The quest: broadcast email & salesforce

I have a (possibly unhealthy) obsession with broadcast email platforms that integrate with Salesforce. Im always searching for the email holy grail the right balance of power, usability, and reliability.

By Chris McCullough | May 19, 2016 |
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When I heard in September that Campaign Monitor was launching a new Salesforce integration, I had to take a look. I’ve always liked Campaign Monitor as a stand-alone email service. Their email building tools and user interface are slick and user-friendly, and all of their email templates look great on mobile. And Campaign Monitor’s powerful features like A/B testing and automation really easy to use.

After a lot of testing with a few of our clients, here’s what I’ve learned: It may not be the holy grail, but Campaign Monitor with Salesforce integration is pretty awesome. Interested in all the details? Keep reading; I’ve laid out the results of my tests below. And before you read any more, please note Percolator has no relationship with Campaign Monitor, financial or otherwise.

Campaign Monitor for Salesforce can be installed from the AppExchange. It’s free for basic use, but most of the features that make it awesome require the paid, “Premium” version (there’s a 14-day trial to test it out). Once the app is installed and connected to your Campaign Monitor account, you can:

  • Sync contacts from Salesforce and Campaign Monitor. You can manually add Contacts to a List through buttons on List Views and Campaigns, but even better, you can configure “Automatic Subscription Rules” to add or remove Contacts from lists automatically. For example, whenever a Contact is created or edited with the “Member News Opt In” box checked, you can add them to your Member News List automatically. If someone is marked as Deceased or Inactive, you can remove them automatically.
  • Map fields between Salesforce and Campaign Monitor subscriber. That means you can easily build Campaign Monitor “segments” based on data from Salesforce — for example, Current Members, or Donors This Year, or people who live in Walla Walla. You can also use that data to populate merge fields in your email — a member expiration date, for example. Anything that’s on the Contact record in Salesforce can be mapped to Campaign Monitor.
  • Setup up automated campaigns triggered by data in Salesforce, like a birthday or expiration date, or based on a Contact being added to a particular list. For example, one of our clients, Slow Food USA, is automatically sending a welcome series to new members, including a digital membership card populated with data from Salesforce.
  • View and report on email results like opens and click-throughs both at an aggregate level and an individual level.
  • Access all of the features and tools on the website — the email builder, segmenting, A/B testing, automation, etc. — inside of Salesforce, without having to log in again.

Most of these features exist in other email platforms we’ve worked with. But the high quality of this Salesforce integration sets Campaign Monitor apart. Going back to Matthew’s 5 Essential Qualities of Great Salesforce Integrations post, Campaign Monitor scores well on all of them:

Reliable. The sync between Salesforce and Campaign Monitor has been rock solid. The Contact sync is trigger-based, so anytime you create or edit a Contact, their info is immediately updated in Campaign Monitor. If you update multiple records simultaneously (a big import of new subscribers, for example), the updates are queued in Salesforce and run in the background. Data flowing from Campaign Monitor to Salesforce (list updates and campaign statistics, for example) sync on a regular schedule you can control in the settings.

Transparent. With clear settings, documentation, and support, we had a very solid understanding of how this integration worked pretty quickly. The field mapping, automatic subscription rules, and sync settings are easy to understand. We also love the “Messages” tab in Salesforce that shows you clear error messages when there was a problem with the sync — for example when it contained duplicate email addresses.

Configurable. The app is highly, but not overwhelmingly, configurable. It gives you a lot of flexibility over how to handle unsubscribes, but comes with safe, sensible defaults and clearly describes additional options in the settings.

You can choose to sync email campaigns with Salesforce campaigns (including updating Campaign Member statuses to Opened, Clicked, etc.), or you can just use their custom Email Tracking Statistics object. You can also control how long those Email Tracking objects are retained, so you don’t have to clean them out manually to stay within your storage limits.

Well-Supported. Campaign Monitor’s service and integration are well-documented, and customer support has been excellent — responsive, friendly, and informative. We’ve been fortunate to have direct communications with the team that developed the app, but we’ve also found general Campaign Monitor support to be great.

Plays Well With NPSP. We’ve only run into one issue with NPSP — if you have the integration configured to delete Contacts from Campaign Monitor if they’re deleted from Salesforce, merging the contacts with the NPSP Contact Merge tool can move the corresponding Campaign Monitor subscriber to the “Deleted” list. Our clients very rarely delete Contacts from Salesforce, though, so until this is fixed, we’ve turned off that setting.

All in all, we think Campaign Monitor is the best balance of features, reliability, and ease of use on the market right now. The only thing we’ve found to complain about is the pricing structure. Campaign Monitor is priced based on the total number of subscribers you have on each of your lists — not overall unique subscribers. For example, if you have the same contact on three different lists, that counts as three subscribers.

This can become a consideration when you’re sending targeted emails to Campaign Members. The easiest way to do that is to create a new Campaign Monitor list and use the “Add to Subscriber List” button on your Campaign. But if all of those people are already on your “main” list, they’re now being counted twice.

In practice, this hasn’t been a big deal. Campaign Monitor’s pricing tiers are pretty big (50,000 to 75,000 for example), so you usually have some space before the next level kicks in. And once you’ve sent your targeted email to the new list, you can delete it without losing any data. Still, it would be nice if the price was based on unique contacts so that you wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Did I cover all your questions? If not, or if you just want to geek out over broadcast email platforms that integrate with Salesforce, send me an email. I could talk about this stuff all day.

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