Marketing Cloud New Releases: What They Mean for Developers

 

The two recent releases of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Nov 2014 and Jan 2015) include several new platform features and enhancements that are specifically relevant to platform development and integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. These developer-related enhancements are explained in detail below.

Journey Builder Enhancements

Contact Entry Mode (Jan 2015 Release)

In previous Journey Builder releases, a Contact could not be in the same version of an Interaction simultaneously. This is an issue for Interactions where you need a Contact to enter the same Interaction more than once, for example in abandoned cart or post-purchase programs.

In this new release, a Contact Entry Mode has been added to the Interaction Canvas that enables you to define whether a Contact can enter an Interaction once (across all Interaction versions), or enter the same Interaction multiple times.

If the option is set to 'Single Entry' and a Contact is already in a current version of the Interaction, then the Contact will not be allowed to enter the Interaction version again until they have exited the Interaction. However, if they are not currently in an Interaction version, they will be allowed to enter it (if they meet the Contact Filter Entry Criteria defined in the Interaction Trigger).

If the option is set to 'Multiple Entries', when an Event is fired a Contact can enter the current active version of an Interaction (if they meet the Contact Filter Entry Criteria defined in the Interaction Trigger), even if they are already moving through the Interaction.

Contact-entry-mode

Setting The Contact Entry Mode in Journey Builder Interaction Canvas

This mode can also be defined when creating an Interaction using the an Interaction method from the Fuel REST API by including one of the following name/value pairs in the WDF payload:

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f you do not define an entryMode when creating an Interaction, then the Interaction will use SingleEntryAcrossAllVersions by default.

Date-Based Triggers (Jan 2015 Release)

A new 'Date-Based' Trigger option is available in Interaction Triggers that enables date-based Attributes from the Contact model to determine an entry criteria for the Interaction.

Date-based-trigger

Date-Based Trigger in an Interaction Trigger

A threshold defines the number of days, weeks or months and start time that the Contact should be admitted into the Interaction, before or after the selected Attribute date. When the Contact meets the criteria, the Contact will be admitted into the Interaction.

Use cases include birthday or anniversary programs, subscription dates, or the last time a Contact used a mobile app. When the value of a Contact Attribute changes, the algorithm re-evaluates the Contact for possible inclusion.

A re-entry criteria defines whether a Contact can re-enter the Interaction (either yearly, monthly or none).

Trigger Testing

A new status mode allows a Trigger to be changed to 'Test Mode' so an Interaction Trigger can be tested without admitting Contacts into an Interaction. This is helpful when testing if the Contact Filter Criteria defined in a Trigger has been configured correctly.

To set a Trigger to Test Mode in Journey Builder, select Triggers from the Administration menu and click on the Availability link related to the Trigger you want to test.

Only Triggers that are set to 'Unavailable' can be tested. If a Trigger is currently set to 'Available', select the Unavailable radio button and click Save, then open the Trigger Status dialog for the Trigger again by selecting Test Mode and click Save

 Trigger-test-mode

Setting a Trigger to Test Mode in Journey Builder Trigger Administration

A View Results link will then appear in the Trigger Performance column. Fire an Event (using Automation Studio or the contactEvents API method) for the Interaction Trigger to hear the Event, then click on the View Results link to preview the percentage of rejected Contacts (that did not meet the entry criteria) and the percentage of Contacts that would have been accepted into the Interaction, if the Trigger was available.

Join Activity (Nov 2014 Release)

Join Activities reunite Contacts from two or more different branches back to a single branch. For example, if a Decision Split Activity is used to send two or more different messaging activities to Contacts, a Join Activity can be used to merge branches back together, so contacts continue to flow toward the same endpoint.

Note that in Workflow Document Format (WDF) there is no Join type used in the Activity Object for Join Activities. Instead, WDF uses an Activity Wait type to reunite Activities from separate branches back to a single branch.

In WDF, Wait Periods (represented as Wait type Activities) are reunited into a single branch by using the same target Wait type Activity key for their outcome. The flow diagram below illustrates this behavior, where boxes represent Activity Objects and arrows are outcomes from the Activity Objects.

Join-flow

A WDF Interaction Workflow with a Join Activity

Personalization Strings in Email (Nov 2014 Release)

Personalization strings are now supported in emails sent from Journey Builder (in previous releases, emails in a Journey Builder Send Email Activity could not be personalized). The data binding context used for personalization strings is the Event Source Data Extension defined in the Interaction Trigger.

To include an Event Source Data Extension field in an Email use the %%fieldName%% personalization string syntax in the email subject line, preheader or body of the email.

You will need to ensure that an Profile Attribute exists for the Data Extension field before it can be used in an email. To create a new Attribute, select Profile Management from the Subscribers menu in the Marketing Cloud Email app and click the Create button. Add the name of the Data Extension field in the New Attribute Properties dialog and include an optional description, then click OK.

  New-profile-attributeCreating New Profile Attributes in the Email App

The Send Email Activity creates a Triggered Send in the Marketing Cloud Email app when the Interaction is published. This Triggered Send is used to deliver the email from the Send Email Activity. When an Interaction enters an unpublished state, the Triggered Send is set to inactive until the Activity is re-published.

