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MarTech  •  Salesforce

10 steps to get more out of your Salesforce Marketing Cloud

As a marketer, you know the pressure to deliver big results with limited resources. Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is a powerful tool, but like any enterprise-grade technology, it can be tricky to utilize all available features and possibilities.

Below we’re presenting ten tips for how to maximize the value of SFMC for your business. Some of them might seem obvious to you at first glance, but it could be worthwhile revisiting if you are actually living up to them.

1. Align with business goals: don’t get lost in the clouds

It’s easy to get bogged down in all the features of any tool, SFMC is no exception. Before diving in, revisit your company’s overall marketing goals.

Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, boost lead generation, or drive customer engagement? Ensure your SFMC strategy directly supports these objectives.

  • What are our key (1-3) business objectives for the whole year?
  • What are the KPIs we should use to measure these objectives?
  • What concrete strategies or use cases should we implement to impact these KPIs and the overall objective?


start your martech by looking at your business objectives

Image 1: Example of how to structure your business objectives.

2. Collaborate: break down marketing silos

Are you still trying to bridge the gap between marketing and sales? Don’t worry, we all are. We suggest you align marketing campaigns with sales goals and share lead-scoring models, to create a unified customer experience.

  • Ensure marketing and sales teams have regular, transparent communication channels to discuss strategies and challenges.
  • Provide shared resources and tools to facilitate collaboration and streamline workflows between teams.
  • Integrate marketing automation, reporting and CRM systems to enable seamless sharing of customer data.

3. Master the data: segmentation is key

You have a unique advantage: rich customer data. Now, what type of segmentation would help you to reach your business objectives even more effectively? With the right data available, you can create laser-focused campaigns that resonate with specific customer groups.

  • Create data extensions: You can create data extensions (data tables) to hold information about your audience, such as email addresses, demographics, preferences, and purchase history. You can also filter the data extensions to create new audiences.
  • Model your data with Data Designer: Data Designer is a handy tool within Contact Builder that helps to visualize complex data structures. It helps you manage how data extensions store customer information and how data extensions relate to each other. This makes it easier to discover richer, more meaningful insights from your customer data. This is the core of many later steps that your company should take time to build and validate your data model with relevant stakeholders.
  • Build segmentation queries: Use powerful SQL queries to segment your audience based on specific criteria. For example, you might create segments for customers who have made a purchase in the last 30 days, subscribers who have opened an email in the last six months, or leads who have engaged with your website but haven’t made a purchase.
  • Use DESelect for easy segmentation: DESelect is a separate solution for SFMC, which allows you to segment data without writing complex SQL queries. This might help non-technical users to create target groups in a more simple way.
  • Lead scoring and qualification: you can implement lead scoring models based on criteria such as engagement level, demographics, and behavior. Leads with high scores can be automatically flagged and prioritized for sales follow-up, streamlining the lead qualification process and ensuring that sales teams focus on the right opportunities.

4. Streamline your workflow: Content management

Content management is often the most time-consuming, but luckily SFMC provides tools that help you become more effective. How do you manage content as part of your marketing operations?

SFMC also integrates seamlessly with content management systems (CMS). Are you able to integrate your current content management system into your SFMC to automate parts of your content management workflow?

  • Content builder: Utilize Content Builder within Marketing Cloud to centralize your content assets, including images, documents, and HTML files. Organize your content into folders and use tags for easy searchability. You can also share content between business units.
  • Templates: Create email, SMS, and landing page templates in Content Builder. Templates help maintain brand consistency and streamline the content creation process. You can customize templates with dynamic content and personalization to tailor messages for different segments.
  • Layouts and content blocks: Create layouts and content blocks to be reused in your communication activities. Reusing content saves time and effort when creating new campaigns.

5. Personalization: go beyond names

You have most likely got an email with your name on it. That felt nice, right? But Salesforce Marketing Cloud lets you personalize your messages in many other ways too. Recommend products, highlight relevant blog posts, or showcase testimonials specific to their interests.

Personalization can be done based on timing (when), channel (where), and content (what) – what do you want to personalize? Start with one and increase personalization granularity based on business potential. What data do you have available in SFMC that would help you? Often product or service-related data is an effective starting point.

Some SFMC features that help you with personalizing:
  • AMPscript: AMPscript is a scripting language that allows you to add logic and dynamic content to your emails, landing pages or SMS or push messages. You can use AMPscript to personalize content by using relevant data from data extensions, create dynamic emails using conditional logic, or add real-time information like date or time.
  • Dynamic content blocks: Leverage dynamic content blocks in your emails to show different content to different segments of your audience based on predefined rules or attributes. For example, you can display different product recommendations based on a subscriber’s past purchase history or browsing behavior.
  • Journey orchestration: With Journey Builder in Marketing Cloud, you can personalize the customer journey by using decision splits based on subscriber attributes or interactions. This allows you to send different messages or take different actions based on each subscriber’s unique characteristics or behavior. With Path Optimizer you can test subject lines, content variations, or preferred channels, by dividing your audience into random subsets.

