When an organization makes the decision to invest in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, much of the focus is rightly on the implementation process. After all, setting up the platform correctly from the outset greatly increases the likelihood of achieving the promised ROI. Aligning the solution design to the business strategy, getting the right data integrations set up, rigorous quality control in the configuration, IP warming and general testing, user training—it’s all essential. 

However, working for Bold Orange—both a Salesforce Marketing Cloud partner and full-service customer experience agency—I know that a great implementation is not the end of the journey for brands. It’s just the beginning. The potential for innovation and growth on the platform is nearly limitless.  

And yet, while working with organizations that have long-standing tenure on Marketing Cloud, I’ve often heard CMOs, CX strategists, and marketing practitioners question whether they’re getting full value from the platform. Which makes it even more curious that asking Google or an AI Chat application, “How do I get more from Salesforce Marketing Cloud?”, will primarily yield results focused on implementation related issues.  

Why do many organizations feel that they’re not getting enough bang for their buck? And why does so much of the available information on the topic focus only on set-up? There’s a knowledge gap in the marketplace, and my goal is to use what I’ve learned from “on the ground” clients and colleagues over the years to help fill it.  

Three Opportunities to Capture and Sustain Marketing Cloud Value 

At Bold Orange, we see three key opportunities for organizations who have made the investment in Salesforce Marketing Cloud and are seeking to increase usage to drive ROI:   

  1. Establish the right cross-functional team. 
  2. Put processes in place to drive continuous optimization. 
  3. Measure the impact and demonstrate the value of the platform.  

#1. Establish the right cross-functional team.

Typically, cross functional teams come together for the initial Marketing Cloud implementation then disperse once it’s complete. This can create barriers to ongoing success. To be successful, the cross functional mindset must be sustained. Marketing/CX strategy, sales and service leaders, specialized experts in data and analytics, technology, operations—all need to be part of the ecosystem to ensure the platform continues to evolve as business needs change and the organization gains knowledge and experience. 

Technical experts, for instance, are necessary in supporting the ongoing tweaks that are an inevitable part of successful Marketing Cloud operations: new data sets that need to be integrated, the application of any upgrades provided by Salesforce, etc. Partnership in the consideration and testing of additional features will help users and marketing leaders become more confident with the platform. 

Continuous dialogue with the business’ strategy, sales, and service leaders, meanwhile, can drive constructive discussions around any need for changes to campaign schedules, content and messaging revisions, channel selection, target audiences, metrics, and more. Not all the onus here is on the teams who manage and use Marketing Cloud on a day-to-day basis.  

And then there’s senior leadership, who needs to be coached on the fact that communicating any go-to-market strategy changes in a timely manner to campaign management teams will result in stronger customer acquisition and retention outcomes. When changes are communicated later in the cycle, the ability to leverage Salesforce Marketing Cloud functionality to maximize impact gets diminished.   

#2. Put processes in place to drive continuous optimization. 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is packed with features and capabilities that continuously evolve and grow with every product release. In the real world, though, users are dealing with the pressure of everyday execution. They simply do not have the time to explore some of the more advanced capabilities that can bring significant incremental value to their organization.  

Salesforce does a great job in providing a huge set of learning assets through its Trailhead portal and other resources—theoretically, a user can learn as they go. Realistically, though, life and work often get in the way. A more structured approach to ongoing optimization of Marketing Cloud—a prioritized roadmap—is essential. 

It’s helpful to think about Marketing Cloud value capture in terms of a maturity lifecycle with three stages: “Crawl,” “Walk,” and “Run.” Several factors determine where an organization sits on this scale: tenure on the platform, the skills and expertise of users and administrators, the type and sophistication of communications executed through the platform, etc. The basic idea, though, is that different capabilities become more relevant and valuable as experience with the platform matures. 

By allocating specific capabilities and features to each stage, it creates both a curriculum of ongoing user training/learning, and a trigger to turn on, configure, or add features that will drive new incremental value at each stage. While the capabilities for each stage will vary based on industry, size, and organizational context, a basic model could look something like this: 


Of course, however rigorous or customized a framework like this, it won’t be effective unless senior leaders from IT and marketing are accountable to make it happen. That means the ability to assess progress, and, when necessary, enabling users to invest time in further training.  

#3. Measure the impact and demonstrate the value of the platform. 

Once the implementation phase is complete, and the spotlight shifts to another corporate priority, the original business case gets somewhat forgotten. The original advocates are doing something else, possibly somewhere else.  

Then an invoice arrives, and financial eyes are once more attentive. Questions are asked and justifications sought. This is an avoidable situation. 

A best practice is to develop reporting that connects the dots between usage costs, Marketing Cloud-driven revenue events and marketing actions, and the resulting ROI and/or other benefits arising from those actions. Such insights will enable you to make decisions about which engagement activities make sense and whether there are opportunities to tighten targeting, leverage additional functionality within the platform, dive deeper into engagement metrics, or other measures that will help cast light on any adjustments that could be made to maximize effectiveness. 

The reports and any relevant takeaways should be timed to precede invoices. This way, any potential concerns or surprises can be addressed ahead of time, enabling control to be maintained—and in most cases avoiding unproductive fire drills and the attendant scramble for information. 

Measuring and reporting on the impact of the platform is also essential for growth. Proof of ROI is how you justify additional investment in innovation and optimization, creating a feedback loop of success.  

Next Steps 

Each of these opportunities really just calls for the application of common sense and good business practice. But, as we all know—in life and business—just because something is obvious, doesn’t mean it happens.  

Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides a powerful and evolving set of capabilities that can help transform and monetize the omnichannel digital experience, but organizations should not expect to simply plug in the platform and wait for the ROI to flow. While Artificial Intelligence may be built into the platform, human intelligence is very much still required over time, to get it dancing your tune.  

If you could use help kickstarting the process to get more incremental value from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a FastTracker assessment from Bold Orange could be exactly what you need. We’ll look at your people, processes, and technology to unlock opportunity areas and create a roadmap to your future-state solution. Get in touch to learn more.