June 2021 - Release Notes Summary
Published on 05/29/2021
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
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.