DESelect is coming to Salesforce Connections 2022: Our experience

What is Salesforce Connections?

Connections is the biggest Salesforce Marketing Cloud event that brings marketing, commerce, and digital professionals together — to inspire, educate, and connect. The event creates an excellent opportunity for Salesforce professionals to network and learn together.

Salesforce Connections 2022 was happening live for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic and was streamed via Salesforce+ for thousands of people dialing in from distant locations.

Why is it important to everyone who uses SFMC?

In comparison to Dreamforce, Connections is the most significant event that unites Marketing Cloud professionals alongside MuleSoft and Tableau users. Therefore, the event offers an excellent opportunity to meet all professionals in person, learn about updates in Marketing Cloud, and get to know new vendors. The event is invaluable for those wishing to create a footprint in the SFMC ecosystem actively.

Our way to connections

We’ve closely observed every Connections event since 2020, and it’s remarkable that after only two years, we’re attending in person, where we had the pleasure of presenting. We’ve built a fantastic cross-Atlantic team dedicated to helping Salesforce customers with their segmentation and data integration needs in just two years.

What was it like for us?

Chicago is an incredible city, and attending this event was a phenomenal experience. Over 4,500 customers and potential customers attended, and another 3,000 Salesforce people. We had a big booth, well located in the space. We had a lot of interest from attendees, so the team constantly talked with people about what DESelect is and does. Connections was a well-organized event. Aside from the main sessions and stands, there were many side events and quite a few rooftop parties. 

Tips for those who plan to visit Connections next time

There are a lot of sessions. Some have a limited capacity and are first-come, first-serve, so use the agenda planner to ensure you don’t miss out.

Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of Connections ’23 (or any Salesforce event in the future):

Book your travel early. These events fill up fast, as do the hotels, AirBnBs, and practically everywhere else with a pillow and a mattress. If you book late, prepare to have your team spread across various locations. It’s also worth mapping your route and doing a test walk the day before the conference if your travel schedule allows. You’ll be glad you did so when you stay out late networking and find yourself rushing to make that morning conference after hitting the snooze button for the sixteenth time.

Divide and conquer (plan your schedule). There are A LOT of sessions, which is excellent. But you can’t attend them all. If you’re lucky enough to be there with colleagues or coworkers, have them go to different sessions and share their notes with you. Not only does this reduce the risk of missing a great talk, but it also forces you to pay more attention so you can share the learnings with your teammates.

Show up early to sessions. Some sessions are in open areas near booths, other session stages, and speakers playing music. It’s an exciting atmosphere, but it can be hard to hear if you end up stuck at the back (especially when it’s standing-room-only, as with the talk given by DESelect’s very own CEO, Anthony Lamot : ) ).  

Anthony Lamot presents at Connections

Attend after-hours networking sessions. Whether rooftop networking before the official conference or an after-party, you’ll have some of the best conversations and connections (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) outside of the event. After a long day of packing your brain with the latest marketing cloud best practices, it’s great to hear directly from people experiencing the same challenges as you in a more casual setting. Other SFMC users are a blast to spend time with, and you’ll also meet potential marketing partners and vendors in a friendly atmosphere. Salesforce isn’t one to throw a boring event, so everything they do surrounding the conference is well worth checking out (think parties, concerts, and more).

DESelect at Connections 22

Don’t forget the lounges. Lounges like this year’s International Lounge were home to delicious food, quiet meeting spaces, and a break from the fast-paced nature of the conference. This year one lounge even allowed a large group of attendees to use free of charge Build-a-Bear services to create stuffed animals for their “kids” (or at least that was everyone’s excuse). If you’re headed to a future event, don’t forget to check out the lounges! Note these can sometimes require special access privileges for sponsors, so inquire accordingly.

Sponsoring the event? Spread your team out. The worst thing you can do at Connections is anchor yourself to one spot. If you’re a sponsor, spread out your team. Around meals, before and after sessions, people rush to the booths. There are also many great conversations to be had everywhere, so deploy yourselves tactically—the hallways, sessions, networking events, concerts, and so on. 

Bring comfortable shoes. On the subject of moving, make sure you take care of your feet. The event spaces are large and spread out, so if you don’t bring comfortable footwear, you might regret it. Bring something good for walking, and if you’re sponsoring, make sure they’re also suitable for standing for long periods.

Bring a water bottle. With an event as good as this, the only thing you should be thirsty for is knowledge. And cool swag, of course. The event space is enormous, and it’s not always easy to find a drink, especially if you’re working at a booth. 

Should you attend a boat tour? Yes! We know what you’re thinking. After a long conference, the last thing you want to do is climb on a boat filled with coworkers. However, this is a great way to see some of the city. These events fill up fast, so register early and show up on time. You’ll get to appreciate some of Chicago’s architecture while having interesting conversations with people just as exhausted as you. Overall, this is a great way to round off your trip. See the sights and stay productive along the way.

Our main takeaway

We’ve already decided to return next year as a sponsor. Following Connections, we’re now reconsidering what we can do at Dreamforce.

Salesforce Connections 2022 was the super bowl of Marketing Cloud conferences. Almost every person we bumped into, every contact we networked with, and every new friend we connected with was either actively using SFMC or on their way to implementing it. Next year, with so many great people (and marketing insights) in one place, you’ll want to ensure you maximize your time at the event.

Conclusion

Attending Connections, you get to be around like-minded, forward-thinking marketers. You’ll have thought-provoking conversations, memorable experiences, a wish list of new technologies to implement, and new ideas about tackling longstanding nagging issues. So, if you’re considering attending another Connections or a similar Salesforce event, keep these tips in mind so you’ll be off to a great start. We can’t wait to see you at Connections next year (wearing comfortable shoes, we hope)!

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Best Practices for a Seamless Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Migration

Data migration specialists adhere to essential best practices to ensure a seamless transition and preserve data integrity and reliability. Following migration best practices also minimizes risks and saves you time, resources, and potential headaches in the long run.

Whether you are transitioning to Salesforce Marketing Cloud from a legacy system or transferring data from other platforms, it is imperative to follow established best practices. Your efforts will significantly influence your ability to build audiences, personalize campaigns, and ultimately drive business growth.

In this article, we delve into Salesforce Marketing Cloud data migration best practices tailored for migration architects and business process owners to position you for success. While each business context and use case may introduce unique complexities that we cannot cover in this brief post, we can provide you with an overview that will prove valuable for your upcoming migration project.

Follow these recommended data migration best practices for a seamless transition and achieve the highest data quality outcomes for your migration.

data migration salesforce marketing cloud process

Stage 1: Determine Why, When, and How Data Will Migrate

Define Objectives Clearly

Commence the migration process by establishing clear objectives from the outset, a pivotal step in ensuring the efficiency of the entire process. Begin by precisely defining the scope of your data migration endeavor, including the specific datasets you intend to transfer and their respective volumes.

To make informed decisions regarding data quality and relevance, engage in meaningful discussions with business process owners and data custodians. Their insights can help you determine the significance and reliability of the data you plan to migrate. In some cases, these conversations may lead to the realization that migrating only essential data is the most prudent course of action, aligning with industry best practices and ensuring a more focused and streamlined migration effort.

Additionally, it is imperative to establish a requirement to articulate the precise purpose and utility of significant data sets. This clarity not only aids in decision-making but also serves as a valuable reference point throughout the migration process, helping you stay aligned with your objectives and deliver a successful Salesforce Marketing Cloud migration.

To successfully execute a substantial migration project, it’s essential to engage the following key stakeholders:

  • Project Sponsor: This role provides the necessary funding and support to ensure the project’s success.
  • Business Process Owners: This group comprises various roles responsible for the effective operation of impacted business processes. Their insights and cooperation are vital for alignment.
  • Product Owner: An experienced professional well-versed in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, guiding the project with domain expertise.
  • Migration Architect: This role is responsible for designing and overseeing the migration strategy and architecture.
  • Specialized Developers: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Specialists who possess the technical skills required for executing the migration tasks.
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud Implementation Partners: These partners can provide specialized developers and expertise to augment the project’s capabilities.
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Executives: They play a pivotal role in driving the project by facilitating communication, coordination, and alignment with Salesforce resources and solutions.

Engaging these stakeholders is crucial to ensure that all aspects of the migration project, from funding to technical execution, are effectively managed and successful.

Assess Existing Data Quality

To establish a robust foundation for your data management processes, it’s imperative to give priority to data cleansing. This involves a meticulous examination of your dataset to identify and rectify any data issues that might compromise its integrity and usefulness. These issues may include fields left empty when they should contain information, mandatory fields that have been unintentionally left incomplete, or problems related to the formatting of data.

A critical aspect of data cleansing also involves ensuring that your understanding of Boolean definitions aligns harmoniously with the actual data present within your dataset. Boolean values, such as “true” or “false,” can sometimes lead to misinterpretations if not closely examined and validated. By verifying that Boolean definitions accurately correspond to the data they represent, you can prevent potential misconceptions and ensure the reliability of your data for future use and analysis. This meticulous approach to data cleansing forms the cornerstone of a data management strategy in a way that ensures the quality of your information assets.

Choose the Right Technology

For optimal data migration to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, it is advisable to migrate data from the Salesforce CRM. Many SFMC customers choose to connect their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to the platform. Use the CRM as your definitive repository for master customer records, serving as the singular point of truth.

Subsequently, you can execute the migration from Salesforce CRM to Marketing Cloud by leveraging the Marketing Cloud Connector. This approach is considered best practice for several compelling reasons:

  • Salesforce Support: You will get the support you need as Salesforce provides comprehensive support for the data ingestion process, ensuring a robust foundation for your migration efforts.
  • Timely Data Synchronization: With data synchronization occurring at intervals as frequent as every 15 minutes, you can maintain near-real-time data consistency between Salesforce CRM and Marketing Cloud.
  • Effortless Updates and New Data: The migration process exclusively encompasses updates and newly acquired data, rendering it seamless and eliminating the need for manual handling of file drops or direct API integration.
  • User-Friendly Configuration: Setting up the Marketing Cloud Connector is a user-friendly experience, facilitated through a straightforward wizard-based process.

If Salesforce CRM is not your chosen data source, you can explore alternative strategies to ensure a smooth and efficient data migration process, as outlined below:

  • Leverage MuleSoft for Automated Imports: You can leverage MuleSoft for automated data import tasks. Utilizing Mulesoft’s Salesforce Connector in conjunction with the Salesforce API is a viable option, particularly for extensive and/or batch data synchronization. This setup enables external systems to interact with Salesforce in batch operations, encompassing data access, modifications, deletions, or additions. MuleSoft is able to efficiently handle substantial data volumes.
  • Utilize Automations in Salesforce Marketing Cloud: To migrate cleansed data into Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can establish and employ Automations. These Automations can be configured to trigger file drops, import and script activities. Consequently, your data is ingested into specific Data Extensions specified within the Automation, streamlining the migration process.
  • Implement a Marketing Cloud REST API: The Bulk API 2.0 is built upon the Salesforce REST framework, providing a seamless way to asynchronously insert a significant volume of records. The interface is user-friendly and simplifies the process of loading extensive datasets into your Salesforce organization.

Document All Activities

Before moving forward, it is essential to develop thorough documentation. This documentation should encompass various aspects, including mapping and tracking details, such as:

  • Activity Ownership and Timelines: Clearly define ownership of tasks and activities, specifying their start and end dates. This ensures accountability and a structured timeline for all involved parties.
  • Pre-Go-Live, Migration, and Post-Migration Procedures: Document the procedures and steps to be followed before, during, and after the migration is complete. This comprehensive approach helps in planning and executing each phase effectively.
  • Object Mapping: Create a mapping framework to capture the sources of data and their respective sizes. This enables a clear understanding of the data sources, helping in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud migration strategy.
  • Field Mapping: Record detailed information about field names and their corresponding object names. This field mapping documentation is crucial for maintaining data integrity during the migration process.

By developing this comprehensive documentation, you establish a solid foundation for your data migration project, ensuring clarity, accountability, and a structured approach from planning to execution and beyond.

Stage 2: Prepare Data for Migration

Follow an ETL Process and Cleanse Data

Extract the agreed-upon data from the source system to raw files. Remember to keep certain legacy ID information, which can be created as customer fields in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Custom fields have the attribute “External ID.” During the data migration validation stage, you will be able to use this field to build custom data validation reports.

​Cleansing your data is an important step, as clean data is accurate and will ensure accurate analytics. Without this step you may end up with duplicate data, which will impact your reporting results and future campaigns. By following this approach your data will be trustworthy and sortable.

The following steps are usually required:

  • Remove duplicates
  • Delete information you don’t need
  • Correct Spelling and punctuation
  • Enforce naming conventions
  • Complete all missing data

Transform your cleansed data where Salesforce Marketing Cloud has specific requirements. These are the requirements you will always need:

  1. Add a column for a record owner. It must be the Salesforce ID of the owner of the record (Marketing Cloud user).
  2. Add a column for account id, which must be the Salesforce record ID.

Review Your Data Model

Now is the best time to revisit your data model if you had one in place already. The data required for a Salesforce Marketing Cloud migration will need to be organized as your data model intends, along with standardized data elements. During the cleansing and transforming process of your data, new data elements may arise, and you will need to add and edit data relationships in your data model.

Here are two common data model structures that can form a solid foundation and be tailored to accommodate how your team stores and handles data.

1.  The Basic Data Model

basic data model sfmc

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s basic model that accounts for your sendable data, which is the Lead, Contact, and User.

2. The Traditional Custom Data Model

The customized data model includes your subscriber preferences and additional subscriber attributes that you will need to create.

Data Security and Compliance

Data security and compliance are non-negotiable when handling subscriber data. To safeguard sensitive information during the migration process, it’s imperative to implement robust security measures.

Adhere to data protection regulations like GDPR or CCPA, and employ encryption for sensitive data to shield it from unauthorized access. Avoid transferring sensitive data, such as credit card information.

Furthermore, it’s essential to respect subscribers’ consent preferences such as:

  • Explicit Consent: Only import subscribers and their data if you have received explicit consent to retain their information.
  • Consent Records: Maintain a comprehensive record of subscribers who have provided their consent (opted in) and those who have requested to be excluded (opted out).
  • Publication Lists: Set up publication lists to categorize subscribers based on their preferences. Keep track of subscribers who have opted in to receive publications and those who have opted out of specific publication lists.

By adhering to these principles, you not only ensure compliance with data protection regulations but also demonstrate a commitment to respecting your subscribers’ preferences and data privacy rights.

