Salesforce's email marketing best practices using Salesforce Marketing Cloud

September 30, 2022 Chuck Leddy

This year’s jam-packed Dreamforce included a practical, insight-filled session on Email Marketing Best Practices and Innovations, with a focus on Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The session began with Salesforce’s Heidi Robbins, Director of Marketing Strategy, describing some recent trends she’s seen in email marketing. It finished with Salesforce’s Rachel Boyles, Senior Product Marketing Manager, describing how Salesforce itself has adopted some of these recent email trends to make its own email marketing campaigns more effective.

4 pillars of effective email marketing

Robbins began her talk by outlining what she called the “four pillars of effective email marketing:”

  1. Strategy
  2. Data and deliverability
  3. Design
  4. Customer Experience/CX
Email marketing strategy

On the strategy pillar, Robbins highlighted “the importance of setting meaningful goals and metrics” for your email campaigns. Those goals should be divided into two distinct categories: (1) internal goals around driving efficiency and (2) customer-facing goals around driving email impact.

Your internal focus on efficiency, noted Robbins, should work to decrease the time it takes to build emails. Starting each email from scratch, she said, is wasteful and limits customer impact. Automating your processes around how you build and send emails is, Robbins explained, a key component of streamlining your email workflow to make it more efficient and scalable. 

When it comes to impact on customers, the second strategic focus, Robbins asked marketers to “look beyond the open rate, which is a superficial metric, and instead connect your metrics back to the business.”

Repeating a phrase that was the focus for much of Dreamforce 2022, Robbins also told marketers to “focus on making moments that matter” by seeking to connect on a deeper, more emotional level with customers.

Data and deliverability key in email marketing

Robbins explained that driving customer engagement is the key for email deliverability. “Engagement gets you better data and improves your brand reputation, both of which positively impact deliverability.” Robbins asked marketers to “build a data framework that includes the data you have now, the data you need, and the data you want.”

Quality data enables personalization, which in turn enables better engagement and better email deliverability, creating a virtuous cycle.

Email marketing and design

Robbins noted that effective email campaigns should have a standard look and tone that recipients can feel. She therefore asked B2B marketers to...

...“develop an email Design System, which is a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be quickly assembled to create digital experiences.”

Customer Experience/CX in email marketing

“The biggest CX trend in email marketing is to make things fun and to put play at the center of the email experience,” said Robbins. Doing that well takes authenticity and a commitment to building community, both digitally and in real life (an approach Robbins calls “IRL + URL”).

How Salesforce approaches its email marketing

Rachel Boyles took the microphone next and begain describing how Salesforce approached email campaigns for its own B2B customers. She began by detailing six big challenges Salesforce shares with every other B2B brand using email marketing:

  • Having siloed and unused customer data;
  • Facing the need for ongoing product education of its customer base;
  • Competing priorities for the marketing team and limited time/resources;
  • Noise coming from the brand and to customers across multiple channels and internal teams;
  • Lack of customer personalization across content assets;
  • Marketing team members with varied skill levels and experience with email.

Boyles tackled these challenges with three strategic goals in mind:

  1. To provide personalization at scale;
  2. To automate behavior-based customer journeys; and
  3. To deliver connected, engaging customer experiences.

“We started by building our marketing journey around our B2B customer’s journey,” said Boyles, using Salesforce CRM and data to segment customers through multiple factors such as region, industry, and title. “We then aligned our content delivery around customer behaviors, especially connected to their buying stages and their online behaviors,” she said. For example, if a prospect downloaded a white paper promoted in an email, a Salesforce rep would automatically be alerted and a follow-up recommendation would be generated for the rep.

Finally, Salesforce focused on content quality: “we created messaging that stood out, with clear calls-to-action, less jargon, and more concise language.” Nobody has any time for emails that aren’t immediately, clearly relevant to them. Salesforce “activated our CRM data for personalizing email messaging, and worked continuously to ensure that our customer data was reliable, timely, and accurate,” Boyles said. 

Regarding Robbins’ earlier recommendation that marketers create a Design Center of reusable, modular assets available for building email campaigns, Boyles explained that Salesforce has done exactly that. “We created a modular design center so our marketers could easily drag and drop assets” into an email, giving emails a standard look and feel for specific campaigns. “We also leveraged collaborative design tools so more of our people could provide input and ideas on design choices,” she said.

Both Robbins and Boyles concluded the Dreamforce session by explaining how marketers could learn more about the various Salesforce Marketing Cloud tools to help them improve email marketing effectiveness. 

Are YOU interested in learning more about how to help your teams build better email campaigns with Salesforce Marketing Cloud? We can help - contact us today.

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