Marketing Cloud: Best Practices

Marketing Cloud: Best Practices

Optimizing Performance: Discover Best Practices for Maximizing Efficiency Across the Entire Marketing Cloud Landscape.

In digital marketing, campaign effectiveness is crucial. Marketing Cloud can help businesses connect with their audience in personalized ways and offers tools to improve marketing efforts. However, it is necessary to find ways to maximize efficiency and drive success in the Marketing Cloud ecosystem.

Best Practices

Account Set-Up

Enable enhanced FTP to ensure the highest level of security and facilitate the automation of data import processes.

Email and Content Builder

Have a folder structure and naming convention in place to organize content builder assets.

Journey Builder

It is a good practice to have an exit criterion in place so that a contact can exit the journey when specific conditions are met.

CloudPages

Use Encryption methods in the Cloudpage for sensitive data like ClientID, ClientSecret, Tenant endpoints, etc.

Contact Builder

Create data extensions by using primary keys to enable performances and apply indexes to the data.

Mobile Studio

Define your mobile marketing goals and target audience before launching a campaign.

Analytics

Use Discover report templates (if enabled in account) to further drill down into the data.

AMPScript

To enhance performance, reduce the use of Lookup functions when working with large data extensions.

Account Set-Up

Setting up your Marketing Cloud account is the first step to leverage the powerful features and products of this platform. By following the best practices, you will be able to optimize your account performance and security, and get ready to create and send engaging campaigns to your subscribers.

01

Installed Packages

When creating the Installed Packages, allow limited access based on the use cases to be performed.
02

Setup Access

Limit the Setup access only to a few set of users who perform admin-related tasks.
03

Authentication

Use two verification methods for Multi-Factor Authentication as a backup in case you lose or forget your main method.
04

Key Management

Create secure keys under Key Management that can be used in AMPscript Encryption functions.
Security Concerns

Securing URLs

Acquire SSL Certificates to safeguard the mentioned URLs and comprehend the Impacts.

1
Cloudpages​​
Cloudpages​​​ - pages.[CustomDomain].com
2

Email

Email Tracking Links - click.[CustomDomain].com
3

Web Page

Email View as a Web Page - view.[CustomDomain].com
4

Content Builder

Content Builder Content - image.[CustomDomain].com

Recommended Security Settings

Security settings in Marketing Cloud encompass settings for session duration, username and password requirements, and account lockout procedures. These functions are designed to enhance the overall security of your account.

Setting
Recommended Best Practice
Session Timeout
20 minutes
Login Expire
90 days or less
Invalid Logins
3 attempts
Count Invalid Logins
Yes
Minimum Password Length
8
Enforce Password History
8
User Passwords Expire In
90 days or less
Exclude FTP Users from Password Expiration
DO NOT - Instead, ask FTP users to schedule a time to change the FTP user password when necessary
Password Change Confirmation Email
Always enable
Export Email Whitelist
Yes, ensure your data remains with trusted users
JavaScript rendering
Disable, unless you absolutely must include JavaScript in your preview

Email and Content Builder

Email and Content Builder are two powerful tools that allow you to create and send engaging and personalized emails to your subscribers.

Email Studio

Here are some of the main points you should consider when using them:

Craft a strong subject line that captures the attention and interest of your recipients.
Be concise and clear in your email content, and avoid unnecessary words or jargon.
Write an attention-grabbing pre-header that summarizes the main message and value proposition of your email.
Maintain brand consistency in your email by using the same colors, fonts, logos, and images that represent your identity and voice.

The Content Builder in SFMC uses Content Blocks to create responsive emails. You can fill in the layout box of your email template without worrying about how it will look on different devices, as the content will adjust automatically.

By using interactive content in emails, you can make the experience more engaging for subscribers. This can boost the click-through rate of your campaigns. Embedded forms in emails allow you to gather subscriber information without them leaving their inbox. This strategy can also increase customer engagement and collect important data.

Content Builder can be utilized to generate dynamic content for sending personalized messages to your audience. This content is created based on rules set by you using subscriber attributes or data extension columns, ensuring that your messages are targeted and tailored.

In Content Builder, you have the ability to incorporate Einstein’s power into your content blocks by adding an Einstein Content Selection content block. This feature allows Einstein to select the most suitable asset from the pool for each subscriber, increasing subscriber engagement and facilitating the desired action from your audience.
Content Builder

Journey Builder

The Journey Builder processing rate varies based on your data model, filters, configuration, activities, and content complexity. To improve processing speeds after implementing these recommendations in a multitenant account, contact your account executive about single-tenancy and dedicated database deployment.

