A guest post by Chris Zullo.

Have you heard about the Marketing Cloud? Do you know what it does? In short, it is the gateway between your customers (or your preferred label for individuals you communicate with) and the other clouds. It’s a connector and a facilitator.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, though it is my opinion, that the biggest piece of the new IoT Cloud announced at Dreamforce is the orange bubble to the right. The Marketing Cloud should be considered the Communication Cloud or as someone recently defined it as the Engagement Cloud. It is the vehicle for your communications and your data is the fuel.

There are two primary types messages we all send: commercial (loosely termed because you’re asking the person on the other end to do something) and service (because you’re following up on action made by your contacts/leads including: transactions, confirmations, replies).

All of this helps shape the customer experience or journey. Basically, what does the happy path look like when your customers have positive experiences? What are the trigger points that dictate whether or not a person decides to stick with you or go elsewhere? Many times, it’s a breakdown in communication that cause relationships to fracture. This is not different than personal ones so why should business be any different?

One way to help keep the conversation going is to automate communications that frequently occur and are fairly homogenous. This is where Marketing Automation comes into play. Simply put, intelligent automation replaces and improves manual processes that lead to faster responses to customers and allows your employees to focus on activities that do require their attention.

Automation cannot completely eliminate manual intervention, nor should it, but it should enable you to optimize your communication strategy. It is possible to over do it and alienate people when all they get are canned/robotic messages. Even the most dynamic content has a pattern and people can and will figure out the formula so it’s important to pick your spots and be creative!

Product Overview

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) has many tools in its box. While it is scaled for mass market communications and generally considered the B2C option in the Salesforce family, it is capable of handling B2B as well. The Marketing Cloud is home to Journey Builder which represents the digital customer journey.

Pardot is the go to B2B marketing solution in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It is streamlined for lead management and covers all the major buzzwords you might throw at it. Pardot has been tightly aligned with the Sales Cloud for this very purpose.

Best Practices

  • While the concept is nothing new, every organization needs to know what their customers’ journey(s) look like and how to engage with them to help them find the happy path.
  • Communications are best managed when they are planned. Even ad hoc messages are more effective when you have a plan in place for these (as simple as an outline or a checklist). If you expect to turn on your marketing tool and it automagically rocks, you’re either lucky or you have a solid plan in place.
  • Try something different. Even successful recipes can be improved or at least re-evaluated by testing how people respond to different tactics (content, time of day, channel and more).
  • This one should go without saying, but make sure you track communication preferences. Opt-in/Opt-out is vital, not only for legal purposes, but also to ensure you engage with your audience where they prefer to be contacted for maximum engagement


As a Salesforce Admin, why should you care? Well, if your organization plans to implement a cohesive integrated Marketing solution, then it will touch your org. As the gatekeeper and guardian for your Salesforce environment, you need to have the basics down even if you won’t actively manage the Marketing activities. It’s not different than any other situation where something is being added or removed from the org, you must know where the dependencies are and how to ensure workflows and other processes continue to run smoothly. Where it is different is that with the Marketing Cloud, there is the potential to send communications externally on a mass scale so it’s worth brushing up on the security settings as well. You don’t need to be an expert, but just knowing is half the battle to becoming a Marketing Cloud Hero!

About Chris Zullo

Chris Zullo has over 10 years experience in Marketing, including hands-on with multiple applications including Unica (Affinium) Campaign (now a part of IBM), Aprimo Marketing Studio On Demand (now a part of Teradata), ExactTarget/Marketing Cloud and Radian6/Social Studio. He has worked with many industries, including nonprofits in several roles: planning, execution, analysis, project/program management, support, and strategy. Chris has used Salesforce since 2010 and is a 3x MVP (class of ‘13) and has spoken at multiple events about topics related to Marketing Cloud including Dreamforce, Midwest Dreamin and the Salesforce Southern New Hampshire User Group.

2 thoughts on “ An Introduction to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud ”

  1. I was pleasantly surprised by this post — it does a good job of describing the Salesforce ‘cloud strategy’ (i.e. Sales vs. Marketing).

    . . . and I really appreciate you calling Salesforce out on the naming — i.e. suggesting that what they call the Marketing Cloud would be MUCH more appropriately labeled “The Communication Cloud”, or “The Engagement Cloud”.

    Really. Nice work.

    Where we depart from one another is when you characterize Salesforce Administrator as the “gatekeeper” and “guardian” of the system — where in fact, many of us are much, much more than just that.

    I have a bit of a different perspective than an Admin working as part of a team on some huge ORG.

    I’ve never done that, nor would I ever want to. I prefer smaller ORG’s where Admin’s are called upon to do just about everything — and frequently have certifications as Consultants & Developers in addition to their ADM certification(s).

    These are the kind of Admins that are most valuable to businesses.

    So to characterize us all as gatekeepers & guardians is way off base. We are planners & builders as well — and we need to be the people driving the acquisition of new features & function for the system that no one knows better than we do.

    Keep up the good work.



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