7 things I wish I knew when starting with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization

To shortly introduce Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (ex. Interaction Studio), it is a real-time personalization and interaction management solution which is part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It allows you to track the visitor’s behaviour on a website and act on it in real-time. Marketing Cloud Personalization is (see what I did there) a relatively new part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as it joined its companions in February 2020 when the original Evergage was purchased by Salesforce. If you would like to read more about Marketing Cloud Personalization and its general functionalities, I recommend you this article written by my colleague. In this article I will mention a few things that I think can make your start with this platform hopefully bit easier, smoother, and faster. 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the things I will mention here are conditional upon being an official Salesforce Partner. 

  1. Documentation, documentation, documentation 

You might think “Duh, of course”, however I still came across many people that do not have the habit of checking the documentation as first thing after waking up. With Marketing Cloud Personalization we are lucky enough to have a nicely structured and vast documentation in place. Actually, there are two – one more focused on business users, and one on technical users. Do make sure to make this your first place to check when starting or facing some challenge.  

  1. Partner Learning Camp 

Many of Salesforce users might be used to Trailhead exercises, however for Marketing Cloud Personalization the offer is quite limited. The main learning module for Marketing Cloud Personalization is located in the Partner Learning Camp, consisting of videos, articles and to some extent also hands-on exercises. This is available only if you have access to PLC, but this should be possible to arrange through your organization. When I started with Marketing Cloud Personalization, the same content was already available, but it was spread across multiple quip documents, and various links so the new curriculum is much more comfortable. Make sure to go through it step-by-step and use the documentation along with it.  

  1. Other channels to check 

If you are not able to find answers in the official documentation, then there are few other places where you can find information, raise questions or issues, and reach people directly from Salesforce and other partners working with Marketing Cloud Personalization that might share their experience. 

  • Weekly Technical Call Q&A – a Quip document is in place, where questions can be raised and twice a week this is discussed on a call directly with the Marketing Cloud Personalization product team. The questions are public, and solution should always be shared, so sometimes it is worth to scroll through this document 
  • Slack channel – another forum (and my favourite) is a Slack channel for Salesforce partners. Questions can be asked, and other people can reply, brainstorm, or share their experience with you, while also Salesforce people are part of it to reply to you. Also, the product updates are shared here regularly. Access can be requested here.  
  • Salesforce Partner Community – official Marketing Cloud Personalization Partner Community is to be found here. Another channel to ask questions, however from the 3 mentioned here, this one seems to be used the least. 

The first 3 points were more general, now I will mention a few that are bit more specific, already related to practical work in Marketing Cloud Personalization. 

  1. Do not try to reinvent the wheel – Sitemapping 

“The Marketing Cloud Personalization Sitemap system is a configuration driven integration layer that is deployed by and executes within the Marketing Cloud Personalization beacon”. Sitemapping is the backbone of the Marketing Cloud Personalization integration and depending on the complexity of the website where you are trying to implement it can be pretty straightforward, but also can get quite tricky. Luckily, as part of the previously mentioned technical documentation, Marketing Cloud Personalization provides three very useful examples of sitemapping with live websites where you can examine the implementation. Study the code, try it out on the provided websites and reuse the parts that might be relevant for you (naturally adjusting it to suit your website): 

  1. Do not try to reinvent the wheel – Templates 

A template in Marketing Cloud Personalization is a repeatable framework that you can use to create personalization campaigns. This should be created by somebody with experience in web development (as HTML, CSS and JS are used), but the person does not need to be a veteran of webdev as the Marketing Cloud Personalization offers quite large list of so called “Global Templates”. To mention a few, Marketing Cloud Personalization offers ready-to-use templates for e.g. Banner with Call-To-Action, Infobar with Call-To-Action, Slide-In with Call-To-Action, Exit Intent Pop up and some others (complete list is here). These templates have all the code ready, and you might just need some CSS updates to match your branding and you are good to go. Or again, you might just reuse some code snippets and prepare more customised template yourself. The point is, do not waste time figuring something out if it was already done for you. 

  1. Create sandbox dataset 

When starting the development on a website always create one testing dataset and one production dataset. Use the testing dataset for development, and only once you know you have done the things the right way, transfer it to the production dataset. With this setup you can prevent polluting your production dataset with testing or incorrect data. Unfortunately, I learnt this the hard way, no big harm was done but it still would have been nice to have it organized in a cleaner way. Also, it is important to realize that some things once created in one dataset, are created in all of them (e.g. user attributes), so this should be done properly since the beginning. 

  1. SF Support access 

I am pretty sure that most of the people reading this article have their interesting stories with opening a ticket with the Salesforce Support. With Marketing Cloud Personalization it is no different and it can be long and winding road from starting the ticket to a possible resolution. With Marketing Cloud Personalization it is bit specific though, as you need to grant access to Support before they can look into your instance. This is done directly in Marketing Cloud Personalization interface > Security (last item in the bottom of the menu) > Grant Access. You need to select date until when the access is granted. It can also be revoked anytime. With this in mind, you can save yourself from one Salesforce Support reply where they would only ask you to grant them access. 

Now there you have it. A few points and highlights of things I discovered since I started working with Marketing Cloud Personalization. Hopefully you will find something useful here and if you have some tip or trick as well, please do share with us ?. 

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Samuel Liška

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Technical Consultant with solid experience in implementing solutions using Saleforce Marketing Cloud, mostly focused on Marketing Cloud Personalization (former Interaction Studio or Evergage)