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6 Steps to a Successful Marketing Cloud Personalization Implementation 

By 12.07.23
Reading time: 7 minutes

According to 2,500 global marketing decision-makers surveyed in the Salesforce Marketing Intelligence Report, the top desired improvement they want in the customer experience over the next year is more personalized content and offers. They realize the benefits that personalization brings, like more engagement and loyalty to their company, by using Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Marketing Cloud Personalization provides real-time, cross-channel personalization that complements Marketing Cloud’s customer data, audience segmentation, and engagement platform. But just like the word personalize itself, leveraging Marketing Cloud Personalization is not one-size-fits-all. Its implementation plan must be tailored to an individual company’s needs. 

At Silverline, our approach to Marketing Cloud Personalization begins with identifying your unique personalization goals and challenges. We need to know your expected outcomes to determine how to successfully get you there. Here we share the questions you must answer to set your organization on the right implementation path and an action plan to ensure success.

The speed-to-value personalization spectrum

We find that organizations tend to fall into three areas on the personalization spectrum of needs that range from simple to more customized and complex. Just like T-shirt sizes, those areas are categorized as small, medium, and large: 

  • Small: Your needs are minimal because you are just tipping your toe into personalization and only require the minimum viable product (MVP). Your personalization use cases are solely focused on the web.
  • Medium: You are concentrating on your personalization needs at this moment and starting to build a foundation for personalization. The use cases tend to be cross-channel, encompassing web, email, and core Salesforce.
  • Large: You are planning for the future and have very robust requirements and customizations to ensure a comprehensive, forward-looking Marketing Cloud Personalization platform. You are truly doing omnichannel marketing, which means cross-channel plus other integrations like mobile and ad retargeting.

Consider the questions below to help you figure out which level of Marketing Cloud Personalization implementation is right for you. These are the same questions we ask our Silverline clients as we guide them through their implementation journey. The questions broadly cover topics around change management protocols, resource availability, and data integration. 

Your answers help to shape the breadth and depth of your Marketing Cloud Personalization engagement and ensure synergy between your business goals and the capabilities of the Marketing Cloud Personalization platform. Then you will be able to better understand the commitments needed from both your business users and developers because enablement drives adoption, which is a key driver of ROI and personalization expansion.

11 questions for Marketing Cloud Personalization implementation 

  • How are you handling consent?
    As we move away from third-party cookies and towards a cookieless world, you need to be able to capture first-party consent on your website so you can capture the first-party cookie, which is the key to personalization.
  • What is the framework of your website?
    Many of our clients use WordPress or Drupal as their overall framework tool to create and run web applications. If you’re using a single-page application like EmberJS or AngularJS, then the Marketing Cloud Personalization implementation will be more complex and not the MVP.
  • If the overall framework of your website is WordPress, Drupal, or a similar framework, what are the individual frameworks inside of it?
    This gets a bit technical, but what we’re getting at is knowing what JavaScript libraries and frameworks you’re using internally. So, if you have 17 different JavaScript libraries on your website, it means the website is very custom and complex.
  • How many distinct URLs are available on your website?
    If it’s thousands of URLs, then that’s a very large personalization project. If you’re in the 50 to 150 URLs range, you’re likely in the Small or Medium categories.
  • How many domains are potentially in scope?
    See if you have a website with just one domain with subdomains under it or if you have multiple domains everywhere. Figure out how you link in customer behavior from each domain. When it’s two or more domains, then you’re looking at the highest level of complexity for your Marketing Cloud Personalization implementation.
  • How many languages are served on your website?
    If it’s under three languages, then it’s not that complex. But if you’re over three and into the five range, then you’re in the Medium to Large scope on the complexity spectrum.
  • Do you use a data layer on your website?
    The data layer is a framework on your website that captures specific information. It needs to be accessible to capture that information and pass it along to your tag manager, such as Google Tag Manager or Tealium. If you’re unsure about this, then you’re likely in the Medium to Large range because you’ll need help with the website design.
  • Do you have integrations with other Salesforce products like Sales Cloud or Service Cloud?
    If you have no other integrations and no plans to do so, then you are in the Small category. However, if you are considering possible integrations or feel like they are a must-have, then you are likely moving into Medium and Large territory to properly integrate other products.
  • What is the structure of your document object model (DOM)?
  • How many legacy JavaScripts are sitting in the head of your website?
  • How many of you are scratching your heads in bewilderment?
    Don’t worry, we often get this reaction to questions about DOMs and JavaScripts, and that’s why we offer advisory services along with our implementation to help guide you in the best personalization approach for your business.

Getting started with Marketing Cloud Personalization 

In order to take advantage of Marketing Cloud Personalization, your organization needs to have a plan in place and do some prep work in order to implement the platform efficiently.

Gather your project team

Identifying the key roles in your organization will allow your project to move smoothly as expectations will be set in terms of responsibilities and decision making.

