Tips for Organizing Your Salesforce Campaign Hierarchy
Campaign Hierarchies allow you to link related Salesforce Campaigns to one another and arrange them into a hierarchy structure.
The Salesforce Campaign Hierarchy feature is hugely beneficial for both reporting and general organization. Take it from me – not using it is a fatal flaw!
Multiple “child campaigns” are related to a “parent” campaign, which also can be a “child” of another “parent” campaign. This forms the hierarchy structure, like this:
You could think of it as a tree – the roots grow into branches, that split off into many leaves.
The trouble is that getting started with your Salesforce Campaign Hierarchy is surprisingly hard! For starters, which dimension should you lead with, top-down? Options include by year, region, or business unit. Then, how many levels should you go – when is granular too granular?
These are common questions I’ve been asked when guiding people through their hierarchy setup. While there is no single answer, there are a few tricks to setting up your Campaign Hierarchy that your future self will thank you for.
1. Consider Hierarchy Maintenance
Deciding how to organize your campaign hierarchy starts with figuring out how the structure will cascade, top-down.
Remember how I said you could think of the Campaign Hierarchy as a tree, with the roots growing into branches, that split off into many leaves?
Once you’ve planted your tree, you can’t suddenly uproot it, or swap the branches for the leaves!
In other words, what you place at the top of the Campaign Hierarchy then determines the rest of the levels. I mentioned this already in the introduction because this is the most common concern people voice.
Salesforce do recommend Campaign Hierarchy structures. These are a good starting point for internal conversations – in some cases, it may sense to create two different campaign hierarchies, one for each business unit, whereas, for other organizations, a regional approach could make more sense.
Whatever you decide on, ask yourself: is this easy to manage? What I mean by this is the maintenance and setup effort you will need. This is the downfall of leading with the year/quarter at the top of your hierarchy, as time passes you will need to rebuild the framework.
2. Consider the Campaign Roll-up for Reporting
What matters to your organization in terms of reporting is another factor that influences how your hierarchy should cascade (top-down). Think about the parent suggestions from earlier – do you and management need to report on campaigns by year, region, or business unit most often?
Of course, there are always ways to pull Campaign reports in any which way you need. Deciding on a sensible default, however, will save you time in the long run.
There are two ways campaign metrics ‘roll-up’ that I want to highlight:
‘In Hierarchy’ Field Metrics
Salesforce Campaigns come with standard fields that include ‘In Hierarchy’ at the end of their names that summarize the figures from all child campaigns related to a parent campaign.
Let’s walk through an example. There are 3 child campaigns that are related to the same parent campaign. Each child campaign has some campaign members that have ‘responded’ to the campaign, eg:
- Child Campaign A = 10 “Responses in Campaign”
- Child Campaign B = 40 “Responses in Campaign”
- Child Campaign C = 20 “Responses in Campaign”
Therefore, the field ’Num Responses in Hierarchy’ on the parent campaign would show 70 (10 + 40 + 20).
Take a look at the fields you have available to use:
Campaign Engagement History Metrics
If you’re a Pardot (AKA. Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) customer, you can take advantage of this second campaign roll-up benefit.
Pardot customers can sync all activities (engagement) happening with Pardot marketing assets (emails, forms, landing pages etc.). These are displayed in a Lightning Component on into Salesforce campaigns called ‘Engagement Metrics’, which you will need to add to your Campaign Lightning record pages.
The switch ‘Include Child Campaigns’ that appears enables you instantly view the email click-through rate, marketing form submission rate, etc. for the whole hierarchy (or only the single campaign you’re currently viewing). You can see this highlighted in the image below:
After reading these two explanations, you can see how the dimension you place at the top of your hierarchy (year, region, or business unit etc.) should reflect which reporting insights you need to collate from the lower levels of the hierarchy – right to, ultimately, give your ’North Star’ KPIs.
As I said, you can report on Campaign reports in any which way you need – but deciding on a sensible default will save you time in the long run.
3. Campaign Type vs. Tactic
Type and tactic are ways to describe two dimensions of the hierarchy. Understanding the difference can help prevent your team from getting tripped up on why the hierarchy is arranged the way it is (and where they should relate any new Campaign they create). Let’s “iron out” these early on:
- Type describes a high-level category of campaigns you run eg. Event. There is a standard field on Campaigns called “Type”, that you can add or remove your own values to.
- Tactic describes is the many ways you would drive prospects to the campaign, eg. for an event campaign, the tactics could be: invitation email, booth visits, 1-on-1 demos. Note that there is no field out of the box that indicates the tactic; this is usually worked into the Campaign naming convention.
