October 2021 - Release Notes Summary
Published on 10/28/2021
It’s time to bring 2021 to a close as far as SFMC releases, it’s the final release of 2021! This year has had a few false starts and a couple of reruns when it comes to releases, iOS 15 Open-rate-geddon has started to take hold and there’s still bits of working out how to deal with it to come. Since the last release Salesforce announced the new mascot Brandy, which I was disappointed to find out wasn’t SF stepping in to the Cognac game. But, there’s a bunch of new things coming to you as a nice way to wrap up 2021.
The majority of this release covers Journeys and Messaging & Einstein, but we’ll get to those shortly. First things to share are what is scheduled to leave or has left SFMC since the last release. We are waving goodbye to the MSCRM Connector for Microsoft Dynamics as a result of Microsoft moving to the Unified Interface by MS Dynamics. The connector is no longer compatible with SFMC, so if you’re using MSCRM Connector, you’ll need to start using Email Studio to cover these use cases
The Marketing Cloud Connector Package log has been retired, Salesforce are recommending you clear out any log files that you’ve still got floating around as part of a drive to make the platform more secure. This will impact those of you who are using an integrated Salesforce org with SFMC and find yourself troubleshooting journeys/triggered sends that rely on Salesforce CRM data. Salesforce advises moving to more secure methods of monitoring performance such as using the Initiate Log process and reviewing the activities for Triggered Sends or JBIntBulkManager.
Classic Web Tools are still on their way out, much like Classic Content this may stick around for a little while whilst everyone migrates their content to Content Builder and the new Cloud Pages experience. In August you will have lost the ability to create new piece of Classic Content Microsites and Landing Pages, early 2022 you’ll lose the ability to edit existing content and then by June 2022 it all gets unpublished, taken offline and gone from the internet. So if you’re using Classic Web Tools to host a preference centre or something business or compliance critical - get a migration project started ASAP. Last thing you want is for this to happen and have no time to act on it! Salesforce have also migrated Cloud Pages created with the classic editor to Content Builder, so do a quick audit of what you’ve got to make sure nothing has gone missing.
Non-Tenant Specific Endpoint URLs are still on the way out. Salesforce claims it is still redirecting old URLs to new TSE specific URLs, but there’s no guarantee that will continue, let alone for how long. There have been comments in the community that some users have seen pages become inaccessible overnight, so much like Classic Web Tools, don’t leave it to the last minute. Piece of advice from Salesforce is to not hardcode URLs in templates and instead to use functionality like CloudPagesURL with a Page ID reference to make sure your links are always up to date.
Web & Mobile Analytics is on its way out, if you’re using the Abandoned Cart tile in Web & Mobile Analytics, you should spend some time looking in to Behavioural Triggers instead, if you need to export the data to power Abandoned Browse, Cart or Wishlist type behaviours then take a look in to the Einstein Recommendation integration with Contact Builder. If you get this done right, it’ll populate data directly in to Data Extensions so you can grab it directly within the platform rather than a whole pile of data shepherding!
If you’re using the current Lead Capture app for Facebook/Google Leads, you’ll need to look in to updating that in November when the new version comes out. You’ll need to uninstall the current one and install the new one.
But enough about what’s being retired, sunset, end of life or whatever term you prefer to use. Let’s cover some of the fun stuff that we’re excited to play with when it lands with us.
As mentioned before, this is very much Einstein / Journeys & Messaging taking the bulk of the new features this time around. After the last release really failed to give any insight as to what Salesforce were planning to do with iOS 15 and the new “privacy” capabilities, we’re finally getting to see what’s going on. So, here’s a summary of whats going to impact your favourite Einstein featured.
|Send Time Optimisation||Using a new Engagement Rate (appears to be a blend of Open and Click data) to determine best send time|
|Copy Insights||Using a new Engagement Rate to determine languages insights and make predictions|
|Content Insights||Click to Open rate is replaced with Click Through Rate|
|Messaging Insights||No real change, the model uses relative changes rather then absolute changes in performance to determine when to alert|
|Engagement Frequency||Using a new Engagement Rate and Unsubscribe Rate to improve accuracy over solely Open Rates|
|Engagement Scoring||Using a new Engagement Rate to determine personas rather than a matrix of clicks and opens|
I would expect these changes to take a little bit of time to bed in and I suspect they’ll be tweaked over time as the iOS 15 change continues to roll out and impact more users. Once we know what normal open behaviour looks like again in the future, expect these things to be revised.