Stage 3: Executing the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Migration

Test and Practice the Migration Process

It is essential to rigorously test and practice the migration process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve this:

  • Define Testing Goals and Scenarios

Start by clearly defining your testing goals. Identify the scenarios and data periods that are critical for your organization. Consider the specific data sets and use cases that are central to your marketing efforts. These goals and scenarios will serve as your benchmarks for successful migration.

  • Vary Batch Sizes

Test the migration process with different batch sizes. This will help you understand how the system handles varying data volumes and optimize the process accordingly. Smaller batches may be more manageable, but larger batches can test the system’s scalability.

  • Consider Time Zones

Account for time zone differences when testing your migration process. Ensure that data timestamps are accurately converted to the appropriate time zones. Test scenarios where data originates from various time zones to validate the system’s capability to handle such variations.

  • Address File Migration Limitations

Salesforce Marketing Cloud may have limitations on the types and sizes of files that can be migrated. Identify these limitations and develop strategies to address them. Test different file formats and sizes to ensure compliance and avoid data loss during migration.

  • Perform Comprehensive Data Validation

During testing, thoroughly validate the migrated data. Check for data integrity, consistency, and accuracy. Verify that all necessary data fields are transferred correctly and that relationships between different data elements are maintained.

  • Test Data Transformation and Mapping

If you are transforming or mapping data during migration, extensively test these processes. Confirm that data mappings are accurate and that transformations do not result in data corruption or loss.

  • Simulate Real-World Scenarios

Go beyond basic testing and simulate real-world scenarios. Consider scenarios where unexpected issues may arise, such as duplicate records, missing data, or data conflicts. Ensure your migration process can handle these situations gracefully.

  • Monitor Performance and Scalability

Assess the performance of the migration process under load. Test it with a large volume of data to gauge scalability. Identify any bottlenecks or resource constraints and address them proactively.

  • Document and Analyze Results

Keep detailed records of your testing efforts, including any issues encountered and their resolutions. Analyze the results against your defined testing goals and scenarios. Use this information to fine-tune your migration process.

  • Iterate and Refine

Migration testing is an iterative process. Use the insights gained from your initial testing rounds to refine your migration strategy and make necessary adjustments. Repeat the testing process as needed until you achieve the desired level of accuracy and completeness.

By considering various factors and scenarios, you can identify and address issues proactively, reducing the risk of data reliability after the migration process is completed.

Validate the Data

To ensure the accuracy of your migrated data, use the following best practice validation techniques, as recommended by Salesforce.

  • Custom Reports: Create custom reports to validate record counts and obtain an overview of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud migration process. These reports offer a comprehensive snapshot of the data migration.
  • Spot Checking: Perform spot checks on the migrated data. This involves randomly reviewing specific data points to ensure their correctness and completeness.
  • Exception Reports Review: Examine exception reports to identify any data that was not successfully migrated. Additionally, provide explanations for why certain data could not be transferred.

Supplemental Reading: Migrating from Audience Builder

Users of Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Audience Builder segmentation tool know it offers a way to create audiences that all marketers find easy, regardless of technical acumen. Unfortunately, the days of Audience Builder are limited, as Salesforce plans to shutter the tool and no longer offers it to new customers.

As this is a question many Salesforce Marketing Cloud admins face, it’s important to begin planning the migration process now to a solution that shares the same benefits…and improves on some shortcomings.

DESelect Segment shares many of Audience Builder’s strengths, including a SQL-free interface, complex segmentation capabilities, and an ability to handle high volumes of data. Unlike Audience Builder, it’s a Salesforce AppExchange plugin with a one-day setup and super easy adoption – ensuring campaigns experience minimal disruption during the transition.

Learn more about the transition from Audience Builder here.

Conclusion

Pulling off a successful Salesforce Marketing Cloud migration requires a meticulous adherence to best practices and a well-thought-out strategy. The importance of data integrity and reliability cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts your ability to build audiences, personalize campaigns, and drive business growth.

By following the above best practices, you can set the stage for successful marketing campaigns, informed decision-making, and data-driven business growth. Remember that each migration may have unique complexities, so adapt these practices to suit your specific needs and circumstances.

Suzaan Groves Cloud-Vision

Suzaan Groves

Suzaan is a Project Director at Cloud-Vision, where she specializes in managing projects related to Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementations and development.  She has been part of project implementations in various sectors including automotive, retail, government and financial services.  Suzaan is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and she holds an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch.

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Salesforce Journey Builder Best Practices: Create Personalized Journeys that Drive Action

54% of consumers say whether or not a brand is perceived as spammy comes down to two factors, the strength of the relationship and the content of the messages. So how do you ensure whatever customer journeys you create further strengthen pre-existing consumer relationships?

In Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Journey Builder provides a strategic and automated way to engage with existing subscribers or prospects across multiple touchpoints over a defined period. Designed to guide individuals through a series of interactions, it delivers personalized and relevant experiences at each stage of engagement.

Each journey is built with an end goal in mind, which may vary from campaign to campaign. The journey might be transactional (e.g., sending an acknowledgment when subscribers interact with the brand) or commercial (e.g., encouraging subscribers to engage with new promotional campaigns). The common goal that most commercial journeys strive toward is to drive action and optimize marketing campaigns through proper saturation.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the Salesforce Journey Builder best practices that help you effectively reach audiences, nurture conversions, and achieve internal goals.

1. Creating Segments for Salesforce Journey Builder

Audience segments help define a journey in terms of who the journey is targeting. Having deep and useful data in Marketing Cloud becomes crucial to creating personalized campaigns for each subscriber.

Personalizing audience segments in Marketing Cloud journeys involves using customer data and segmentation criteria to tailor the content and messaging delivered. The following are the two ways to create audience segments.

The General Way 

Define Your Segmentation Criteria

It is always a great idea to start by determining the specific attributes or behaviors that you’ll use to segment an audience. These could include any information ranging from demographic information, purchase history, website activity, engagement with previous campaigns, or any other relevant data points available in your Marketing Cloud infrastructure. 

Create Data Extensions or Data Filters

Once we have zeroed in on the desired attributes, we can use Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s data extension and/or data filter capabilities to organize our audience based on the defined criteria needed for segmenting. Data filters enable you to segment your existing data extensions based on specific conditions. These can then be used to create a filtered data extension by adding them to an automation that gives us updated data on a scheduled cadence. 

Create SQL Queries

Use Query Activities in Automation Studio to actually create your audience segments using SQL queries. You can define the filter criteria to extract the desired subset of data from data extensions.

SQL query in DESelect Segment

Segment-Specific Activities

Within Salesforce’s Journey Builder journey canvas, you can tailor the activities and messaging based on the segment the customer belongs to. Customize the customer experience with decision split and engagement split activities to maximize engagement. Based on the conditions or rules you define, direct customers down different paths or experiences within the journey, ensuring they receive tailored, personalized interactions.

The DESelect Way 

Create Segments in DESelect

DESelect Segment is the platform that comes to rescue when we require segments to be created for our journeys. As we have seen above, there are various (some simple and some complicated) methods of creating segments in Marketing Cloud.

Segment brings most of those methods under one umbrella and makes them friendly for marketers of all experiences. Through simple drag-and-drop options, even a user not proficient in SQL queries easily creates complex data segments that are then used as entries for journeys.

Some functionalities that make DESelect Segment an easy-to-use tool: 

  • Access to all the data extensions (including data views) in one panel 
  • Drag-and-drop filtration process 
  • No coding experience required 
  • Create data relationships 
  • Easily edit fields, or create a new data extension 
  • Preview data before applying filters

2. Content 

Content plays an essential role drawing in and retaining subscribers. Content refers to engagement opportunities, such as sending out deeply personalized messages to subscribers, sending feedback forms from time to time, or keeping subscriber preferences up-to-date with a periodic renewal option. Leverage Content Builder to create and manage your email, SMS, or other content assets for use in Salesforce Journey Builder.

To leverage personalization features, use any of the following:

  • AMPScript
  • Personalization strings
  • Dynamic content blocks…

…to tailor emails, messages, landing pages, or other assets with data specific to each recipient. This process often includes using the customer’s name, recent purchase history, or personalized recommendations to drive communications that foster a deeper connection and result in a greater chance of conversion.

The following are the different ways of personalizing content.

AMPscript

This option requires some coding skills but has a short learning curve. AMPscript is a scripting language in Marketing Cloud that allows for more advanced personalization. Use it to retrieve and manipulate data, create conditional logic, and perform calculations within emails. For example, use AMPscript to display personalized product recommendations based on a recipient’s past purchases.

Personalization Strings

Within your email template or content block, use personalization strings to insert dynamic content. Personalization strings are placeholders that the corresponding data values will replace when the email is sent to the contact entering the journey. For example, use %%First Name%% to dynamically insert the recipient’s first name.

AMPscript example in Marketing Cloud

Dynamic Content Blocks

Marketers make use of Dynamic Content Blocks to display content variations based on specific conditions or data attributes. These blocks allow you to create rules that determine which version of the content is shown to each recipient. For instance, displaying different offers or images based on a subscriber’s location or preferences.

3. Salesforce Journey Builder Optimization 

Once a journey goes live, the campaign results start rolling in. As we all know, every journey can be optimized, and any new strategies will affect most or all ongoing and future campaigns. There are some ways to optimize journeys.

Einstein 

Einstein’s machine learning capabilities analyze customer data and behavior to deliver highly personalized recommendations within your journeys. It suggests the most relevant content, offers, or product recommendations, based on subscriber preferences and past interactions.

Additionally, Einstein helps predict the appropriate times when subscribers engage most with your communications. Apply insights to improve engagement rates and ultimately reduce unsubscribes from your communications.  

Reporting and Analysis 

Monitor the performance of your personalized emails using Marketing Cloud’s reporting and analytics features. Track click-through rates, conversions, and the deep-dive metrics you need to properly assess personalization efforts at the big-picture level and compare against KPIs.

Additionally, Salesforce Journey Builder provides statistics within the journey too. Journey Analytics provides visual representations of your journey data through dashboards and reports. These visualizations help you understand the customer journey flow, identify patterns, and spot areas of opportunity or improvement. 

A/B Testing 

Implement A/B testing within your journeys to test different subject lines, content, call-to-action buttons, or send times. Based on the results of the A/B tests, apply the insights gained to optimize your campaigns. Implement the winning variation or combine successful elements from different variations. 

Saturation with DESelect Engage

Saturation control is the process of determining the maximum number of messages or interactions you want to send to an individual subscriber within a specific period. This prevents over-communication and plays a major role in creating a positive user experience.

With DESelect Engage, marketers have a mission control of how each campaign saturates individual subscribers. Flagging both over- and undersaturated subscribers, Engage empowers teams to optimize communication frequency for each contact — maximizing conversions while avoiding marketing fatigue.

Other Best Practices 

Here are more best practices that will help in a campaign in any scenario: 

  • Always use current and relevant data. 
  • Clearly define the objectives of the journey before starting the build.
  • Understand your subscribers and respect their preferences at every step.
  • Make sure to test each aspect of the journey with test data before using live records.
  • Respect unsubscribes and other privacy regulations to stay in compliance with legislation such as CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and CCPA.

Conclusion 

These best practices serve as general guidelines, and you should adapt them to suit your specific business goals, target audience, and industry. Regularly evaluate the journeys and evolve your strategies based on past campaigns and customer insights to continuously improve results.

See how DESelect Engage fully optimizes your Journey Builder campaigns with advanced saturation control rules, and identify exactly who is at risk for oversaturation.

Written in collaboration with Genetrix

Written in collaboration with Genetrix

Genetrix is an early-stage consulting firm with a team of 12 and provides all Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions under one roof. Whether it's kicking off your Marketing Cloud instance, customizing the platform with ingenious solutions, or supporting your ongoing changes, merging, and managing multiple clouds – they've got you covered.

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Query Studio Demystified: 5 Critical Use Cases for SFMC Marketers

In the expansive digital marketing realm, data-driven strategies have emerged as the cornerstone of success. Within this landscape, Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio is a formidable tool, empowering marketers to unlock their data’s full potential.

Whether you’re a creative marketer seeking to tailor campaigns or a technical expert aiming to dive deep into data intricacies, this guide is tailored precisely for you. Prepare to delve into a world of expert tips, best practices, and techniques that will supercharge your marketing campaigns.

A Closer Look at Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio is a dynamic tool designed to run SQL queries directly on your Marketing Cloud data. What sets it apart from Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s traditional SQL environment is its user-friendly interface. It provides marketers with the capability to fetch, preview, and transform data in real-time, all within an interface resembling SQL Server Studio or MySQL Workbench.

Before we explore Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio, it’s essential to grasp the existing features and functionalities within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as well as the limitations that come with these standard features. Understanding this context will underscore why solutions like Query Studio enhance your marketing campaigns significantly.

The Power of Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is renowned for its robust suite of digital marketing tools designed to empower marketers in their data-driven endeavors. At its core, SFMC offers a range of features that allow users to interact with and manipulate data:

Data Extensions Filters: These are akin to tables in traditional databases, storing rows of data with defined columns. Marketers use them to segment and target their audience based on various attributes. Filtering data within these extensions is straightforward, with a user-friendly interface even newcomers can navigate.

data extension filters

Basic SQL Query Functionality: SFMC provides a basic interface to run SQL queries for those familiar with SQL. This feature is handy for complex data manipulations extending beyond simple filtering. Marketers can extract, transform, and load (ETL) their data to suit specific campaign needs

sql query configuration

Automation Studio: This is where the magic of automation happens. Marketers can set up workflows to automate tasks like data imports, data filtering, and even running SQL queries at scheduled intervals.

using automation center

However, while these features are powerful, they come with their limitations:

  1. Single Data Extension Filtering: One significant limitation of Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s native capabilities is the restriction to filter within a single data extension at a time. Combining or comparing data across multiple data extensions is a challenge for the native tools, particularly when trying to gain a comprehensive view of customer interactions across different data sources.
  2. Performance of Filters: Filtering data within large data extensions can be sluggish, leading to delays in campaign launches or data analysis tasks. For marketers working in real-time or with tight schedules, these delays can impact the effectiveness and timeliness of their campaigns.
  3. Limitations in Joining Data: Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Data Extension Filters make it challenging to cross-join data extensions, hindering marketers from gaining a holistic view of their data.
  4. Complexity of Advanced Queries: While basic filtering and data manipulation are straightforward, creating advanced SQL queries requires a deeper understanding of the language, which can be a barrier for marketers without an SQL background.
  5. Lack of Real-time Result Viewing for SQL Queries: A significant constraint with Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s native SQL capabilities is the absence of real-time result previews. When an SQL query is executed, the output is directed and stored in a separate data extension instead of being immediately displayed for review. This fragmented approach can be cumbersome and time-consuming, particularly when iterative query adjustments are needed.
  6. Performance Issues: Running complex queries on large data extensions can lead to performance problems, including slow query execution or timeouts.

