When we start the Marketing Cloud journey (in the sense of a project, not the Journey Builder feature), the very first point we have to take into account is data. Understanding data like the source(s) of information that will feed Marketing Cloud.
In a real project, the high expectations and/or the desire of starting to play ASAP with Marketing Cloud to get the profit “the sooner the better”, may make us forget the primary element that in most of the cases could decide if the project becomes a success or not: the data.
Make One Step Back To Make Two Steps Forward
Before starting to migrate the information to Marketing Cloud we have to ask ourselves “where is the information of my customers?”. Normally this question is easy to answer, but sometimes it would help us to open Pandora’s box.
We need to know what are the systems and the source(s) of truth where the data is stored.
- To understand our own business and the flow of information
- To identify possible risks or weakness of the architecture
- To get the right information of our customers
And talking about customers, the most important topic, the vision 360. Marketing Cloud is a great tool to have a global vision of our customers in terms of omnichannel but, if we don’t have that vision in our database, it will be difficult to make everything work as expected.
That is why when implementing Marketing Cloud we should spend as much time as it is necessary in this first step of the project to clarify all the previous points mentioned.
What does a good initial setup translate to?
- It will facilitate the daily work of the end-users with the tool
- It will avoid change requests in the database that may affect all the work done or extra effort in the tool to transform or deploy data
- It will help our business to scale up the Salesforce Marketing Cloud solution
After the launch of the new GDPR regulation, the management of the information of the customers have become a critical point. It is mandatory to identify the source of truth for preference management in our system diagram when we are in the designing phase of the project, as it will be the reference from where Marketing Cloud will retrieve and update the information of each customer.
Of course, there are many ways to manage these communication preferences, but we should avoid having different sources of truth per each type of information of the customer to avoid discrepancies in the data.
Within Marketing Cloud we can also use the out of the box Preference Center feature, build our own custom preference center using Cloud Pages or even just link the email footer to our website where we are directly managing that. In any of those cases, in the end, the information will have to be stored in the same place.
Change management for success
But, how do we have to approach this? From my point of view, involving the teams and the people (even if they are not going to be the end-users).
More often than not, the success of implementing a tool like Marketing Cloud (or any other new software in a company) depends on how we approached the change management.
It is not a matter that the consulting partner implement the tool, launch some campaigns and that’s all. It is a matter of that during the process, the right people are involved, understanding what is happening and adapting their processes to the new tool.
Since the very beginning of the project, we have to encourage the IT, business and analytics team. We cannot work as silos anymore. There is no Customer 360 vision without an internal 360 vision.
Uploading the right information
Once we set-up the architecture, it is time to import the information into Marketing cloud.
Marketing Cloud is ‘useless’ itself. Without data we cannot send emails, send SMSs, trigger journeys or simply run a query. But it isn’t either a business intelligence tool where we can put as much information as we want.
The key is to find the balance of having the minimum amount of information but keeping an eye in the near future.
In real life, it means that it is a best practice to import just the information needed for the initial set-up. For example, the main table of customers with the main attributes.
The practices shared in this article can be applied to any project related to integrations. But this is especially important when we are talking about Marketing Cloud because the information is the key point and is the main data-driven that will help the company to boost the business with the tool or not.
Do not hesitate on spending as much time as it is necessary for that first design phase of the project to mitigate all the possible issues which may come up in the future and involve to the end-users, marketers, analyst and IT team since the beginning.
During the next articles, I will try to go more in details about each of the topics I mentioned above.