Marketing personalization in SFMC

Marketing personalization in SFMC

How to personalize your marketing campaigns with data in Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

A survey created by Think with Google mentions that 90% of marketers think that marketing personalization significantly contributes to business profitability. Yet still, 58% of consumers say brands send them items that they don’t want. When it comes to personalization, it takes time to recognize the problem and act upon solving it. The question that marketers can ask themselves is where to start? And our answer will always be — start with data. Let’s find out how to leverage big data for personalization at scale and be ahead of the game.

First, define what data you need to collect. There are all sorts of data out there that your company probably already collects. You most likely track the data about your website visitors, collect data about your customers, store their personal information in your CRM, and probably create email marketing campaigns where the engagement of your subscribers is monitored. If you do all of that, that’s a great start, but how to use all that big data for personalization in Marketing Cloud? That’s something you’re about to find out now.

Focus on different aspects of data

Guillaume Cabane, former VP of Growth at Drift and Segment, recommends using data to enrich your marketing personalization strategy and confirm visitors’ information to create a frictionless experience. However, not all data you collect from visitors and customers is actionable.

To generalize, we can put data into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Under quantitative the following types of data can be found:

  • Demographic data – a collection of all the data points about a person, such as their name, email, title, income, location, marital status, and more.
  • Firmographic data – a collection of all the data points about a business, such as company name, industry, number of employees, annual revenue, and stage in the sales cycle.
  • Behavioral data – in the context of interaction between a website user and an app user, this reveals the data collected from your website or app visitors, such as pages visited, links clicked, average time on site, and a count of visits.
  • Contextual data – collection of data related to a visitor’s unique properties while providing context to their behavior on a website or an app, such as device type, browser type, location, and time of the day. Collecting demographic and firmographic data requires your visitors to fill out and submit a form. This may include a newsletter subscription, a demo registration, a live chat transaction, or a lead magnet download. This data typically ends up in your CRM, where you also get some automatic date and time stamping, lead source tracking, and lead activity insights.

Qualitative data, on the other hand, can be collected via questionnaire-style scenarios so that the customer’s attitudes, motivations, and opinions are collected. Some of the information that can be collected includes:

  • Opinion (e.g., their favorite journey destination for a holiday)
  • Motivations (why service was requested)
  • Attitudinal information (e.g., customer satisfaction reviews)

All the data you collect falls into one of these boxes. Later, you need to enable the process that allows creating a single view of a customer. Marketers tend to use CRM to access customers’ information. However, since data comes from different sources, it’s more common to operate between multiple platforms, which complicates the process of managing data and using it for later personalization. Ideally, all data points should connect and create a 360 view of a customer to tailor the communication based on their individual needs and position in the purchase cycle.

Another way to store and create a 360 view of an individual is to acquire a CDP (Customer Data Platform), which aims to create a single customer view. This solution can be convenient for those professionals who receive ample amounts of data and want to manage it outside of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Recently, Salesforce announced their CDP. Read our What is CDP article to find out more about Customer Data Platforms.

Connect data dots

Different data types come from various sources, but how would you know which ones to focus on? Or which one is the most valuable? Here’s a quick overview of different data sources SFMC marketers need to take into consideration.

First-party data

First-party data is the relevant information that your company gets from your customers, prospects, and subscribers. It’s essential to have this information since it enables you to identify individual customers and deliver highly relevant experiences. Common first-party data sources are:

  • Data collated from native app or website behavior
  • Data from your CRM
  • Social data
  • Subscription data
  • Behavioral data
  • Purchase data
  • Attitudinal data

Second-party data

Second-party data is like first-party data, but it comes from a source other than your own. It’s first-party data for other entities. Its value lies in its scale, as it can be pretty expansive, allowing for more data analytics insights on customer behaviors, new audiences, and relationship-building exercises. Second-party data sources are:

  • Social media
  • Customer surveys
  • Activity on websites
  • In-store purchase information

Third-party data

Third-party data is usually what entities acquire from external sources, where the sources are not the original owners of that data. These sources collect data and sort them together to sell them to potential clients. It is also not 100% consensual data, which makes it less reliable and likely to use. Examples can be:

  • Demographic data
  • Interests
  • Firmographic data
  • Website activity

 Looking at different data sources, first-party data is the most important, reliable, and valuable data for any business. Second and third-party data can fill in the gaps but are not always relevant or valuable. Usually, small and mid-size companies benefit from purchasing third-party data when their first-party data pool is relatively limited. In the end, your first-party data is all about your customers or prospects, and that’s the group that you need to focus on.

