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HowToSFMC is a Salesforce Marketing Cloud resource by a group of practitioners with a range of SFMC experience. The aim of the site is to take common “How do I?” questions and instead of make a single how-to document, crowd-source many options. Including from the wider community.

Armed with these choices, we’ll help to provide context to the decision making and empower you to build your ideal solution.

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Published 08/06/2021
August 2021 - Release Notes Summary

We’re up to the 4th and penultimate SFMC release of 2021. The last release before iOS15 comes in and open-rate-geddon besmirches all Email Marketing teams KPIs and results. The only release to have ever happened during an Olympic Games that has occurred on an odd numbered year. The last release prior to the major announcement coming at Marketing In Motion on August 12. Sign up here to be the first to know what’s going on. But until then… the August 2021 release. We’ve been through them, we’ve summarized them, here’s your one hit wonder of what to expect in the SFMC August 2021 release. (nb: If you’ve read the June 2021 release notes. Some of these will be familiar)

Marketing Cloud V2 connector is gone. That’s it. It’s gone. It’s been on its way out since October 2020. I really hope everyone has updated their connector by now. There’s not much more to be said. Thank you V2 Connector, you were a great starting point and sometimes a headache… But it’s long overdue for you to have been made to retire. Cloud Pages Legacy Experience is saying goodbye. In possibly the shortest retirement run for anything in SFMC to my memory, it’s also riding off into the sunset. If you’ve not been trying the “new” Cloud Pages experience, unfortunately you’re going to have to get used to it now. But, the new experience isn’t a bad thing, it has some imperfections (such as not being able to run some scripts in the preview anymore) - but it has some nice benefits, like copying pages. So, SFMC gives with one hand and takes with the other!

The announcement of Email Studio Classic Web Tools going away in June 2022, the ability to create new classic Microsites or Landing Pages is going away in this release. You’ve got until June 2022 to get them all migrated to the new Cloud Pages. Anything you have in the classic tools is going to be unpublished and inaccessible anymore. Another example where you should move to the new tools now and migrate when opportunities arise. Microsoft Dynamic on-premises integration gets turned off in 3 months. You’ve got until October 29th this year to determine how you’ll manage this situation. Salesforce have put together some comprehensive details on how to deal with it available here. Finally in the “going away” box - If you’re still using the Legacy ASPX UI for Email Studio, you’re getting upgraded to the newer UI. Enjoy your free upgrade!

More updates to Package Manager including granular permissions for the tool, which is definitely a welcome update. The addition of Shared Data Extensions and Synchronized Data Extensions is definitely useful, but there’s specific caveats around how they get deployed with regards to whether they are deployed as shared or local Data Extensions. There’s too much to specifically cover in this summary, but check out the full release note here. Package Manager is also getting a new landing page, no screenshots in the release notes but fingers crossed it’s an improvement on the list view we have today.

After the previous release allowed you to import S3 data, the new release will allow you to export data to S3. You’ll be able to use IAM Roles to authenticate when configuring your S3 bucket as an export destination. (Fingers crossed we get something for Azure sometime soon… Hey Salesforce, you announced moving SFMC to Azure 2 years ago. Any news on when you’ll get native Azure transfer capabilities?)

If you’re not using MFA yet, you’ve got 6 months before you’ll have no choice. Make sure you start getting this set up in time, rather than a last minute scramble! Check the documentation here if you’ve not provisioned this yet.

Many businesses with connected Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud instances will be using an attribute on the source object as a record collection filter. If that attribute changes on the Sales Cloud side, you’ll now find that your synchronisation gets paused rather than completely breaking. Which is nice.

This is pretty self explanatory, if you’re using Distributed Marketing Bulk Sending, you can add some custom personalization tabs to add a little complexity and nuance to it. But Salesforce recommends no more than 10 of these to keep it performant.

You may recognize this one from the last release, looks like it got postponed. But up until this gets released you’re required to load content via a CSV or through the user interface. The new Einstein Content Selection API will allow you to introduce content via an API from your digital asset management solution or CMS to ensure Einstein knows as much as is relevant to provide the best customer experience. You can also use the API to update Subscribers as and when an attribute value changes rather than relying on other scheduled processes.

Cast your eyes back to the June 2021 release summary… ! !

So if you’re using Einstein Engagement Scoring in any great amount, you’ll be able to configure your specific thresholds for different engagement scoring definitions. Really looking forward to seeing this one land when the release goes live, especially with the iOS15 open rate-geddon due to land between this and the final release of 2021.

