The Start tile is the beginning of a journey — where you choose how, when, and which users get added to the journey.
This article explains the different Start tile settings and how to set them up for different use cases.
In this article
Entry sources are the triggers that add users to your journey. There are four entry source options:
- Event occurs
- API call
- Other journey
The Event occurs entry source adds a user to the journey when an event is added to or updated on their user profile (for example, when the user clicks a link in a message they received, updates their subscription preferences, or makes a purchase).
After you select the Event occurs entry source, you'll specify one of the following events:
- Shopping cart update
- User profile update
- Subscribe to list
- Unsubscribe from list
- Unsubscribe from channel
- Unsubscribe from message type
- Email click
- Email open
- In-app click
- In-app open
- Push open
- SMS click
- SMS reply
- Custom event
When a journey uses the User Profile Update entry source, any user
bulkUpdate API call containing that user profile field will add the
associated users to the journey — regardless of whether the value of the field
has changed or stayed the same. Keep this in mind when configuring a journey to
use the User Profile Update entry source.
To learn more about these events and how they work, see Events Overview.
Example use case
You could use the Event occurs entry source to set up a purchase
confirmation sequence. For example, you could choose Event occurs > Purchase,
and each time a user has the
purchase event added to or updated on their
profile, they'll be added to the journey.
Custom event usage can impact your billing. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to choose a custom event as the entry source for a high-traffic journey.
See Monitoring Custom Event Usage to learn more.
In journeys that use the Event occurs entry source, you can filter more specifically in Yes/No Split tiles. Under Filter by, select Only properties from the specific event that started each user’s journey, and Iterable will check to see if the triggering event matches the criteria you define. This is helpful for narrowing your filtering criteria for certain use cases. (See Journey Setup: Filter Tiles to learn more.)
The Schedule entry source periodically adds all the members of one of your lists to a journey. To set up a schedule for a journey, choose one of your static or dynamic lists (or create a new one), select a start date and time window, then choose if and when the schedule should repeat.
You can configure the schedule to start running at an exact time or within a 15-60 minute window. Selecting a start time window instead of an exact time can help prevent slowdowns when multiple journeys are running simultaneously. The Within 30 Minutes option is selected by default, but you can change this to within 15, 45, or 60 minutes. For more time-sensitive journeys, you can select Start at Exact Time.
When you choose a start time window, Iterable selects the lowest-traffic time to add users to the journey. For example, if you select 9:00 AM and Within 30 Minutes, Iterable could start adding users to the journey at 9:07 AM. The latest Iterable would start adding users is 9:30 AM.
Recurring campaigns and journeys with a Schedule entry source both allow you to send messages on a recurring basis. But a journey allows you to add extra steps to the user experience.
Example use case
You could use the Schedule entry source to set up a journey called Monthly Newsletter that sends an email to your newsletter subscriber list on a certain day each month. The list is updated throughout the month when users subscribe and unsubscribe, so when the schedule runs every 30 days, all of your current newsletter subscribers are added to the journey.
You could also add extra steps to determine if users want to continue receiving your newsletter. For example, you could add one or more Time Delay and filter tiles to check which users have opened the newsletter. For users who aren't engaging, you could send a follow-up email asking if they want to unsubscribe or update their email preferences.
Choosing between Schedule and Subscribe to List
Both the Schedule and Subscribe to list entry sources add users to the journey based on list membership, but there are a couple of key differences. The Subscribe to list entry source monitors for a list subscription event. Choose this option if you want users to be added to the journey as soon as they become a member of the list (which will most likely only happen once). If you use a blank list, users who are subscribed to the list after the journey is published will be added to the journey. If you attach an existing list, any users who are already on the list won't be added to the journey, since the subscription event occurred before the journey was published. If you want these users to go through the journey, you'll need to add them another way (for example, with a separate journey).
The Schedule entry source doesn't monitor for a list subscription event — it periodically adds all members of a list (both existing and new) to the journey. This option lets you add users to the journey multiple times, but you can also configure it to only add users once. To do this, set the schedule not to repeat, or set the Maximum entries to 1.
