August 2021 - Release Notes Summary
Published on 08/06/2021
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 Anything you have in the classic tools is going to be unpublished and inaccessible anymore.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:
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!