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3 min read | Intermediate

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Why we started using flow frequency limits

It’s not always the more flows the better. Flow overload negatively impacts flow performance across the board, but manually managing that can be a doozy. See how I went from adding exclusion criteria to every flow to a simple, time-saving toggle.

The background:

“Tooooo many flows!!” 

“How many flows do people see per day?” 

“Aren’t we annoying people?”

Have you heard this before? I have. Every company I’ve worked for has questioned the amount of experiences people are seeing. That’s totally fair and I would do the same thing if I were not in charge of walking that fine line between informative and annoying.

Drawing from my email marketing past, I’ve learned to be super careful about when and how we send messages to folks. When is the limit? How many is too many? It’s different for everyone. Some people are annoyed by a single email in their inbox per month from a product they use about the same amount. Others like to continue to get updates and stay in the loop, and don’t mind a few communications per month.

Giving people options to control what they receive (unsubscribes, on demand content, etc.) is one thing, but making sure they’re not annoyed in the first place is a much better place to start. I was manually keeping track of how many flows folks were receiving on a daily basis, but not long after we launched flow frequency limits, we got some rather serendipitous feedback.

customer feedback

Not on my watch. Let’s fix that!

Plan of action:

Before we introduced flow frequency management, this was something I did manually. I never want to annoy someone with messages, ever.

For every flow, I generally add a couple little “softeners” to make the flow experience less jarring (this could be a whole Made with Appcues tutorial on its own!). Usually, I add a lil’ padding of a few session pageviews to each flow. This means that when they sign in to Appcues, they’ll navigate around a bit before seeing a flow. I also like to add in a buffer using auto-properties, excluding anyone who saw a flow within the past 2 days.

flow settings

I add pageviews and  “last content shown” auto-properties to target people who have had a chance to log in and get settled, and didn’t see a flow recently.

This is pretty easy, and I got really used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I completely breezed past when we launched flow frequency management. I had my system working like this for literally years, but after I saw the feedback from our customer here at Appcues… I had a reality check. 

How we built it:

This will be the quickest “how we built it” ever. I did this:

flow frequency settings

Here’s how I limited how many flows are seen per a given time period (1 per day).

As of my writing this, this feature is only a few weeks old, so am I 100% certain 1 flow per day is correct? No. I know it’s a best practice I’ve used for years, but that was without the controls I have now. 

Our first question internally was, “what about onboarding?” or “what about really important flows?”

Onboarding folks need more than 1 flow per day if they’re clicking around, getting to know the place, and critical announcements sometimes can’t wait a day or 2. This where you use the lovely combination of priority and flow frequency override.

flow priority settings

Check that cute little box to ignore frequency limitations on this flow.

I combed through our critical and onboarding flows and took care of a few clean up tasks:

  1. I checked the override box
  2. I removed the “last content shown at” property filter in audience targeting shown above 
  3. I double-checked the flow weight to make sure it was the right priority (or use the flow priority page for this)

That’s it! This feature is brand new, so I’ll be sure to check back in on this post after we’ve had some time to use it and learn more about how to make it work better for everyone.

How do you manage how many flows people see? Are you using a different method I didn’t describe here? How could we do this better? Let me know! Reach out to me at lyla@appcues.com or send me a note on LinkedIn.