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If you’re new to Salesforce Marketing Cloud or are planning to move to it in the near future, you’re probably interested in using the power of its automated tools to take your marketing and fundraising efforts to the next level.  Marketing Cloud includes a host of automation tools focused on email, SMS and social interactions, and all these communication channels come together in the Journey Builder. Journey Builder is an incredibly powerful tool that let’s you create personalized, behavior-based digital campaigns that target and nurture prospects one-to-one. All this power can also make Journey Builder a bit intimidating for new users.

Here are our 5 recommended steps to getting started with Journey Builder:

1. Create a map of the customer experience on paper

If it’s your first attempt at creating journeys, don’t try to do them “on the fly.”  Journey Builder takes a level of planning you may not be accustomed to if you’re used to managing campaigns manually.  Instead, start by sketching out a “light” version of the customer experience and journey you want to create.

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the goal of this journey?

  • What do we consider a “successful” journey? 

  • What units of measurement are involved?

  • How does a person (constituent, donor, etc.) begin a journey?

  • What triggers the first message (or what criteria qualifies them to receive it)?

  • How many messages should the person receive?

  • Should messages and/or paths be triggered by user actions (like opens or clicks), explicit decisions a person makes or randomization?

  • Should the person receive other types of communication in addition to emails, like texts, ads or social messages?

If you can answer the above questions, it’s time to put pencil to paper. Write down each step of the journey, including triggers, messages, actions and more so you can see the journey visually before taking the time to input it into Journey Builder.

2. Determine vision vs. reality

Once you have a visual of your desired journey, you might be inspired to dive in and create it in Journey Builder. WAIT! A journey in Journey Builder is not just an automated series of emails, it also includes triggers, content, lists (data extensions) and other data.

Consider the ideal journey you’ve sketched out as it relates to your organization’s other systems, data, content and resources.  Do you have the resources and people to create the content and assets you need? Do you have the data to appropriately segment your lists? Are you ready to react when someone reaches the desired outcome of your journey?

If you can’t answer these questions or if the answers reveal roadblocks, you may need the help of an implementation partner to get you on the right track. If you’re able to answer all these questions, then it’s time to start putting your vision into Journey Builder.

3. Focus on the paths first

Your initial goal should be to create and validate the beginning point, any branching paths and the endpoint(s). We recommend building your first journey without actual emails and with only test contact records. This should make it easier to focus only on the path, not the content or specific recipients.

When you need to start testing the paths and branches, you can create a few test records to make sure you fully understand how contacts could possibly work through the journey. Remember that you need to understand every possible scenario, not just the “expected” path. You can also have someone start working on email templates and actual content in parallel to your work, but try to keep those efforts separate initially.

4. Start testing

Once your journey is refined properly, the time has come for an end-to-end test. Add email content into the appropriate places along the journey. Include any engagement splits that were a part of your plan, then...activate! Launch your journey to test records to watch how it all plays out.

Depending on the number and nature of the splits in your journey you may find it helpful to recruit others on your team to receive emails. Make sure to give each person explicit instructions on what to do with those emails (i.e., Person A should click on email 1 and download the PDF from the landing page; Person B should click on email 1 but not download the PDF; Person C should not click on email 1, etc.). Gather specific feedback from your team and make any adjustments that are needed. Remember, you want everything in place correctly before going live!

5. Make adjustments based on findings

All deploying correctly? It’s time to go live! Start a new version of the journey and modify your entry criteria to include production records. Then, activate the journey and check on it regularly to verify records are entering as expected. If you set a goal for your journey, check it when appropriate and report back to your marketing stakeholders.

If this all sounds a little overwhelming, contact KELL Partners.  We've helped over 1,ooo clients start or expand their use of Salesforce. For more information about how we can help your marketing or fundraising team, visit our Marketing Automation Services page and our Marketing Cloud Services page, or contact us to discuss your organization's unique needs.