Marketing Cloud Personalization touches several different channels and data platforms, so it’s a good idea to make sure all relevant stakeholders are aware of what will be needed from their teams or departments. This list of team members includes but is not limited to:

  • Marketing team: You’ll need to collaborate with them on content, campaigns, promotions and customer segments. Being able to provide customers with a unique experience is great, but will require content for each experience. This could include images, written articles, and offers. It’s a best practice to start to gather these elements so that they are ready and can be tested prior to launching any campaigns.
  • CRM team: The Salesforce Admin and Marketing Cloud Admin will know what is available in terms of customer data, unique identifiers, and how to extract that data to use in Marketing Cloud Personalization. This will inform the Data Analytics team.
  • Web team: Implementing Marketing Cloud Personalization requires some modifications to your website so you’ll want to work closely with your web team. It will be important to understand how to test your campaigns in a dev or sandbox environment. Find out if there are release cycles or blackout dates where changes to the website are prohibited so you can plan your campaigns accordingly. They will also be key in creating a site map, which will help guide where the dynamic content is displayed and how to identify those sections in your website’s code.
  • Data Analytics team: This team will work together with the CRM team to figure out what data is available for reports generation and other analytics.

While the service and sales teams teams will need to be aware of the campaigns that will be active, they won’t necessarily be directly involved in the implementation phase.

Get to know your website

Become familiar with the layout of your website. Start by identifying the pages and sections where your organization feels it can improve the customer experience. These spots are where you will use dynamic content and offerings. 

For example, the home page. This is the general landing area for customers, and having specific imagery or relevant blog articles for different customer segments will help keep customers engaged and continuing down the funnel. 

Another area may be product pages that have dynamic product recommendations based on previous products purchased or previously viewed products. Making these recommendations more relevant will help upsell additional products and improve conversion rates.

Data collection points

Another recommended exercise is to identify any page or section of your website where a customer can fill out a form so that you can use these data capture points to make unknown prospects into known customers.

Their email address or other relevant data is what Marketing Cloud Personalization uses to stitch together different pieces of information across your Sales, Service, and Marketing Cloud platforms to create a unified customer record.

Prepare your assets 

In order for Marketing Cloud Personalization to surface relevant product recommendations and content it needs to know what those products or services are, what blog articles exist, and how to identify customer data points. In order to do this a feed (or several feeds) of data need to be imported into Marketing Cloud Personalization. These include:

  • Product catalog: A file of product specs, descriptions, measurements, pricing, and other relevant information.
  • Content catalog: If you’re planning on providing dynamic content recommendations, you will need to import a file that contains the descriptions of that content.
  • Customer identity data points: To effectively map your existing customer data to Marketing Cloud Personalization you’ll need to identify what data points can be used to link customers back to your CRM. This can include email address, Salesforce ID, phone number, or other unique identifiers.
  • Campaign logic: Determine the business rules or logic in terms of what product categories should be shown together, which customers should see which offers, and what exclusions there should be to any of the rules. These will help support the creation of the Einstein Recipes that are used to show the right campaign, product, or image. For instance are there products that shouldn’t be grouped together, or a segment that should not see a specific offer?

Establish clear goals and a vision for success

Now that you have a good understanding of what the capabilities and requirements are to implement Marketing Cloud Personalization it’s time to determine your organization’s goals and vision for this platform and how it will work alongside your other marketing initiatives.

  • Goals: Lay out what problems you’re looking to solve using Marketing Cloud Personalization. Uncover what the benefits are to your business and customers by leveraging this technology. How will this improve your current customer experience?
  • KPIs: Once you’ve determined their goals, how will those goals be measured? How will you know this implementation was successful? Determine which indicators you’ll use to measure success, such as increased conversion rates, improved cross sell or upsell activity, and increases in revenue.
  • Customer journey map: Determine what your typical customer’s journey may look like when engaging with your website or other marketing channels. Then determine which points along that journey Marketing Cloud Personalization can improve to provide a better customer experience. Which interaction could see the best improvement from utilizing Marketing Cloud Personalization’s capabilities?
  • Content creation: Once you’ve identified the points in the customer journey where Marketing Cloud Personalization will play a part, start to develop the content and business logic that will be needed in order to make that touchpoint unique to that individual.
  • Crawl, walk, run: Taking this approach is key to a successful implementation. Many times an organization sees all of the capabilities of Marketing Cloud Personalization and wants to implement them all at once. This is usually a setup for failure. Focus on one or two key improvements in your customer’s journey and start with those initiatives. Through testing and data analysis you’ll be able to determine if there’s been an improvement and build on your success.

Silverline works collaboratively with clients to implement a future-proof foundational design of Marketing Cloud Personalization so you can enable engagement on the right channel with the right message at the right time. Find out how Silverline can help find the implementation solution for your organization.

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