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Benefits of Integrating Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud

My team and I have found that the more one digs into Salesforce, the more they realize how powerful it is. While many adopt one cloud to solve a few challenges, they often find themselves adopting multiple clouds to harness its innovative functionality and seamless integrations.

We’re helping clients go one step further – integrating Salesforce Clouds and other products to streamline internal operations even more and increase key stakeholder engagement. An integration between the Marketing and Sales Clouds bridges two teams within an organization and delivers three major benefits.

1. Unify Marketing and Sales Efforts

While sales and marketing seem like a close-knit team on the outside, they often have conflicting goals and motives. Of course, the ultimate goal is more business won, but each team often has a different view of how to get there.

By integrating Marketing Cloud with Sales Cloud, you can get deeper insights into which offers and messaging resonate with customers and use this information to shift your marketing and sales efforts regularly. This is easily the biggest and best benefit this integration has to offer.

For example, sales can send marketing-approved content directly from Sales Cloud through this integration, using the collateral that the marketing team builds directly in Marketing Cloud. Sales has access to the library of branded, approved content and can send the right resources to the most appropriate prospects at the right stage in the sales funnel. This cuts down on quite a bit of back and forth communication between the teams and eliminates the need to upload marketing collateral into the Sales Cloud.

Marketing and sales can then work in tandem to move a prospect down the sales funnel. You can also automate coordinated handoffs between sales and marketing. When sales moves a prospect down a funnel, certain stages can kick off an automated email/ text message.

Once sales closes a deal, a prospect can enter an onboarding journey toward becoming a customer. Or, if sales determines a prospect is not quite ready to convert or loses a deal, they can enter them into a nurture campaign in Marketing Cloud. This allows sales to continue focusing on other prospects, while marketing automation helps moves the prospect forward.

The integration also allows for more cross-selling opportunities. And, as we all know, you can’t stop marketing to audiences once they become customers. That’s just when marketing for existing customers comes into play. As a new customer completes the onboarding process, the marketing team can seamlessly start marketing new services and products to drive new business. You can track your customers as they visit your website, seeing what other services they may have an interest in or what challenges they face with your current product. Then, your sales team can reach out to them with personalized messaging to cross-sell, upsell, or stop churn in its tracks.

And, if you don’t feel upselling is appropriate, you can still drive engagement through other forms of communication – newsletters, events, support-related announcements, etc.

2. Learn from a 360 View of Your Customers

Integrating Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud delivers insights from two crucial parts of your sales funnel – the marketing and messaging that draws them in and how well each campaign works in closing leads. By watching a prospect move through both the marketing and sales processes, you can better understand what motivates your buyers to convert. Your marketing team gets invaluable insights into what customers really want, on which channels they’re active, and how they interact with your brand. Your sales team can then leverage these insights to deliver highly-personalized pitches to these prospects.

Every touchpoint with a customer provides an opportunity to gather more insights. As marketing and sales share these, your opportunities to drive customer loyalty and sell-through only increase.

As used as an example above, the sales team gets insights into the marketing emails a prospect receives and if they’ve opened or clicked on any links within them. This allows them to prioritize prospects quickly and understand the messaging and offers that resonate with each. Through an integration between Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, both teams have access to this wealth of customer information and, even better, have tools to help them make those insights actionable.

3. Highly-Personalized Messaging and Audience Segmentation

As your sales and marketing teams continue to learn from one another, you can split your customers and prospects into smaller and smaller groups. This allows you to further personalize your messaging for each segment and speak to them on their specific level, which should lead to an increase in customer loyalty and sales.

How to Integrate Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud

Step One: Determine Your Integration Goals

We’ve highlighted several benefits to this integration above, but that doesn’t mean your company cares about or needs all of them. You may have a completely different motivation for connecting the Marketing and Sales clouds.

In any case, you should start this project by sitting down with your sales and marketing team leaders and establishing your goals before you start. You may choose to centralize marketing entirely from the Marketing Cloud to exert tight control on customer touchpoints, branding, and messaging. But the audience (prospects/ customers, etc.) data may need to be sourced from the Sales cloud. In this case, Marketing Cloud integrating one way with Sales Cloud will be just enough.

Alternatively, you may be at a point of scale in your business’s evolution in that centralized marketing stretches out the marketing staff. In that case, you may start delegating certain tactical messaging use cases to the sales team freeing up the marketing team to do more strategic marketing plays. The marketing team still owns and manages the email templates in Marketing Cloud, keeping control over the messaging. The sales team has access to these templates via Sales Cloud for their tactical messaging needs.

In general, given the complexity of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform, empirical observations suggest starting with the centralized model to have better chances of success. Then building on the initial successes and slowly moving down the de-centralized path.

Step Two: Prioritize Your Data Needs

Most marketing teams almost always have a good understanding of the key touchpoints a customer and prospect goes through along the lead to the cash spectrum. If they haven’t, we highly recommend this as a pre-requisite to any Marketing Cloud implementation. We often end up helping our clients with taking inventory, analyzing for complexity, and prioritizing key journeys with specific reference to Marketing Cloud implementation as well as integrations with Sales Cloud and/or other enterprise systems.

This step then guides the process of understanding what data needs to be sourced and where it needs to be sourced from. For example, wanting to provide helpful tips to a prospect at a certain stage of the buying process means knowing when & how a customer hits such a stage and what attributes of the prospect would help us drive the right set of tips.