Copy Insights will now allow you to compare up to 10 subject lines at once to help predict performance. This should streamline your processes and make selecting the optimal subject line more straightforward. This is only available for English language subject lines (Salesforce doesn’t specify if there is any difference between British/American English but I would hope not!)
If you’re using Salesforce CDP, you’ll be able to use Einstein driven segmentation using EinsteinEmailEngagementScores and EinsteinMobileEngagementScores objects in the CDP attribute library.
When you run content tests, Einstein will now highlight predicted winners with a little badge if there are statistically significant results.
Engagement scoring now uses local or global averages to determine how your subscribers perform in the context of your org or on a global basis. If you are opted in to the global data pool, you’ll benefit from the wider range of data available to you, if you’re not then you’ll be limited to your local performance.
Each of the Einstein Models now includes a quick high-level summary of what AI data is consumed and how it is used. Adds some great clarity to the technology for those who don’t need to get into the details.
Journeys get a new history dashboard, some new filtering options and improved pagination. Which is long overdue because Journey History has been a pain to navigate for any org with a substantial amount of journeys for as long as I can remember.
Mobile App Events will be made available as entry sources to Journeys. This should allow you to manage mobile app experiences using Journey Builder as a single point of orchestration. But for now it’ll just be focused on the direct communication between your app and Journey Builder. Keep an eye out as this may not be provisioned for you as part of this release, this is going to be rolled out over the remainder of the year.
If you’re looking to do other things with Mobile Push/In-App messaging, in the interm, if you’ve upgraded to the “next-generation MobilePush SDK” you will be able to configure In-App Messaging based on specific behavioural triggers. This includes Session limiting notifications, dynamically expiring notifications on a user by user basis, delaying an in app message within Journey Builder as well as identifying exit events to cancel a message. Definitely worth taking a look into if Push or In-App Messaging are part of your channel mix!
So there’s plenty of updates to push, recommendation is that you take a look through the documentation for iOS and Android to see if there’s any opportunities that the documentation doesn’t cover that would work for you.
A key thing that has come out of the new release is the Partner Seed integrations for the AppExchange. With the imminent departure of Return Path seeding capabilities from any org that currently uses it, it’s been a bit of a wait to find out what is going to be happening.It looks like Salesforce is hedging its bets on getting third parties to do the heavy lifting, which may mean that there are some inconsistent user experience depending on who your supplier is. Just remember that there is no native seeding in Journey Builder activities yet - there’s a load of complexities as to why but fingers crossed with all of the effort in Journey Builder for the last few years it’s only a matter of time.
Interactive Emails gets a neat quality of life bonus where if there’s a rendering issue of your form element in an inbox, it’ll by default link through to the Interactive Email Cloud Page that was built for the form.
New REST API capabilities for managing File Locations, access keys, S3 buckets and much more will hit your orgs throughout November. It would have been nice to have had this update _before _the mandated end date of the default SFMC Decryption key. Migrating multiple File Transfer activities may have been a painful experience for some users. But having a programmatic way to manage keys is definitely a useful addition.
Cloud Pages added to Package Manager. Definitely useful to have, it does make me wonder if there’s some Cloud Pages APIs hidden somewhere that we could interact with… If you’ve done anything interesting with Cloud Pages via an API, let us know!
Overall there’s some really useful and promising items in this release, some of it feels a bit “Better late than never” - especially things like the Partner Seed integrations. It’s something so fundamental to a lot of businesses and it’s taken so long to get it announced post Validity pulling out of the reseller agreement with Salesforce. But - it’s definitely better to have it than not, it’s definitely a useful thing to have and something in light of iOS 15 that if you have any deliverability requirements, you should investigate a Seeding solution, especially if you’re using dedicated IP addresses.
It’s good to see so many enhancements to Einstein in response to iOS 15, it’s all a little bit ambiguous at the moment in terms of what an “Engagement Rate” looks like and how it manifests in any specific businesses. But again - better late than never. We’ve had a few months of knowing that this was coming and Salesforce kept their cards close to their chest. What remains to be seen is how effective Einstein will be in the new auto-open event world that we’ve recently entered.
I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the Mobile Push and In-App Messaging opportunities coming our way in the next few months. If you’re experienced with Mobile Push/In-App Messaging and would be interested in sharing some insights with the H2 community, get in touch and we’d be happy to support!
This is the last release of 2021, there’s been a range of awesome new capabilities and some capabilities still needing to reach maturity. But on the whole, lots of positives this past 12 months and I’m keen to see what we’ll get in 2022.