Given these limitations, there was a clear need in the digital marketing landscape for a solution that seamlessly combined user accessibility with sophisticated data manipulation. Enter Query Studio for Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Query Studio: The Game-Changer

Query Studio isn’t just another tool in the marketer’s toolkit; it’s the linchpin that connects marketers to their data more intuitively and efficiently. Specifically crafted to address the challenges of real-time result viewing and multi-data extension filtering, Query Studio allows users to run SQL queries and instantly preview the results. This real-time feedback loop accelerates the data exploration, enabling marketers to make quicker, data-informed decisions.

Furthermore, Query Studio’s design inherently tackles the challenge of filtering across multiple data extensions, providing a more holistic view of customer data without cumbersome steps. By offering an environment that marries the simplicity of user-friendly interfaces with the power of advanced SQL capabilities, Query Studio is the beacon for those looking to elevate their data-driven marketing strategies.

Key Features & Benefits: Unveiling Query Studio’s Power

As we explore the world of Query Studio, it’s clear that this tool redefines how we engage with and comprehend our data within Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Let’s take a closer look at the essential features that make Query Studio an invaluable asset for tech-savvy marketers:

Interactive Querying: Gone are the days of navigating SQL queries in the dark. Query Studio empowers you to execute SQL commands and instantly witness the results. This real-time feedback accelerates your data exploration and cultivates a more intuitive grasp of your data manipulations.

Data Preview: Have you ever made a change and immediately wished you hadn’t? Query Studio’s data preview feature ensures you remain in control. Before committing to any alterations, you can preview the data, guaranteeing that your modifications align with your intentions. This not only reduces errors but also elevates data integrity.

Data Export: Data isn’t bound to a single platform. Query Studio simplifies data export, whether you want to share insights with a colleague or conduct further analysis using another tool. You can effortlessly export your results with just a few clicks, facilitating seamless cross-platform data utilization.

Syntax Highlighting: SQL, while powerful, can be intricate. Query Studio’s syntax highlighting feature enhances the readability of your SQL code by distinguishing commands, variables, and values using color codes. This makes the code easier to read and aids in swiftly identifying errors, ensuring smooth query execution.

Validation Tests: One of Query Studio’s standout features is its built-in validation tests. Before running a query, the platform conducts a series of checks to ensure the integrity and correctness of your SQL code. This proactive measure identifies potential errors or inconsistencies, enabling you to address them before execution. Not only does this save time by preventing erroneous outputs, but it also instills confidence, knowing that your queries are meticulously vetted for accuracy. In a realm where precision reigns supreme, this validation feature is a game-changer, ensuring your data manipulations are effective and error-free.

Reusable Templates: Efficiency takes center stage. Recognizing that many SQL queries are recurrent, Query Studio offers a feature to save frequently used queries as templates. This means you don’t have to rewrite or reconfigure a query you’ve employed before. Load the template, make the necessary adjustments, and you’re ready to roll, conserving time and effort.

Unlocking the Potential of Your Data 

Data takes on diverse forms and structures in the vast ecosystem of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. At its core are Data Extensions akin to tables in traditional databases. They neatly store rows of data with defined columns, enabling marketers to segment and target their audience based on various attributes. However, the data landscape within Salesforce Marketing Cloud is more intricate than these extensions alone.

An often-underestimated gem lies in Data Views, which are system-generated, read-only tables offering a glimpse into the historical tracking data of your account. These tables capture crucial metrics such as email sends, opens, clicks, bounces, etc. Essentially, they unveil the backstage of subscriber engagement, enabling marketers to glean insights into past interactions and behaviors.

With Query Studio, marketers can seamlessly interact with Data Extensions and Views. This dual capability creates more comprehensive data exploration:

  • Interacting with Data Extensions: When you launch a query in Query Studio, you’re instructing the platform to retrieve or modify data from these extensions. Moreover, leveraging the power of SQL, you can seamlessly join multiple data extensions, filter records, or even craft new calculated fields, enriching your data landscape and providing more nuanced insights for your campaigns.  
  • Tapping into Data Views: Query Studio’s ability to query Data Views opens up a world of analytical possibilities. Marketers can analyze historical engagement trends, segment subscribers based on past interactions, and forecast future behaviors. Marketers curate more informed and impactful campaigns by blending insights from Data Views with current data from Data Extensions.

In essence, Query Studio’s versatility in handling both Data Extensions and Data Views ensures that marketers attain a 360-degree view of their data, paving the way for more profound insights and data-driven decision-making.

The Foundation: Understanding SQL 

Before delving into the practical applications and intricacies of SQL within Query Studio, let’s embark on a journey to grasp the fundamentals of SQL, or Structured Query Language.

What is SQL? 

At its essence, SQL serves as a language that facilitates communication with databases. Think of it as the bridge connecting human queries with data-driven responses. Whether you seek to retrieve specific data, update values, or delete records, SQL equips you with the tools to achieve these tasks.

Basic SQL Operations:

  1. SELECT: This command retrieves data from a database. For instance, to view all records from a table named ‘Subscribers,’ you’d use: SELECT * FROM Subscribers;
  2. INSERT: It permits the addition of new records to a table. For instance, to add a new subscriber, you might use: INSERT INTO Subscribers (FirstName, LastName) VALUES (‘John’, ‘Doe’);
  3. UPDATE: This command modifies existing records. If you wish to change John Doe’s last name to ‘Smith,’ you’d use: UPDATE Subscribers SET LastName = ‘Smith’ WHERE FirstName = ‘John’;
  4. DELETE: It removes records from a table. To remove John Smith from ‘Subscribers,’ you’d execute: DELETE FROM Subscribers WHERE FirstName = ‘John’ AND LastName = ‘Smith’;

Understanding these foundational SQL operations lays the groundwork for harnessing the full potential of Query Studio within Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Delving into SQL Joins:

SQL Joins are pivotal in merging data from multiple tables (or data extensions) based on related columns. They are essential tools in SQL, enabling you to create comprehensive datasets from fragmented information.

Table of Contents

Visual Representation

SQL Query

Description

left join
left join 2

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A 

LEFT JOIN DataExtensionB B 

ON A.Key = B.Key

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A 

LEFT JOIN DataExtensionB B 

ON A.Key = B.Key
WHERE B.Key IS NULL

LEFT JOIN (or LEFT OUTER JOIN): These two options return all records from the left table, and the matched records from the right table. Unmatched records from the right table will appear as NULL. 

inner join

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A

INNER JOIN DataExtensionB B

ON A.Key = B.Key

INNER JOIN: Fetches rows from both tables that satisfy the given condition. It focuses on the commonality between two tables.

outer join 1
outer join 2

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A

FULL OUTER JOIN DataExtensionB B

ON A.Key = B.Key

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A

FULL OUTER JOIN DataExtensionB B

ON A.Key = B.Key
WHERE A.Key IS NULL OR B.Key IS NULL

FULL JOIN (or FULL OUTER JOIN): Combines the results of both LEFT and RIGHT joins. It returns all records when there’s a match in either the left or the right table.

right join 1
right join 2

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A

RIGHT JOIN DataExtensionB B

ON A.Key = B.Key

Select <Field List>
FROM DataExtensionA A

RIGHT JOIN DataExtensionB B

ON A.Key = B.Key

WHERE A.Key IS NULL

RIGHT JOIN (or RIGHT OUTER JOIN): Opposite of the LEFT JOIN. It returns all records from the right table, and the matched records from the left table. 

As we venture deeper into SQL, it’s crucial to recognise that Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio introduces its own unique twists. While the fundamental principles of SQL remain intact, Query Studio deviates slightly from traditional SQL conventions. Here, what we traditionally regard as ‘databases’ are represented as data extensions or data views. Furthermore, operations like ‘INSERT,’ ‘UPDATE,’ and ‘DELETE,’ which are standard in traditional SQL, take on a different configuration within Query Studio.

When you save your SQL query within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, these operations are configured as settings. Additionally, SQL queries in Query Studio do not terminate with ‘;’ as in traditional SQL. Certain advanced commands/functions may also have restrictions but worry not – the validation messages in Query Studio are usually informative, guiding you through these differences.

As we delve further into this journey, you’ll become well-versed in navigating these distinctions, ensuring you can fully leverage Query Studio for your data-driven marketing initiatives.

Data Extensions: The Backbone of Your Data Structure 

Data extension structures are pivotal in shaping how you interact with your audience data within Salesforce Marketing Cloud. While each organization may have unique data configurations, a typical data hierarchy emerges, which many Salesforce Marketing Cloud clients adopt. This hierarchy streamlines data management and lays the foundation for intricate data manipulations using tools like Query Studio.

Let’s explore this conceptual data hierarchy:

data extension for query studio use
  • In Salesforce Marketing Cloud, our Data Hierarchy is stored under Data Extensions, and a visual representation of the interconnectivity of each data extension can be visualized below.
data extension complex relationships
  • Accounts: These form the backbone of any business data structure, representing the companies or entities you engage with, including partners, competitors, customers, or other stakeholders.
  • Contacts: Individuals associated with these accounts, such as employees, representatives, or any person linked to an account.
  • Contracts: Legal agreements between your company and these accounts detailing the terms of your business relationship.
  • Customers: These are the individuals or entities purchasing your products or services, essentially the lifeblood of any business.
  • Emails To Exclude: This is a critical data extension, particularly in email marketing, containing a list of contacts who have opted out or should not receive certain communications.
  • Opportunities: These represent potential sales or deals, tracking the possibility of a contract or sale to a customer.
  • Orders: Confirmed customer requests for products or services, signifying a successful opportunity conversion.
  • Order Line Items: These provide granular details of each order, breaking down the products or services requested.
  • Products: The items or services offered to customers, forming the core of what your business sells or provides.

While we won’t delve into the intricate configurations of each data extension and its fields, it’s essential to understand each entity’s relationship between data extensions. This understanding serves as a blueprint for how we join data and, more importantly, ensure we obtain the correct selection results.

With this understanding in place, we’re poised to demonstrate the capabilities of Query Studio. Using this typical data hierarchy, we’ll craft SQL queries to join, query, and build audience segments, showcasing the tool’s prowess in real-world scenarios.

Data Hygiene: Fuelling Your Marketing Machine 

Just as a well-oiled machine operates at its best with clean fuel, your marketing strategies thrive on clean, accurate data. This is where the critical concept of data hygiene comes into play.

Understanding Data Hygiene: Data hygiene is the meticulous process of ensuring that a dataset is accurate but also consistent and usable. It involves identifying and rectifying errors, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies in data. In marketing, good data hygiene is akin to the compass guiding your campaigns to reach the right audience at the right time and with the right message.

The GDPR Perspective: Introducing regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has elevated data hygiene from a best practice to a legal obligation. GDPR mandates that organizations handle personal data carefully, emphasizing accuracy and relevance. Regular data cleansing is not just advisable; it’s essential to remain compliant, avoid substantial fines, and, most importantly, maintain the trust of your customers.

Query Studio: Your Data Cleansing Ally 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio isn’t just a querying tool; it’s a potent instrument for data hygiene. Thanks to its robust SQL capabilities, you can:

  • Identify and eradicate duplicate records  
  • Correct or transform data values  
  • Standardize data formats
  • Validate and correct data types

For instance, if an email field contains values that don’t resemble email addresses or a date field has entries in multiple formats, these inconsistencies can be swiftly identified and rectified using SQL queries in Query Studio

The Crucial Role of Correct Data Types

Data isn’t merely about values; it’s about the context these values represent. An incorrect data type can distort this context. For instance, treating a numeric value as a text string can hinder mathematical operations. Ensuring that each field in your dataset has the correct data type is paramount for accurate analysis and operations.

In the world of data, there’s a fundamental principle: “The quality of your input determines the quality of your output.” This idea succinctly emphasises that the results you obtain are intricately linked to the quality of the data you start with. If your data is filled with mistakes, variations, or inaccuracies, these issues will ripple through all your marketing endeavours, potentially undermining their impact.

Use Case #1: COUNTing Records

In many scenarios, marketers require a quick overview of the volume of records within a specific data extension or the expected result from a SQL query. This snapshot allows you to gauge the size of a potential audience or data selection without running an entire data selection. Counting records provides vital insights into the data extension’s size and possible applications.

query studio screenshot count total records

This SQL query returns a single value, ‘TotalRecords,’ representing the total number of records within the ‘Customers’ data extension. The same logic can be applied to any other data extension within your hierarchy to obtain a count of its records. It’s worth noting the aesthetics of Query Studio’s syntax colors and line numbers, which prove invaluable when validation errors occur, helping you quickly spot mistakes and typos.

Upon clicking the ‘Run’ button, Query Studio enters a processing queue on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud server. The processing time depends on various factors, including data volume and the time of day. Peak times may result in longer processing waits. 

Use Case #2: WHERE Statement – Filtering our Data

In the world of data, precision is vital. Whether you’re homing in on a specific audience segment, dissecting product sales, or tracking account activities, the ability to filter data is indispensable. SQL’s WHERE statement is your precision instrument, enabling you to set conditions that filter and retrieve precisely the data you need from a data extension.

Building upon our previous example of counting records, let’s now put the WHERE statement to work by counting how many records exist in the ‘DESelect_DEMO_Customers’ data extension where the ‘Country’ field is ‘Canada’.

query studio where statement

The WHERE clause, in SQL parlance, acts as the gatekeeper, allowing only records that meet specified conditions to pass through. These conditions can range from straightforward, like gathering all customers from a particular country, to more intricate, involving multiple criteria, such as country and gender.

As we delve deeper into SQL filtering, you’ll inevitably encounter scenarios where multiple conditions must be satisfied simultaneously, or any of several conditions will suffice. This is where the versatile AND and OR operators come into play:

AND Operator: This operator enters the scene when you need records that meet more than one condition, and all of these conditions must be true. For instance, if you’re in search of customers from Canada who are also male, both conditions must hold.

'where' plus 'and' sql query

OR Operator: Conversely, the OR operator steps in when you filter based on multiple conditions, and it’s sufficient for any of these conditions to be true. For example, if you’re seeking customers from Canada or Ireland, satisfying either condition will fetch the record.

'where' plus 'or' sql query

But a word of caution is in order here. Combining these operators requires deliberate care. Misusing or misordering them can lead to unintended results. For instance, without careful bracketing or logical sequencing, you might unwittingly retrieve records that don’t match your intended criteria.