Someone has taken a Conversion Rate Optimisation course at Salesforce based on the summary of this. If you’re not sure what Einstein can do for you, the App Facts will help you to compare what they should be able to do in a side by side fashion. For anyone who is unsure about what they can expect Einstein to help them with in their workflows, this should be a good one stop shop for you.

Another one that’s getting a second bite of the release notes review pie having been featured last time around. Doesn’t look like there’s anything different, so I’ll quote the previous summary.

Einstein Content Asset testing is being added to Einstein Content Selection, so if you’re using Content Builder drag and drop blocks, you’ll be able to drag an Einstein Content Testing block into your email and see the results within Einstein Content Selection. You’ll also be able to view performance analytics at a tag level, so where Einstein is tagging your content for you you can drill into the Performance Analytics tab to see how different tags are performing.

Insights will now check the language of your subject line to identify if there is bias around age, gender, orientation etc… If Einstein does detect bias, it will provide an alert and encourage users to consider their content choices to prevent bias being introduced. Details for this are available here and will help users to identify attributes that may introduce biases.

We’ve had the Wait Until API Event option available to us for the better part of the last 4 months and this looks to be much of the same, only focused on Push notification engagement. If an individual doesn’t act within your specified window, they’ll go down an alternative path. It’s great to see more and more Push type activities added to Journey Builder to bring a more unified way of working regardless of your customers preferred channels.

If you use Sitecore, you can use the Sitecore Connect activity to send contact statuses through to Sitecore as the contact moves through the journey. Does what it says on the tin really.

These are now live and whilst currently there is a redirect in place for those who have older CloudPages without Tenant Specific Endpoints, it would be wise to look at starting to migrate those to the Tenant Specific Endpoints. There’s no indication of how long the redirect will be in place for and if this is how you collect or manage customer subscription statuses this would be a bad reason to find out you’re affected! This does only affect people without a private domain, if you have a private domain you’re all good.

This looks to be another little hangover from the June (and April) 2021 release notes where this was announced, but seemingly not actioned. The default timing is being cut from 14 days to 2 days. Makes it quicker for contacts to be removed for you to bring them back in at a later stage. If you’re not sure what this means for you, take a look at the June 2021 and the April 2021 release notes and do a ctrl-f for Contact and you’ll find some more info about it there.

Currently if you get a large queue of people sitting in a Journey Builder email send activity as a result of an unsubscribe or any other reason, you would need to raise a support case to clear that queue. In the new release, you’ll be able to jump into the journey version, click on View Queue and you’ll have the option to delete the queue.

If you’re in an org with SFMC with the Pro edition, Datorama Reports for Marketing Cloud is now an option for you. Reach out to your account exec to find out if it’s included in your current contract or if it’s an additional line item. If you’re already using Discover reporting I would suspect it’s included but definitely worth a check! It’s a great tool to get under your belt (and it’ll only get better as they bring all the attributes into it)

If you’re subscribed to Datorama Reports Advanced, you’ll find a few new things made available to you including:

  • Using Query Builder to get more granular subscriber level insights
  • A single place to manage your calculated fields and custom KPIs
  • Management of App Credentials for all platforms available within Datorama in the Cross Channel tab

This is a slightly peculiar set of features for this release. Besides the fact that there seems to be a number of items included in previous release notes coming back through again. Some with very little change in the release note itself (Looking at you Contact Suppression).

It doesn’t feel like there’s anything earth shattering in this release. It feels like a range of items that Salesforce has been warning are going away are actually due to be closed down. After the last set of releases were very much about “here’s some cool new stuff you get!” with Journey Builder and Einstein, there’s only a few things here that stand out for me. What I’m surprised and slightly disappointed about is there has been no announcement in these release notes about how Einstein STO and the email engagement models are going to respond to the iOS15 release. Salesforce has been seriously encouraging businesses to introduce these machine learning algorithms to their workflows and their campaign management for over a year now. But, with one fell swoop a huge chunk of many businesses’ customer base is about to have that data validity massively undermined and Salesforce (at least in a public setting) seems to be pretty quiet about it.

This is the last set of release notes before iOS15 lands and there is no indication of how Salesforce recommends you deal with this change to the data feeding their product. If you’ve put a load of your eggs into the Einstein basket as a result of the investment in the tools over the last year, reach out to your account exec and ask how they are managing this change. With just one release left to go in 2021, what’s on your wishlist? We’ve got 10 weeks until that release gets announced so not long before it’ll be 2022!

