Five Ideas for Optimizing Salesforce Marketing Cloud Connect

Research from Salesforce suggests that customers now expect a more connected and personalized experience delivered to them in real time. This means today’s marketer is expected to capture events across Sales, Service, and Commerce platforms, and to deliver timely — and relevant — content. Marketing Cloud Connect can help. But implementing the connector alone, without adjusting processes to take advantage of its functionality, will do little to improve your sales and marketing efforts.

Another challenge is that capturing cross-platform data and delivering personalized messaging is easier said than done. It involves technical skills not often found in a marketer’s job description. Skills like writing APIs, working with Javascript, and managing complex data sets are now a necessity for modern marketing departments. Since those skill sets are traditionally housed in IT, challenges emerge as marketers become reliant on tech stakeholders for getting daily tasks completed. With Marketing Cloud Connect, much of this complexity can be managed by marketers using out-of-the-box functionality instead of relying on IT to write custom APIs.

Managing Cross-Platform Data with Marketing Cloud Connect

For Salesforce CRM customers, most relevant data is already housed in a central location. Why not leverage that existing architecture to streamline marketing initiatives? Marketing Cloud Connect — the native connector between Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud — integrates with CRM data to allow for targeted messaging based on updates to customer records. But implementing Marketing Cloud Connect is just the starting point. (For more information on implementing MC Connect, I recommend starting with the “Marketing Cloud Connect” module in Trailhead.)

Once implemented, many teams struggle to realize the full benefits available with Marketing Cloud Connect. There are often key process changes and considerations that are left out but should be top of mind. Here are five things to keep in mind for enhancing the integration between Marketing and Sales Cloud.

Five Ideas for Optimizing Salesforce Marketing Cloud Connect

1. Use Salesforce Record ID as Subscriber Key in Marketing Cloud
In order to consistently identify Contacts across clouds, it’s important to use SFDC record ID as Subscriber Key to uniquely identify Contacts in Marketing Cloud. When using the connected app, or sending from Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud automatically references subscribers in email studio using Salesforce record ID. If the record is a new lead or contact, they will be added to your All Subscribers list with their lead/contact ID. If you are using a different ID value ( like email address) for other campaigns, you will create duplicate subscribers and limit your ability to leverage the connector in the future without creating bad data.

2. Create New Lead and Contact Records in Sales Cloud First
Transactional and triggered emails can get tricky when originating from API calls outside Sales Cloud. In these cases, it’s important to make sure a Lead or Contact is being created in Sales Cloud first. A Lead/Contact ID needs to be set as Subscriber Key (see above) prior to making calls into Marketing Cloud from external systems.

If an email is triggered in Marketing Cloud for an email address that does not yet exist in Sales Cloud, the record will get added to All Subscribers with the wrong subscriber key. This could cause headaches down the road like duplicates and inaccurate subscriber preferences.

3. Use Salesforce Data as the Entry Source for Journeys
Using the Salesforce data entry source in Journey Builder makes kicking off and managing complex journeys much simpler. The connector allows you to select Sales Cloud objects that should trigger journeys, then create rules to further refine your audience. One example is to set up Journey Builder to monitor a custom “Cart” object in Salesforce. When a Cart is created or updated with a status of “Abandoned”, start the related Contact down a journey encouraging them to pick up where they left off.

4. Replace API Calls from External Systems with Triggers in Salesforce
A good place to start after standing up MC Connect is to identify objects in Salesforce that when updated, should trigger marketing messages or campaigns. There are often simple updates to existing marketing programs that can reference Salesforce instead of relying on an external API call into Marketing Cloud. For example, you can trigger a “Welcome” email when a Contact is created in Sales Cloud. Simply go into Sales Cloud and navigate to the Marketing Cloud app. Once there, select “Triggered Send” and set up the criteria for the send along with the Marketing Cloud email that should be triggered.

5. Segment Audiences using Salesforce Reports or Campaigns
With Salesforce Data Extensions, you can manage your audience segments the same way you create reports in Sales Cloud. This involves creating a report or campaign in Salesforce, then creating an Import Activity in Marketing Cloud to find the report/campaign and bring those contacts into Marketing Cloud. Once a process is in place to manage the creation and import of reports, it becomes easier to create specific segments like “Customers with Birthdays Today” and send tailored content. This approach also allows you to leverage your existing reports and campaigns so you can quickly start messaging the people that matter most.

Walk Before you Run!
I’ve found that purchasing and configuring Marketing Cloud Connect will do little to improve your sales and marketing efforts on its own. You must first understand the functionality available, then make the necessary tweaks to align your processes to the requirements of Marketing and Sales Cloud. Once the pieces are in place, Salesforce becomes much more powerful and will provide a more complete view of your customers across Sales and Marketing departments.