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5 Key Considerations Before Buying Marketing Cloud Personalization

How to evaluate if your team is ready for a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (MCP) implementation.

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Formerly known as Interaction Studio, Marketing Cloud Personalization (MCP) is the real-time interaction management tool within Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It provides personalized web and app experiences, showing the right message to the right person at the right time.

Using diverse factors such as site engagement and offline behavior, MCP allows you to get to know and segment your customers, providing them with more meaningful experiences. If you’re interested in personalization with MCP, here are five things to consider before you buy:

1. Your marketing strategy

The first (and arguably, most important) consideration is the state of your marketing strategy. Do you have a vision that guides your marketing team, and a plan for achieving it? Do you have specific goals that MCP would contribute to? At a tactical level, do you have an established look, feel, and voice that MCP campaigns should respect? Metrics they should serve to affect?

When you think about personalization and all of the ways MCP could supplement your marketing strategy, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. For example, if your marketing goal was to simply personalize a B2B website, that alone wouldn’t get the implementation design and use case conversation started. However, if your goal were to personalize the site experience for small business owners, then you’re getting closer. You have an audience (small business owners), some potential language to use, and basic content that could benefit from good targeting. Maybe you even have an email campaign with specific images and text for small business owners and you want to think of a way to incorporate those into your site.

Just like the scientific method, everything starts with a question or hypothesis. You then must design an experiment, analyze the data, and draw a conclusion. While you may have to make some tweaks to the experiment along the way, MCP helps you run those experiments on your website through A/B testing and detailed reports on user behavior.

Whether you want to see how much an optimized banner influences engagement or test recommendations provided by the Einstein Recipe system, you simply need a place to start. And the perfect starting point is to begin generating ideas that serve your marketing strategy.

2. Your Salesforce suite

MCP is a powerful tool on its own, but it truly shines when combined with other Salesforce products. If you’re considering MCP, then you probably already have Salesforce Marketing Cloud, or intend to purchase it with MCP as an add-on.

Before getting started, it’s important to consider the maturity of your current Marketing Cloud implementation and how MCP integrates with other products in the Salesforce ecosystem. Are you just getting started with Marketing Cloud and will essentially be treating MCP as a separate product? Or do you have a mature Marketing Cloud instance and team that’s comfortable with tools like Journey Builder, Email Studio, and Customer Data Platform (CDP), enabling you to test how an integrated suite can enhance your personalization?

While there aren’t any requirements for using MCP alongside other Salesforce Marketing Cloud products, there are many enticing possibilities if you do. For example:

  • With Journey Builder, you can use site engagement as a Journey entry, and — in the other direction — Journey stage can drive personalization targeting.
  • With CDP, sophisticated segments can drive how MCP executes campaign targeting.
  • With Sales or Service Cloud, you can display an AI-derived action or product recommendation to help tailor conversations for your reps.
  • With Marketing Cloud Email Studio, you can populate a content block based on a user’s most-recent site engagement.

Those are just a few out-of-the-box integrations within Salesforce alone. Chances are, if you have a system or user story that could benefit from personalized site data — or that would help improve how your site behaves — MCP can probably get you there.

3. User data

Data is one of the most important pieces of personalization. The more data MCP has about a user, the more impactful your personalization can be. MCP has a distinction between anonymous visitors and known visitors, or users for whom you have some identifying information (such as email address, loyalty ID, or Salesforce Contact Key), making the integration of external data straightforward.

Even for anonymous users on your site, MCP works in the background to build a unified profile. How? Think of the paper trail users leave on your site when they click links, take surveys, browse products, or are directed from a referring source. MCP remembers each of these users and adds these details to their profile.

You can even create segments based around user behavior to create personalized campaigns for anonymous visitors. For example, if you have an e-commerce site and want to change your homepage’s hero banner to promote an end-of-season sale, do you have the data about your anonymous visitors to create audience segments to align to each sale, or would those segments require data about known visitors?

Outside of a login, there may not be many opportunities to identify a visitor and gather user data as they navigate your site. However, MCP is great at ingesting data from different sources, so if you already have customer data in Marketing Cloud, you can use the Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) system to import that data into MCP.

Again, consider your marketing strategy and whether you have the data to support that vision. Does the data exist in another system and you just need to find a way to bring it into MCP? If the data doesn’t exist in another system (and there isn’t a way on the site to scrape it), then is there a way to use MCP to power a survey or insert a form to gather data about your visitors?

4. Your content

This is one of the most important considerations that’s often overlooked. Let’s say you have a marketing strategy in place and want to create a hero banner campaign with three distinct experiences based on your marketing personas. You’re confident that the available data can help identify which site visitors align to each persona.

However, as you start creating the campaign, you realize you don’t have any hero images to work with. Sure, you could just use a background color, but is that the level of personalization you want? Even simple tactics like having corporate logos with transparent backgrounds readily available helps ensure that you’re adhering to brand guidelines.

Content doesn’t solely refer to creative assets it is also important to think about the content you have on your site that a visitor can interact with. Maybe you have blogs on your site and envision MCP generating tailored recommendations to users. However, you need to make sure you have enough published content for MCP’s machine learning algorithms to run. If you’re trying to create a recommendations campaign when you only have a handful of blog posts, your MCP instance will be woefully underworked.

5. Resources

There’s no magic formula for the number of staff you need to manage MCP. I’ve seen the full spectrum, with some clients hiring a partner for the initial implementation and relying solely on a marketer and a developer to take over from there, while other organizations assign a dedicated team of developers, UX designers, and marketers to take over. Deciding on the best route really depends on how lofty your MCP goals are.

If you want a more straightforward implementation and mostly use the global templates provided by Salesforce, then a developer and a marketing team should be able to oversee MCP. However, this also depends on your website. Some sites are simple to work with and play nicely with MCP while others require a bit more work, often because they either use React or are a single-page application. It comes down to your initial implementation partner and how well they train your team to develop custom campaigns, as well as the necessary content for an MCP slam-dunk.

In summary

While these topics are by no means exhaustive, considering them is a crucial first step to MCP success. So whether you’re just exploring personalization or ready to get started, my Slalom colleagues and I are happy to help get you where you need to be.

Slalom is a global consulting firm that helps people and organizations dream bigger, move faster, and build better tomorrows for all. Learn more and reach out today.

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