Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is the platform (or cloud) of Salesforce in the areas of marketing automation and customer engagement. It is a SaaS platform made up of four base versions, each with different levels of functionality and many additional cost components that further enhance functionality. Given its history in a nutshell, SFMC’s core was not initially developed by Salesforce, but was instead acquired by Salesforce in its 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget. This is worthwhile because there are occasions when you are still in use of “ExactTarget” when referencing the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
In the same acquisition, Salesforce also acquired Pardot, which ExactTarget had previously bought. Pardot was initially developed as a B2B marketing automation platform for SMBs (unlike ExactTarget which was more B2C-focused), and Pardot still exists in the Salesforce ecosystem today. It has not been integrated into or merged with SFMC / ExactTarget, nor has it been renamed the Salesforce Cloud product. Here we will talk about the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a feature-rich marketing automation platform, and it helps to increase customer engagement and provide a personalized experience.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a marketing platform with the ability to support multiple aspects of marketing including multi-channel campaign execution, dynamic customer journeys, audience building and segmentation, social media engagement and advertising, and data management platform including pre and post Campaign analysis is included. SFMC does this using a component called “Studio” and “Builders”:
- Studio is used for managing and connecting channels of communication. At SFMC, this includes email studios, social studios, and mobile studios.
- Salesforce marketing cloud platforms use Builders to manage data, content, and the customer journey. They are often used by studios, but they are not required to be (eg, analytics builder).
Experiment with Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a feature-rich platform with capabilities in the marketing domain. This includes the following:
- Real-time customer engagement
- Email and Marketing Automation
- Social Media Engagement, Listening and Advertising
- Mobile (SMS) Messaging and Push Notifications
- Customer marketing analysis
The enabling customer journey in Salesforce Marketing Cloud helps clarify some of the key capabilities mentioned above. At SFMC, you can use Journey Builder to create automated multi-channel journeys using many of the above capabilities to provide a personalized, 1: 1 customer experience to your customers.
The tool can deliver messages to each contact based on the person’s current data and then trigger new messages based on real-time customer data changes and interactions. There can be many branches of travel (eg a tree) – and decisions can be based on different branches:
- Contact Data
This is the data related to the contact you send information to in the marketing cloud. The data associated with a contact, or any change in their data, can determine which travel branch to take. For example, a contact may be in a communication journey for prospects but then converts into a customer. Changes in their contact data at SFMC can automatically remove them from a potential visit and put them into a new customer journey.
- Travel Data
This is data about how the contact has interacted with the SFMC journey (for example, the email opens or clicks). An example is the welcome visit. After purchasing the product, the customer may receive several emails (Email 1 – Welcome, Email 2 – Product Registration, Email 3 – Product Usage Tips, and so on). The Salesforce Marketing Cloud can find out who is opening and interacting with each email. This enables you to resend Email 2 to a customer down a branch, for example, after a certain configurable time (for example, five days) if no one opens or clicks. Does, or alternatively sends them down a branch to receive Email 3 if they have opened and interacted with Email 2.
Multi Channel Messaging
The SFMC Journey Builder allows you to create trips that include email and SMS messages (and may also include direct mail using AppExchange partners). There are several use cases for multi-channel messaging, including:
- Service & Support Case Communication
Use email to communicate content related to service and support for the customer. Use SMS to communicate more timely information (for example, service personnel on the way, changes in the status of your service / support case such as shutdown).
- Communication After Purchase
Use email and SMS to share communication after purchase. For example, you can create a trip with an email for the status of the shipment until something is delivered. The moment SFMC sends an email to the customer informing them that the package has been delivered, and then becomes the authority to follow up with a product registration email and possibly a customer survey.
- Financial Communication
Use email and SMS to communicate financial status related to loan or credit. For example, emails help remind customers of upcoming loan payments if they have not yet been made (for example, three days before the due date). An SMS message can be useful on the actual due date to ensure that they do not miss their payment and face late payment penalties.
SFMC has some dynamic components that create a personalized experience for email recipients and further enhance engagement. These include:
- Dynamic Content
It involves creating personalized email content and subject lines based on a person’s characteristics and related data and the rules applicable to them. Email content will be populated based on who the recipient of the message is, providing a personalized experience without having to create multiple versions of an email.
- Dynamic Sending Profile
This enables creating custom sending addresses for email; A common use case is building an email and the sender’s message varies depending on the vendor having a relationship with the recipient.
All of the above help increase customer engagement with your brand and ideally build a strong customer relationship through timely communication of relevant content. These journeys are the foundation for creating automated and personal experiences with your brand through communication.
SFMC shares a wealth of data about communications conducted and executed by it when needed, which helps in reporting, analysis and insights. It works by augmenting SFMC data using existing contact data from other systems integrated with it. This may include Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration with Google Analytics 360 to track customer visits more thoroughly. You can put this data to good use for a variety of purposes, including campaign performance analysis, segmentation, and audience creation, the latter of which uses SFMC’s data management.
Benefits of Salesforce Marketing Cloud
- Data Management
Data management in a marketing cloud is done using data extensions (a table) that can be combined to create a relational database, which is supported with SQL. This, along with SFMC’s ability to store different types of data and create its own specific data model, is an advantage compared to some competing platforms that support limited data models restricted by data that they can import and manage . One reason for this is important is that it allows for the creation and segmentation of more complex audiences within SFMC.
- Integration Capability
Salesforce Marketing Cloud has extensive integration capabilities that can provide data from a variety of sources (another factor of why data management features are so valuable). For the expected connection of Salesforce to Sales Cloud and Service Cloud (via Marketing Cloud Connect), SFMC also has various APIs including a REST API and a SOAP API. Common use cases for these APIs include the following: Enhancing your existing contact information in SFMC, importing content, and starting sending triggers.
- Third Party Applications
Salesforce Marketing Cloud has a comprehensive set of third-party applications available, including Salesforce Appexchange, to enhance its capabilities and adapt it to its specific business goals. Think of App Exchange as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for SFMC (and other Salesforce Clouds). Beyond AppExchange, Salesforce partners have several other third-party products that integrate with SFMC to enhance its functionality and value.
- Application of Artificial Intelligence
Salesforce’s artificial intelligence technology, branded “Einstein”, has some interesting applications within SFMC, including:
- Determining engagement scoring to predict how it will interact with messaging.
- Time optimization is sent to predict the best time to send a message to each person, so it is most likely to open.
- Frequency of engagement to understand how many messages to send to each person..
All these provide a personalized experience while simultaneously increasing consumers’ engagement with your brand.
Utilizing Marketing Cloud through a Company
The use of Salesforce Marketing Cloud extends to many industries and company sizes. While marketing clouds are often considered as an enterprise-level platform (which it can be), different versions make it flexible enough for organizations of different sizes. Additionally, with the a-la-carte style selection of add-on features, you can tailor SFMC to your specific needs, and it can adapt to your (and your customers’) changing needs.
As mentioned earlier, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud was primarily designed as a B2C platform, but this does not mean that B2B companies do not use it. The use of SFMC in B2B is growing as customers, especially decision-makers within a company, expect to provide a customer journey similar to B2C customers. While SFMC is not the least expensive product in its field, it is an extensible platform that can grow with your company, and is not a tool that will grow your organization. This is an important consideration for any device in your technical stack.
In addition to the cost of any replacement platform, you also have to consider other effects. Integration; The data will provide this for analysis and reporting (and the impact on existing metrics). Ability to support your enterprise data model, data migration, overall impact on your company (training, organization structure, ROI). And the ability to deliver a better customer experience while advancing your desired business results.