For instance, imagine you’re trying to gather contacts from New York with an ‘Active’ status or contacts from Los Angeles, irrespective of their status. A poorly constructed query could net active contacts from cities other than New York, leading to data inaccuracies.

As a challenge and a learning opportunity, try to construct what the SQL query for this scenario would look like before reading on. If you’re grappling with the technical aspects of SQL, feel free. Keep your commitment to learning, as practice makes perfect. Stay tuned as we’ll discuss alternative tools that can simplify your data operations without a need for deep SQL knowledge.

The correct answer is:

'where' plus 'and' plus 'or' sql query

In this query, the thoughtful use of parentheses ensures that conditions are evaluated in the precise order needed to yield the desired results.

While the AND and OR operators are potent tools for refining your data queries, they should be handled with care. Proper structuring and a clear grasp of the logic you wish to implement are vital to ensure the accuracy of your results.

Use Case #3: FIELDS and Output

As we venture further into the world of SQL, it’s essential to grasp that numbers alone sometimes don’t paint the complete picture. The actual data within fields is often the key to understanding your audience or your business. Visualizing the data fields can unveil profound insights, whether you’re delving into customer demographics, scrutinizing product details, or dissecting account activities.

In Query Studio, making these data fields visible is a straightforward process. You can achieve this by adding the names of the data extension fields you wish to appear in the SELECT statement of your SQL query.

select statement sql

The selected results are then displayed in the output window, with records typically presented ten at a time for easier readability.

query studio output window

However, in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, field names sometimes contain spaces, reserved words, or special characters. While these naming conventions might be more human-readable, they can pose challenges during SQL querying. Additionally, there are situations where you might need to customize or transform the output, like combining fields or renaming them for clarity.

error saving query incorrect syntax name

As shown earlier, dealing with field names containing spaces or special characters in SQL requires enclosing them in square brackets [ ] to ensure they’re recognized correctly. Furthermore, SQL provides the ability to rename (or alias) the output fields using the AS keyword. This is handy when you want the output to have a different name than the source field.

When saving the results of a query to a destination data extension in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the destination data extension must contain fields with the same names specified in the query output. Mismatches between the output and destination fields can lead to errors or failed query executions.

You can also use SQL’s AS term when merging fields from your source data extension into a single output field. For example, you might want to concatenate [First Name] and [Last Name] into a single field called [Full Name]. The SQL query to achieve this is relatively straightforward.

This query takes the First Name and Last Name fields, combines them with a space in between, and outputs the result as Full Name.

Understanding these nuances in a platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio can significantly enhance your data querying capabilities, allowing for more tailored and precise outputs that suit your needs.

Use Case #4: SAVE your Query and Results

Now that you’ve delved into crafting SQL queries in Query Studio, it’s time to explore how to save your queries. This step is essential if you intend to reuse your queries in Automation Studio for routine audience updates.

Saving your query is straightforward. Just click on the ‘Save As’ button and give your query a meaningful name. However, there are a couple of critical considerations when doing this.

First, you must select a destination data extension where you want to store the results. It’s essential to ensure that this data extension contains the fields or data schema you’ve specified in your SELECT statement. This alignment between your query’s output and the destination data extension is crucial for smooth execution.

query studio editor

While there’s an ‘Export in Contact Builder’ feature that theoretically should create the data extension for you, it’s worth noting that it can sometimes be finicky. As a best practice, it’s often more reliable to manually create the data extension schema, ensuring it matches your query’s output.

After you’ve saved your query, you’ll also need to decide on the Data Action to take. This is a pivotal step that determines how the results of your query will interact with existing data. There are three distinct Data Actions to choose from: Overwrite, Update, and Append. Each action serves a specific purpose and can significantly impact your data.

Overwrite:

  • Purpose: This action replaces the entire content of a target data extension with the results of your SQL query.  
  • Use Case: Consider a scenario where you have a monthly list of active subscribers, and at the beginning of each month, you want to refresh this list based on new activity. To achieve this, you can utilize the ‘Overwrite’ action. This action essentially swaps out the old data with the new data, guaranteeing that your list stays up-to-date and precise.

Update:

  • Purpose: Instead of replacing all the data, the ‘Update’ action modifies only specific records in the target data extension based on the results of your SQL query.  
  • Use Case: Suppose you have a data extension of customers, and you’ve recently run a campaign where some customers updated their contact information. Instead of replacing the entire data extension, you’d use the ‘Update’ action to modify only those records with new information, leaving the rest untouched.

Append:

  • Purpose: This action adds the results of your SQL query to the end of an existing data extension without altering the current records.  
  • Use Case: Imagine you have a data extension of newsletter subscribers, and after a recent event, you’ve gathered a new list of interested participants. Using the ‘Append’ action, you can add these new subscribers to your existing list without affecting the original subscribers.

Choosing the right Data Action is pivotal. An incorrect choice can lead to data loss, duplication, or inaccuracies. For instance, using ‘Overwrite’ when ‘Append’ was intended could erase valuable data. Conversely, appending data without checking for duplicates might lead to redundancy.

So, when saving your query and specifying the Data Action, consider the nature of your data and the intended outcome carefully. This decision ensures that your data remains accurate and aligns with your marketing objectives.

Use Case #5: DATEDIFF – Calculating time intervals between dates, plus Birthdays/Anniversaries

Whether you’re deciphering the time lapse between a customer’s initial interaction and their purchase, scrutinizing the timing of email dispatches, or commemorating your customer’s birthdays, the ability to compute date differences holds immense value. This is precisely where the DateDiff function in SQL steps in.

The DateDiff function is a potent tool for computing the disparity between two dates and presenting the outcome in the units you designate, such as days, months, or years. It proves incredibly useful when you aim to glean insights into customer behaviors or make data-driven choices grounded in time intervals.

However, there are some considerations to bear in mind. Firstly, the DateDiff function operates with ‘Date/Time’ fields, so maintaining consistent date formatting is imperative. Additionally, it necessitates three parameters in the correct sequence: the unit (e.g., day, month, or year), the commencement date, and the culmination date.

Let’s delve into an illustration. Picture this: you wish to ascertain how many days transpire between the placement of an order and its delivery. By computing the variance between the ‘Order Date’ and the ‘Delivery Date,’ you can acquire this data. This calculation serves to enlighten you on delivery durations and empowers you to apprise customers about any potential delays.

query studio delivery date

Now, let’s tackle a fun and practical scenario. How about identifying customers who are celebrating their birthday today? Sending personalized birthday greetings or offers is a fantastic way to engage with your customers and build loyalty. But here’s the twist – birthdays happen every year, and you don’t want to congratulate someone multiple times in a year!

To do this, you’ll need to leverage the DateDiff function creatively. Instead of comparing the birthday field directly to today’s date, which includes the year, you’ll calculate the difference in years between the birthday and today. If this difference, when added to the birthday, equals today’s date (excluding the year), you’ve got a match.

In simpler terms, this condition helps you identify people who are celebrating their birthday today, regardless of which year they were born. It’s a smart way to handle anniversaries like birthdays.

find when someone's celebrating their birthday today, regardless of which year they were born

You’ve got some handy date functions at your disposal in SQL. For instance, there’s GetDate(), which fetches the current date and time based on your system’s clock. It’s perfect for when you need the current timestamp.

In substitution to GetDate, there’s GetUTCDate(), and this one is particularly valuable for global applications. It provides the date and time in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which remains consistent regardless of time zones or daylight-saving changes. This is essential when you want to work with a standardized time reference across different regions.

So, you see, SQL equips you with the tools to work with time and dates effectively, no matter where your data or users are located. Functions like YEAR(), MONTH(), and DAY() are also handy when you need to extract specific date components, like the year or month.

As you can see, we are starting to expand further our knowledge of SQL with some additional functions:

  • GetDate() : This function returns the current date and time based on the system’s clock. When executed, this will return the current date and time, including hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds. It’s commonly used when you need to compare a date in your data to the current date and time.
  • GetUTCDate() : Whilst not used in our Query above, it’s an important one to call out. Unlike GETDATE(), which returns the current date and time based on the system’s local settings, GETUTCDATE() provides a consistent time reference that isn’t influenced by time zones or daylight-saving changes. Therefore, we can use GetUTCDate() in substitution to GetDate() as it returns the current date and time based on the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is essentially the world’s standard time reference.
  • YEAR(), MONTH(), DAY() : These individual functions are particularly useful when you want to isolate or compare just a portion of a date e.g. Year, Month, Day.

As we’ve learned earlier, the WHERE function can be used be used to filter or match the results, and within the WHERE criteria we can also use DateDiff and other SQL functions.

In our example, The WHERE condition is checking if the sum of the difference in years between the Birthday and the current date (DateDiff(year, Birthday, GETDATE())) and the year of the Birthday (YEAR(Birthday)) is equal to the current year (YEAR(GETDATE())).

Using our example: 

  • Difference in years: 33 
  • Year of Birthday: 1990
  • Sum: 33 + 1990 = 2023
  • Current year: 2023 

Likewise, the WHERE condition checks if the day and month of the Birthday field match today’s day and month, ensuring that only those celebrating their birthday today are retrieved.

The purpose of this condition is to identify records where the day and month of the Birthday match the current day and month, but without considering the year. This is a clever way to identify anniversaries, like birthdays, which occur on the same day and month every year but have a different year.

Let’s blow your mind even further – say you want to calculate the age of the customer and store it in the data extension. With the knowledge you’ve so far learned, how do you think you’d go about this?

It’s pretty simple, as you already have all of the code above, and you should be familiar with the AS function for renaming fields – remember?

datediff getdate sql

These date functions are fundamental tools in SQL, especially when working with date-time data. They allow for precise extraction and manipulation of specific components of dates, enabling detailed analyses and comparisons. In Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio, understanding and effectively using these functions can greatly enhance data querying capabilities, allowing for more tailored outputs and insights.

When combined, as seen in the birthday example, these functions can be used to craft complex conditions and criteria, ensuring that you can extract exactly the data you need, no matter how specific or nuanced your requirements might be.

A Quick Use Case Summary

Our journey into the world of SQL and Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio has been nothing short of fascinating. We’ve touched the surface of its vast potential through the examples and use cases explored here.

While these scenarios provide a solid foundation for your data-driven marketing endeavors, SQL, and Query Studio offer an ocean of possibilities. The depth and versatility of SQL, combined with the power of Query Studio, are limitless.

Limitations of Query Studio

While Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Query Studio offers valuable features for marketers, it’s crucial to understand its limitations to work effectively within its boundaries or explore alternative solutions when necessary. Let’s take a closer look at some important limitations to keep in mind:

  1. Query Length:
    • Constraint: Queries in Query Studio have a character limit. Extremely lengthy or complex queries might not run or even fit within the tool.
    • Implication: Query writers need to be concise and efficient in their query construction. If a query is too long, it may need to be broken down into multiple smaller queries or optimized for brevity. Here, it is necessary to know SQL well enough that you can make any necessary query, no matter how complex, in as few strings as possible.
  1. Execution Time:
    • Constraint: There’s a maximum time limit (typically 30 minutes) for how long a query can run in Query Studio. If a query exceeds this, it will time out and fail to execute.
    • Implication: This limitation can be challenging when working with large datasets or performing complex data manipulations. Users may need to optimize their queries for performance, break them down into more minor queries, or consider running them during off-peak times.
  1. Complex Joins:
    • Constraint: While SQL allows for joining multiple tables or data extensions, doing so with large data extensions in Query Studio can be resource-intensive and slow.
    • Implication: Joining multiple large data extensions can increase execution time (risking timeouts) and consume more resources, potentially affecting other processes. Users should strategically plan joins, ensuring they are necessary and optimized for performance.
  1. Error Feedback:
    • Constraint: Query Studio might not always provide detailed error messages, making it challenging to pinpoint issues in a query.
    • Implication: Debugging and troubleshooting can become time-consuming. Users may need to rely on their SQL knowledge or seek external resources to understand and resolve errors.
  1. Data Volume:
    • Constraint: Query Studio is primarily designed for querying, not bulk data processing. It might not be the most efficient tool when dealing with millions of records.
    • Implication: Users should consider other tools or platforms within Salesforce Marketing Cloud for extensive data processing tasks or break down tasks into more manageable chunks.
  2. Technical Language and Complexity:
    • Constraint: SQL is a Programming Language, and Query Studio is just an SQL Query execution tool. Users require a steep learning curve to upskill on SQL, functions, and practices.
    • Implication: The technicalities can become overwhelming for many non-developers, and mistakes can easily be made (e.g. selecting the wrong audiences).

Understanding these limitations is crucial for the efficient use of Query Studio. In some cases, users may find that more advanced tasks or working with extensive datasets are better suited for other tools or platforms within Salesforce Marketing Cloud or external data processing solutions.

Simplifying with DESelect

DESelect provides a valuable solution for marketers looking to simplify the process of data querying and manipulation in Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It bridges the gap between traditional marketing practices and the complexities of SQL, making data-driven marketing more accessible and efficient.

Circling back to the benefits of Query Studio, DESelect has similar functions.

Query Studio Benefit: Interactive Querying

DESelect Segment’s drag-and-drop interface is designed for marketers, allowing them to visually build complex queries without the need for extensive SQL knowledge. There’s SQL under the hood driving each query, but this intuitive approach makes it easier for marketers to engage with data and create targeted segments.

Benefit: Data Preview

Review data before submitting a query, previewing elements such as how many records your query will return, a detailed view of the created data extension, and any errors that would hinder results.

Benefit: Data Export

DESelect seamlessly integrates with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, ensuring smooth data flow between the platforms. This integration streamlines workflows and enhances productivity for marketers.

Benefit: Validation Tests 

DESelect optimizes queries in the background, ensuring they run efficiently. This reduces the risk of query timeouts and allows marketers to focus on deriving insights from their data rather than troubleshooting performance issues.

Benefit: Reusable Templates

DESelect admins use segmentation templates for commonly run campaigns, in effect saving users’ time and preventing mistakes. Once you have templates in place, you can reuse them for similar segments in the future.

Here are some key ways that DESelect Segment improves on Query Studio:

Advantage: The Scope of Advanced Segmentation

DESelect Segment offers powerful segmentation features that are both user-friendly and robust. Marketers can create intricate data segments for various purposes, such as targeted campaigns, A/B testing, and audience analysis, leading to more personalized and effective marketing efforts.

Advantage: Guided Workflows

DESelect provides guided workflows that walk users through the data querying and manipulation process step by step. This guidance reduces errors and enhances efficiency, making it suitable for users of all skill levels.