Read more: Personalization at Scale – Content Automation

6. Leverage Einstein: embrace the power of AI

Einstein (a clever name) uses AI to automate tasks, predict customer behavior, and personalize journeys. Remember to connect your AI exploration efforts with the business objectives you have.

Business results from AI occur only when concrete decisions or actions are made based on the output. Therefore, ensure that you do not merely use Einstein to create interesting graphs but also utilize it in action to validate the type of results you achieve.

Here are a couple of examples of how you can work with Einstein in SFMC:
  • Predictive audiences: Use Einstein’s predictive audience segmentation to identify high-value segments within your subscriber base. By analyzing customer attributes and behaviors, Einstein can automatically segment your audience into groups that are most likely to respond positively to your marketing messages, allowing you to target them more effectively.
  • Predictive content recommendations: Utilize Einstein’s predictive content recommendations to automatically suggest personalized content for your email campaigns. By analyzing past interactions and behaviors, Einstein can predict which content is most likely to resonate with each subscriber, increasing engagement and conversion rates.

Note: Salesforce’s AI capabilities are being actively developed and new AI features introduced regularly. Stay up to date by reading more from the Salesforce website!

7. Stop guessing – start testing

Stop marketing in the dark – or relying on that colleague’s opinion based on how he reads his emails. Testing functionalities and data-driven insights will help you optimize your campaigns for maximum impact (and prove that colleague wrong).

  • Start by identifying the element you want to test and define your hypothesis. Determine what you expect to achieve by testing different variations of the element.
  • Keep track of all your tests with a simple Excel. This allows you to keep a backlog of different test ideas but also helps you to revisit your previous results.
  • Have a systematic approach weekly or monthly to review the tests you have had running and make conclusions based on them. Use the insights gained from the tests to optimize all of your campaigns and improve performance over time across channels.
In SFMC you can, for example:
  • Create test groups: In Marketing Cloud, you can create test groups by dividing your audience into random subsets. Typically, you’ll have an A group (the control group) and a B group (the test group). The A group receives the original version of the asset, while the B group receives the variation.
  • Test with Path Optimizer: With Journey Builder Path Optimizer you can test subject lines, content variations, preferred channels, or even best-converting communication flow, by dividing your audience into random subsets.

8. Do the aftermath: measure and analyze

Reporting and analytics can be a love-hate relationship for many marketers, or you might either love or hate it. But you cannot escape it. If anything, marketing needs to prove its value for the overall business and organization.

Make sure your marketing KPIs are defined on a measurable and detailed level based on your business objectives. Common KPIs in SFMC include open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, revenue generated, subscriber growth, and ROI.

SFMC provides various built-in reports and dashboards to monitor campaign performance and audience engagement. Measure your performance on the selected KPIs against a control group to truly see the impact your journeys are creating.

  • Track journey performance: Monitor the performance of customer journeys in Journey Builder by tracking key metrics such as entry and exit points, engagement rates, conversion rates, and goal completions. Use journey analytics to identify bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and improve the overall customer experience.
  • Create custom reports and dashboards: You can schedule, control permissions for, and share relevant marketing reports with key stakeholders, partners, and clients.
  • Gather insights with Marketing Cloud Intelligence: Marketing Cloud Intelligence gathers data from different sources and gives you a unified view of your marketing actions and results. Data-driven insights will help you optimize marketing investment and activity.

9. Don’t forget the administration

To utilize the SFMC platform to the fullest, you have to take care of the administrative tasks. Manage user rights and roles, define responsibilities between business units, and make sure the licenses are up to date.

You can also create Automations to monitor and alert you via email if something goes wrong, like a failed import or an empty Data Extension. Alternatively, simply use Alert Manager to get important system notifications for email batch sends and triggered sends.

To do efficient marketing, it’s very important to define data and folder structures, data update and retention policies (what to keep and what to delete), and privacy matters. Someone also needs to take care of connections to other platforms, to keep the systems running and data flowing.

10. Partner up: don’t be afraid to get help

At Avaus we’ve helped companies like yours with Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2015. If your team lacks specific expertise, consider partnering with a consultancy to help you achieve your marketing goals. Our consultants and specialists have years of experience in industries like manufacturing, retail, media, telco, banking and insurance.

We can help you to get the most out of your powerful Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform by supporting you in:
  • Platform audit – Analysis conducted from Business, Technical and Process perspectives to identify opportunities for improvement in Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Strategies for getting more results – Clarifying where to focus with SFMC and how to meet customers and prospects across different channels and touchpoints to capture your full growth potential
  • Journey implementation & optimization – Implementing and optimizing data-driven journeys across your different channels with Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Implementation and migration – Helping you implement SFMC and/or migrate either to or from Salesforce depending on your needs.

By following these steps, you can get much more out of your SFMC platform and transform your marketing efforts. Remember, it’s not just about the technology, it’s about using it strategically to achieve your marketing objectives and drive real business results.

If you are looking to optimize your overall stack of marketing technology we recommend you to read this blog: 8 keys to get more out of your MarTech.

3 companies we’ve helped with Marketing Automation

Read some customer cases and get an understanding of how we have helped them by following the links:


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