About Ralph Green

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Ralph Green has created 2 blog entries.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): Implementation Methods

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio) is a fantastic platform to add to your marketing toolset. But starting a Marketing Cloud implementation can be daunting, especially when it is as complex as Personalization. 

The following sections of this article will detail the implementation approaches available, provide indicative timelines and outline example use cases. However, if  you’re wanting to understand a little more about what the tool can offer, you can check out my last article – Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): A Beginner’s Guide

SFMC Personalization Implementation Methods

With any platform like SFMC Personalization, which promises Real-Time Personalization and AI Recommendations, it’s easy to get carried away with what it can offer. However, the key takeaway from this article is that you should focus on what you and your company can achieve, which is particularly important given the tricky interdependencies you’ll face when implementing Personalization.

In a nutshell, the approaches vary from minimal viable product (MVP), where the goal is to implement a baseline as quickly as possible and then build upon it in future iterations, all the way to future-state implementation (FSI), where you depend on use cases to drive large-scale transformation. There is also a halfway house approach of implementing an As-Is, for those who may sit between the two methods above. 

Marketing Cloud Personalization Discovery Questions

Thankfully, understanding which method may suit your needs can be easily identified by answering a few simple discovery questions — as laid out by Salesforce in their Implementation of Marketing Cloud Personalization Trailhead

These helpful questions allow you to ascertain which method will best suit your needs, including: 

  • How often does your company change its website? 
  • Do you have easy access to developer resources? 
  • Are you migrating from an existing tool? 
  • Do other platforms need to be integrated? 

What you’ll find is: 

  1. MVP is great for companies making constant changes to their website, have easy access to developers, and are not migrating from an existing personalization platform. In other words, it’s a viable method for those who are perhaps new to real-time personalization. 
  2. As-Is is great for companies that don’t have immediate access to developers, are looking to migrate from one tool to another and have a few live personalization campaigns ready to migrate. 
  3. FSI is the preferred option for companies that less frequently change their website, have limited access to developers, are looking to integrate Personalization with multiple clouds (Marketing, Sales or Service), and have external data sources that need to be integrated. 

Marketing Cloud Personalization Implementation Roadmap

Obviously, the implementation roadmap will vary depending on the scope of your project and the implementation approach you’ve decided to use. However, there are some key milestones that will occur in all implementations, as shown in the diagram below, which is based on a typical net-new Personalization implementation with 2-3 use cases. 

Roadmap Diagram

From the diagram above, the two key milestones I’d pay the most attention to are the Use Case Discovery and the Blueprint Development

Regardless of the implementation method, defining a handful of clear and precise use cases before beginning the build is key to ensuring success. As mentioned, it’s easy to get caught up with the wide range of functionality Personalization offers. That’s why understanding the desired outcome is the most effective way of running a successful implementation and ensuring your company gets the most out of the platform. I’ll go on to share a few examples of good use cases later on. 

The blueprint document goes hand-in-hand with the sitemap — which is debatably the most crucial part of Personalization. The blueprint helps define which page categories exist, which triggers exist on those pages, what data can be scraped and where it can be scraped from (i.e. DOM vs Data-Layer) for each visit. 

Thankfully, to aid with your implementation, the Salesforce Partner Portal can provide a useful template that helps capture all of the information necessary to create your sitemap, and for implementing Personalization. The template covers everything from page types and content zones to events and attributes, and most importantly, where they can be found on your website to make it easier for the developers building the sitemap.  

Use Cases

Without sounding like a broken record, use cases can make or break a Personalization implementation. During my first implementation of Personalization, the goal I was given was to deliver Real-Time Web Personalization aka Personalization. 

There were no clear KPIs, the website was static and there was nothing to encourage returning visitors, and it made any experiences based on previous visits practically void. The end result was that our very expensive personalization engine sat on the shelf until we revisited the drawing board. 

Defining Your Use Cases

In order to avoid making my mistake, don’t be afraid to get granular with your use cases. Once established, it’s easier to build on top of existing use cases with future iterations. So really think about the following aspects when defining your use cases:

  1. Objective – What is it you’re trying to achieve with your personalization? Is it to increase the value per order? Or perhaps to encourage more users to download your app?
  2. KPIs – How are you going to measure the success of your personalization? Is it based on the number of successful completions? What percentage increase in order value would be considered successful? 
  3. Approach – Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you then need to consider the approach. Is it based on visitors from a particular source (Rule-Based) or is it based on trending products (Recipe-based)?
  4. Measurement Approach – There’s no point in creating a personalized experience if there is no control to measure success. Consider what an adequate sample might look like and how long the campaign might last. 
  5. Channels – Is this going to be a web- or mobile-led campaign? 

There’s no right or wrong answer for use cases and it completely depends on your company’s objectives. But for a typical net-new implementation, 2-3 concise use cases similar to the ones below is a good starting point. 

Use Case Definition Example

Use Case  Approach Channels KPI Measurement Approach
Encourage users to complete the onboarding application Rules Based Web, Email No. clicks on CTA, no. applications started, no. applications completed 50% personalized, 50% control
Encourage mobile app downloads Rules Based Web, Mobile App, Email No. clicks on CTA, no. app downloads 50% personalized, 50% control

Once you’ve defined your use cases, keep referring back to them throughout the implementation and when developing your blueprint. The use cases will help keep your implementation focused on the end goal, and help your developers build a sitemap that will be fit for purpose. 