Cleanse Your Data

To speed up Marketing Cloud processes: cleanse data before new journeys, use unique extensions per journey, segment contacts via Automation Studio, manage resources efficiently by avoiding excessive filtering and use journey data for decision splits.

Set A Goal

To prevent a bad customer experience, it is best to avoid setting multiple goals for each journey in Marketing Cloud. If a journey becomes too complicated, it may be better to divide it into two simpler journeys. It is recommended to use SFMC's "Goals" feature to accurately measure the success of a journey.

Use Exit Criteria

Journey Builder’s Exit Criteria is a highly useful feature, enabling “contact flushing” upon completion of a particular target within a journey. With the help of Exit, you can “flush” or remove contacts when they are no longer relevant to a journey’s objective, for a cleaner, more high-res operation.

Fine-Tune Your Filtering Logic

Efficient processing in Journey Builder relies on optimizing filtering logic. Consider simplifying contact data, minimizing costly operators, keeping filters straightforward, and understanding filter complexity for faster processing.

Optimize Journey Activities

To optimize Journey Builder operations and expedite processing, adhere to best practices such as avoiding Wait Activities as first and last steps, limiting Wait Activity durations to 15 minutes, minimizing activities to less than 200 per journey, avoiding consecutive Decision Splits.

Leverage Journey Metrics

Utilize journey metrics and historical data to optimize scheduling. Analyze past performance to identify the best times for sending messages and triggering activities. Continuously monitor and adjust the schedule based on real-time insights to improve campaign effectiveness.

CloudPages

Protect subscriber data by implementing good security and data-handling practices for CloudPages in Marketing Cloud Engagement.

CloudPages
1

SubscriberID or SubscribeKey

Don’t pass SubscriberID or SubscribeKey in plain text. Use the CloudPagesURL function to encrypt all query string parameters.
2

IF/THEN

Surround non-authenticated, public landing pages with a global IF/THEN clause to check for empty required parameters and prevent unauthorized access.
3

String Parameters

Use two or more query string parameters to verify the same subscriber before doing any other processing or presenting any data.
4

Client-Side Validation

Don’t perform any client-side validation or checking using JavaScript. Do all processing and validation on the server side.
Testing Objectives

Define your testing objectives. Split your audience into test groups, track and analyze Key Performance Indicators(KPI) (the KPIs score must be calculated individually):

  • Conversion Rates

  • Engagement

  • Bounce Rate

Testing Objectives
Security Headers
Use Security Headers

Use the following security headers to protect your landing pages from common web attacks:

  • Strict-Transport-Security
  • X-XSS-Protection
  • X-Frame-Options
  • X-Content-Type-Options
  • Referrer-Policy
  • Content-Security-Policy
APIs
1

Volume and Frequency

When working with APIs, be aware of the volume and frequency that might hit them, and handle it effectively.
2

Access Token

Reuse access tokens for API calls to prevent inefficiency and throttling. Refresh tokens two minutes before expiration for uninterrupted access.
APIs

Contact Builder

Contact Builder helps you maintain the contact information you use to identify individual contacts across multiple channels and personalize messaging and marketing activities.

Use a Single Contact Key

Contact Builder uses a unique key value to identify a contact in a Marketing Cloud Engagement account. This value is the same as the subscriber key in Email Studio. The contact key value is used to link information from different communication channels to one contact record.

Merge Contact Records

Engagement lacks merge or de-duplication functions, leading to duplicated contacts across platforms. Utilize external services or partners to reconcile duplicates, optimizing contact management, reducing costs, and ensuring data integrity for marketing endeavors.

Differentiate Subscriber and Contact

The All Contacts list includes all contacts within engagement. The All Subscribers list is specific to Email Studio subscriptions, preventing sends to unsubscribed addresses only within Email Studio, not in MobileConnect or MobilePush.

Contact Record Deletion

Contact Builder uses a unique key value to identify a contact in a Marketing Cloud Engagement account. This value is the same as the subscriber key in Email Studio. The contact key value is used to link information from different communication channels to one contact record.

Update ID Data Type

For optimal performance, prioritize using string data types for Contact Key linkage over numeric values. Convert numeric identifiers to strings before importing contact data to avoid performance drawbacks and potential issues with linking CustomerID.

Connect with Contact Key

Link attribute groups and populations using the contact key value. Don't link using an email address field when the Contact Key or Subscriber Key value is available. If you must create a link using the email address, create a text attribute containing the email address and link using that value.

Limit Populations to 3 Entities

Leverage populations to categorize contacts into sizable subgroups, enhancing segmentation capabilities. Limit populations to three for enhanced system performance efficiency.Consider implementing automated population management to dynamically adjust subgroup sizes.

