How to Use Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Approvals App

By Chester Bullock, Mark Pollard

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud Approvals app lets you create an approval workflow, a simple review and approval process for your content. You can get to the Approvals app from the Content Builder category on the app switcher. You can also get to Approvals from any screen where you create an email or from the Content Builder grid.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud approval app dashboard
Getting to the Approvals app dashboard.

As of this writing, the Approvals app works only with email-related content, though the plan is to make it work with content related to other communication channels in the future. The Approvals app is not available in your account by default: You have to contact your account executive to have it turned on. There may be an additional charge for using this app.

How the Approvals app works

The Approvals app is a relatively uncomplicated tool. You can choose to create one of two kinds of workflow:

  • A standard workflow incorporates three kinds of roles:
    • A submitter, who creates the content and submits it for approval. A submitter can perform test sends of emails before approval but not actual live sends.
    • One or more reviewers, who look over the content and then give it the okay or send it back with annotations to the submitter.
    • An approver, who looks over reviewed content and provides the final approval.
  • A two-step workflow combines the reviewer and the approver functions so that the person doing the reviewing is also the one to give the final okay.

Throughout this process, the system generates notifications that pass back and forth among the submitter, reviewers, and approver. If approved content is edited, it goes back to submitted status, at which point the approval process starts again.

When you turn on this functionality in your account, every message must receive approval before it is sent. You cannot choose which emails are subject to the approval process.

After you turn on your approval workflow, you see the progress of your emails through the workflow on the Approvals dashboard. Emails that have been submitted but not approved appear on the In Progress tab, and approved emails appear on the Approved tab.

Setting up an approval workflow

After you contact your Marketing Cloud representatives to enable the Approvals app in your account, you have to set up the users, set up the workflow, and turn it on.

two-step approval Salesforce Marketing Cloud
In this two-step approval workflow, many people can submit content but only Chester can approve it.

Don’t forget to warn all your Marketing Cloud users before you turn on your approvals workflow. After you turn it on, it affects every single email in your account.

Use the following steps to set up your approval workflow:

  1. From anywhere in Marketing Cloud, pause your mouse pointer over your name on the right side of the toolbar and click Administration.
  2. On the Applications menu in the toolbar, select Approvals.
    The Approvals screen appears.
  3. Click the Create a Team button.
  4. Choose your approval process type.
    Decide whether you want a standard approval process (the one with separate reviewers and approvers) or a two-step approval process (the one where the approver does the reviewing as well).
  5. Enter a team name.
    After you enter a team name and move on to the next field, the system saves the team and you can no longer change the type of approval process that you selected in Step 4.
  6. Add members to the team.
    1. In the Assign a Workflow Role field, begin entering the name of a user. Then click the correct name in the list of suggestions that appears.
    2. Select one or more check boxes next to the role or roles you want to assign that user.
    3. Click these steps for each user involved in the workflow.
      The name of the user appears in the grid on the right side of the screen so you can see which users you’ve already assigned.
  7. (Optional) After assigning roles, click the On button (on the right side of the screen) to make the workflow process effective for all emails in the account.
    You might want to wait to turn on the workflow if you need to update the user’s permissions.
  8. Click Close.

As you can see, the meat of the work to set up your approval workflow is assigning users to roles. A user must have certain user permissions to participate in the approval workflow. Make sure all users mentioned in your workflow have the following permissions:

  • Approval →   Approval Items →   Add/Remove Users
  • Approval →   Approval Items →   Create and Edit
  • Approval →   Approval Items →   Delete

Who should use the Approvals app?

One of our clients is a national restaurant chain with hundreds of locations, most of them corporate-owned but many franchised. The chain hired a separate agency to design content for the franchised locations when they did local promotions.

The designs of the separate agency had to be approved by corporate before the emails were sent to subscribers. The Approvals app made it easy for the agency to submit its designs for approval and helped the restaurant chain keep an eye on all its messaging and make sure it reflected well on the brand.

The Approvals apps is helpful for large, dispersed companies that need technology to enforce rules about who has to see content before it arrives in subscribers’ email inboxes. Approvals is not a tool for everyone, though, and it doesn’t completely address the need for approval processes.

  • You probably don’t need the Approvals app if the following two items apply to you:
  • Your marketing effort is small and centralized
  • Just dropping someone a note to look over your message content before you send it has been working so far

Very importantly, the workflow in Approvals reviews only content. During the process of submitting content for review, the submitter does choose an audience, but the email is not limited to that audience after approval. The Approvals app does not have steps to ensure that the audience, the send date, or the send time are what you want.

Even if you decide to use the Approvals app, you’ll still need a separate process to make sure your emails are going to the right people at the right time.