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Auto-Response Rule vs. Workflow Email Alert in Salesforce

Automatic notifications save your team time and boost your overall customer experience. Salesforce gives users several options for sending automated emails, which have their own benefits. Two of those options are auto-response rules and workflow email alerts. Both of these serve the same purpose; they automatically send emails from Salesforce following changes to a lead or a case. However, being so similar, you need to think about your exact use case and the differences between your options before you make your decision.

In this article, we’ll walk you through:

  • What auto-response rules and workflow email alerts are
  • How to use each option
  • And examples of when it’s best to use one method over another

By the end, you’ll be able to start using your auto-response rules and workflow alerts to create automatic email alerts in Salesforce. So, let’s get started.

When Should You Use Automatic Emails?

Imagine that you’ve just signed up for a discount program through your favorite online store’s website. When you enter your email, you’d expect to receive something sent by that company that confirms you’re signed up. If you didn’t, you might find yourself wondering if something went wrong or if you’re enrolled at all. Without confirmation, there’s a good chance you’d end up in a support channel to make sure that everything is alright.

This example is one occasion in which you’d want to send automatic emails. That small step prevents unnecessary tickets in your support queues and improves your customer service with nearly no effort. Speaking of customer support tickets, what if you had sent out a ticket asking if your email was registered? When a customer support representative responds, you’d likely receive an email notification letting you know. This instance is another example of how you can use automated emails to improve service.

The goal of these notifications is to improve service while reducing the effort needed from your staff. The reduction in manual processes saves time that you can use to design new ways to improve the services your company provides, making the experience better for your team and your clients. The result? A low-cost way to increase performance.

How to Choose Between Workflow Email Alerts and Auto-Response Rules

Auto-response rules and workflow email alerts fill a similar need, but it’s important to note that they have some significant differences. Before getting into the details of what they can do for you, first, you must identify the problem you’re trying to solve. Let’s go over an example so you can see how the process works.

Let’s say that you want to send confirmation letters to customers who signed up for a product demo. First, you’d want to look at the aim of the project and the issue that they’re trying to resolve. In this case, the emails would confirm some basic information about what they’ve selected from your website and reduce no-shows and cancelations.

Next, think about how many people need to receive these emails. The first person that needs to get them is your customer. From there, you can be a little more creative. Do you want to send it to the sales team so they can prepare for the demo? Or, is there another way that they get notified with better results? Be sure to outline who you want to receive them, as one of the main differences between workflow email alerts and auto-responses is the number of recipients you can add.

Now that you have some specifics down, we can start to look at your options.

What are Auto-Response Rules?

Auto-response rules tell Salesforce what criteria a case must meet before sending out one of your saved email templates when a specific of conditions are met. For example, you could set the trigger to send them when someone submits a new case or lead. You can select a series of criteria for the sending of the email, and it will send one based on the first rule entry criteria it matches.

You can think of this as the case above, where someone signs up for a discount program and wants confirmation that they’ve been registered correctly. This case would only require one email sent to the individual who submitted their information, so an auto-response rule is an appropriate choice. This is because auto-response rules send out one email per trigger, unlike workflow alerts.

Workflow alerts are the best choice if you plan to send:

  • Confirmation emails
  • “Thank you” messages
  • Or alerts for the person who submitted information in a web-to-lead form

What are Workflow Email Alerts?

Workflow email alerts are similar to auto-response rules in the way that they send notifications based on changes to a case or a lead. However, unlike auto-response rule alerts, Salesforce can send workflow alerts to multiple users. They can send out an email to anyone you need to notify about activity on a case or lead. Specifically, workflow alerts run when a case or lead is created or edited. The notifications can be sent to anyone you choose. It’s important to note that these alerts send one email to multiple users for each trigger as opposed to just one.

Email alerts, in general, can be sent out from processes, flows, workflow rules, approval processes, or entitlement processes. Use cases for the workflow email alerts vary depending on your business needs. Often, they include notifications to:

  • Notify the rep assigned to a case when a new action is taken
  • Keep management informed about changes to high profile leads
  • Help your sales team on top of their pipeline

Workflow emails can accommodate ten email alerts as immediate actions, ten email alerts per time trigger as time-dependent actions, and ten time triggers.

