Marketers / Marketing Cloud

10 Ways to Send an Email in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By Oana Munteanu

As you become more familiar with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you will notice that there are multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. Sending emails using Marketing Cloud is a key example. Even experienced users can sometimes find it hard to choose between the options available, but you’re in for a treat, as I’ll be guiding you through which method to use (and when).

Email marketing sits at the core of this platform as the main functionality the Marketing Cloud product is built upon. Depending on what you have access to, you can configure and trigger emails from different parts of the platform, such as Email Studio and Journey Builder. Let’s have a look at each one of them individually…

Email Studio

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Studio is where you build (using Content Builder), then preview, test, and send emails.

1. Send Flow

Send Flow enables you to send an email to any audience type, such as a list, data extension, or even Salesforce reports or campaigns.

Send Flow is the original and most popular Marketing Cloud send type. This is especially true if it’s the sole Studio you’ve purchased (i.e., your account is only provisioned with Email Studio).

Send Flow replaces the previous “Guided Send” in Email Studio; although the name has changed, the functionality remains pretty much the same, including the UI and guided flow experience.

One of the many benefits of using Send Flow is the highly visual step-by-step guide that takes you through the process, helping to reduce potential errors.

When to use it: When you have only one email to send, one time, to a defined audience, stored in a List or Data Extension.

The flow also enables you to:

  • Exclude any audience types
  • Use suppression lists
  • De-dupe subscribers by email address (which I always recommend in case there’s a chance of multiple subscriber records using the same email address – you wouldn’t want them to receive that same email multiple times).

Note: when using this option, the email tracking data doesn’t sync back to Salesforce CRM, unless the target Data Extension is saved in the Salesforce Data Extensions folder.

Navigate to: Email Studio → select the email you want to send → Click on “Send”. This action will open up the Send Flow experience.

2. User-Initiated

User-Initiated emails are sent to multiple recipients (at the same time) to Data Extensions.

These sends work like a Send Definition, in that you configure all the email send elements (select the email, send classification, audience, add CC and BCC recipients).

You can find this type of email send within Email Studio, under the Interactions area. It’s part of the legacy Email Studio functionalities (hence, the dated UI look and feel).

To perform the actual send, you do it manually – you can either send immediately or schedule it on a specific date and time.

When to use it: When you want to re-use the same audience and settings multiple times i.e., a monthly newsletter that always goes out to the same audience (that’s stored as a Data Extension).

Note: Beware of the cost implications when enabling the CC/BCC functionality, as each copy of the email costs money. If you can’t see this functionality in your account, you may need to reach out to your account executive to get it enabled.

Navigate to: Email Studio → Interactions area.

3. Salesforce Sends

Similar to user-initiated send, Salesforce Sends are also sent using Email Studio, despite their name suggesting they are sent from the Salesforce core platform.

They are named this way for two reasons:

  1. These are email sends to Salesforce Data Extensions, which are typically created by importing data from Salesforce Reports (vs creating the Data Extension by segmenting data inside of Marketing Cloud).
  2. Send and tracking data automatically syncs to the Salesforce core platform via Marketing Cloud Connect (their main benefit, in my opinion!).

Note: Your user needs to be integrated with a CRM user to see this option available within your account.

4. Triggered Sends

Triggered Sends are sent to individual recipients, one by one, in real-time. This is following an action or transaction, for example, to receive a confirmation email after registering for an event.

The fact that these emails are sent to each recipient individually, is the key difference between triggered sends and user-initiated emails (even though they share the same UI).

Triggered Sends are made up of three components, two of which are configurable within the Marketing Cloud interface: content and interaction.

  • The interaction element controls when to start sending the emails.
  • The content is what defines the interaction, the specific email to be sent out, the send classification, and how subscribers should be managed, etc.

The third component is the criteria to trigger the interaction, which is configured outside the SFMC platform (via API calls). These triggers are using the information defined in the Triggered Send configuration (the content component) when sending out the email.

If you need to update the content of the email, you can pause the interaction, publish the changes, and restart the interaction.

