10 Mistakes Digital Marketers Make with Salesforce Marketing Cloud - dummies

10 Mistakes Digital Marketers Make with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By Chester Bullock, Mark Pollard

If you choose to use Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you’ll have a long, fun journey through the world of digital marketing ahead of you. Even so, you might want to exercise some words of caution. There are a few mistakes that impede — or even sink — digital marketing efforts time and time again. If you can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid these bad habits, you’ll be well on the path to success!

Not testing enough

In digital marketing, theory doesn’t always translate smoothly into action. You might have a clear concept of how your campaign should run, but you can’t be sure that you’ve covered everything until you build and test the campaign.

You might have forgotten to add personalization, inserted the wrong image for one of your dynamic content conditions, left out a link, or any of a million other things. You try to get everything right from the beginning, of course, but nothing can replace a thorough review of your complete messages.

At the least, test the following areas:

  • Message’s appearance in a variety of devices
  • Grammar and spelling (for English emails)
  • All links to make sure that they work and go to the right location
  • Proper placement of links within the email
  • Correct From name and address for this message
  • Correct send classification for this message
  • Correct audience for this message

Over time, develop a checklist of items that are important for your testing. (You can use this list as a starter and add or modify items as experience indicates.) Although testing can be time consuming, it can save time you might use to fix errors later.

Testing too many variables

Above, you discover that testing is a vital component to ongoing success, but here you find out about a different kind of testing. You almost can’t do too much of QA-type testing (short of finding yourself in analysis paralysis and unable to make yourself click Send). However, you can easily bite off more than you can chew when you’re doing the kind of testing in which you compare the performance of message content, such as images, subject lines, and send time.

You must be patient and deliberate when you design and execute performance comparison testing, or A/B testing. For example, if you try to measure too many things at once — such as testing an image and a subject line in the same message — you can receive misleading results.

If you like to dive deep into statistics, you can investigate Taguchi methods of multivariate testing in your email, but it is probably easier to test just one thing at a time!

Assuming that flashy features equal better results

While reading this book, you’ve probably discovered at least one cool feature of Marketing Cloud that you can’t wait to try. Using an innovative capability is tempting because trying out new things is fun. Everyone wants to be on the cutting edge of technology.

However, the purpose of a marketing message should always dictate the technology you use, not the other way around. Cramming a new technology into a campaign where it doesn’t fit introduces risks, such as the following:

  • Slowing down your deployment
  • Increasing opportunities for errors
  • Creating annoyed subscribers
  • Making you look silly

For example, you don’t have to use dynamic content in every email. If you understand the interests that all your subscribers have in common, you can construct a message that appeals to all of them.


You can create a campaign in which you put a lot of time into identifying the right subscriber criteria to define the perfect target audience for the message. Then, after you filter through the subscriber list to see who would satisfy the criteria and receive the message, you end up with only a handful of people.

A hyper-targeted campaign performs very well of course, but at what cost? When it takes more to create the campaign than you could possibly get in return, you’ve gone too far in customizing your message.

Forsaking proven channels

From time to time, an expert declares the email channel to be dead. Text message marketing, or social media marketing, or some other new channel marketing is the new, most important place to put your marketing dollars, they say.

These so-called expert proclamations have been happening for more than a decade. Such a statement grabs headlines but fails to offer good advice to digital marketers. There have been budgets that shift toward a new channel but then shift back when it doesn’t prove to be a magic bullet.

As with most things in life, getting a good reward means expending some effort, and email marketing has consistently proven to be worth that effort.

Buying the “it just works” myth

Over the last several years, a myth that has made its way around digital marketing conferences is that the latest tool, gadget, or suite of products will make your digital marketing effort “just work.”

Sadly, a product that “just works” on its own doesn’t exist. Integrated marketing takes planning, resources, and effort. For example, data issues are the number one problem our clients encounter with their digital marketing. Buying a new tool with flashy features isn’t going to heal the problems in their data.


This one should go without saying, but it’s still an pervasive issue, especially with new people entering the ranks of digital marketing: Yes, it is possible to send too many messages. When you over-share with your customers or potential customers, you run the risk of changing their opinion of you from “trusted brand sending valuable information” to “spammer.”

The threshold of how-much-is-too-much differs for every business. The nature of your product and the content of your messages matter, of course, but so do the expectations you set in your sign-up process and ongoing communications. Keep an eye on your key indicators and the open and unsubscribe rates. You’ll see changes in these measures if you’re wearing out your audience.

Forgetting that content is king

After you get a taste of success in email marketing, you may be tempted to use the relationship you’ve grown with your audience to share each and every thing about your company that makes you proud. However, subscribers are more mercenary: They joined your list because they think they’ll get something good out of it. Over time, using email to send what you want to say — instead of what subscribers want to hear — can have a dramatic effect on performance.

Content will always be king, and you need to remember to always add value for the recipient of your message, regardless of the channel. If you do not consistently deliver some kind of value, subscribers will stop responding.

Not staying current

Over the last 20 years, there have been staggering changes in the digital marketing business. The amount of personnel turnover in that time is just as striking, and a lot more frightening. People who don’t put in the effort to keep up with changes don’t last.

Continuing education is vital to a long career in digital marketing. Of course, digital marketers are also busy, which makes it hard to find the time at work to learn. Making the effort is worthwhile, however, lest you find yourself replaced by someone with the latest knowledge.

If you can’t make time to stay current at the office, consider making it your hobby at home. Although your current employer will benefit from your ongoing education in the immediate term, you’ll benefit from it even more over the long run. Invest in yourself; your career is worth it.

Not asking for help

Companies used to expect a digital marketer to be a jack-of-all-trades. The same person would

  • Create the website.
  • Optimize search engine positioning.
  • Handle customer feedback.
  • Address anything else that touched marketing on the Internet.

As each new channel emerged (email, social, virtual reality, and so on), that same person was supposed to immediately become an expert. In some cases, companies expected the same person to do all this and write code!

These expectations were a challenge then but are simply unfair now. You have to be able to get help, perhaps by hiring an agency or adding personnel. You can’t do it by yourself without hurting your performance and burning out.

For your own sanity, never be afraid to ask for help!