Now that you understand the basics of auto-response rules and workflow alerts, we’ll go over how to set them up.

Setting Up Auto-Response Rules

First, we’ll review Salesforceke a response rule from a web-to-lead form. To start, navigate to Setup and then type “Auto-Response Rules” into the Quick Find area. Next, click the option “Lead Auto-Response Rules.”

The other option is to create a response rule for cases. In this case, you’ll first navigate to Setup and then type “Auto-Response Rules” into the Quick Find area. Next, click the option “Case Auto-Response Rules.”

Regardless of which of the above options you choose, the following steps will be the same.

  1. First, from the Auto-Response Rules page, click on New
  2. Type in the name for the rule you want to create
  3. Activate this rule by clicking on Activate
  4. Save the rule by hitting the Save
  5. Now, you can create your rule entries

Here’s how you can create your response rule entries.

  1. Go to the rule detail page and select New
  2. Think about where this rule will fall in your process order and enter the number step you choose
    1. Keep in mind that the rule stops processing after finding the first matching entry. That is how Salesforce determines which email template to send. If it doesn’t find any matching entries, it sends out a default email that you can select in advance.
    2. For extra security, create an additional rule entry as the last step in line. This step should have no added criteria, so it will apply to any event that doesn’t match your previous criteria. Since some forms don’t have any default templates, like Email-to-Case and On-Demand Email-to-Case forms, this ensures that a response goes out.
  3. Choose the criteria to filter records, such as priority level and language. You can create formulas to evaluate the record and return the proper response
  4. Type in the name and email that you want to appear as the sending email address in your message. The email needs to be a verified email address from your Salesforce org or the address associated with your Salesforce profile. However, it cannot be the same address you used in your routing addresses for the Email-to-Case form.
  1. Now, you can enter an email address for replies
  2. Choose the email template that you want this rule to send
  3. Make sure to click the option that allows you to send the response to all recipients if you’re using an Email-to-Case form. This option sends the auto-response message to the recipients specified in CC and To fields.
  4. If you want, enter a reply-to address.
  5. Select an email template.
  6. If you’re creating a response rule entry for Email-to-Case, select Send Response to all recipients to send auto-response messages to anyone included in the To and Cc fields in the original message.
  7. Now, click Save. That’s it!

Setting Up Workflow Email Alerts

Before setting up alerts, you have to create a field on your lead object for email information.

  1. First, on your lead object, navigate to your field options:
    1. For Salesforce Classic, you can do this by going to Setup > Customize > Leads > Fields
    2. In Salesforce Lightning, it’s Setup > Object Manager > Lead > Fields & Relationships
  2. Select Email as the field data type
  3. Input Contact Email as the field label

Next, you will build the workflow rule that sends out an automated email.

  1. In Classic, navigate to Setup > Create > Workflow & Approvals > Workflow Rules. In Lightning, navigate to Setup > Platform Tools > Process Automation > Workflow Rules.
  2. Choose New Rule
  3. Under objects, select the Leads option
  4. Enter the name for your rule
  5. Now, under Evaluation Criteria, select the criteria that you want to return the response as “true”
  6. Hit Save and then Next
  7. Now, go to Immediate Workflow Actions > Add Workflow Action and select Email Alert
  8. Enter the description of your email alert
  9. Choose which template you want the alert to send
  10. Choose your recipient type
  11. Hit Save > Done > Activate
  12. Now, you’re ready to go!

Closing Notes

Configuring email alerts to send automatically saves time for your staff and improves your customers’ experience with your company. While both auto-response rules and workflow alerts send emails in response to lead changes, you’ll find situations where each of them outperforms. If you understand the problem you’re trying to solve and how to address it, you’ll have no issues choosing the right email alerts for the job. 

Both auto-response rules and workflow alerts automatically send emails from Salesforce following changes to a lead or a case. Being that they’re so similar, you should think about your exact use case and the differences between your options before you make your decision.

Don’t hesitate to explore other options within Salesfoce to build and track outreach campaigns. For example, take a look here to see how to set up and use sales performance dashboards to monitor your campaigns. Remember to test, test, test, and keep building on what works. Keep up with our blog for more of the latest tips.


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One Response to Auto-Response Rule vs. Workflow Email Alert in Salesforce

  1. web news at 7:31 am #

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this information.

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