4. Keep Naming Conventions ‘Skinny’
I mentioned the Campaign naming convention in the previous point, but this topic deserves its own spotlight! Naming conventions are crucial; establishing how you assemble the names of campaigns should be decided with, and communicated to, your team early on. Getting buy-in and a clear structure will increase the chances that your team will follow the naming convention (you’ll thank me later).
Keep it simple, stupid (KISS). I’ve seen naming conventions that can get very complex, very quickly – it was as if I was cracking the enigma code just to figure out what that campaign involved. I’ve seen this especially true in large enterprises, who have the capacity (and targets) to run many campaigns across multiple channels – so be aware of creeping complexity, and nip it in the bud!
You have to be disciplined anyway because of the Salesforce field character limit! To keep your naming conventions ’skinny’, I recommend two courses of action:
Think up an internal nickname/abbreviation that uses only the keywords from the full campaign name.
Campaign Custom Fields
There’s the temptation to stuff the campaign name field with information, in order to report ‘horizontally’. An example would be to add a reference to the industry the campaign is targeting; you would then think that using this report filter is smart: Campaign name [contains] ‘mfg’ to pull in all campaigns targeting manufacturing prospects.
Is it smart, though? There’s another way.
Add a custom field to hold some information that you don’t want to be contained in the ‘Campaign Name’ field but that will also be beneficial for filtering Campaign reports.
For example, if you run industry-specific campaigns, adding a ‘Target Industry’ field can make filtering reports more straightforward than stuffing more into the ‘Campaign Name’ field.
The report filters would then use: Campaign industry [is] ‘Manufacturing’
Pulling reports using “campaign name contains” carries some risk (prone to human error). If industry was an important dimension for the organization, the custom field route is certainly advisable.
5. Campaign Level Picklist
One effective custom field I’ve seen work wonders is a ‘Campaign Level’ field. This is a simple picklist field with values ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, etc. that will help organize and filter reports by their level in the hierarchy (more details later).
Honestly, the first time I saw this field in an org, I thought it a standard campaign field! I soon learned that this team were smart enough to use this numbering system to keep their hierarchies clear.
6. Customize Your Campaign Hierarchy View
The Campaign Hierarchy view visualizes how each of your individual marketing tactics relates to one another. From here, you can jump between parent-child campaigns.
Some fields are included out of the box – however, you may find that you need a different perspective, especially if you have added custom campaign fields that matter to your marketing team.
Aside from key custom fields, there are other standard fields you should consider adding to the Campaign Hierarchy View.
7. Ultimate Parent Campaign Field
Campaigns are not the only Salesforce object that can be arranged into hierarchies; I was inspired by Andreea’s in-depth overview of Salesforce Account Hierarchies, and wondered why I hadn’t mirrored her “ultimate parent” formula for Campaigns.
This is a formula field that will contain either the Name or another field value from the highest Account in the hierarchy. This formula can reach 5 levels deep (the maximum campaign hierarchy depth) – which is plenty for even the larger, more complex hierarchies!
Since I know that my hierarchy won’t contain more than 3 levels*, create this nested IF() formula field to cater for that:
IF(NOT(ISBLANK(Parent.ParentId)),Parent.Parent.Name, IF(NOT(ISBLANK(ParentId)) ,Parent.Name,""))
*if your hierarchy goes deeper, the formula can be extended.
It makes sense to position the Ultimate Campaign Parent field under the Parent Campaign field on the page layout. You can see how the two fields are different in the example below (I’ve included the hierarchy underneath that, too):
Overall, this will help you keep track of where each individual campaign belongs.
8. Eliminate Child Campaigns
Determining which channel (Child Campaign) contributed to a prospect engaging with the overall campaign (Parent Campaign) is a challenge. Organizations will opt to create child Campaigns – one per channel (!) – to get a handle on this level of channel attribution.
There is another way that will prevent your Campaign Hierarchies from bloating, using UTM parameters, Campaign Member records, and Salesforce Flow. Carl shows us how in his tutorial:
9. Automate Your Campaign Hierarchy Build
Finally, a tool that takes out the leg-work, enabling you to create an entire Campaign Hierarchy in seconds. After inputting a few details about your hierarchy requirements, a Campaign Hierarchy is generated – including campaign member statuses and attributable links. Make manually creating child Campaigns and rogue naming conventions things of the past. Check it out here.
Let’s be honest – getting started with your Salesforce Campaign Hierarchy is surprisingly hard! While there is no single answer, I’ve shared the tricks that I pass on to organizations asking for advice when setting up their Campaign Hierarchy. Don’t get “rooted in” too deep before you’re confident that your hierarchy will serve you well – your future self will thank you!
Thank you for the tips, very helpful. For #5, you can accomplish this same thin using a formula field with the following formula.
Very helpful! The ultimate parent field is brilliant.