Planning is Key to a Successful SFMC Personalization Implementation

As you’ve probably gathered by now, successfully implementing Personalization is closely linked with planning. Defining clear and concise use cases as well as developing an accurate and detailed blueprint, both of which are milestones during the Discovery Phase, are imperative for a smooth implementation. This is true regardless of your chosen implementation method.  

As final food for thought, don’t forget to consider your implementation team. Being the tool that it is, Personalization implementations often begin in the marketing department as it’s the marketers who want real-time personalization capabilities. However, even large marketing teams with wide-ranging skill sets will not be able to deliver Personalization alone. 

The Personalization Sitemap will require JavaScript developers. Building ETLs will require support from data architects. CRM integration will require CRM administrators. And creating experiences, although there are ready-made templates, may also require HTML and CSS experts. So, consider including wider teams early on in the implementation. 

Not only will this help to ensure that those resources are available to support and understand the ask, but it may also help to define use cases that are more relevant and that are also technically viable.

Need help filling the gaps on your team through your Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization implementation? Reach out to team Sercante to get their experts on the case.

Original article: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): Implementation Methods

©2023 The Spot. All Rights Reserved.

The post Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): Implementation Methods appeared first on The Spot.

By |2023-03-24T15:24:22+00:00March 24th, 2023|Categories: Automations, Marketing Cloud, Pro Tips, revive, Setup & Admin|

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): A Beginner’s Guide

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Interaction Studio — or Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (SFMCP) as it is now called. But if you’re similar to me, none of the buzzwords that are thrown around help to paint the picture of what SFMCP actually does.  

In this blog, I’ll be demystifying this intriguing product and detailing the features and functionality, and where possible I’ll be calling out any “gotchas” that have personally caught me out, so you can avoid them. 

What is SFMC Personalization (Interaction Studio)? 

So, let me start with the easy part… What is it? Simply put, SFMCP is a real-time personalization engine. By integrating it with your website(s) and mobile app(s), you can track visitors as they interact with your digital content. 

Every page, article and product they view, click on, rate or add to cart is providing SFMCP with the data it requires to build a unique customer profile for every visitor — whether they are known or unknown. 

In other words, it allows you to dig deeper and truly understand what keeps bringing each visitor back, and when coupled with data provided by a CRM or data warehouse it is capable of delivering a hyper-personalized experience at scale and in real-time.

What does SFMCP do? 

Although accessed via Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC), that’s where the similarities between SFMC and SFMCP come to an end. Having been procured rather than built by Salesforce, it has a very different look and feel. 

SFMCP is broken down into the following:

  • Reports
  • Channels & Campaigns
  • Audiences
  • Catalog
  • Machine Learning
  • Gears
  • Settings


By default, all users land on the Dashboard (as shown below) which provides a high-level view of revenue, visits, orders, average order value per visit and conversion rate. It also provides details on how your campaigns are performing through metrics such as impressions, new vs. returning visitors and item actions (purchased, viewed, added to cart, etc.), all of which are filterable by date ranges. 

However, to dig a little deeper, SFMCP also provides a range of Activity, Results and Visit reports that can help understand how your personalization efforts drive success.

Activity Reports

  • Recent Visits: Stream view of all the visits occurring over the defined period
  • Event Stream: Stream view of all the events occurring over the defined period
  • Cohorts: Groupings of users by predefined criteria such as first time visiting, first time performing an action or specific statuses 
  • Actions: Linear graph showing key Sitemap actions specified that can be filtered by segments or keywords 
  • Modules: Volume of visitor actions, views/clicks that have been grouped together as Modules 
  • Paths: A page-by-page view of the paths visitors take when interacting with your site  
  • Funnels: Using Modules, create an optimal funnel for your visitors and monitor the completion of the desired sequential actions
  • Day / Time: View visits, visit length, revenue, revenue per visit and bounces by day of the week and time of day 

Results Reports

  • Revenue: User, order and revenue statistics in a grid matrix and filterable by platform, engagement, visit status, and more
  • Purchase Funnel: Using segments, compare how your audiences perform against all visitors when viewing products, adding to a cart and purchasing
  • Goal Completions: Side-by-side comparison of your configured goals and filterable by device type, browser type, user state and more
  • Goal Comparisons: A view of the goal completions and completion rate over time for created goals  

Visitor Reports

  • Behavior: Shows visits, engagement, logins and purchases over a given time frame
  • Technology: Includes information such as browser, device, and operating system commonly used by visitors
  • Referring Sources: Useful report to show how visitors access your site as well as the referring sources driving the most revenue

Channels & Campaigns

In short, it’s the marketer’s space to build campaigns and whilst it is often the most talked about, web is not the only channel SFMCP can support, it also offers mobile and email, as well as triggered and JS server-side campaigns. 

Using web campaigns, SFMCP users can create real-time personalization experiences aimed at targeting visitors who meet certain criteria. Server-side campaigns give users the ability to get more creative but will require a greater skill set. 