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Jason Cort
Published 05/29/2021
Release Notes
June 2021 - Release Notes Summary

It feels like only yesterday I was writing about an upcoming batch of feature enhancements, retirements and changes - time flies when you’re in the world of SFMC.These features should all land in your org between 5th and 19th June - if you want to see the official release features webinar from Salesforce, you can sign up to that here. However, if you can’t wait that long, I’ve been through the whole lot and have summarised what I think you need to know in time for the release.

It’s a very “giving” centric release this time around with the key element being another reminder that the V2 connector is going away… It was supposed to have already gone away back at the end of March but I’d guess that some big clients haven’t been reading these release notes reviews and there’s been a short extension. If you know anyone who is responsible for an SFMC instance that is connected to Salesforce CRM via the V2 connector, do them a favour and send them a link to this page.

Classic Cloudpages is officially at its end of life, starting from August 2021 the ability to create new Microsites and Landing Pages will be retired. January 2022 you’ll no longer be able to edit them and then in June 2022 they will be removed from the internet on your behalf. So, this is a burning platform warning - You have a year to get anything that is currently on a classic Landing Page or Microsite off of that infrastructure and into Content Builder. Please do not leave this to the last minute, there are very real contact facing risks if you have things like preference centres hosted in Classic. You do not want to be a part of the team who didn’t migrate preference centres and face the legal ramifications for preventing people from unsubscribing.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom and things going away, as I mentioned above - there’s a lot being added and enhanced in this release so let’s move on to the fun stuff!

Package Manager is getting an update in the June release to cover more elements of SFMC as a platform. Which is good. But, I’ve not been able to successfully deploy a full package based on what is currently supported… which is not so good. So, take this one with a pinch of salt. That said, if you’ve managed to get it working and have built any awesome packages that you think other Marketing Cloud users would benefit from then please get in touch. We’d love to feature some community packages to help others with this new feature. Whether it’s a bunch of standard SQL queries or an automation that enables you to identify contacts without a channel address and mark them for deletion. Get in touch and we can host and link out to your website/social profiles.

Distributed Marketing is getting a couple of comforting features in the new release which will be good news for those who have to rely on others to load content by allowing you to load images from your local machine. Marketing Cloud does recommend limiting the file size below 3Mb though, which is less than if you were hosting within Content Builder at 5Mb.

Also coming is the Distributed Marketing Collaborative Campaign (Auto Send) release going general availability rather than the limited release from last time. Just remember, anything you do from a personalised experience perspective using this tool is at the campaign level, not the person. So, if you do use this just be aware of the compromises you may have to make for your contacts.

There’s a couple of new features and expansions hitting Ad Studio in the next few weeks, including the ability to get increased visibility and control of failed leads when using Lead Capture capability. So keep an eye out for that in your Sales Cloud instance!

You will also be able to “target and tailor advertising to the millennial and Gen Z markets” using customer emails in Snapchat. You can also use Snap Lookalike Audiences to expand your reach within the Snapchat advertising ecosystem. Just remember to authorise your Snapchat account before you try to create an audience to throw at Snapchat.

Einstein gets a raft of new toys to play with in this batch of release including some predictions and previews you can use before sending out a campaign, rather than it being post event analysis for the user.

Predict Subject Line Performance will be made available in the Einstein Copy Insights dashboard, using historic subject line performance as part of a testing package. It’s not clear how this would work in relation to the target audience (or even if it does), so it may not work with pre-existing subject line optimisation that you may have in place. Such as if you already do sentiment analysis of subject lines at a contact level. But for a broad brush approach it should help level up email performance.

Einstein Content Asset testing is being added to Einstein Content Selection, so if you’re using Content Builder drag and drop blocks, you’ll be able to drag an Einstein Content Testing block into your email and see the results within Einstein Content Selection. You’ll also be able to view performance analytics at a tag level, so where Einstein is tagging your content for you you can drill into the Performance Analytics tab to see how different tags are performing.

Integrate your Einstein Content Assets with the new Einstein Content Selection Asset API. Previously you were dependent upon uploading content via the user interface or in a batch via a CSV. The new API will allow you to push assets from a Digital Asset Management platform directly to Einstein Content Selection.

Einstein STO gets a nice upgrade in this release, previously you would only be able to see the sending profile of a whole SFMC Org or Business Unit. Which is fine, but if you’re doing advanced segmentation you may want to manage the flow of communications better by knowing when a specific audience is most likely to engage with an email. With this release you’ll be able to select a Data Extension with contacts in to get a specific audience STO profile and whether there is sampling involved with the dataset.