In journeys that use the Subscribe to List entry source, we recommend waiting five minutes after you turn on the journey before adding users to the associated list. This helps ensure that the journey has enough time to update and monitor for the subscription event, so all users are successfully added to the journey.
Lists can only add users to a journey if the Trigger journeys from this list? setting is turned on. When you're creating a list, if you want users to be added to a journey when they're subscribed to it, make sure you switch this toggle to Yes.
The API call entry source lets you add lists or individual users to a
journey using Iterable's API. When you
save and publish a journey that uses this entry source, you can add users to it
by calling the
Example use case
You could use the API call entry source to add users to your welcome
sequence after they sign up on your website. To do this, set the journey's
entry source to API call and submit an API request to
To learn more about using Iterable's API, see API Overview and Sample Payloads.
Choosing between Custom Event and API Call
The API call entry source is similar to Event occurs > Custom event,
but there's one key difference. The Custom event entry source adds a user
to the journey when the specified event is added to their user profile. When
your organization calls the
API endpoint, the specified event is added to the user's profile, and Iterable
detects it and adds them to the journey with the matching Custom event > EVENT NAME
The API call entry source isn't tied to an event — users are added
to the journey when your organization calls the
In both cases, your organization calls an API endpoint, but to use the Custom event entry source, you must add an event to your users' profiles. Consider using this entry source if you want to reference data from a journey's triggering event later (for example, to measure conversions or segment your users). If you only need to add users to a journey without storing any event data, use API call.
The Other journey entry source adds a user to the journey when they reach a Send to journey tile in a different journey. This entry source lets you link two or more journeys together so you can automatically add users to multiple sequences at the right time.
Example use case
You could connect a product review sequence to your purchase confirmation sequence. To do this, add a Send to journey tile to the purchase confirmation journey. Then, set the entry source of your product review sequence to Other journey and link it to the purchase sequence.
Entry rules are eligibility criteria that determine which users can enter the journey.
For example, if you only want recipients of a certain campaign to be eligible to be added to the journey, you could set up an entry rule that checks for a label associated with that campaign.
You can require users to have all, some, or none of the criteria you set.
Using entry rules to prevent users from entering a journey is more efficient than adding a filter tile after the Start tile (see Optimizing Journey Performance to learn more).
Entry limits let you specify how many times users should go through a journey.
The Maximum entries section lets you set a limit on how many times a user can ever go through the journey. There are three options:
- Unlimited — Users can go through this journey as many times as they're eligible.
- 1 — Users can only go through this journey once.
- Other — Set a custom limit.
If you only want users to go through a journey once and never again, set this to 1.
The default setting is Unlimited. If you want to limit how many times users can be added to the journey, make sure you change this setting before you publish the journey.
The Simultaneous entries section lets you set a limit for how many times a user can be in the journey at the same time. There are three options:
- Contacts must finish this journey before starting this journey again — Use this option for journeys that users need to receive in sequence from beginning to end without starting over.
- Contacts can be in this journey unlimited times simultaneously — Use this option for journeys that users should be able to receive multiple times concurrently.
- Other — Set a custom limit.
Consider the possibility of a user making three purchases in a short time frame. You may want the user to be added to a purchase confirmation journey three times in a row, even if they haven't completed their first trip through the journey. In this case, you would select Contacts can be in this journey unlimited times simultaneously.
On the other hand, if you're running a 1-month contest using a journey, you probably don't want users to enter the journey more than once simultaneously — otherwise, they might receive the Week 1 message a second or third time during Week 2, 3, or 4. In this case, you might want to select Contacts must finish this journey before starting this journey again.
By default, users have to finish a journey before they can enter it again. If you want to allow simultaneous entries, make sure you change this setting before you publish the journey.
Updating entry limits
When you update an entry limit, the new limit only applies to users who are added to the journey after you make the change. For example, if you change the entry limit from Unlimited to 1, users who have already gone through the journey once previously may be added to the journey a second time.
In email-based projects: When you update a user's email address, it resets their entry limit for the journey.
In userID-based projects and hybrid projects: If a user is deleted and then re-added, their entry limit is reset.
Want to learn more?
For more information about some of the topics in this article, check out this Iterable Academy course. Iterable Academy is open to everyone — you don't need to be an Iterable customer!