Overall, DESelect empowers marketers to make the most of their data within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, whether they are SQL experts looking for optimized performance or newcomers seeking a more user-friendly interface. It’s a valuable tool for data-driven marketing that makes complex tasks more accessible and efficient.

How to Get Started with DESelect

Beginning your journey with DESelect is a straightforward plug-and-play process designed to quickly get you started harnessing the power of your data within Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

DESelect works with a list of certified implementation partners, to provide teams new to Marketing Cloud with top-tier solutions and expertise within the Salesforce ecosystem.

Learn how to find the best solution for your segmentation needs.

William McMahon

William McMahon

CEO & Founder at Gravitai, William has over 15 years experience in the CRM world as both a top UK Salesforce Partner and Ex-ExactTarget Principal Solutions Architect.

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What does Contact Builder consist of?

Data Designer

Data Designer is probably the primary tool in Contact Builder. You use this tool to view and manage contact data, aggregate a contact’s demographic and behavioral data, and define how that data relates to a contact record. Businesses use the combined data to enrich the customer experience and serve them better. 

(An overview of 'Data Designer' within Contact Builder

(An overview of ‘Data Designer’ within Contact Builder.)

Within Data Designer, data is stored using populations, attribute groups, attribute sets, and attributes. Attribute groups can be related to one another and your contacts using data relationships.

(Attribute Group overview in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.)

(Attribute Group overview in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.)

Populations in Contact Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

You can use populations to categorize various distinct audiences in Contact Builder. Think of a population as the subset of the master list of people who could enter a journey. 

Consider having no more than three populations. You should never send a population directly; it’s a database that is not sendable. That means the data you store in populations cannot immediately be used for sends. Firstly, you must send it to sendable data extensions. For instance, populations best benefit a company with a different model or structure for communicating with customers versus employees. 

Other Marketing Cloud apps, such as Journey Builder, MobileConnect, and MobilePush, can use the populations you create in Contact Builder. For example, in Journey Builder, you can create an abandoned cart journey for a customer. You can use the Customer population as the journey’s entry contacts. Configure the journey to filter contacts by location. 

As explained here on Trailhead, if you’re using the most up-to-date Journey Builder functionality, you won’t need to use populations most of the time. Instead, it’s best to save populations for specific use cases where you need to create complex queries, such as if your account uses field-level encryption or when you’re using API Entry Sources in Journey Builder.

There is also a notion of populations in Journey Builder, which is unrelated to Data Designer populations. When you use a population in Journey Builder, it simply refers to all the people who have entered that journey. Don’t be confused by it.

Attribute Groups in Contact Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Attribute Groups are data sources logically grouped, allowing you to organize data and configure relationships in Contact Builder. Let’s say you’re a retailer and need to build a journey that sends an email to people who haven’t purchased while on a journey. Usually, you’d have two different tables of contact data. You will have one table containing all your customers and another that contains all the purchases. An attribute group connects these two tables based on a particular field, such as Customer Id. 

Think of an attribute group as a “mini data model” that contains attribute sets (data extensions) and attributes (fields). To most effectively organize your data in an attribute group, link a data extension to the contact record. Then, link all other relevant data extensions to the contact record or, to build complex relationships, link them to other data extensions in the attribute group.

Link Attribute Groups and Populations 

Link attribute groups and populations using the Contact Key value. It is a best practice not to link using an email address field when the Contact Key or Subscriber Key value is available. Use populations to create distinct subgroups of your contacts, then segment contact records from there. For example, a healthcare company can create separate populations for staff, patients, and vendors.

Attributes in Contact Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Attributes represent a single piece of information about a contact or related information. An excellent example of an attribute can be an email address or gender. Even the number of emails opened can be an attribute. A contact can contain two types of attributes:

  • Profile attributes describe the contact. Some of this data may be subscriber-provided, such as gender, state, or interest (do they like hiking or running?).
  • Behavioral attributes describe what the contact has done. For example, a contact indicates some related interests or clicks links when reading a newsletter.

Think of an attribute as a field in a data extension or a table cell. 

Data relationships in Data Designer 

You can create data relationships using a Data Designer. There are four main ways to define the relationship between data extensions in Contact Builder: 1:1 Relationship, Population, One-to-Many Relationship, and Many-to-Many Relationship. These are also known as cardinalities. 

  • A 1:1 Relationship uses a primary key to map a single record within a data extension to a contact or another record—for example, a subscriber’s mobile number or email address. 
  • Populations help to create a master segment of the audience. They represent a set of contacts joined by an overarching theme. For instance, if you work in the education industry, you might have a master list of contacts that include information on alumni and first-year students. You can create two populations, thus separating alumni and students. 
  • A one-to-many relationship uses the value of a primary key attribute on the contact record. It relates to one or more instances of that value on another data extension. For example, you can use the email address as the value of multiple orders in a data extension to connect a contact record to the products ordered from a specific retailer.
  • A many-to-many relationship can match several values between two data extensions. For example, you could link one data extension containing multiple instances of customers who completed orders, including repeat values for some customers, with a data extension containing information on those orders.

Conclusion

So we’ve covered how to work with attributes, groups, and populations within Data Designer, but what about connecting data? Find out more in our final contact Builder article. 

Companies are spending countless marketing dollars and hours on collecting and managing data—often with little to no idea of how best to store or utilize it. Inefficiencies have become the norm, keeping companies from unlocking their full potential.

We created the DESelect Segment tool to help marketers, campaign managers, and CRM admins streamline this process, saving time, money, and unnecessary stress. 

So marketing leaders see more return from their campaigns because they are better segmented and more personalized. 

Ready to see what no code SFMC audience segmentation can do for your marketing team? Our team is ready to help you start your segmentation journey. Get a no pressure demo of DESelect Segment here.

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On the crossroads between Audience Builder and CDP

What to choose when it comes to segmentation in SFMC?

When it comes to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, it’s not uncommon for marketers to find themselves unsure of what decisions to make that best suit technology to their business needs. Many users facing audience segmentation problems are offered native addons like Audience Builder or a novel product like Salesforce CDP. In this article, we’ll do a comparison between Audience Builder and CDP to help users in the market for segmentation make a choice that best suits them. 

 

Let’s start with the basics: 

Audience Builder – what is it?

Audience Builder helps users build a single customer view by integrating data from any source with robust contact management. With Audience Builder, you can segment subscribers in a drag-and-drop interface using any combination of attributes. It utilizes an external non-relational database to build segments much easier and faster than using data filters or SQL in SFMC.

 

(example of an Audience Builder UI)

Where does the data come from?

The tool allows you to use data from any of your sources (e.g. Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, web analytics, and offline data), to truly expand your customer view.

What problem does it solve?

Audience Builder also allows you to manage the complexities of your data, by transforming raw information into marketer-friendly and usable data, whereby you can quickly find and use key attributes to personalize customer conversations of any size and in any channel.

The tool allows you to filter data from multiple sources instantly. The personalization functionality means you can send messages based on purchase history, browsing activity, and customer attributes to precisely targeted audiences. With Audience Builder’s dimension-based approach, you can discover new opportunities and spot trends more quickly. The tool also allows for instant audience validation, whereby you can engage customers at any moment along the customer journey.

Audience Builder’s Salesforce Einstein means you can use predictive scores to engage customers based on smart assumptions of their future behavior. So with Audience Builder, you can better understand customer segments by combining your first and third party and even your predictive data. Audience Builder’s flexibility continues in that you can use any list or data extensions to collect your contact information. Moreover, you can add attributes without dimensionalizing them. Then, subscriber segmentation is easily managed with their drag-and-drop interface.

As with so many tools, Audience Builder has pros and cons that you should consider. On the plus side, it segments SFMC data in a drag and drop manner and marketers need not have any experience to hit the ground running. On the downside, Audience Builder data is updated only once per 24 hours. It’s also not possible to add new data extensions unless you’re an experienced Salesforce professional. Audience Builder is also rather expensive and inflexible.

So while Audience Builder certainly has some incredible benefits, this Salesforce solution requires a Salesforce professional’s help to set up and configure the dimensions of the tools. Also, it doesn’t suit flexible data models.

Salesforce’s CDP for segmentation

Let’s kick off by asking the obvious: What’s a Customer Data Platform (CDP)? Well, a CDP is a software package that creates a cohesive database of customers, or potential customers by offering a 360 view of them.

Traditionally, there are two types of CDPs currently available: organization systems and engagement systems.

Systems of Organization are built for marketing exploration and segment creation, rapidly locating, editing, and utilizing those segments. Not all CDPs are the same, but every CDP should share key features and characteristics.

Systems of Engagement are kind of like real-time databases which access customer profile data in real-time. The system’s real-time efficiency is what drives managing customer experience and satisfaction. 

With a CDP, Salesforce brings a company’s moving parts together via the cloud. Able to organize data from multiple sources, a CDP works well for companies needing to store and organize customer and behavior data, to generate insights and triggers for marketing actions and campaigns. So Salesforce Customer Data Platform might well be a great fit if you already have multiple Salesforce products and are keen to unlock the potential of a more robust system.

Salesforce CDP distinguishes specific roles that stretch across your company – from marketing managers, marketing specialists, data-aware specialists, and more. As such, a team effort is required to make the best use of the tool. Therefore, your company must be organizationally ready for CDP, which requires a great deal of planning and support from your more data-savvy colleagues who can ensure a smooth implementation.

Salesforce CDP screenshot

(Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform UI)

Salesforce CDP is a powerful asset, with intricacies offering much-added value. Salesforce CDP supports all Salesforce standard languages, allowing worldwide connectivity. 

Because segmentation is crucial in any effective marketing campaign, breaking it down is equally as important as actually doing it. With that in mind, it’s important to note that there are four main types of segmentation:

Geographic: Segmenting and targeting potential customers based on their geographical location and factors. 

Demographic: Segmenting based on a potential customer’s physical traits, for example, age, gender identity, occupation, family status, sexual orientation, and so on. 

Psychographic: Segmentation taking into account the beliefs and held values of your potential customer base. 

Behavioral: Segmentation around potential customers’ spending patterns, which instantly increases your chances of making a sale. 

Understanding whether Salesforce CDP is right for you is a multi-fold task since this decision impacts the future of your business. The crucial imperative is to understand what Salesforce CDP can and cannot do, which is why Salesforce suggests that you review all Data Model Procedures. While Salesforce CDP can support data from multiple Marketing Cloud Business Units and Customer Relationship Management systems, users are required to keep the information updated to avoid data flow disruption. Equally, CDP is cost-prohibitive and therefore likely a better fit for larger corporations. In addition, CDP requires a team to manage it (e.g. a data expert and CDP manager), as it’s too complex to be managed simply by a marketer. With this level of complexity in mind, implementation can take months

The alternative: DESelect Segment

A wonderful middle-ground to consider in this space is DESelect Segment – a robust segmentation tool in SFMC.

With DESelect Segment, all data extension types are accessible and the tool provides data views as well as advanced segmentation (including CASE WHEN, Picklists, Subqueries, etc.). As it stands, DESelect Segment is the most cost-effective solution on the market, with new release updates every two months, and a structured program of onboarding training. 

No implementation tracks or external support is required and the tool can be automated. One of the primary benefits to DESelect Segment is that absolutely no experience is required. So even your new marketing intern can become a dab hand at segmentation using this tool. And with that in mind, users also need no understanding or experience of code or SQL. Naturally, there are a couple of disadvantages to DESelect Segment. Data must be inside of SFMC, and the tool has the same technical limits as SQL queries.

DESelect Segment simplifies SQL

Conclusion

No matter your business size or needs, between the three tools mentioned in this article, you’ve got audience building and segmentation covered. As with all such things, it’s about what’s the right fit for your business now—and in the future. Scalability is an equal consideration after all.

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Data Segmentation Tools, a Comparison of Salesforce Marketing Cloud Solutions

Marketing teams must find efficient and effective methods to reach their audience quickly for every campaign they launch. Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) segmentation tools make collecting this data easier than ever.

You basically have three solutions available:

  • No-code solutions, like using SF filters, SF Reports, or Excel, to name a few
  • Coding solutions, like SQL, Query Studio, or SAS
  • Hiring external help, like full-time employees (FTE) or system integrators

Choosing the best audience segmentation approach for your organization means knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these solutions.

This in-depth guide will give you all the information you need to decide which segmentation tools will work best for you and your marketing team.

What are the Key Features of SFMC Segmentation Solutions?

Here are some of the features of SFMC segmentations tools you should check:

Ramp-up time & Implementation

The amount of time it takes to prepare and integrate the segmentation tool into your current campaign module. Knowing the amount of time required to complete this process is vital to determine which tool will work best for your organization.

Data storage

The amount of data storage you need will determine which solution is best for your audience segmentations. Furthermore, consider whether additional storage costs are acceptable if you need to scale up as your leads list grows.

Experience/Skills Required

The skill level of the marketer running these segmentation tools will affect the time it takes to launch a campaign. It will also affect costs, as these tasks take away from more cost-effective tasks marketers must do, like content creation.

Pricing

The price point should be within your budget. However, consider the adage “you get what you pay for,” and free is not always a “good price.”

Data Processing Speed

Waiting for hours or even an entire business day can seem like an excessive amount of time in terms of how long processing segmented data can take. Immediate data processing speed will help you launch your campaigns faster and reach your audience more effectively.

Data Accessibility

Being able to get to the data at any time of the day will help your team launch a more effective campaign.

Data Sources

How you can retrieve the data will determine which segmentation tool will work best for your organization. There are only a few that don’t offer easy access to data views. So, pay attention to the data source.

Flexible Data Model Adjustment for Marketers

You and your team may need to adjust the data models from time to time. If you have to wait for this information from an admin or if it isn’t available, it may delay campaign launches.

Data Availability for Segmentation

One crucial aspect to consider is whether there are limits on data availability and how often you can access this data if limitations apply. Segmentation without limits and in real time is the most desired outcome.

Integration with SFMC

How easy do you want your segmentation solution to integrate with SFMC? There may seem to be an obvious answer, so pay close attention to this detail if SFMC integration is vital to your marketing operations.

User Experience

When considering user experience, determine whether the UI is user-friendly (if there is one) and how easy it is for you and your team to navigate. The comparison below will help you determine at a glance which segmentation tool will work for the issues and concerns that matter to you most.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of These Salesforce Cloud Marketing Segmentation Tools?

