Common Pitfalls in Salesforce Marketing Cloud – Part 2

Common Pitfalls in Salesforce Marketing Cloud – Part 2

As already mentioned in Part 1 of this series, there are a few common pitfalls when working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud that you need to be aware of. If you haven’t read the first part, make sure to check it out. This second part highlights even more of the most common challenges users face when working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Roles and Permissions

A lot of people struggle with roles and permissions as they are a very complex topics. Especially if the standard roles aren’t sufficient for the organizational and operational structure and how data and its access needs to be separated, multiple Business Units and custom roles come into play. This is the point where it usually gets complicated and quite a few mistakes can be made.

First of all, a new user doesn’t have a default set of permissions and therefore can’t do much after the credentials are handed over. So the first pitfall is even applicable for tiny setups without the added complexity of Business Units and custom roles. Not assigning any role(s) to a brand new user – which I see happening quite frequently – leads to the possibility to log in but nothing more. This is often discovered in the first couple of minutes of a training/onboarding session where some users complain about not being able to follow because of limited access. The fix for that is easy – just prepare yourself a checklist of tasks to perform when onboarding new users to your Marketing Cloud instance.

The second pitfall in this area is the combination of multiple roles. You need to remember that a “Deny”-setting for one permission always takes priority over an “Allow”-setting. Therefore it is easy to lock out users if you aren’t careful in which roles you combine. This even happens with the standard roles that Salesforce provides, as some of those have permissions set to “Deny”. The easier way for roles would be leaving permissions blank instead, as this is also treated as “Deny”, but leaves the option to grant the permission with another role assigned to the user.

Last but not least – roles assigned to entire business units also have a high risk of locking out users and requiring support to let yourself into the system again. The underlying problem is the same as in the previous one but applies to all users – even admins – and not only specific ones that are assigned multiple roles.

Time Zones in SQL

In Salesforce Marketing Cloud, there is a default time zone that is used for all system data views and many parts of the system. If you have your own data sources and work across many countries and time zones it is always important to know what you need for your use cases. Especially if you are checking for a specific time after a date, if a point in time is before the current time, if it is already time for a campaign send-out that needs to happen at a specific time/day for an individual subscriber in a specific region, etc.

To make sure you always get the correct result in the desired time zone, you can use the “AT TIME ZONE” feature in SQL or, if you are using DESelect Segment, you can save yourself the hassle with SQL and just use the timezone conversion feature in the filter part of your selection. Find out more about that in the support portal article “Can I directly convert a date field into a different timezone in the Filters section?”.

Wrong SubscriberKey values for Multi-Cloud setups

Another issue I see very frequently when doing health checks and account reviews is customers using alternative values for the SubscriberKey in Multi-Cloud setups – something other than the Contact- or Lead-Ids from Sales and Service Cloud. This happens easily when inexperienced users set up registration forms or upload lists to send emails to. However, it is of utmost importance to use the Contact- or Lead-Ids if you want to utilize the full capabilities of Marketing Cloud Connect and have a 360-degree view of your subscribers.

Another factor that makes it important to use the right subscriber keys is the contact limit/count in Marketing Cloud. If you sync records using the synchronized data extensions contacts are automatically created using the correct Id as SubscriberKey. If you however import them manually with another field as SubscriberKey (usually the Email Address) – no matter if they are also present in Sales or Service Cloud – they count twice against the contact limit.

To find out more about the contact limit and how to monitor and clean up, check out the article “Contact Count: Monitoring and Data Cleansing” on the DESelect blog.


Some of the pitfalls in Salesforce Marketing Cloud relate to the instance setup, while others also lurk in the campaign setup and day-to-day operations. The most important thing that you learned today is to always be aware of the impact a change or setup decision could have on the system, to keep questioning them and always challenging yourself and your implementations. Keep curious and inform yourself about updates to the platform and what the Salesforce Marketing Cloud community and trailblazers find out and publish.

Are you still missing some common pitfalls you already encountered? Let us know via [email protected] and we might continue the series to spread the word 🤔

Markus Dang

Markus Dang

Markus is a guest author at DESelect. He's a Marketing Cloud Unit Lead & Solution Architect. He is also a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Champion.

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