Triggered campaigns and email campaigns tie into the wider SFMC platform if you’re lucky enough to have it, by triggering Journeys or by providing Open-Time Content to include in your SFMC sends. 

Through mobile campaigns, SFMCP can incorporate mobile as an additional channel by including a personalised experience on both Android and iOS. 

And finally, a Third-Party section allows SFMCP to bring in data from systems such as Marketo, Act-On, LinkedIn Ads, etc. and even create custom products when and where required. 


As it sounds, Audiences are where users create visitor segments. Segments are a large part of SFMCP and go beyond simple segmentation. In SFMCP, segments can be used to display AI recommendations to a selection of visitors based on your pre-defined criteria.  But they can also be used to create goals by setting the actions you wish visitors to perform (i.e., order a minimum of $xxx). 

The number of visitors who meet the criteria directly relates to your goal’s success. Furthermore, any segment created can also be added as a filter to ensure certain visitors are excluded from recommendations and personalised content (i.e., exclude visitors from the US for UK-specific campaigns). 

The audience section is also where you can see all users in your SFMCP account, whether imported via feeds or tracked through the SFMCP Sitemap. However, it is important to note, that visitors captured via the sitemap will be anonymous (created using a randomly generated profile ID) until they perform an action (i.e., create account, checkout, etc.) that provides SFMCP with a chosen identifier such as an email address or username. 


The Catalog section is where you begin to add business context and it will require plenty of planning. SFMCP offers standard catalog objects such as Products, Categories, Blogs and Articles but also provides the opportunity to create custom objects to support your particular business needs. The objects can then, where required, be related to each other with varying cardinalities that will provide SFMCP with the information needed to understand visitor interactions.  

For example, when a visitor clicks on a specific pair of trainers it will increase that visitor’s affinity towards that particular product, but it will also create an affinity to the categories of running and shoes. In turn, products in the same categories can then be suggested through recommendations and promotions.

Note: An important callout here is to distinguish which method will be used for consuming data: ETL or Sitemap. Passing the same attributes, such as stock, through both methods can cause issues in SFMCP. I’d recommend leveraging the ETLs where possible and using SFMCP’s Sitemap for passing IDs and activity types to avoid data discrepancy issues. 

Machine Learning

If you’re like me, this is where the fun begins. The machine learning section is all about recipes and decisions. The Machine Learning piece can be broken down into two main capabilities, Recipes and Decisions,


As the name suggests, by mixing ingredients SFMCP can create unique content or product recommendations for each customer. 

Ingredients make up the basis of Einstein’s machine learning-powered algorithms. Elements such as co-browse, trending or smart bundle (to name a few)  will show recommendations based on what other visitors have browsed, what’s currently trending or what products other visitors have bought together respectively. It’s important to note that these recipes can even include offline activity that is imported via ETL feeds. 


Rather than manually creating and testing the recipes yourself, why not let AI do the hard work for you? This is where decisions come into play. Decisions use visitor data to predict and display the right promotion based on the chance of completion and the highest business value. 

Einstein automates the process of deciding who should see what content by evaluating each promotion viewed, whether or not the session is a returning visitor, device type and much more.

Gears and Feeds

Gears are extensions for the platform that can be added based on your specific needs, although most will be enabled by default. The most important gear, in my opinion, is the Flicker Defender which, when implemented correctly, stops SFMCP sitemap from flickering on page load. 

Feeds, on the other hand, are SFMCP’s Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). SFMCP has a specific feed and format for each standard object, custom object and related catalog object which you can use to ingest data to support your catalog setup. Sharing data with SFMCP provides the information it needs to turn anonymous clicks into insightful data that can be used to make informed decisions that ultimately impact the bottom line and revenue. 

Further Considerations Before Jumping Into SFMC Personalization

Before jumping straight in and procuring SFMCP, it’s worth evaluating the following considerations: 

  1. Tech Gap & Skillset – Make no mistake, this is a complex tool and deserves respect. Whilst a lot of features can be handled via point and click, to get the most out of the tool it can require the support of Web Developers and Data Scientists. It’s also worth pointing out that the Sitemap, which is a large proportion of the tool, is all JavaScript and may require ongoing support. 
  1. Personalization Requirements – As its name suggests, SFMCP is well suited to real-time personalization. But if your requirements are undemanding and single channel, it might be worth considering alternatives such as SFMC Web and Email Recommendations. However, if your requirements are omnichannel in nature and supported by a complex catalogue of data, SFMCP might be the right tool for you. 

Once you’ve made the decision to procure SFMCP, the final consideration you should take into account is the implementation approach itself — you should begin reviewing your short-term gains vs long-term strategic objectives. 

Keep it Going

If you’d like to learn more about Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio), check out this blog post. Or reach out to the team at Sercante if you need help.

Original article: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): A Beginner’s Guide

©2023 The Spot. All Rights Reserved.

The post Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization (Interaction Studio): A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on The Spot.

By |2023-01-19T21:20:45+00:00January 19th, 2023|Categories: Getting Started, Marketing Cloud, revive, Setup & Admin|