As a mid-market or enterprise brand using Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you must already be running a number of journeys. Some simple, like a single channel birthday journey. Some moderate, like a welcome journey across multiple channels. Some complex journeys like cart abandonment and cross-sell journeys.
When you started creating the journeys, you must have seen the journeys getting executed lightning fast. But over time, you would have seen the whole process slowing down.
Salesforce Journey Builder is comfortable handling huge amounts of customer data. However, when running multiple complex journeys, simultaneously, Journey Builder’s resources thin out. The process slows down.
Why does Journey Builder perform under-par? Data related and platform usage related goof-ups. Both are interrelated. One affects the other.
From root-causes of suboptimal Journey Builder performance. To the fine tuning of your usage of Journey Builder. We discuss eight main causes for sluggish journeys. We also offer solutions to accelerate Journey Builder’s performance. So that your journeys are lightning quick. These are battle-tested solutions. And the very ones we use with clients.
Remember the four reasons for sub-optimal usage of Salesforce Marketing Cloud that we covered in our Salesforce Marketing Cloud services page. We are covering the relevant ones from those in detail here. If you haven’t seen our Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions page yet, we recommend you visit the page to know more about our capabilities by clicking here.
What gives us the right to write this article?
Xerago has been offering marketing services using Salesforce modules since before the time they became part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We go back a while. Remember Pardot, ExactTarget, Radian 6? Since those days.
Our vintage in SFMC is quite long. We have encountered several challenges and successfully overcame them. This article is a synthesis of those problems and solutions.
Disclaimer: We are aware that Salesforce has recently rebranded the SFMC modules. Now, Journey Builder is part of Marketing Cloud Engagement. However, for ease of reference and usage, we are retaining the name, Journey Builder.
Ok? Let's roll up our sleeves and get down to it.
Sourcing and Using Customer Data: 3 Common Mistakes.
#1: Using the same source database for multiple journeys
All journeys need a data source. The source data can be input into Journey Builder’s through the Entry Source interface. But Journey Builder processing speed is influenced by the amount of customer data it can process at a given time. If you make the mistake of running multiple journeys concurrently, each relying on the same source data, you’re bound to screw up its performance.
#2: Sourcing Entry Source data every time
In a multi-step journey, the next step of the journey is usually dependent on data filtered for the previous steps of the same journey. In such cases, accessing data from the Entry Source for every step slows down your Journey Builder performance.
#3: Contact entering journey multiple times
Multi-step journeys depend on several Entry Source Data Extensions. If you keep these Data Extensions unlinked, you risk the embarrassing possibility of having the same contact data enter the journey multiple times. And if the journey is to offer the duplicated contact a freebie, well, someone has just hit paydirt!!
Consider this real-life example.
Your wish to use Journey Builder to send an offer only to contacts who have made a purchase of $100 or above. Like a little show of appreciation.
You have three possible scenarios. Each of which falls increasingly higher on the embarrassment scale.
A contact makes one purchase through the mobile app for above $100. – One to One.
A contact makes multiple purchases through multiple channels above $100 – One to Many.
Many contacts make multiple purchases above $100. Through multiple channels. – Many to Many.
In the One-to-One relationship, a single contact data enters the journey once, and is eligible for the offer. No problems so far. Since One-to-Many contacts make multiple purchases on multiple channels, the same contact data enters the journey via multiple entry sources. Now you risk sending the same offer, to the same contact, multiple times. Oops!
In the Many-to-Many relationship, multiple contact data enters the journey through multiple sources. This again sends the same offer multiple times to many customers.
All this obviously leads to unwanted processing and delay.
5 Reasons for poor understanding and use of Salesforce Journey Builder’s controls and interfaces
#1: Using Journey Builder as a segmentation tool
Journey Builder has a panel called Control Flows. This is where you put in the logic that decides the paths your journey takes.
Decision Split is one such control. It's used to create separate journey paths based on common data attributes. Decision Split can be used to segment your entire customer data. But Decision Split is NOT a segmentation tool. Using it as a segmentation tool is a BIG NO. If you use Decision Split at the start of a journey for large-scale data segmentation, Journey builder is guaranteed to stagger.
#2: Not using the correct control logic
Marketers tend to get creative by using multiple controls to orchestrate a journey when just one would do the job. And then they wring their hands, wondering why Journey Builder is crawling.
#3: Personalizing journeys when it adds little or no value
Journey Builder has the capability to run personalized content on multiple channels. All emails, SMS, and push notifications sent using the Activity Panel can be personalized by adding dynamic content and images.
Up to a point, beyond this, the quantum of personalized content tends to slow Journey Builder down. There is too much personalized content, and Journey Builder is processing all personalization requests for every contact entering the journey. And we are not even talking about the limitations of the messaging channel.
#4: Building journeys without understanding processing time
This is a biggie. Consider a multi-step journey. Whose path goes through various channels. Each with many controls and activities. Each has their own processing speed.
If your expectations of the processing time are not matched by the time taken by the individual stages, you are likely to think Journey Builder is slow.
#5: The same instance is used by multiple departments
Initially, you’d buy a Marketing Cloud and use it across multiple business units. It is understandable and sensible. Journey Builder supports the multi-tenant model.
But as your business scales up, every business unit will have its own journeys to be run on priority. Before you know it, multiple journeys from every business unit are running on one single Journey Builder installation. And when things slow to a crawl, everyone is blaming the other. And work is behind schedule.