Here are some key advantages and disadvantages of each of the SFMC segmentation tools available:

DESelect Segment

Advantages:

  • All data extension types
  • Data views
  • Advanced segmentation (incl. CASE WHEN, Picklists, Subqueries, etc.)
  • Most cost-effective solution on the market
  • Onboarding training
  • Release updates every two month
  • No implementation tracks
  • No external support required
  • Can be automated
  • No experience required
  • Can be used across several business units
  • And more

Disadvantages:

  • Data must be inside of SFMC
  • Same technical limits as SQL queries

*Audience Builder

Advantages:

  • Segments SFMC data
  • Has its own UI
  • No experience needed from marketers

Disadvantages:

  • Data is updated only once per 24 hours
  • No possibility to add new data extensions without Salesforce professionals
  • Expensive
  • Not flexible

Other concerns to consider:

This Salesforce solution requires a Salesforce professional’s help to set up the tool and configure dimensions. Also, it doesn’t suit flexible data models.

*Salesforce has discontinued offering Audience Builder to new customers and continues to serve it only to it’s existing users

Query Studio

Advantages:

  • Help Write SQL
  • Handles errors
  • Preview options available
  • Free

Disadvantages:

  • Requires SQL knowledge
  • No UI – the console is more advanced
  • No automatic creation of data extensions
  • No validation
  • No support
  • No features

Other concerns to consider:

Advanced knowledge of SQL is required, or you will need to use an SQL query generator. Since there is no UI, the console is difficult to use if you don’t have experience with that interface.

Writing SQL Queries

Advantages:

  • Customizable coding
  • Ability to write unique, tailored queries

Disadvantages:

  • Timeouts occur for data sets that are too long
  • Complex queries also cause timeouts
  • Time-consuming
  • Highly technical knowledge required

Other concerns to consider:

It takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to write SQL queries. You will need to learn SQL from scratch if you have no prior knowledge. You may request SQL from a tech team. However, coordinating communications to obtain the exact results is a challenge.

Hiring an FTE

Advantages:

  • Advanced segmentation
  • Custom segmentation scenarios
  • Data model adjustments are possible

Disadvantages:

  • Needs to be trained
  • Can leave the company, creating a backlog
  • Limited availability
  • Expensive

Other concerns to consider:

If an organization hires an FTE for audience segmentation in SFMC campaigns, it may be prudent to sign a contract with them. If they leave, the organization will immediately require a new solution. However, it could take months to find, hire, and train a new FTE.

Also, if the FTE is remote (as many are), time zones can be an issue. Marketers rely on the FTE to be available for segmentation purposes, and without that person, they cannot effectively run their campaigns.

Sick time, vacations, and other time-off requests also become a concern for the organization if they hire an FTE for segmentation.

SAS EG/Google Cloud Platform

Advantages:

  • Advanced segmentation
  • Lead scoring
  • RFM scoring
  • And more

Disadvantages:

  • Even more complex than SQL
  • Require skilled FTEs
  • Expensive

Other concerns to consider:

SAS EG platforms rarely occur. However, they occur mostly for calculations and aggregations in retail.

Salesforce Reports

Advantages:

  • Picklists
  • Create JOINs with a maximum of four data extensions
  • Inexpensive
  • Has a user-friendly UI

Disadvantages:

  • Only INNER and OUTER JOINs are available
  • Data migration
  • Does not support data views
  • Requires additional licenses
  • Cannot be automated

Rarely will an organization utilize Salesforce reports for audience segmentation for its marketing campaigns. However, there are many more effective and efficient methods.

SFMC Filters

Advantages:

  • No implementation required
  • No experience required
  • Can be automated

Disadvantages:

  • Only INNER and OUTER JOINs
  • Create JOINs with up to three data extensions
  • No picklists
  • Manually creating target data extensions required
  • Limited filtering options

Other concerns to consider:

Filters in SFMC can be a solution for customers that don’t need to perform advanced segmentation with their audience. The primary issues are the limited number of DEs that can JOIN. Also, it takes substantial time to set up.

Excel

Advantages:

  • Only requires knowledge of Excel
  • Free (if you already have the MS Office Suite)

Disadvantages:

  • Cannot be automated
  • No error checks
  • Unsecured data management (e.g., a marketer can change the data type and has no error)
  • Manually creating target data extensions
  • Data type issues
  • Doesn’t support data views
  • Can take a lot of time to load the data, and unsustainable for companies carrying big amounts of it

Other concerns to consider:

Using Microsoft Excel for audience segmentation is a very slow process with vast opportunities to make mistakes that are not easily found.

System Integrators

Advantages:

  • Complex segmentation
  • Data model adjustments
  • Developing new segmentation scenarios

Disadvantages:

  • High dependence on 3rd party
  • If a professional is fired/changes job, the company is stuck for several days/months
  • Expensive
  • Time-consuming
  • Can take days to get the desired result

Other concerns to consider:

Partners for audience segmentation work well in the implementation and design phases. However, it’s very expensive and time-consuming during campaign deployment rollout.

Interaction Studio

Advantages:

  • Great personalisation and interaction management capabilities inside the app
  • All-round information about the customer

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t segment SFMC data
  • Limited use of SFMC data (only gears)
  • It’s on the more expensive end of the spectrum

What is the Best Solution for Audience Segmentation in Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

When it comes to Salesforce Marketing Cloud segmentation tools, you have several options. Many may work effectively for your business. However, if using Filters, hiring an FTE, or investing time to learn SQL yourself isn’t feasible, DESelect Segment is the best choice for your organization. It’s the most integrated, cost-efficient, and intuitive segmentation solution for SFMC.

If you are ready to implement SFMC for better audience segmentation, contact us here at DESelect. We can help you launch campaigns in a fraction of the time.

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Automation Studio Activities

Email Send Activity

Sending emails is a part of your average marketer’s package, but sending emails through Automation Studio is a different story. Nowadays, it’s more likely to send emails using Journey Builder or a good-old Email Studio. Although, you can still use Automation Studio to send recurring email campaigns like Birthday emails. This Trailhead module explains in detail how you can do it in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

To use Email Send Activity in Automation Studio, you need to configure the email message to send on its own or in sequence according to a schedule. Scheduling activities opens many possibilities for recurring campaigns that can be easily automated in the studio. It’s also possible to reuse email activities, so you don’t need to create a new one every time.

You can choose and configure an email message to send on its own or in sequence according to a schedule. Configuring the Send Email Activity creates a Send Definition that can be used in other automations. It’s also possible to edit the email in the running automation. You can learn more about how to do it here.

You have to keep in mind that sending emails via Automation Studio has its limitations. For instance, the test sends are better to do outside the Automation Studio. That’s because editing a user-initiated email with a test audience in Automation Studio automatically removes the test audience. It’s better to use Email Studio for these purposes.

Send email activities that were created with classic email editor inside automation are no longer editable. If you want to edit the activity, you must replace it. The send definition that each Send email activity uses for sending is still valid.

Journey Builder is more often used as an alternative for Automation Studio for email sends purposes, and it allows more reporting and tracking possibilities than Automation Studio. It’s possible to build reports in Analytics Builder or use Email Studio and then see tracking results. In contrast, Automation Studio reports are limited to opened/ clicked information, and a more detailed analysis is available if you only use SQL to extract and analyze the data.

Script Activity​

If you want to use a script activity in Automation Studio, you need to use SSJS (Server-Side JavaScript). Using SSJS in Marketing Cloud opens many marketing automation possibilities, and you can also use it in emails or landing pages. This implies that you need to know how to use code, and that’s why in our article, we recommend restricting access to Automation Studio for non-Marketing Cloud admins. Salesforce Marketing Cloud shares information on how to use SSJS in its documentation base. You can use it as a reference to decide whether you want to learn this programming language or if you want to invest in hiring professionals that can help to set this up for marketing automation purposes.

Using this activity is limited to more technical colleagues and data professionals. However, if you want to delve into the more technical side of Marketing Cloud and learn more about SSJS, this excellent blog offers many use cases and guides for SSJS.

Script Activity

Data Extract Activity

As you can see from the activities we’ve already covered, Automation Studio is an app for technical marketers, and the next activity isn’t an exception. You need to use data extracts to export certain important marketing events such as bounces, clicks, conversions, etc. data extract creates a file to operate outside of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. You can also use this activity to extract data from data extensions or data views. For instance, if you prepare reports outside of Marketing Cloud, you can leverage data extracts and download them on your desktop. Then you can use Excel or any other tool you use for managing data and analyze it there.

Firstly, to use data extracts, you have to configure where this data extract will be saved. Since most Marketing Cloud clients handle massive amounts of data, you can’t download the files directly on their desktop. You need to create an FTP user for privacy reasons and to be able to extract large files with data. That’s why you need to configure a File Transfer Location, and you have to specify it under your account settings before using data extract activity. There, under Data Management, you have to create an FTP user.

How to set up an FTP in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

The advice for using the data extract activity is to include the file transfer activity in a separate step and not stacking it in the same step on the automation canvas. This action prevents the file transfer activity from looking for the data extract file before the data extract is complete.

When creating a data extract activity, remember to fill in an appropriate file naming pattern, where you need to specify the file type, for instance, ‘.csv.’ That enables you to later use the extracted document in Excel, for example. You can also convert activity to an XML file, tab-delimited, or pipe-delimited file for import into your account.

In our extensive guide on Automation Studio, we show a use case that includes creating a data extract activity.

Data Extract Activity

Verification Activity ​

This activity you need to use for precaution reasons to avoid unintended automation outcomes. The action lets you select a target data extension in your automation and evaluate the target data extension for conditions you set. For instance, you can use this activity to track why the target data extension contains more records than expected. Using this step in the automation will prevent the email sends to the records that aren’t supposed to receive it.

When the activity detects that the conditions you have set are met, the activity can stop the automation or send you an email notification or both, depending on the actions you define. If you choose to receive a notification when the conditions are met, you can include a note in the email to provide more context for investigation or troubleshooting.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using this activity. You can only use it in particular automation and can’t reuse it across multiple automations compared to many other reusable automation activities. You can’t configure a verification activity outside automation. However, it’s possible to add various verification activities in a single step, but don’t place them in the same step as any other activity on the automation studio canvas; it’s better to add it in the separate one.

Verification Activity 

Wait Activity​

If you want to have a pause between activities in Automation Studio, you can use the wait activity. You use it to wait for a specific duration or until a particular time before performing the next step. There’s no limit of wait activities you can include in single automation.

However, there are considerations to be aware of when using this activity. For example, even though there’s no limit to the number of wait activities to add to the automation, the combined time limit for them cannot be more than one year. To avoid that, you can see wait times for previous wait activities and calculate the total wait time in the automation.

If you specify the duration of the first wait activity, any wait activities occurring later in the automation’s workflow begin after this wait time ends.

Lastly, when automation is in the middle of a wait activity, that run is skipped when the next scheduled or triggered run occurs. To avoid errors with the automations, pay attention to adding the wait activities to avoid conflict.

Wait Activity

Conclusion

It can’t be stressed enough that with great power comes great responsibility, and Automation Studio is a perfect example of that. This Salesforce Marketing Cloud studio is a great tool to use if you want to automate the data-related activities in the platform and perform technical marketing tasks. However, you need to choose carefully whom you give access to this tool, and we recommend limiting access to it as much as possible. Suppose you still want marketers to have the power to schedule specific campaigns and create advanced segments based on the data you have in Salesforce Marketing Cloud — leverage this functionality in DESelect Segment. To use these functionalities in the DESelect Segment, a marketer doesn’t need access to Automation Studio and data-sensitive information or have technical knowledge of the platform. You can book a call with one of our certified consultants to have a personalized demo of DESelect Segment and find out how it helps you fulfill your data automation needs in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Automation Studio Activities
What is CDP? Understanding Salesforce Data Cloud and How to Best Manage Data with DESelect

75% of marketers struggle to fully understand their customers’ behavior and preferences. For businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve, utilizing CDPs like Salesforce Data Cloud becomes increasingly essential in today’s fast-paced market.

SDC can help consolidate data, analyze engagement behaviors, and help effectively segment your customer base to open the door to fresh use cases and customer experiences. 

Think of it as a data warehouse that stores not just marketing data, but also from service, customer feedback, and sales, merging it all together in a process known as unification.

Sounds like the dream of every marketer nowadays, right? Should marketers be aware of any catch before convincing themselves that SDCs are a must-have from now on?

In this article, you’ll get to explore the features of Salesforce Data Cloud, evaluate the pros and cons, and help you determine if Salesforce’s customer data platform is for you before investing significant time and dollars.

Additionally, we’ll help you determine if integrating DESelect’s marketing enablement solution DESelect Segment to your SDP is the right choice for your business or if DESelect on its own has exactly what you need to keep your marketing team at its best.

What is Salesforce Data Cloud?

Put very simply, SDC is a package of software that creates a uniform, cohesive database of customers, or potential customers, for a business.

A customer data platform (CDP) has become increasingly popular as businesses look to improve Customer service and streamline marketing efforts. MarTech published an article recently describing the two major types of CDPs: Real time databases and Systems of Organization.

Real time databases, also referred to as systems of Engagement, allow for easy access to customer profile data, crucial for managing customer experiences and satisfaction. Systems of Organization, on the other hand, are designed around marketing exploration and segmentation, making it simple to locate, edit and make use of these segments.

Each CDP will have its own unique features and characteristics, including Salesforce Data Cloud. One of the most popular CDPs available today, SDC offers businesses a range of tools and features that can help them understand their customers and grow their marketing efforts.

1. SDC, a Pre-Built System

Salesforce Data Cloud comes as a package of software that is, in most cases, modified to meet a particular business’ unique needs and goals.

Choosing an external CDP system is a far more cost-effective and time-saving option for businesses. Instead of spending company resources on systems created in-house – which require more technical knowledge to set up and maintain and may lack the support system needed to fix problems quickly – companies can more easily install, sustain, and adapt to a cohesive CDP system backed by Salesforce support.

2. SDC Compiles Data

Salesforce Data Cloud catches data from multiple systems, organizes it, and stores it all in singular customer profile views.

These are particularly important when tracking customer patterns and behaviors over long periods. Having advanced information at a glance helps your brand deliver more effective, targeted marketing, which leads to increased sales and ROI.

To feed SDC with data you have already gathered, Salesforce has understandably given priority to developing so-called ‘native connectors:’ out-of-the-box integrations to some of its own products.

3. SDC Organizes Segments

Marketing automation platforms, like SDC, have native segmentation capabilities. Taking the compiled data and organizing it by your audience’s shared characteristics allows you to set the scene for more targeted campaigns. 

Doing so in a way that requires minimal technical intervention is important for improved efficiency and a faster go-to-market. Of course, for DESelect Segment, the benefits of using drag-and-drop segmentation (compared to the trial and error of SQL-writing) further these goals.