Other areas to consider when uncovering data needs are:

  • Any attributes used to personalize the content of an email or text
  • Branding and co-branding attributes
  • Dynamic sender name and email – say the rep that the prospect has been working with rather than a generic marketing sender email.
  • Attributes that help decide under what circumstances a certain message needs to go out.
  • Any attributes that make a prospect ineligible to continue down a journey
  • Attributes that may need to be updated back to the Sales Cloud
  • Preference and opt-out related attributes especially if managed across multiple systems apart from Marketing Cloud

In general, prioritizing data from sources that are more easily integrated, such as Sales Cloud, will help bring some early momentum/ success to the integration.

Step Three: Outline Your Data Workflows

Then it’s time to focus on how this data should move back and forth between your system. Some key considerations to reflect on that can help drive the architecture areas as follows:

  1. Major segments of customers you may have – member contacts versus partner contacts for example
  2. The timing and frequency of data updates from Sales Cloud to Marketing Cloud
  3. Whether updates need to be sent back to the Sales Cloud
  4. The urgency with which a message needs to be sent
  5. Ad hoc sends by staff members vs. automated messages that are event-driven or schedule-driven

Don’t forget about non-Salesforce integrations – this is a great time to connect other enterprise systems too. Consider how valuable data from your other operational systems, such as core systems – like financial/accounting systems and order management systems – can be paired with your marketing and sales data.

Step Four: Build Out the Integration Architecture

While Salesforce makes this look as easy as changing a few settings, a truly strategic integration that will change how your sales and marketing teams work together requires more work from your development team. It requires careful consideration of things such as:

  • Volume of data
  • Type of data – point in time such as an order or more permanent data such as customer-id
  • Relationships between the different attribute groups
  • Data retention needs
  • Usage of data – merge field in a message, used to decide which of the many paths a customer takes in a journey
  • Privacy and security of data attributes

Based on the above, Salesforce Marketing Cloud offers a variety of options for data integration. A few options include:

  • Importing directly from Sales Cloud
  • CSV file-based
  • API-based

Furthermore, several automation options are also available with each of these options through the contact builder, automation builder, and journey builder. Selecting the right integration and automation options depends on the specific use case. Often the right answer is a combination of a few of these together to achieve the desired result.

An important consideration when designing the integration is also the lack of test environments or sandboxes as we know them in Sales Cloud. Architecting the integration to account for one instance of Marketing Cloud acting as test and live environments both imposes additional architectural considerations that need to be put in place. This is particularly crucial when enhancements need to be made to a live and deployed email. The structure needs to support making and testing changes in another version while a previous version is live! We have evolved a couple of patterns to make this painless, easy to manage, and cost-effective.

Step Five: Test with Power Users

Before you roll out your new functionality, it’s time to make sure it works as expected and fulfills your goals established in step one. The best people to help you evaluate your new integration is your Power Users. This typically tends to be the marketing staff working in Marketing Cloud, to begin with. Over time, as marketing evolves towards becoming de-centralized within your organization, include key Sales Cloud users. These are your team members who use Salesforce every single day and rely on the platform to accomplish their mission-critical tasks. They’ll know immediately if the integration will work in their favor and can provide valuable feedback and help you gauge how other users will react to the launch.

A specific thing to consider when testing with Marketing Cloud is the various levels of testing you’d want to have in the mix, for example

  1. Basic structural preview testing to a list of internal test users
  2. Testing across various email clients that your customer base uses
  3. Testing all possible dynamic data-driven variations of a template
  4. Testing with the automations in place
  5. End to end testing with data coming from the source system
  6. Live testing
  7. A/B testing as needed

Given the onerous testing burden, it helps to have a carefully laid out testing strategy to ensure that the integration is robust.

Step Six: Demo and Train

Once you have a final product ready, you have your most important step. You must handle it correctly. After all, what could be worse than launching new functionality that no one uses? Before you deploy the Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud integration, you absolutely must dedicate time and resources to training your sales and marketing teams on how to navigate and leverage the new functionality.

Some key areas specific to Marketing Cloud tend to be:

  • Basic data management procedures specifically concerning data extensions vs. the traditional lists that marketing teams are used to
  • Content Management – think images, content blocks, email templates, etc. – using Content Builder.
  • Basic subscriber status and preference management
  • Rudimentary brand builder setup
  • Ad Hoc Email Sends using data sourced from Sales Cloud
  • Basic Email Tracking and Reporting
  • Basic troubleshooting

We recommend using training guides and videos to help everyone understand how to use the integration within their respective roles. Having gone through a few implementations, we have evolved a few best practices in this specific area that can help reduce the time and effort required.

As a bonus, we find this also increases the excitement for the integration and allows your teams to hit the ground running on launch day.

Step Seven: Deploy

Deployment, as with many things Marketing Cloud related, is much simpler than standard software deployments. Of course, the basics of any software deployment hold true – deploying during off-hours, picking a less intense day of the week, monitoring post-deployment, proper change management, relevant staff notified and ready for support, etc. But with Marketing Cloud, there is truly an opportunity to reduce the stress and risk associated with standard deployments. One can plan deployments in iterations as small as one email or one text campaign at a time! Marketing Cloud lends itself well to iterative development. As such, if all the steps outlined have been diligently approached, deploying an email campaign can take minutes. Most of the heavy lifting tends to have been done already. All that typically remains is to turn relevant automations on.

 Next Steps

An integration like this, while advertised as such, isn’t as simple as toggling a few buttons. As I outlined above, it takes careful planning and development to make the investment worth it. If you have any questions, my team and I have helped clients through system endeavors like this and are happy to provide consulting and/or development. Contact us to see how we can support your team.

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