Note that if the email template is updated while an Interaction is running, you need to publish the changes for the Triggered Email by selecting Triggered Emails from the Interactions menu in the Marketing Cloud Email app and expand the Journey Builder Sends tree to locate the email. Select the checkbox next to the email and click the Publish Changes button.

Publishing-triggered-sendsPublishing Triggered Sends from Marketing Cloud Email App

Contact History (Nov 2014 Release)

This feature is helpful to be aware of when troubleshooting an Interaction or monitoring the progress of an Interaction. You can view an activity log for Contacts that have entered an Interaction by selecting Contacts from the Administration menu in Journey Builder.

This page displays a complete transaction history of current and previously published Interactions. A search filter enables filtering by Contacts to display the Interactions they entered and exited, and the status of the Contact in Interactions. You can also filter by a column value, for example 'DidNotMeetEntryCriteria' to filter all Contacts that did not meet the Contact Filter Criteria defined in the Interaction Trigger.

Contact-historyContacts Administration in Journey Builder

Wait Period Time (Jan 2015 Release)

While this new feature is not mentioned in the release notes and not yet supported in the Interaction Canvas interface, it's now available through the Fuel REST API and is worth understanding. Wait Periods in an Interaction can now define what time (and time zone) the Wait Period ends and the next Activity in a branch commences.

A typical use case for this feature is that if you want to start a Send Email Activity at a specific time of day (for example, 2pm when the open rate is higher), then you can define this in the WDF Wait Object.

An example JSON payload of a Wait Object in WDF with values for a specifiedTime and timeZoneId is provided below.

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Supported time zone identifiers (used as timeZoneId values) are provided in the Wait Format documentation.

What is interesting to note is that there's a new waitForEventKey name/value pair option in a Wait Activity object — while this is currently reserved for future use, it does indicate the direction of Wait Activities. For example, in the future a Send Email Activity used in an 'Abandoned Cart' Interaction could be configured to Wait until a Contact completes a shopping cart transaction in an ecommerce platform (by firing an Event using the contactEvents API method).

Journey Builder for Apps Enhancements

Pictures in Android MobilePush Notifications (Nov 2014 Release)

Pictures can now be included in MobilePush Notifications for Android devices. This support adds impact to push notifications and can improve action rates.

To enable picture notifications in Android devices, create a new et_big_pic custom key in Journey Builder for Apps SDK Explorer.

Android_mc_bigpic_adminCreating a Custom Key Journey Builder for Apps SDK Explorer

Once the custom key is added, you will be able to include a reference to an image when creating a new Outbound Message in MobilePush. From the MobilePush app, select the Create Message button, select the Outbound template, and the 'et_big_pic' Custom Key you created in the SDK Explorer will appear as an available custom key. Enter a shortened URL to the image.

Android_mc_bigpic_create_messageAssigning a URL to a Custom Key in a MobilePush Message

The Android SDK will handle the message display and the image (which will be scaled as required) will appear in the message notification.

Android_sdk_bigpic_picture_message

Image in a MobilePush Message

Journey Builder for Apps SDK Explorer (Nov 2014 Release)

Journey Builder for Apps SDK Explorer available from Google Play Store enables developers to use the SDK without a requiring a Salesforce Marketing Cloud account. An iOS version of this app will be available from the Apple App Store in the coming months.

Sendmessage-explorer

Sending a Message using Journey Builder for Apps SDK Explorer

MobilePush

Interactive Notifications (Nov 2014 Release)

This new feature enables an app to display button controls on a mobile device when it receives a push message from MobilePush. For example, a 'View Offer' button that links to a mobile-optimized landing page.

The category names of these Interactive Notifications are then included in the message payload. Refer to the Interactive Notifications developer documentation for implementing this functionality in iOS and Android applications.

Once implemented, Interactive Notifications are available in the outbound message template when creating a message from the MobilePush app. You can include up to four buttons specifying actions per message notification.

Interactive Notifications for Location Messages (Jan 2015 Release)

Extending the previous release, Interactive Notifications have been added to the Locations feature in MobilePush, enabling Location Exit or Entry messages to include Interactive Notifications based on their defined geofence area.

Push Service Manager (Nov 2014 Release)

A Push Service Manager app accessible from the HubExchange menu in Marketing Cloud facilitates the management of Apple Push Notification (APNS) Certificates and Google API keys for MobilePush configurations. In turn, this provides a faster, more secure way to register apps with MobilePush.

PushServiceManager

Managing MobilePush configurations using Push Service Manager

Conclusion

These recent developer-centric enhancements to Salesforce Marketing Cloud provide further affirmation that Salesforce recognize the essential role that developers play in the integration and ultimately adoption of their platform. I have no doubt that we will see many other developer related enhancements in their aggressive release schedule for 2015.

About the Author

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Eliot Harper is Chief Technology Officer at Digital Logic, a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Partner based in Melbourne, Australia. Eliot specializes in Customer Journey Management and is author of the Journey Builder Developer's Guide http://jbdevelopers.guide. Follow @eliotharper on Twitter.

 

 

 

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