Engagement Frequency gets the multi-channel treatment by being made available for MobilePush activities as opposed to just Email. This will include the Frequency Split activity in Journey Builder too. Unfortunately, the release notes suggest that this will need to be configured within the activity in Journey Builder, so it won’t automatically detect whether the next activity is a Push or an Email send and apply the appropriate criteria. But if you’re worried you’re sending too many Push messages, this will help to mitigate against that with the help of Einstein.

If you’ve yet to get Datorama enabled for your account, I would highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. With Discover on the way out and needing to learn a new tool that is completely different (but also pretty cool in some ways!) then please don’t leave it too late. In a past life I’ve had over 60 Discover Reports and I do not envy anyone who has to migrate that many reports to a new tool.

Datorama Reports Advanced is now officially released as part of this deployment, there’s really not much clarity about who will already have access to this based on the description of “Who” in the release notes page. It just says the upgrade is available to Corporate and Enterprise customers as well as Pro customers who have access to Discover. So contact your account rep to find out more. Datorama Advanced appears to allow a wider range of performance metrics as opposed to just Email/Journey metrics to be displayed. One such example is a new Audience Insights dashboard for your Ad Studio activities.

There are some non-premium enhancements to Datorama as well, thankfully! One of the previous limitations with the tool was that only reports of up to 8000 rows were able to be returned from a pivot table. This limitation has been removed, as has test data. Which is good because seeing a load of poorly performing Journeys called SIMULATION was not that helpful overall.

So whilst classic Landing Pages and Microsites are on their way out, Content Builder and CloudPages are getting some new functionality and improvements. There’s a few little ones to just list off

  • The Create button in Content Builder should start to load quicker when you access the tool, rather than it taking a few seconds to appear or in some cases not appear because of a timeout.
  • Canadian SMS preview for Content Builder is now limited to up to 160 characters for GSM messages, non-GSM and concatenated have different preview caps.
  • Smart Capture gets the ability to upsert into a DE with Primary Keys attached. Previously it would just append data which wasn’t ideal for some use cases.

Tenant Specific Endpoints are coming for CloudPages. This doesn’t appear to affect anyone who has a private domain, but if you currently have Pages hosted on a https://pub.exacttarget.com or https://[GUID].pub.sfmc-content.com these will be updated to be https://[TenantSpecificEndpointString].pub.sfmc-content.com. These URLs will be live from June 2021 and pages created after that will automatically be configured with the specific endpoint URLs. There will temporarily be a redirect service in place for older CloudPages, but there’s no indication for how long that will be the case.

Google Analytics 4 will be included in the Google Analytics integration between GA and SFMC. So you may find some of the old UTM Parameters you currently use are no longer needed for tracking your SFMC campaign performance. Whether this is accurate for your use cases will likely be dictated by the wider analytics ecosystem, but it may be possible to free up some attributes to add new capabilities to your reporting.

CloudPages & New CloudPages Experience will both be getting renamed. New CloudPages experience will become CloudPages and CloudPages will become CloudPages Legacy. The release notes state that this will be in place for one release before CloudPages Legacy gets removed. If you’ve not gotten used to the new experience, there’s now a short window of opportunity to get familiar with it. The next release is only in August.

WhatsApp messaging will be able to leverage contact details for sending messaging now. Previously you were required to include the recipient phone number in the sending Data Extension, so this brings it more aligned with other channels.

The opportunity to self-serve for some standard configuration and business rules gets a new feature - the option to disable the requirement for the out of the box preference centre. For many orgs the standard preference and subscription centre doesn’t meet their requirements and previously you would need to contact support to change a business rule configuration to use a custom solution.

The Marketing Cloud Connect API will be upgraded to v51 to unlock some of the more recent objects within Salesforce CRM, Loyalty Management and Order Management. These have been unavailable in SFMC since their release due to the MC Connect API being out of date, this does happen on occasion but has been significantly better in the last couple of years. So, if you have a Salesforce CRM use case with Loyalty Management and Order Management, keep an eye out from w/c June 21st 2021 and you’ll be able to Synchronise these objects and use them for Journey Builder entries.

Contact Delete default suppression is being chopped down to just 2 days compared to the original suppression of 14 days. This is expected to happen in a future release, but if you have any existing process to delete contact using the Contact Delete process and have left it on the default, this is something to keep an eye out for. The importance of this is that 14 days suppression prevents contacts being reintroduced or messaged, which provides contingency to other systems that may be aiming to introduce contacts to SFMC. By reducing the default to 2 days, contacts will be eligible to re-enter SFMC after just 2 days as opposed to 2 weeks from a deletion action. Make sure if you’re deleting contacts using the Contact Delete capabilities that any systems integrated with SFMC are able to act on the deletion within those 2 days otherwise jump in to SFMC now and change the date to prevent that risk coming to fruition.