4. Salesforce Data Cloud is Accessible

Accessibility is the hallmark of SDC – the information stored there should be available in other systems. The stored data can be analyzed, used to improve customer relations, and maximize your marketing effectiveness. Without this, there’s a severe lack of fluidity that hampers your company’s ability to be one step ahead of the other guy. A CDP without multi-system accessibility is essentially just cleverly disguised silos.

5. SDC Breaks Down Silos

A data or information silo is a collection of gathered information that is either only partially accessible by all team members or exclusive to a few. Silos are a real problem for businesses. Collected data is supposed to generate value for your business, but when it’s inside a silo and unusable, it’s time and money better to spend elsewhere.

SDC, with its one-stop-shop collection of accessible information, can break down the data in your existing silos, as well as prevent new ones. Now marketers across teams and brands are able to access the same database of customer data, informing campaign targeting and optimizing for engagement.

Who is Salesforce Data Cloud For?

Salesforce brings all the moving parts of a company together via the cloud. SDC works well for companies with multiple sources of customer and behavior data that needs to be stored, organized, and understood to generate insights and triggers for marketing campaigns. Or, put differently, the Salesforce customer data platform can be a good fit if you already have multiple Salesforce products and seek to unlock some specific use cases you are currently unable to support.

However, what everyone considering Salesforce should know is that Salesforce is a team effort. Salesforce Data Cloud distinguishes specific roles that stretch across your company – from marketing manager, marketing specialists, and data-aware specialists, and more. If your company is not organizationally ready for SDC, starting with DESelect alone may be a better option, as Salesforce Data Cloud will typically require a lengthy implementation and is mostly used by your more-data-savvy colleagues.

Key Use Cases

Salesforce Data Cloud incorporated all the best key features of similar CDPs – discussed above – but added a little flair of their own.

1. Unify, Analyze, Activate

SDC quickly and effectively unifies and matches all of your customer’s granular behaviors across online and offline channels. This allows a single compilation of a customer’s activity and engagement.

From there, marketers can easily analyze and segment based on updated customer behavior, increasing your reach to potential and existing customers. This unification happens through a defined set of rules, as well as artificial intelligence.

2. Connect to Other Systems

Salesforce Data Cloud was built with their larger clients in mind. From the rollout features, Salesforce has made its CDP compatible with several of the top business software systems and applications big companies use: Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Interaction Studio, Commerce Cloud, Datorama, Loyalty Management, and several other tools are completely accessible by and from SDC.
Customers already using these Salesforce products can benefit instantly from Salesforce Data Cloud through “native connectors.” These native connectors allow you to integrate SDC without custom coding.

In addition to native connectors, SDC offers integration with AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud through an “S3 bucket”. Essentially, this kind of integration relies on files being dropped on an S3 bucket and then processed in batch, a process likely to be familiar to Marketing Cloud users who have worked with Automation Studio and FTP file drops. This form of integration could offer a solution for those who don’t mind refreshing data on a daily basis. We also like to remind customers that even secure FTP (SFTP) is no longer deemed secure by tech giants like IBM

Lastly, Salesforce is gradually also expanding its API, allowing developers to integrate more freely and in real-time with SDC. The ingestion API is uniquely suited to – you guessed it – ingest data sources and feed the CDP.

3. Save Time

Circumstances and information can change quickly, and, similar to its CRM, Salesforce Data Cloud allows you to keep up with easy manipulation and editing of data model objects (DMOs) and calculated insights straight from the home page.

SDC also saves time by giving you the capability of copying and transferring existing segments, complete with their description, insights, and filters. No need to go through and painstakingly re-enter hard-earned information.

4. Filters, Attributes, Calculated Insights

Similar to the Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Data Cloud has segmentation capabilities included to give you the power to create a specialized segment, step by step.

With the power to define and calculate multidimensional metrics from your data, your marketing team can activate combined, custom-named measures. Such features will feel familiar to DESelect Segment users of features like aggregations and custom values. These can be sent to targets like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

5. Optimized with DESelect

DESelect offers many features of their own, which work hand-in-hand seamlessly with Salesforce Data Cloud. As mentioned before, DESelect Segment can enrich your customer data platform in the first place, through no-code segmentations with data taken from the platform.

Using these tools in conjunction means you can spend half the time managing your data and put it toward increasing campaign output and ensuring ROI. Many companies use Salesforce, but not everyone has the extra boost of DESelect on their side.

Salesforce Data Cloud Segment Management Capabilities

Salesforce Data Cloud is a powerful asset, and potential buyers will find the added value in the intricacies. SDC supports all Salesforce standard languages, allowing worldwide connectivity – this is critical when considering segments around the world.

Because segments and segment management are pivotal factors in any effective marketing campaign, we break down what you need to know.

Firstly, it’s important to note that there are four main types of segmentation:

  • Geographic: This is a segment based on location. Businesses can determine how to market to potential customers based on the needs and impacts of their particular geographical location – large cities with a population that mostly walks instead of drives would potentially be more open to durable shoes. A food subscription box company might look at the current customer base and plan expansion into an area with similar geographic features.
  • Demographic: Demographic segmentation is about the physical traits of potential customers. This could be age, gender identity, race, occupation, family status, sexual orientation, etc. While geographic segments determine where to market, demographic segments determine who would be the most beneficial target for advertising. If a company’s clients are typically 20-29-year-old tech employees, the same marketing tactics that work for them won’t necessarily have the same impact on 35-year-old stay-at-home moms. Demographic segments help marketers make accurate decisions.
  • Psychographic: This takes into account the beliefs and held values of your potential customer base. These can range from hobbies, daily activities, food habits, to opinions on religion and specific subjects. If your company makes healthy snacks, marketing them to people who consistently choose healthy foods and an active lifestyle will bring more effective results.
  • Behavioral: Behavioral segmentation is about when consumers are spending money. An understanding of the spending patterns of potential customers instantly increases your chances of making a sale. This all has to do with usage frequency, brand loyalty, and events or occasions. The massive marketing push around major gift-giving holidays reflects here, as was the push from cleaning products and PPE suppliers during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic. If your company knows that it takes a customer a certain amount of time to use a product, you’re able to send a reminder of your product or service at exactly the right time to keep it fresh in the mind.

Salesforce CDP Homepage

Salesforce Data Cloud is built to optimize all of these data types. It allows you to create and sort customers into segments that your marketing and sales team targets.

When you’re designing your segments and adding customers, SDC makes it easy:

Salesforce CDP Attribute Library | DESelect

  • Attribute Library: This displays attributes associated with a targeted segment that has been mapped in the data model. Attributes can come from standard data sources – like engagement data from Marketing Cloud, a custom data object, or system data. Attributes narrow down a segment to your target audiences. There are two types: direct and related.
  • Direct Attributes: Direct attributes have a one-to-one relationship with the segment target, so each segmented entity has only one data point for an attribute. For customer data, they would only have one entry for postal code or first name.
  • Related Attributes: Related attributes have multiple data points. In the case of customer data, associated attributes would be data points that one person could have many of, like purchases or email opens.
  •  

building blocks of segmentation within Salesforce CDP | DESelect

  • Containers: Dragging attributes into containers creates “and/or relationship logic” between the chosen attributes. When attributes get placed into a container, your query engine looks for attributes that relate to one another in this way.

Text Operators Numeric Operators in CDP | DESelect

Collecting and Connecting – How SDC Does It

Salesforce collects data using the Cloud Information Model (CIM). This is an effective model that data sources use to communicate, even if they have different data structures and formats. It means that no matter where the information is coming from, the data formatting is standardized.

 

CIM Model used by Salesforce

CIM Model used by Salesforce

This fantastic system is genuinely the last word in barrier-free, seamless integration regardless of platform. To make it happen, there’s a standardized language that applies across the board.

First is the subject area, which is the business concept as a whole. The subject area is broken into one or more entity groups, which are groupings of like entities that make sense. At the entity level, groups are the individual entities, which are assigned attributes.

Using this language to organize information results in a smooth transition from raw data to actionable, cohesive ideas inside Salesforce Data Cloud.

Is SDC Right for You?

Salesforce Data Cloud asks that potential customers evaluate themselves to see if it would be a good fit and profitable investment.

There are some considerations Salesforce outlines on their website:

Firstly, it’s imperative to understand what SDC can and cannot do. It is suggested that you Review all Data Model Procedures. While Salesforce Data Cloud can support data from multiple Marketing Cloud Business Units and Customer Relationship Management systems, the user must take certain simple steps to ensure that information is updated and the information flow is not disrupted.

Understand the Salesforce Limitations

In the spirit of complete transparency, SDC is very forthcoming about its boundaries.

Salesforce Data Cloud Limitations:

  • EMEA Limitations: The Salesforce Data Cloud residency is supported in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) but only for customers whose Marketing Cloud is already located in EMEA.
  • Packageability Limitations: Marketing Cloud and service cloud streams may appear to be packageable, but in reality, AWS S3 streams exclusively are packageable.
  • Developer Org Limitations: Merge and Match will stop working after the namespace for a developer org is claimed.

Salesforce Data Cloud and/or SFMC (with DESelect)

Despite the rich features of SDC, Salesforce Marketing Cloud might still be the most practical option for many customers, especially if combined with other solutions that can boost productivity and results.

The diagram below offers a high-level decision process to guide potential buyers:

Difference between Salesforce CDP and DESelect

If your business is in a position where a dynamic customer data center is necessary, and the current marketing team is willing and able to take ownership of a CDP system, Salesforce Data Cloud is the best bet.

Inversely, if your company is not ready for SDC but still wants to optimize segmentation services for Marketing Cloud, DESelect will satisfy your need, or even serve as the perfect stepping-stone to a full Salesforce Data Cloud system.

Just maybe, your company will fall somewhere in the middle – yes, SDC system is necessary, but there’s no time or room in the budget to scale up the marketing team to the level needed to handle it. That’s where pairing Salesforce Data Cloud with DESelect Segment is going to benefit your business the most. You get the wider capabilities of Salesforce Data with the readily available features from Segment seamlessly integrated.

How are all these things tied together? The diagram below shows an architectural overview of a landscape using the full powers of SDC and DESelect Segment:

Salesforce CDP and DESelect

As you can see, DESelect solutions like Segment provide you with essential accelerators and integrative capabilities to fully enable your marketing teams. As Salesforce Data Cloud is a separate platform within your tech stack, you will have to heavily integrate it to fully leverage its features. We’ll discuss this in the next section.

Getting Started with SDC

Implementing Salesforce Data Cloud is a project, but one that will streamline marketing and save money over time.

1. Establish Communication

Open communication is key, especially when preparing to undertake a project that will change how the company operates. Bringing together your company’s higher-ups, data model specialists, marketing leads, and customer service specialists is a good move here, as they’ll help determine what next steps the company should take.

Adapting and implementing SDC is a huge step and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

2. Determine Company Need and Readiness

Bringing people together to determine company needs will help establish your company’s readiness to take the next step with Salesforce Data Cloud.

Different solutions make sense for different companies. For example, large enterprises with multiple customer touch-points with data stored on various platforms will benefit from different integration solutions than a small startup.

If your company already features longtime users of Salesforce, implementing Salesforce Data Cloud could take just six weeks from plan to deployment.

If this is your company’s first experience with Salesforce, or if your team has limited knowledge of CRM and dynamic customer data systems, full implementation could take up to ten weeks.

No matter what it takes, SDC has week-by-week plans laid out to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

3. Salesforce Data Cloud Guide

In preparation for full implementation, we recommend that the relevant personnel within your company review the official Salesforce Data Cloud Guide.

The comprehensive guide will walk you through the implementation process from start to finish. It can also be found on the Salesforce website, along with many other resources for successfully transferring to the Salesforce Data Cloud system.

The below chart already gives you a quick idea of the time and effort that will go into setting up SDC before you can use it:

C360A Sample Implementation Timeline.png

Disclaimer: Salesforce points out that this implementation timeline is indicative of the actual timeline and assumes that you are a technical customer who wants to self-implement, with previous Salesforce experience and strong data/use case knowledge.

Maintaining Your Salesforce Data Cloud System

While the SDC system is a wonder, it still takes some routine maintenance to keep things running smoothly. However, it takes far less technical experience to properly maintain than other CDP systems, making it a great choice for a company lacking in the IT department or for companies taking the first shaky steps into marketing automation.

Thankfully, small, consistent efforts in these areas are all it takes to troubleshoot and keep an eye on happenings within the company:

  • Monitoring Usage Entitlements: When monitoring your account, keep an eye out for activities that could potentially impact your contract. This could include unified contacts or profiles, segment publishes, and engagement records.
  • Processing History Upkeep: After enabling resolution rules, it’s important to visit the “Audiences Setup” page every so often. This allows you to keep an eye on processing history and consolidation of data over time.
  • Modification Field Upkeep: All objects include fields that track the user who created the record and who modified it last. Keeping up with these modifications offers basic auditing information to help troubleshoot.
  • Monitor Setup Changes: Use ‘Setup Audit Trail’ to view a setup audit trail, which logs when modifications to your organization’s configuration get made.
  • Monitor Login History: Utilize this feature to keep track of failed and successful login attempts made by your team dating back six months.
  • Manage Account Status: Use Salesforce Trust to manage service availability and performance for both your Marketing Cloud connection and your SDC account. This allows you to quickly identify issues related to ongoing incidents before you spend too much time troubleshooting.

Keep in mind that only approved chosen Marketing Cloud administrators and data managers can perform Salesforce Data Cloud setup and maintenance needs. 

DESelect Segment Enables Marketers in SFMC to Get the Most Out of Their Data

SDC is worthy of your consideration when designing your company’s roadmap. If you are on that journey, DESelect can offer an incredible accelerator. For instance, DESelect Segment customers like Emerald report, on average, cutting the time needed to achieve desired segments by 50 percent. Such benefits will complement the efficiencies of a CDP, once you’re ready.

1. DESelect Works with Salesforce Data Cloud

As explained earlier, DESelect Segment can offer granular segmentation of dataSDC feeds to Marketing Cloud. It is a plug-and-play solution that requires no effort to set up and run perfectly the first time, every time.

Better yet, DESelect eliminates some of the limitations found in Salesforce Data Cloud – for example, in DESelect, you can create one-to-one and many-to-many relationships that combine as many data extensions as you wish.

2. DESelect is Plug-and-Play

When we say “plug-and-play”, we mean it. Customers signing up for DESelect can almost immediately get access to our solutions, without a need for lengthy implementation tracks. We offer onboarding training or work together with reputable system integrators to do so, depending on your preference.

