Using Salesforce for Marketing: Campaign Best Practices


With an estimated subscriber base of over 3 million users, Salesforce has become a common element among the world’s best-performing companies—in any industry. Why is using Salesforce for marketing so common?

And why not? It’s a versatile CRM that can fit into nearly any sales and marketing process. Because sales and marketing are working off the same data, there’s deeper cooperation and coordination between the two teams.

However, using Salesforce for marketing doesn’t automatically equal success. Like any tool, it has to be used to its full potential, and one of the keys to unlocking that potential are campaigns.

Below we’ve shared a few Salesforce Campaign best practices that you should adopt if you want deeper and more accurate insight into how much your marketing contributes to sales.

Campaigns top lead sources

Salesforce allows for a great deal of flexibility in how you structure and attribute your data. One such example is the option to attribute a conversion to a Lead Source as opposed to a Campaign.

But just because Salesforce lets you do it, doesn’t mean you should do it.

I say without exaggeration that tracking conversions by Campaign is the biggest difference between effective marketing attribution and a pile of useless data.

One reason for this is that Lead Sources are only good for single-touch conversions which, in today’s digital B2B environment, are a rarity.

An opportunity is often contacted multiple times from a variety of channels. Before a prospect signs your contract, he may have gone to your tradeshow booth, downloaded a white paper, and received an email. That’s three campaigns at least, and all contributed to the final sale.

Remember campaign influence

There’s an often-overlooked feature in Salesforce called Campaign Influence, which allows you to go to an Opportunity entry in Salesforce and list all of the campaigns that influenced the sale, similar to the situation I described above.

Image source: MarTech Advisor

You can even use it to determine the primary campaign source, which attributes all of the revenue from that sale to the campaign that influenced it the most. Other campaigns are still recorded as having helped, of course.

Before you turn the feature on, however, you have to ensure that your business requires a Contact to always be associated with an Opportunity. This can be done either manually or automatically, but it’s an absolute must for this feature to work.

Structure and format your data properly

If you ask five people to type the same date into a field, it’s going to be written five different ways. This makes it unnecessarily challenging to maintain data integrity and subsequently pull data out of your system and into a report.

That’s why you should establish a standardized naming convention for all of your campaigns when using Salesforce for marketing. It makes it easy to read the data and, more importantly, allows for easier and more convenient reporting.

For example, you can name email campaigns with the following format: EMAIL [Campaign name] [Date]. All critical information is there and presented in a consistent fashion, so that all of your people know the right way to label a campaign.

You can also structure your campaigns into parent-child relationships to get visibility into which particular campaign within a larger campaign type is most effective. To continue with our email example, you could have the larger campaign for license renewals defined as EMAIL [Renewal ’17][2017], and have a child campaign targeted to CTOs called EMAIL [Renewal ’17-CTO][2017].

You could take this a step further by introducing new fields that further categorize and define campaigns based on whatever you find important: list size, targeted buyer persona, and more.

Scoring campaign responses

Each campaign has its own standards of success. For example, an email would have open rate, click rate, and bounce rate, while an online webinar would have registered, attended, and did not attend.

Define your standards of campaign success before sending things out, and make them consistent across the different child campaign types. Thus you will be able to score individual campaigns and the responses people give you while tracking overall campaign performance as a whole.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that while a single webinar did well, webinars in general don’t do much to drive leads.

Responses can be collected in a number of ways, each with their own pros and cons:

  • Web-to-lead forms integrate with Salesforce, so that a lead’s data gets pulled into salesforce and recorded in the appropriate entry. An advantage of this method is that you can have the form automatically mark submissions with certain tags (e.g. tracking links to instantly identify which list the lead came from).
  • Mass import is usually done when the data is collected offsite, like when you have a tradeshow and need to add the attendees.
  • Manual update is the slowest and most onerous method, and is usually done when prospects respond via phone or email. Your sales rep has to go into Salesforce to enter the data by hand.
  • Marketing automation tools like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud automate the entire process from start to finish, and can effortlessly collect response data and put it into the CRM.

Pick the right data analytics tool when using Salesforce for marketing

Many companies are using Salesforce for marketing, so Salesforce has a number of useful reports and dashboards already built in.

But Salesforce’s true strength really lies on the input side—making sure the data is there. For output and reporting, there are much stronger and more versatile options available.

Marketing managers and directors will get much more value out of Salesforce’s data if they use a specialized reporting tool that can collect, manage, analyze, and visualize the data independently.

These analytics tools are built specifically with Salesforce integration in mind, and it should be easy to set up with no loss of data and relatively little effort on your part.

What you get in exchange is nothing short of miraculous. These data analytics tools can provide insight into nearly every aspect of your sales and marketing operations, from a top-level analysis of Salesforce campaigns to a full-funnel perspective into the buyer’s journey to the performance of individual content pieces.

Image source: TrackMaven

This is where it all comes together. When a sales rep properly attributes individual leads, contacts, and opportunities to all of the influencing campaigns at the ground level, the information rolls up to form a larger picture that marketing directors and CMOs can use to determine the direction of their marketing strategy.

Reporting by Lead Source seems the same on the surface, but this last-touch method is prone to missing data and mistaken assumptions. When using Salesforce for marketing, multi-touch attribution gives you the complete picture, and reveals which campaigns are the unsung heroes and which are high on cost but short on value.

At that point, Salesforce becomes more than a CRM; it becomes the nerve center of your marketing operations.

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