). Each date has a "Rebuild" link, which rebuilds drafts marked as needing it, and a "Reorder" link that lets you drag them around without going to a mailing's targeting screen.
The auto-exclude setting does not actually schedule your mailings. You still need to schedule your mailing or just hit send, as you do now, to send your mailing. Scheduled mailings are including in the list for reordering from the targeting screen or the dashboard (although you won't see them in the list until you hit reorder on the dash).
Note some things this feature does not do:
- It doesn't prevent your mailings from needing rebuilds, or automate rebuilds much. The "rebuild" link for each date on the dashboard is just equivalent to clicking "Rebuild now" on the top draft for that date. The "Reorder" link on the dashboard, or reordering from the targeting screen, does not automatically start a rebuild (it does mark which drafts need a rebuild, though).
- It doesn't help you when mailings "slip" from one day to the next. For each mailing that "slips", you need to manually go to its targeting screen and submit with a new date.
- It doesn't help you with recurring mailings. They can't use auto-excludes.
- It doesn't avoid overlap with non-auto-excluding mailings. Even if the non-auto-excluding mailing went out first, if you want to avoid overlapping it you have to use Exclude Groups -> Mailings.
- It doesn't use your campaigner or mailing time zone settings. It's minor but noteworthy: only your group's site-wide time zone setting is used to determine when each day starts for purposes of auto-excludes scheduling. (The setting is at /core/admin/todaytimezone/, also reachable by clicking "time zone setting" from the auto excludes setting page.)