3. DESelect Requires No Maintenance

DESelect requires little maintenance either. Any and all data you add to Marketing Cloud will be made immediately available – including new data you may ingest through a customer data platform. User management is easy since it leverages your Salesforce login as a single-sign-on (SSO).

4. Marketers Enabled

While Salesforce Data Cloud requires admins to do some of the heavy lifting, DESelect is fully focused on enabling marketers when it comes to data. Admins can play a role here, though: by defining things like picklists and templatizing common Selections, for instance, marketers can play with their data more efficiently and with guardrails to prevent mistakes.

5. Safety and Privacy Guaranteed

DESelect planned ahead to allay any concerns regarding security when it comes to your customer data. Your data stored in the Marketing Cloud and connected to the Salesforce Data Cloud will not change how DESelect handles it for you. 

We’ve gone the extra mile to keep your information safe by implementing ISO-27002; we also re-assess data privacy at least once per year to remain fully GDPR compliant.

6. DESelect Comes with Everything You Need

Customers looking for some extra support will be happy to learn we can provide hypercare, helping with segmentation use cases, migrating SQL, and basically any question you may have. At DESelect, the role of Customer Success Managers has turned into one of deep technical understanding with a sensibility to the business needs – not just a commercial function.

In addition, we keep an extensive library of resources for our customers, which includes comprehensive FAQs and our blog – which keeps you up-to-date on best practices and updates.

Reach out to DESelect Today

Salesforce Data Cloud promises to be every marketer’s dream: providing a full 360 view of all their customers in one space, easily manageable and effectively segmented. It’s a system we’re proud to support at DESelect because we know just how far a platform like that can take you.

DESelect is that extra boost to optimize what’s already a game-changing marketing system. We take pride in providing a fast, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use application that can be used seamlessly with the newly reimagined SDC.

As official partners of Salesforce, our commitment to providing the best advice and service to its users is a top priority. See how Emerald has achieved a 37% increase in campaign efficiency with DESelect.

Contact DESelect to help you choose the best data management solution for your business.

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Creating a Customer Journey in (SFMC) Salesforce Journey Builder

How to create a customer journey in Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Journey Builder is probably the most popular Marketing Cloud app and a highly sophisticated consumer journey builder suitable for massive data projects. It offers advanced customer journey marketing. The feature enables marketers to develop personalized campaigns and experiences that will be meaningful for every customer. This sounds really promising, doesn’t it? However, to leverage all the benefits it offers, you must understand how to work with such a powerful tool. That’s why we came up with this in-depth guide on how to work with Salesforce Journey Builder. Read it and become an expert 🙂

What are the common uses of Journey Builder? Salesforce gives many customer journey examples, from various opt-in methods to Welcome Series, Abandoned Cart, Birthday, Browse Retargeting, Customer Anniversary, Loyalty, Newsletter, App Downloads, Post-Purchase, Promotional, Re-Engagement, and Win-Back journeys.

Entry sources for a journey

Understanding the audience and the journey goal is paramount. The first thing you consider before starting with Salesforce Journey Builder is the origin of your customer journey’s data. Various entry sources can be used for a journey.

Entry Sources example

Data extensions

You can use data extensions (DEs) as an entry source for your customer journey. Data extensions are tables that can contain a variety of data. You can learn more about them here.

You can also filter contacts you would prefer to restrict from the journey. You can filter their attributes by simply using drag-and-drop. However, this segmentation option is rather limited, and does not allow the use of advanced segmentation.

API events

One example of Journey Builder entry events is to choose an API event as an entry source for your customer journey. When contacts enter a journey via API, Salesforce Journey Builder populates a data extension with these contacts. You can set a filter using Marketing Cloud data attributes to ensure that only intended customers enter the journey.

This event type requires API configuration. To set up and use an API, you may have to speak to a technician if needed.

Considerations when working with an IT resource:

  • Notice where opt-in and customer data is captured.
  • Audit your current customer information. For example, web browsing, demographic, purchase data, and storage.
  • Ascertain your customer data needs for personalized or targeted messages and interactions.
  • Consider targeting and timing; and which customer behaviors you will act upon.

If you would like to know how to trigger Salesforce Journey Builder API entry events with AMPscript and server-side JavaScript, check out this thorough article.

Cloud Pages

You can use the CloudPages Form Submit Event to admit Marketing Cloud contacts into a journey.

Before using this entry source, create at least one Smart Capture form in CloudPages.

Audience entry

To admit a list of contacts into a journey, use an audience. Audience entry is used for mobile studio only. You can create or edit audiences by using Contact Builder. Select from the push, SMS, and Published Audience Builder audiences available in your account.

Any audiences created before the January 2018 release still function, but cannot be edited. To access functionality previously found in Salesforce Journey Builder Audiences, use the data extension entry source.

You can also schedule an audience to determine how often Salesforce Journey Builder admits contacts from an audience.

Salesforce data

Actions in Sales Cloud or Service Cloud are known as Salesforce data events. Creating or updating an object record places a contact into a journey. Salesforce Flows initiates a Journey Builder event whenever the primary object meets rule and reference object filtering criteria. Configuring Marketing Cloud Connect allows you to take advantage of this.

When you configure the event, define these items:

  • Use the Sales Cloud or Service Cloud object as the source of the Journey Builder entry event.
  • Who enters the journey (users, leads, or contacts).
  • When a record is created or updated; the user, lead, or contact enters the journey.
  • Select attributes from object data to filter who enters the journey.
  • Select the entry object to use for journey data fields from related objects.

The user ID, lead, or contact entering the journey, their email address, and the email opt-out flag status are all included in each record.

Once you’ve configured the entry source, you cannot edit the object or who enters the journey. Delete and recreate the entry source to choose a different object. Before publishing, you can edit the entry criteria, filters, and event data for a configured entry source. Entry sources are reusable. You can also copy journeys containing Salesforce entry sources.

Note: If setting up the Connector to Salesforce within Marketing Cloud becomes problematic, and you cannot view Salesforce activities in the Journey Builder Canvas, then submit a support ticket. Marketing Cloud support will assist.

Google Analytics 360

Salesforce Journey Builder admits audiences from your Google Analytics 360 account. You can choose an audience from your account, then admit a batch of those audience contacts into a journey. Then you can choose which contacts enter the journey, or admit all contacts, by configuring a filter.

Note that you might have to request a support ticket to enable this feature.

Salesforce Journey Builder Google Analytics 360 use case

To encourage past purchaser reviews, a marketer uses data from his or her company’s GA360 account. The marketer creates a journey using the consumer journey builder.

Create a potential reviewer’s Salesforce Journey Builder journey

The marketer creates a journey that admits customers from the GA360 audience. They then create a segment called ‘Potential Reviewers’ — customers who made a purchase without leaving a review. The marketer admits members of the ‘Potential Reviewers’ audience via the GA360 entry source.

The marketer can simply drag the GA360 entry source tile into the Journey Builder journey. After configuration, the marketer clicks Select an Audience and chooses the Potential Reviewers audience.

To exclude anyone who left a review after being added to the audience, but before journey activation, the marketer creates a filter using an attribute called Reviews. The filter is configured for audience members to enter the journey when the attribute value is null.

Adding another line and dragging in the Reviews and ReviewDate attributes, the marketer configures the filter so Reviews is not null, and ReviewDate is less than today.

The entry source is configured. Upon journey activation, Potential Reviewers audience members meeting filter criteria are admitted to the journey.

Events

Contact events will not be supported in the next release. Events and journeys developed before this change will continue to run. You can, however, use Data Extension or Audiences to admit contacts.

Examples of how Journey Builder entry events place contacts into a journey:

  • Events can be journey-specific or shared between journeys.
  • You can configure journey-specific events for sole use in that journey.
  • Using Entry Source Administration, you can create shared events for use in multiple journeys.

Date event journeys can be chosen instead.You can select them to run birthday campaigns or any other campaigns related to a certain time or date.

Inbound Chat Message

You can use the Inbound Chat entry source in Salesforce Journey Builder to admit contacts who send one of the keywords selected to your app channel. For instance if you want to integrate WhatsApp messages into your customer journey marketing.

If you want to use this entry source, create a chat integration business account through the chat messaging setup app.

What SFMC journey will you build?

There are three types of Salesforce Journey Builder journeys. Your choice is between Multi-step, Transactional, or Single Send journeys. Now let’s dive deeper into what each of them represents.

Multi-step journeys

Multi-step is the reason marketers love customer journey marketing through Journey Builder so much. It allows you to send messages across any channel, based on marketing logic and audience behavior. It allows the creation of complex and highly personalized marketing automation campaigns.

Leverage Multi-step journeys, from welcome email series to everyday purchases, or abandoned cart journeys.

Transactional journeys

You can also create a transactional journey. So when an event or action occurs, you’re able to immediately send an email. A common use case for transactional journeys is sending a personalized message which responds to a specific action, such as a purchase. You can also send an event-triggered message, such as a password reset. Another use case is sending a message triggered by an action taken by your organization, such as updating a user’s status.

Single Send journeys

Single Send journeys allow you to quickly create and deliver a personalized message to your audience. You can choose Single Send as an email or as a push notification. The email could be a promotional offer or an event reminder. A common push notification use case could be an alert about a new app feature, or sending a promotional offer.

Single Send journeys are exciting. In the past you had to set an email send definition in Email Studio. The idea now is to have a single “send definition” or a way of sending emails.

What are Salesforce Journey Builder activities?

So you’ve decided to build a multi-step journey. After figuring out which entry source to use, you can choose what will occur along the journey. The options are called ‘activities’.

You can find them on the Journey Builder Canvas. Activities include messages, updates, decisions, or a combination — all dragged onto the Journey Builder Canvas. In a Multi-step journey, the activities you configure affect each contact until they reach a goal, or the journey’s end. They’re divided in groups like: messages, advertising, flow control, customer updates, Sales & Service Cloud, and custom.

Activities in Salesforce Journey Builder | DESelect

Messages activities example

Messages

Messaging activities include email, SMS, LINE messages, push notifications, inbox messages, in-app messages, or any other form of messaging content. To provide a mix of information about your brand or product, vary the message content. Create the content before you build a journey.

You can use any Marketing Cloud data, including journey data, for personalization strings. Make sure the personalization string and dynamic content attribute names exactly match those in the data extension. Define a default value for every attribute so the personalization string is never blank. If you insert a personalization string, but the subscriber attribute isn’t populated, the string will be blank in the email. For example, set the First Name field default to Customer so that ‘Dear Customer’ appears as default in the field.

Note: Be sure to map personalization, or dynamic content attributes, to the correct data source. When using journey and contact data, remember that the journey data values are static, while contact data is variable.

Emails

Journey Builder uses the functionality of Email Studio to send to Marketing Cloud contacts in a journey. So you can review and arrange statistics from within Journey Builder.

Things to consider:

  • Every time a new journey version is activated, a new triggered send is created.
  • Triggered send validation compares the email’s personalization strings to event data from the journey entry source.
  • By editing the email activity, you can update Send Classifications or Publication Lists.
  • Pausing, publishing changes, and restarting the triggered send allows the update of images, content, and other Email Studio-related components.
  • Delivery profiles.
  • Dynamic subject rules.
  • Sender profiles.
  • Send classifications.

To ensure synchronized updates while in draft mode, implement email changes by updating each email activity, then reactivating the journey. Or you can update the send on the Journey Builder Sends page.

Make sure the email’s personalization strings are calling data values included in the entry source data extension. This avoids validation errors. Email validation can fail if personalization includes a field not in the entry source data extension.

With emails using AMPScript, you can use the Data Extension Lookup() function to interact with data extensions in your account.

Emails using AMPscript for personalization are not required to call data values found in the event source data extension.

Mobile messages

When a journey includes sends to mobile devices, Salesforce Journey Builder includes the SMS, LINE message, push notification, In-app message, and inbox activities. You can add MobilePush inbox messages without leaving the journey. To use messages created in Mobile Studio and Content Builder, you can configure SMS, LINE message, in-app message, and push notification Journey Builder activities.

SMS

In the case of Marketing Cloud Journey Builder SMS sends to Marketing Cloud contacts, you can use the SMS activity.

Note: To send SMS from a journey, your data extension must include the normalized phone number (country code + phone number (with no dashes or parentheses)). You don’t need a Locale field to send an SMS from Journey Builder.

To learn how to use SMS activity in Journey Builder, check out this Trailhead module.

Carousel LINE activity

For sends to Marketing Cloud contacts in a journey, you can use a carousel message in a LINE message activity. Carousel messages are LINE messages including up to 10 different messages in one carousel. You’ll need to ensure your account has LINE channels enabled.

Your Marketing Cloud account manager can give you more information about how to get LINE access and channels.

Push notifications

When using Marketing Cloud Journey Builder push notification sends in a journey, you can of course use the push notification activity.

In-app message

In-app messaging also works through Journey Builder. An in-app message is any kind of message sent to your mobile app users, which they’ll usually see during app use. Journey Builder allows for the simple addition of in-app messaging, highlighting surveys, offers, encouraging them to enable push notifications, or location settings in your app.

Inbox push activity

For Marketing Cloud Journey Builder MobilePush Inbox message sends, use the inbox activity.

Advertising

In Marketing Cloud Advertising Audiences Administration, you can use the Ad Audience activity and set up Google Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or another partner account as destinations. This will only work with Advertising Audiences provisioned accounts.

To use the Ad Audience activity in your journeys, you will have to include email addresses as the attribute in the Entry Event. If your journey contacts don’t have an email address, the Advertising Audience won’t populate. The Refresh Rate indicates the frequency of data pulls between Journey Builder and Ad Audience. Assuming your account is provisioned appropriately, you can amend this accordingly.

Check out this Salesforce article to find out more about creating an advertising campaign activity.

WhatsApp Message

Since 2021 it’s possible to send WhatsApp Messages via Journey Builder. It can be used if you configured Inbound Chat as an entry source for your journey.

Here you can learn more about WhatsApp messaging in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Be aware to send the WhatsApp message only to the opted-in users. Marketing Cloud charges for every message sent to WhatsApp. You can configure your journey so that it doesn’t send messages to the opted-out users.

To learn everything about Salesforce Journey Builder Flow Activities and Integrations, read this guide.

DESelect offers a number of fully integrated solutions with SFMC. Have you installed our DESelect Search Chrome Extension to search for everything from Data extensions, to Automations, Filter Definitions and more.

In this Salesforce Marketing Cloud guide we discussed how to choose an entry source and what kind of journeys this essential customer journey builder offers. We’ve also tackled the activities you can undertake with the tool.

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