May 10, 2023
15 minutes read
Technology Solution Delivery

Best Practices for Salesforce Marketing Cloud Documentation and Deployment

Documentation and deployment of best practices are essential to achieving a successful Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementation. Defining, documenting, and distributing plans ensures all parties are aligned with when, where, and how customer engagement will be done. When building out your Marketing Cloud journeys, emails, and other assets, it is important to have a space to test them. In this blog, we will dive deeper into what our team of Salesforce consultants have gathered through experience as best practices that any company could benefit from when considering or optimizing their instance of Salesforce Marketing Cloud

So, what is Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC)? Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a Marketing Automation tool that enables touchpoint interaction with customers to provide a personalized experience to increase engagement.  integrates other Salesforce marketing tools such as Journey Builder, Email Studio, Mobile Studio, Advertising Studio, and Data Studio. The touchpoint interactions with customers can be done wherever they are, email, mobile, social media, the web and more, which allows the building of lasting relationships with your brand.

Tools for Salesforce Marketing Cloud Success

Below we examine and discuss the different tools and strategies that are vital to consider when integrating or improving your company’s SFMC instance. Let’s get started.

1. Marketing Strategy  

Define the goals, whether it is to build awareness, generate leads, or drive conversions. Identify the touchpoints to reach your audience, the channels to reach them and the messaging. Document the decisions made and share them with the key stakeholders and teams. It’s important to note that this documentation should be written from the perspective of the information that a new team member would need to understand the goals, the process, and the structure. The Salesforce Diagramming Framework – Marketing, Strategy, and Sales Templates are a good starting point for creating your deliverables. The documentation could include:

  • Taxonomy – naming conventions, data categories
  • System Diagram – a high-level diagram showing the systems used and their integration points. This should include calls to external systems via APIs, tables, 
  • Customer Journey – one or more journeys that intended audiences pass through from Awareness, through to Conversion.
  • Touchpoint Interaction Map – defined touchpoints along with the intended messaging, the timing, and assets

2. Implementation Plan

Create a detailed plan of all the tasks, such as data migration, platform configuration, and customization. 

3. Data Model and Data Mapping

The structure and the relationships between the type of data (leads, customer, campaign, email, etc.) that will be stored is defined in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud data model. Within the data model, the entities, data fields or attributes, and connections are defined. The model will also include any data integration details such as integrating with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or other automation tools. Define the Salesforce Marketing Cloud data extensions, custom components, and automations that will be used to create the touchpoints. Create a complete inventory of all data being migrated and a map of where each data point will reside.

4. Configuration Documentation

Create detailed documentation of the settings for email sending, data extensions, property definitions, user roles, and user permissions.

5. Integration Documentation

This documentation details integration with other systems involved in the marketing automation process. Systems that cover functionality such as analytics, and content management systems. The systems could be Salesforce or third-party.

6. Custom Development Documentation

If the strategy includes custom email templates or API (Application Programming Interface) integrations, the custom development documentation details the specifications.

7. Templates and Other Assets

Define templates and create content for use in communication templates such as text copy, graphics and images for email, mobile, social media, and web pages.

8. Development Environment

When building out your Salesforce Marketing Cloud journeys, emails, and other assets, it is important to have a space to test them. However, there does not exist the concept of a Sandbox or Test environment for Marketing Cloud. One approach to testing is to create duplicate data extensions, journeys, emails, and other components. The downside to this approach is that all work is still within the production space and would require a lot of manual work to move from test to production.

The approach we recommend is to purchase a second instance of Marketing Cloud. When doing so, there are a few considerations:

  • Create Separate Logins – the instances will be accessed from the same URL requiring separate logins for your team.
  • Limit the Subscribers – the cost structure for Marketing Cloud is based on the number of subscribers so having a subset of your subscribers for testing helps manage costs.
  • Synchronize Parameters – the testing instance setup should match the production instance setup. 

9. User Training Materials

To increase adoption, user manuals and quick start guides for each user group.

10. Testing Plans

Document the testing approach and expected outcomes for the marketing campaigns, customer journeys, integrations, etc. to ensure they are working as expected. 

11. Deployment Process

When there are two instances, a development/testing and a production environment, a process is needed for promoting components. Within Marketing Cloud there is a component called Package Manager on the “Platform” tab that can be used to deploy components.

Here is a high-level view of the deployment process using the Package Manager.



What you will notice is that there is no direct deployment of components from one instance to the other. In the Test Instance, the Package Manager is used to create a package, selecting the version of the components that are intended for deployment. The components that can be deployed in this manner are: 

  • Journeys
  • Automations
  • Assets (Email Templates, images, etc.)
  • Data Extensions
  • Attribute Groups

The output is a zip file that is then downloaded to either a Local Machine or Shared Drive. On the Production Instance, the Package Manager is used to deploy the package. Upload the zip file and follow the prompts to deploy, selecting the appropriate options for each component. A summary will be displayed upon completion and any issues.

Pre-Deployment Considerations

  • Any corresponding Salesforce Sales Cloud components needed for Marketing Cloud components that will be deployed, should be deployed first.
  • Synchronized Data Extensions such as those that synchronize Salesforce objects like Account, must be manually deployed.
  • Custom Actions within journeys cannot be deployed and must be recreated in the production instance.
  • Pause automations when deploying new components, such as new SQL Activity, into existing automations.

Post-Deployment Considerations

  • When deploying Journeys
    • Test configurations for custom actions, such as Application Programming Interface (API) endpoints, must be updated. Add them before the existing in the path to ensure the settings are done correctly and do not impact the journey path setup.
    • Restart the automation that was paused and ensure they are running correctly.

12. Measure Effectiveness

In addition to Split Testing, referred to as A/B Testing, where two versions of messaging are compared, Email Optimization, etc. reports can be created in the Analytics Builder to measure the effectiveness of campaign efforts. There are standard reports available that can be used to analyze and report metrics to key stakeholders, covering information such as email open rates, conversion rates, Net Promoter Score/Customer Satisfaction, Social Media Engagement, etc.

Kenway and Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Finding the right partner to meet your organization’s needs is essential to realizing success faster and with confidence. The experts at Kenway Consulting act as an extension of your team, setting you up for success and filling in the gaps where you need it most. Our team of Salesforce consultants has a wide range of expertise and knows what it takes to achieve success within SFMC. 

Here is a brief overview of the key elements the Salesforce Marketing Cloud consultants at Kenway take into account when starting on a project:

  • Create a Marketing Strategy clearly documenting goals and expectations that align with the organization’s overall marketing and business objectives.
  • Develop an implementation roadmap that outlines steps, timelines, and milestones, covering data migration, configuration, customization, and external system integration. This includes a data model, defining assets, creation of a development environment, and defining a deployment process.
  • Work to ensure buy-in and adoption by involving stakeholders in the implementation process.
  • Conduct a needs assessment of the existing marketing systems, processes, and data architecture to identify gaps and issues to address prior to and during implementation.
  • Review and update data to prevent data quality issues.
  • Train your internal teams on features, functionality, workflows, and best practices.
  • Monitor implementation for performance improvement and optimization opportunities.

    Ready to learn more? Connect with us to learn how Kenway Consulting can help you successfully implement Salesforce Marketing Cloud into your company.

    How Can We Help?