When to use it: To trigger automated emails based on events that take place inside, or outside the SFMC platform, such as submitting a webform hosted on a website (not a Marketing Cloud form).

5. Journey Builder Sends

You can consider this a view of Journey Builder sends from within Email Studio. From this area, Journey Builder sends can be viewed, paused, started/restarted, and changes published.

In other words, you’re not performing the actual send from here; the Journey Builder Sends are created by default in this view for you to manage from Email Studio.

Tip: Monitor the emails sent via Journey Builder from this area, as it provides more accurate and detailed information regarding whether the send has completed, it’s in the queue, or has errors.

6. A/B Testing

Although it’s technically not a send type, I wanted to include A/B Testing – as you will know, you can send emails while testing different variables.

The A/B testing functionality (within Email Studio) enables you to do just that. There are six test types you can perform: subject lines, preheaders, from names, send dates/times, content areas or even two different emails.

During the setup, you will select the target audience, the percentage that you wish to experiment with for your test, how you’ll determine a winner (clicks vs open rates), and the evaluation time. With the time period, I suggest that the larger the audience you are sending to, the larger you should make the time window to calculate the winner. The last step is scheduling the send, which can be immediate or on a different date.

Want to go beyond A/B testing? Check out the Path Optimizer tool in Journey Builder.

Journey Builder

Marketing Cloud Journey Builder is an amazing campaign automation building experience that visually maps out the ‘journey’ contacts will make through your marketing touchpoints.

7. Single Send Journey

Single Send Journeys enable you to send an email in three steps. First, select the email you want to send, choose the Data Extension that contains the target audience (add more filters if required), and schedule the send.

Aside from being simple to set up, another huge benefit is that email tracking syncs to Salesforce CRM automatically for all journey email sends. This means that you don’t have to worry about saving your Data Extensions in specific folders to ensure this sync happens.

When to use it: For a single email send using Journey Builder.

8. Multi-Step Journey

For anything that requires more than one email send, the multi-step journey is the perfect tool. You can design and build simple or complex multi-channel journeys that take your customers through different paths (branching logic) based on their engagement and/or data. Set emails to be sent out automatically on specific days or at different time intervals. The Journey Builder canvas interface is designed so that you can follow your customers’ progress through the journey.

Navigate to: Journey Builder → Create New Journey → Multi-Step Journey → Build. When an email activity is configured in Journey Builder, a triggered send activity is automatically created behind the scenes, visible in that area.

When to use it: For sending multiple emails, leveraging Journey Builder’s paths (branching logic).

9. Transactional Send Journey

Only used for transactional messages, sent in response to a user’s action, such as submitting a form or completing a purchase.

The transactional API message entry source is created via the Journey Builder UI instead of using code, which is helpful for non-technical users. These sends are a step up from the classic Triggered Sends in Email Studio, and are sent via REST APIs (asynchronous).

Please note, the actual trigger criteria is configured via APIs outside of the platform, and tied to a specific journey via an Event Definition Key – a unique, user generated key that can be referenced by the API call.

When to use it: To trigger automated emails based on events that take place inside, or outside the SFMC platform, such as submitting a webform hosted on a website (not a Marketing Cloud form).

READ MORE: Get Started with Transactional Messaging API

Automation Studio

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Automation Studio is where you create marketing automation and data management activities.

10. Send Email Activity

You can choose to configure a send email activity as part of a multi-step automation, or on its own.

Configuring a Send Email Activity creates a Send Definition that can be used in more than one automation, similar to the User-Initiated sends. A good use case for using this type of send is scheduling automated reports sent via email.

Note: Emails sent via Automation Studio are not being tracked in CRM.

Final Thoughts

As you become more familiar with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you will notice that there are multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. However, it’s important to learn about all the methods available so you can decide which one is best for what scenario.

To finish up, here is what Salesforce says:

“When considering which send method to use, keep in mind who you’re sending to and what’s driving your send—you or an action taken by the customer. Bottom line: If you let the goals of your message guide your decision, it’ll be smooth sending.”

The Author

Oana Munteanu

Oana Munteanu is a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Champion and a Senior Marketing Consultant at Bluewolf, an IBM Company.

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