October 2020 - Release Notes & Thoughts

As a last minute set of release notes that have finally landed (as I write this, some orgs have less than 2 weeks before the release lands with them!) with a range of new features and changes that are worth calling out. It’s a pretty short set of items in the release, but there are some elements that you do not want to miss, especially if you’re using Google Chrome, Transactional Sending or are in a MC Environment that is integrated with Sales/Service Cloud.

First things first - The absolute must know for some users are as follows:

Google Chrome Blocking Mixed Content

If you have a Sender Authentication Package or a Private Domain for your image hosting that isn’t covered by an SSL Certificate. You’re going to start either seeing images not load or warnings that images will stop loading depending on your version of Google Chrome. The critical thing to call out here is that this is not limited to SFMC whilst you are logged in. This will also affect your customers and contacts, whether it’s on Cloudpages or even opening your emails in a Chrome webmail environment. You absolutely need to get on top of this as soon as you possibly can. Check out the knowledge article here for the latest advice from Salesforce. But do consider getting an SSL certificate if your budget allows.

Wide Synchronised Data Extensions

In the latest release, Salesforce is introducing a cap for how many fields can be included in a Synchronised Data Extension. The new limit is 250 fields (which is well beyond the limit of performant in SFMC anyway). But if you do need to have this much data included from a single object in Salesforce core platforms, you may need to look at a way to break it down into chunks of data and stitch it back together in SFMC. One option would be to use the Email Studio import functionality which you can find more about here. But, there’s no guarantee that this feature will persist and you should ideally look to streamline some of your data feeds as part of a best practice approach.

iOS 14 Impact on MobilePush for Geofences & Beacons

You may start to see your MobilePush activities impacted for iOS users as iOS 14 continues its roll out to more devices. It’s been a couple of weeks since it was released so if you’ve seen a dip since the middle of September, this may be why. Essentially, Apple is allowing users to apply approximate location data as opposed to accurate data. As a result of this, the MobilePush SDK Is no longer able to determine if a device is in a geofenced area to trigger Push activities.

If any of these elements affect you, it would be great to hear how you’ve decided to tackle these new limitations. Contact us if you’ve got a solution to any of these that you think would be great to share with the wider community.

As mentioned, there is a range of other changes in this release to cover. Some provide some much needed creature comforts, others are just nice to have and some are new features that are only available if you’ve got the correct line items on your contract.

Single Sign On - New SFMC Certificates

If you’re a user of SSO, the certificate is due to expire in February 2021. From December 31st you’ll be able to get the new certificate. You’ll find it under Setup > Security Settings > Single Sign-On Settings & you’ll be able to opt in to get the new 2021 certificate. Probably one to get done sooner rather than later, nothing like a last minute panic being unable to login due to a certificate expiration!

Self Serve SSL Certs

This is definitely a nice to have, it’s never fun trying to get an SSL cert deployed for a business unit. The paperwork takes time and then you’ve got to have a case raised for you. But from November 16th you’ll be able to secure your domains within the platform under Setup > Security > Custom Domains and hover over the little arrow to select “Secure this domain”. There’s no defined lead time on how long this will take, but hopefully it’s less than the 4-6 weeks it currently takes!

Advanced Audit Trail

If you’re an org with the Advanced Audit Trail feature this is a great addition from an auditable process perspective. As part of the new feature, the Audit Trail Data Extract activity in Automation Studio will include a lot more detail for the last 60 days for changes in Automation Studio, including Notifications, FileTriggers and other activities. The information may include whether an automation was skipped, deleted, scheduled etc. just in case you need to identify where issues arise. Really useful if you’re building a new API tool or deploying/updating mass activities via WS Proxy to get a quick snapshot of whether those updates have taken hold.

V2 Marketing Cloud Connect Retirement Tour

The Marketing Cloud Connector V2 is due for retirement at the end of March 2021 currently (Retirements sometimes last a little longer, but I would suggest that it may not be the case in this instance). Unfortunately your options are limited depending upon which edition you have for Sales/Service Cloud. If you’re using an edition that isn’t Unlimited or Enterprise, you may be a bit stuck.

Unlimited / EnterpriseUpgrade to the latest version of the Marketing Cloud Connect & have support enable the Subscriber Key option along with the V5 connector.
ProfessionalUpgrade to Unlimited / Enterprise and follow the option above
ProfessionalManage your email activity within Marketing Cloud and not use the Classic content capabilities from the connector

Definitely investigate this sooner rather than later and work through what the options are for you in your specific instance. You do not want to be finding yourself waking up on April Fools day wondering why your connection has stopped working - a very unfunny joke to have to unpick!

Marketing Cloud Connect A/B Test Retirement

Feel like a broken record with this one, think it’s the third time it’s been announced. If you’ve not started to look at this yet - you’ve got a couple of months before it’ll get you. Suggestion is that you start to transition to the Email Studio A/B Testing capability or if your send volumes are suitable - use the Journey Builder Path Optimizer tools.

Distributed Marketing Enhancements

Image blocks can now have custom images via a URL and a custom target destination which is sweet.

