Book Image

Automating Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By : Greg Gifford, Jason Hanshaw
Book Image

Automating Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By: Greg Gifford, Jason Hanshaw

Overview of this book

Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) allows you to use multiple channels and tools to create a 1:1 marketing experience for your customers and subscribers. Through automation and helper tasks, you can greatly increase your productivity while also reducing the level of effort required in terms of volume and frequency. Automating Salesforce Marketing Cloud starts by discussing what automation is generally and then progresses to what automation is in SFMC. After that, you’ll focus on how to perform automation inside of SFMC all the way to fully running processes and capabilities from an external service. Later chapters explore the benefits and capabilities of automation and having an automation mindset both within and outside of SFMC. Equipped with this knowledge and example code, you'll be prepared to maximize your SFMC efficiency. By the end of this Salesforce book, you’ll have the skills you need to build automation both inside and outside of SFMC, along with the knowledge for using the platform optimally.
Table of Contents (20 chapters)
Section 1: Automation Theory and Automations in SFMC
Section 2: Optimizing Automation inside of SFMC
Section 3: Optimizing the Automation of SFMC from External Sources
Section 4: Conclusion

Automation opportunities and pitfalls

Before diving further into the concept of automation, it's helpful to consider exactly why it can be such an important component of business processes and what risks are associated with its implementation.

First, automation is essential for reducing both financial and productivity costs associated with repetitive, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks. These could range from manual data-entry processes to complex monitoring or communication activities. In addition to its impact on these sorts of tasks, when well planned, it can introduce a single standard of quality that can be replicated and adhered to over time.


Let's take a deeper look into the benefits that can be extracted from incorporating automation into your business processes. First, I wanted to start with a quick visual to show the benefits and then from there, we will dive deeper into each aspect.

Figure 1.2 – Visualization of the benefits of automation

Figure 1.2 – Visualization of the benefits of automation

As you can see in each of the bars from the visual, there are a ton of great opportunities available. Now, let's take a deeper dive into these benefits.

Increased efficiency

One of the simplest benefits of incorporating automation is that it increases the efficiency with which tasks or events can be completed. When repetitive or time-intensive tasks are eliminated, it frees up resources to do more innovative and impactful work. This provides an immediate cost benefit as resources can be allocated to other impactful projects while also reducing the strain on employees, all without a loss in productivity.

Its impact in a customer-facing context can be even more beneficial. As customers demand real-time engagement and services, being able to meet them in the moment is critical. Whether it's automated communication for a password reset request, or a one-click online checkout, creating sustainable automated processes that can deliver on customer requests immediately is a massive benefit and has become an expectation in our digital world.

More reliable solutions

When it comes to any solution or project, consistent and reliable quality is an important factor for success. With manual solutions, where human input and decision making are ever-present and necessary for the completion of a task, there are risk factors that will inevitably impact the overall stability and reliability of the performance. Humans, while our capacities for attention and skill are prodigious, are subject to factors that will reduce work quality and performance. Whether it's a poor night's sleep, long periods of intense focus, or multi-tasking, attention to detail and performance will vary across individuals and circumstances.

This limitation provides an opportunity for automation. A well-defined, automated process suffers from no degradation of attention, nor experiences performance dips due to fatigue or distraction. In an interconnected global space, having an automated system that can operate 24 hours a day to meet challenges and complete tasks is important to a process that needs to be responsive on demand.

Expanded opportunities

While not initially apparent, automation can actually improve efficiency and productivity across teams in an organization by exposing the nature of your current business processes. Before a system can be automated, those underlying processes must be thoroughly analyzed in order to both define opportunities where automation is feasible and to define what it's meant to accomplish.

By exposing these underlying procedures, it encourages conversations about the current goals and future state of the program, which can help improve the overall quality and foster innovation.

In addition to this, automation can work as a centralizing force for many disparate processes that may otherwise be isolated and poorly understood. By combining data and workflows into a centralized system that is capable of both producing and receiving input or completing a task, you can act on events automatically and extend the capabilities of your solutions while increasing productivity.


Now that we've covered just a few of the benefits that automation can bring to an organization, it's important to also consider the potential risks or downsides that can come from incorporating this as well.

High initial investment

It has been said that nothing in life is free and automation, unfortunately, is no exception.

First, there are the obvious financial costs that come with implementing automation solutions. Whether it's purchasing cloud storage, training for teams to learn new skills and adjust to new workflows, or just the amount of planning and development needed to implement the solution, the decision to automate a process should not be taken lightly.

Secondly, it is important to consider the opportunity and productivity costs that take away from other current or planned initiatives. Attention is a finite resource and draining it for a new initiative comes at the expense of other priorities.

When you carefully consider the amount of planning, development, testing, documentation, and training that can go into proposed automation, it can become daunting to undertake for some, and perhaps impractical for others.

Less ability to pivot quickly

We all know it's a perfect world, and all your solutions and initiatives are performing so well it's time to just set it and forget about it, right? Er, maybe not.

Even with the proper planning and strategies when developing automated solutions, unexpected shifts can leave your well-defined process at a disadvantage. Perhaps it's an urgent marketing need, or a new legal requirement that must be implemented to stay compliant, but automation can make you inflexible at an inopportune time.

By their nature, automated solutions are likely narrow and well-defined, which can leave them vulnerable to sudden shifts in goals that invalidate the existing implementation.

You get out what you put in

It seems self-explanatory, but your solution is only as good as the strategy and the team behind it. Failing to adequately account for edge cases, resourcing, stable deployment processes, or any number of other factors in the project life cycle can have a significant impact on the overall performance of the automated solution.

While it's been noted that automation can increase the stability and quality of your workflows, it should be remembered that you get out what you put into it and poorly designed automation can cascade issues much more dramatically than a manual process.

Now that we've taken a look at some of the general advantages, and disadvantages, of automation, let's take a look at some select core concepts so we can get a better grasp of what automation looks like exactly.