What Happens If I Stop a Mautic Campaign?

What Happens If I Stop a Mautic Campaign?

Ever wondered what happens when you hit the “unpublish” button on a campaign in Mautic? What happens if you re-publish a stopped campaign? Understanding Mautic's campaign publishing behavior is critical for efficient campaign management. This guide will unpack two key scenarios when unpublishing a campaign and delve into the consequences of republishing it.

If you stop, i.e. unpublish, a campaign, what will happen? There are two possible scenarios that come to mind:

  • The entire campaign will come to a halt. OR
  • Mautic will just stop adding new contacts to the campaign, while those already in it will finish it.
What you'll learn:
Campaign Unpublishing Implications: Understand what happens when you unpublish a campaign in Mautic, and what happens to contacts within the campaign.
Re-publishing Campaigns in Mautic: Learn what happens when you re-publish a campaign, including potential unpredictable outcomes.
Changing Campaign Steps in Mautic: Learn about the potential issues and challenges associated with changing active campaign steps.
Safe Practices for Modifying Campaigns: Discover the safest ways to make changes to your campaigns.

There are good reasons for both behaviors. But Mautic need to handle unpublish campaigns in consistent manner. Here's how it does it:

How Mautic Stops Campaigns

When you decide to unpublish a campaign in Mautic, all actions within the campaign freeze. Basically, everything comes to a halt. This means Mautic won't execute any campaign steps—even already scheduled ones—from the point you're unpublishing the campaign onwards.

Unpublishing could happen either by setting Publish to No or by reaching your configured Unpublish at date time.

What are the implications of this behavior?

  • If your campaign source is a form: Mautic won't add any subsequent form submissions to this campaign.
  • If your campaign source is a segment: Mautic won't add any contacts who become a member of this segment.
  • If a contact is mid-way through your campaign, but has not yet finished it: The contact gets stuck at their current stage. They remain at their current campaign step (forever).
  • If there are scheduled campaign actions: Mautic won't execute those actions when the time for executing them comes.

This behavior can be desirable or not—depending on why a campaign has to stop. If there is, e.g., a flaw in the campaign it is good that everything comes to a halt. This avoids more damage. On the other hand, if you wanted your campaign to end gracefully, this sudden halt might not be ideal.

If you want to your campaign to gracefully come to an end, you could to this:
1. Unpublish the source form or segment. This makes sure, no one gets into your campaign.
2. Once everyone already in the campaign finished it, unpublish the campaign.

Now that we know how Mautic stops a campaign the next question comes to mind:

What happens if I re-publish a campaign in Mautic?

How Mautic Treats Re-publishing a Campaign

After you stopped a campaign by unpublishing it, you might want to start it again for some reason. Maybe because you fixed some mistake. Maybe it was a seasonal campaign, and it is that season again.

But before you revive a former campaign, be aware of the following:

Restarting a campaign can lead to unpredictable and unwanted behavior.

Let's look at some specifics:

  • If your campaign source is a campaign form: As previously said, Mautic won't add any contacts to a campaign while it is in Unpublished state. Therefore, you'd lose contacts who submitted the form during that period. This might be desirable or not.
  • If your campaign source is a segment: Mautic will add everyone who became a member of that segment, since you unpublished the campaign, to the campaign. This happens the moment you restart it. Depending on your situation, this could be what you want or not.
  • If a contact was mid-way through your campaign, when you paused it: The contact continues the campaign right where they left off.
  • If there were scheduled campaign actions: Mautic will execute those actions as soon as the campaign restarts.

Those last two implications of republishing a campaign are (partly) the reason why restarting a campaign leads to unpredictable and undesirable behavior.

Example 1: Your campaign is a time-limited offer. You stopped it, but some leads were still in the middle of it. Some had a Send email action scheduled, sending the discount code. Because you unpublished the campaign the scheduled email wasn't sent. As soon as you republish the campaign the Mautic will broadcast it, sending your leads an expired offer and discount code.
Example 2: Same campaign as before. Some leads got the discount code email in time back then. You implemented a decision step in your campaign to check whether they used the code (say within a week). If not, you offered another product. As you unpublished the campaign, Mautic had no chance to know, which, if any, leads used the code. As soon as you republish, Mautic will send those leads your "Oh, you're not interested? You might want to check out this fantastic product instead" email, leaving them probably highly confused.

Now that you know about this behavior, you might wonder: What happens if I change the campaign steps?

The Hazards of Changing a Live Campaign

Honestly, the outcome of changing a live (regardless if it unpublished while changes are made) is often times unpredictable. There are probably countless edge cases that changing a campaign could trigger. That's why the standard advice is: Don't do it. An Example:

Mautic campaign builder screenshot illustrating unpredictable behaviour when changing the campaign
Why changing a live Mautic campaign is a bad idea 

How would or should Mautic treat a case where you, e.g., delete a decision step? Should a contact at this point simply continue to follow the next step you added instead? Or with the former TRUE, or the former FALSE path?

How To Safely “Change” a Mautic Campaign

To safely change a campaign in Mautic, you should create a new one. This isn't exactly changing, but it is the safe way.

Luckily, there is a quick way to do this: Clone your current campaign, implement the desired changes, then publish it.

There are two ways to deal with the contacts who are already in your old campaign:

  1. Allow them to complete the campaign as it is.
  2. Create yet another campaign exclusively for those contacts.

The second approach is difficult or might be impossible. It depends on whether you can target your contacts by creating a new segment and use that segment as the contact source. Additionally, you should have an idea on at which point in the campaign the contacts currently are. If there's no clear-cut transition point, you're probably better off, letting them just complete the campaign.

Unpublishing Campaign Isn't Hard

Whether you're stopping a campaign due to an error, seasonal variation, or because it's run its course, the insights provided in this guide should help you navigate the process smoothly.

Remember, when changing a campaign's structure, consider cloning and modifying the new campaign instead of altering a live one.

Do you have still questions about Mautic's campaigns or facing challenges in your campaign management? Leave a comment (only for subscribers—it's free!). Or shoot me message.

Happy marketing!

What happens when I unpublish a campaign in Mautic?

When you unpublish a Mautic campaign, everything within the campaign comes to a halt. Mautic won't execute any campaign steps from the point you're unpublishing the campaign onwards. This includes not adding new contacts to the campaign and halting progress for contacts already in it.

What happens when I re-publish a Mautic campaign?

Re-publishing a campaign in Mautic could lead to potentially unwanted and sometimes unpredictable behavior. For example, Mautic adds all new members of a segment to the re-published campaign, but it won't add contacts who submitted a form during the time the campaign was unpublished. Also, any scheduled actions will be picked up. This could mean sending outdated emails or messages—and all kind of other unwanted stuff.

Is it safe to change steps in a live Mautic campaign?

In short: No. Changing campaign steps in Mautic could lead to unpredictable outcomes and is generally not advised. There are many edge cases and potential issues that could arise, especially when deleting replacing steps (think of decisions steps).

What's the safest way to modify a Mautic campaign?

The safest way to modify a Mautic campaign is:

  1. Clone the existing campaign.
  2. Make the desired changes.
  3. Then publish the cloned campaign and use that from now on.

You can either allow contacts in the old campaign to finish or create a new campaign specifically targeting those contacts, depending on your circumstances.