That is why it’s so important to scale your first-party data and make the best use out of it. To do this, marketers need to have data in one place, and what place can be better than Salesforce Marketing Cloud? Nonetheless, it’s not that easy for marketers to leverage big data that ends up in the Marketing Cloud. Firstly, marketers need to inject data coming from Salesforce CRM or other acquisition sources. Indeed, tools like Marketing Cloud Connect are there to connect Salesforce CRM with Marketing Cloud; however, it’s quite a technical thing to do for a non-data-savvy marketer. You can rely on external help like an IT team in your company or system integrators to do this for you. That’s because it requires understanding the data model and knowing how to build the connection. In general, it can be considered a separate project that, if not asking for external help, can take up a lot of marketing time. As a result, the time that marketers can spend on the actual campaign creation and building customer journeys will be absorbed by establishing the connectors between Salesforce CRM and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Declutter your data for better marketing personalization

The secret to using big data effectively is identifying which metrics are relevant to your audience, disregarding the rest. Such focus allows you to develop and execute campaigns quickly that address your users’ needs. 

Remember that not all data you collect needs to be used or stored in Salesforce Marketing Cloud since it’s not a data warehouse. Ensure that you ingest only the data that can be used to create meaningful communication with your subscribers, customers, and prospects. There’s a steep learning curve to doing marketing personalization right; mastering it requires time, patience, and interdepartmental collaboration.

Then you can move on to segmenting your data. Marketers’ work doesn’t stop with just identifying your core customers. You need to segment your audience into smaller groups for more accurate targeting. How? One way to do that is to go through the available data to find repeating patterns in behavior or user engagement across different touchpoints. Then, divide your audience into segmented groups based on which pattern they represent. This will help you personalize your campaigns more effectively. There are different types of market segmentation and it’s important you have a clear understanding of segmentation strategies,  that can help you better segment your audience in Salesforce Marketing Cloud for highly targeted campaigns.

It’s worth mentioning that segmenting data in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud requires learning SQL query language. Marketers either need to have SQL knowledge or rely on their colleagues with better data management capabilities or third-party service providers to create segments. Fortunately, there is an alternative for marketers working with SFMC who want to segment efficiently and independently without writing a single line of code. This is an intuitive no-code segmentation solution called DESelect Segment that creates advanced audience segments in Marketing Cloud easy to use for personalization later. Schedule a live demo with one of DESelect certified consultants already now to improve your segmentation game.

Let’s start personalizing in Marketing Cloud

Now you have all the data you need in one place — Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and you’ve created your segments; well done, you made it! Now it’s about time to personalize it. 

Real-time personalization with Interaction Studio

On-site personalization has become a buzzword in the marketing world, and that can be partially attributed to the existence of Interaction Studio in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. You can leverage this tool to create live, personalized experiences for your website visitors. Based on the segments you created earlier, you can tailor your website visitors’ experience using the insights of their needs and interests to personalize the communication and create a 1-to-1 relationship with every customer and prospect visiting your website.

Interaction Studio SFMC

Interaction Studio overview example (source:

Leverage AI insights for better customer experience

A great method to create advanced personalization on the go can be incorporating AI mechanisms like Einstein Recommendations in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. These recommendations allow you to create personalized suggestions enabled by AI to deliver the best-personalized results for every customer by creating customer profiles for your audience. To leverage Einstein Recommendations for Marketing Cloud, you need to understand some underlying and somewhat technical aspects that come along. You can have an overview of what Einstein Recommendations are in this Trailhead module. Einstein features are accessible for Salesforce Marketing Cloud clients starting from the Corporate tier.

Learn AMPscript and optimize your email marketing

Another option to create personalized experiences for your Salesforce Marketing Cloud audience is to leverage AMPscript. This is another language that technical marketers use in SFMC to create personalized experiences in Email Studio. However, this may mean that you need to invest in learning how to code. Leveraging this language can help you automate certain marketing activities like cleaning and formatting data and personalize emails based on subscriber and contact data. It’s good to become familiar with the AMPscript basics, which you can find in this helpful Trailhead module. Getting acquainted with it will be an asset to understand the best way to personalize your communication with your audience.

AMPscript example in Marketing Cloud

AMPscript example (source: Trailhead)

Deliver personalized experiences with Journey Builder

Journey Builder is truly a multipurpose tool that can help you build advanced journeys and meaningful 1-to-1 connections with your audience. For instance, you can insert audience segments you created with DESelect Segment in the journey’s starting point and create a tailored experience that will be valuable specifically for this segment. Based on website activity, interaction with the emails, purchases, and leaving feedback, you can deliver a personalized experience to every contact.


Marketing Personalization with Data in SFMC DESelect

There are many ways to personalize your marketing campaigns and communication with your customers or prospects in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but that is first and foremost dependent on getting your data right and knowing how to use it. According to the Salesforce 7th State of Marketing Report, 78% of marketers say their customer engagement is data-driven. There’s no personalization without knowing the data you have and how to use it to your benefit. You have to start leveraging Marketing Cloud to where all data-puzzle pieces come together in order to be able to start segmenting your audience. Thanks to SFMC solutions like DESelect Segment that becomes easy and accessible to all marketers. After that, when your segments are defined, you can personalize your communication and create highly personalized journeys that will speak to every individual and build trust between you and your customers. Good luck!

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