Well, it’s obvious that Einstein is the Salesforce current favourite toy right now after the last 12 months scuffling over that title with Journey Builder! But, a lot of the challenges that have been raised about Einstein are starting to be addressed, including the fact that it has previously been so heavily geared towards reactive analytics or huge sweeping predictions that it’s impossible to really validate them. The layers of the mystery box of machine learning seem to be coming a little more to the forefront and the value of using historical data to determine the future is starting to come to fruition. This is where Einstein should be.

What I would love to see from Einstein in the future is the ability to introduce custom weighting & third party data to the scoring. If we can start introducing transaction data to make sure we’re not just sending an email that Einstein thinks someone will open and when they will open it, but when they are most likely to open and transact from it.

The opportunities of these tools and the capabilities afforded by AMP Email (Make sure you tune in to Connections 2021 where HowToSFMCs Genna Matson, Salesforce MVP, Marketing Champion will be talking through AMP Email alongside Eliot Harper, Salesforce MVP) could really give SFMC a huge edge when it comes to an integrated customer experience.

On the whole, there’s a lot of new toys to play with in this release, especially if you’re an Ad Studio user and have the budget available to add Datorama Advanced Reporting. If you’re not making the most of Einstein already, there’s more and more reasons being added to the argument that you should include it in your workflow.

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Jason Cort
Published 04/08/2021
One More Time - Winners Announced

We said we would invite you all to do it One More Time & you did not disappoint. We had some absolutely amazing entries to this challenge and it was definitely a tough decision picking some of these winners. Fortunately, the individuals who came through and clinched the victory have taken the time to break down their solutions and help share their experience for us all to learn. Take a look through these articles and let us know if you think they managed to Get Lucky or if they were just Doin’ It Right.

Efficiency: The challenge lyrics are 2303 characters long, and your job is to find the least amount of characters necessary in SSJS to output these lyrics. This challenge will be measured solely via the character count. We will be utilizing https://www.charactercountonline.com/ to count the characters in your submission.

Winner: Rafał Wolsztyniak (Article)

Twitter handle: @HelloRafal - yep, no posts there

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rafal-wolsztyniak/

Trailblazer.me id - https://trailblazer.me/id/rwolsztyniak

Innovative: This category is all about the unique ways you can make SSJS work. We will be concentrating on not just the uniqueness but also the performance. Submitting something stunningly unique and cutting edge that triples the performance required, could severely hurt your chances.

Winner: Eliot Harper (Article)

Twitter handle: @eliotharper

LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/eliot

Trailblazer.me id: trailblazer.me/id/eliot

Simplicity: Good code should be clean, simple and easy to understand. The main goal of this category is to identify how much effort a beginner/non-developer would require to understand and utilize your script. The simpler the better, but it should also be performant and within best practices. “Dumbing it down” will not be the solution to this.

Winner: Manjunath S.R (Article)

Twitter handle - SfmcIn

LinkedIn Profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/manjunath-sr-40232199

Salesforce Trailblazer.me id - https://trailblazer.me/id/manjunathsr

Special Jury Award: We all love good, clean, efficient code - but sometimes you have an idea that sounds bizarre enough that it might just work. Your script will still need to be functional, but if you feel that one of the best ways to flex your SSJS muscles is to produce something completely unexpected but incredible, then we want to see it too.

Winner: Vijaya Sankar Natarajan (Article)

Twitter handle - @vijayasankarn

LinkedIn Profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/vijayasankarn/

Trailblazer.me id - https://trailblazer.me/id/vijayasankar

Huge congratulations to Rafał Wolsztyniak, Eliot Harper, Manjunath S.R and Vijaya Sankar Natarajan. Your vouchers will be with you shortly. We’re massively impressed by the skills and approaches that you’ve shared with us.

And yes, it was difficult to get through this post without mentioning Daft Punk calling it quits just after we posted this challenge originally. We promise it wasn’t our fault.

Thanks again for everyone who took part in this, there were some fantastic solutions presented. If you would like to tackle this challenge as part of your own learning exercises, take a look at the articles above and they may just inspire you. Whilst the competition may be over, we’re sure there are more solutions to this challenge so if you do have something you want to share, get in touch!

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