Mobile Studio

Mobile Studio is a powerful tool within Salesforce Marketing Cloud that enables marketers to create, manage, and automate mobile messaging campaigns. It allows you to engage with your audience through SMS, push notifications, and other mobile channels.

Inspire Action with a Strong CTA

Include a clear call-to-action in mobile ads. Encourage users to download an app, make a purchase, or sign up for a newsletter.

Adding Motion and Animation

Use motion and animation to capture attention. Animate text or create simple animations to make your content more engaging and eye-catching.

Optimize Video for Mobile

When using video content, make sure it is optimized for mobile devices. Keep videos short and engaging, as users decide quickly whether to keep watching.

Design for Sound-Off Viewing

Design your content to be effective even when the sound is off. Use visual cues and subtitles to convey your message.

Analytics

Data Segmentation

This allows you to tailor your content to specific groups within your audience, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of your campaigns.

Holistic View

Combine business and marketing data to see how marketing impacts business goals. This will show how your marketing efforts contribute to overall goals.

Predictive Analytics

Utilize machine learning to create predictive audience segments like likelihood to purchase and high customer value.

Enhance Customer Experiences

Provide better customer experiences through personalized recommendations and feedback-driven improvements.

Integration

Optimize your integration with Marketing Cloud. Google Cloud offers seamless connectors to key data sources like Google Ads, Google Analytics 360, etc.

First-Party Data

Invest more in data you control, like activity on your social and web channels. This is crucial with privacy laws changing and third-party cookies being phased out.

Use Filters

Use filters to manage IP exclusions and bot traffic. Filter settings help keep data quality at its best for Analytics 360 users.

Unified App Analytics Platform

Consolidate data into a warehouse for insightful customer behavior analysis, enabling informed marketing enhancements through a holistic view of the customer journey.

AMPScript

AMPScript expands Marketing Cloud functionality to create personalized, data-driven email campaigns. It offers dynamic content and scripting capabilities that enable the creation of dynamic subject lines, personalized greetings, and real-time content updates.

Handle Inaccurate Data

What Can AMPScript Do?

Check if a value is empty or null and assign default values for variables.

Validate Lookup calls with RowCount and check isEmpty() or isNull() functions.

Example
				
					%%[ 
    IF Empty(@Firstname) OR @Firstname == "Unknown" THEN 
        set @defaultValue = "Customer" 
    ELSE 
        set @defaultValue = @Firstname 
    ENDIF
]%%
				
			

Set a Specific Date Format

What Can AMPScript Do?
Use FormatDate() to display dates in the preferred format.
Example
				
					%%=FormatDate('2024-02-01 09:00', 'ddddd dd MMMM yyyy','HH:MM','en-US')=%%
				
			

Save a Default Time Format

What Can AMPScript Do?

By default, Salesforce Marketing Cloud uses CST format for dates. To set any other default format, use SystemDateToLocalDate().

Example
				
					%%=SystemDateToLocalDate('2020-11-06 05:00')=%%
				
			

Prevent Validation Errors

What Can AMPScript Do?
Functions like AttributeValue prevent validation errors that terminate emails sent in case of unavailable fields in a data extension.
Example
				
					%%[ var @myname set @myname = AttributeValue('FirstNameColumnName') ]%%
				
			

Unify Different Formats In Databases

What Can AMPScript Do?

Data might be in different formats within different databases. This can be resolved by using the ProperCase() function for properly capitalizing text or a variable.

Example
				
					Dear %%=propercase('john')=%%
				
			

Ensure Proper Code Maintenance

What Can AMPScript Do?
Debugging AMPScript in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud can be challenging because there are limited built-in features available to display script errors. However, developers can consider exploring some Trailblazer community ideas to aid in the debugging process.
Example
				
					<script runat="server">
Platform.Load("Core","1.1.1");
    try{
</script>

%%[ your AMPScript block goes here ]%%

<script runat="server">
    }catch(e){
        Write(Stringify(e));
    }
</script>
				
			

Are you seeking to optimize the implementation of Marketing Cloud through best practices?

Get a Free CRM consultation to help you in implementation of optimal strategies.
Are you a company or business that could benefit from CRM assistance? Whether you require ongoing Salesforce support, a tailored project, or a comprehensive business transformation, Mekanys is prepared to assist you in elevating your operations with our cutting-edge solutions. Just complete the form and we will take care of the rest.

* These fields are required.

Share this ...
Picture of Corina Petrușca

Corina Petrușca

"Learn something about everything and everything about something."