You can now include custom SMS messages when performing a bulk campaign send.

Bulk Quick Send is being added to List Views for your Distributed Marketing users. They can include up to 25,000 recipients and do support audience-level personalisation.

MobilePush Auth Keys

This was flagged in the previous set of release notes with the migration to .p8 Auth Keys. The MobilePush interface is being updated to make it a little easier to manage these and will be removing the .p12 Certificate management capabilities.

Campaigns removed from Email Studio

A number of classic email campaign elements are being removed from Email Studio. This includes the following locations:

  • Content > Email >Classic Content
  • Content > Microsites
  • Content > Landing Pages
  • Subscribers > Data Extensions
  • Subscribers > Lists
  • Interactions > Triggered Sends
  • Interactions > User-Initiated Sends

You’ll need to start using the Campaigns App instead of the classic email campaigns capability. Anything SOAP API isn’t affected, so you won’t need to necessarily rebuild any of your custom tools - but you may need to adjust processes to include the Campaigns app in your processes.

Email Form Enhancements

If you’re using the Email Form capability in Content Builder, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s some improvements coming from a design and accessibility perspective. You’ll get a more consistent control of border widths and your customers will have an improved accessibility experience for ratings and selecting inputs. Definitely worth checking out if you have these features live in any current campaigns as the new release may be some free additional value for not a lot of effort.

Content Builder Accessible HTML

Finally. It’s been a long time coming that the HTML produced from Content Builder would be accessible just by adding the attribute role=presentation to the appropriate HTML tables. If you’re looking for some further advice on accessibility in email, take a look at this article from Litmus. Salesforce - there’s still a few other elements on this list that it would be great to see implemented in Content Builder.

Send Frequency Optimization

This is sometimes considered a holy grail in the email marketing world, having the right number of communications to a customer to ensure highest engagement without reaching the unsubscribe point. If you’ve got Einstein Engagement as a SKU in your Pro edition or have it in your Corporate/Enterprise editions and you have other Einstein capabilities, this will be automatically included when the upgrade goes live. What we don’t have currently is any visibility of how this calculation is made, so do take this with a pinch of salt. It also only takes into consideration the data within SFMC using real-time send metrics - So you may have other behavioural indicators in other systems that would play into any kind of send frequency modelling. But, if you’ve got all of your outbound email communications in SFMC, this could be a winner for you and help you to reduce churn of your marketable contacts.

Einstein Updates Push

Einstein Engagement Splits will be available for Push, as will Einstein Engagement Scoring. There’s been some great use cases for Einstein in Email (if you’ve got any you’d like to share, do get in touch and we’d love to do some features on the ways you’re making SFMC work harder for your business!)

Ethical asset attributes

If you’re using Einstein Content Selection, this is a really important element to consider where some attributes can create bias in the content selections. As a method to prevent bias Einstein Content Selection will start to flag attributes that permit bias to provide marketers the option for how best to proceed with these situations. The release notes specifically say to consult Salesforce Help for hints on detecting bias but there doesn’t appear to be any documentation available right now!

Send Time Optimization Updates

Einstein will start to identify if there’s any issues in the quality of your data for Send Time Optimization activities to make sure it’s able to make the most well informed decisions for your enterprise. The release note doesn't specify ways in which you can influence this as yet, but keep an eye on the release and any STO documentation and all should hopefully become clear!

STO will also be usable within Single Send Journeys as part of the new release, which is a great new addition for Single Send Journeys. But as with everything Journey Builder - remember your throughput capacity!

Automatically Tag Content with Einstein

Einstein Content Tagging will automatically tag your marketing images to create some commonality across your content to enable you to identify which imagery is performing well or otherwise. If you turn on Einstein Content Tagging, you can include a minimum level of confidence so that you don’t get Lemons tagged as Bananas in your imagery and start drawing false conclusions. Definitely worth taking a look at to see if it’s something that can add value to your campaign improvements without adding a lot to your workflows!

Social Studio LinkedIn Updates

As a theme of accessibility runs through this release a little, you’ll be able to add alt texts to your LinkedIn posts through social studio. Great addition to support your customers who use a screen reader or other accessibility software to engage with your brand.

Social Studio now also allows you to target with greater regional options, which is a nice to have. If you’re an avid Social Studio LinkedIn user, these are a couple of great features to add!

Event Notification Service Normalisation

If you’re subscribed to Transactional Email Sent, Not Sent and Bounce events through a callback, there’s a new object type in the JSON payload called _composite:{} _that will include ListID, BatchID, JobID, EmailID and SubscriberID. This will be added to any existing subscriptions, but adds some commonality between all of the Sent, Click etc. data points.

On the whole, this update does add some nice features and definitely goes some of the way to making lives better for contacts from an accessibility perspective which is not something to be sniffed at. It’s often low on a priority list, so having it covered off by default is really nice to have. Nothing here is going to set your SFMC world on fire, but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of steadiness goes a long way and using this time before the next release in January over the holiday season to get some of the administrative elements mentioned above would not be a bad idea.

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Made with by your fellow SFMC users.
All Rights Reserved
Made with by your fellow SFMC users.