Adobe Campaign: Best Practices to Maximize Your Marketing Efforts
- Posted: 21st September 2022
- Written by:
Daniel Spigarolo, Senior Manager Adobe Consulting Services
Understand the Keys to Ensure Smooth Sailing
As with all marketing automation solutions, it is crucial to be knowledgeable about the Do’s and Don’ts of Adobe Campaign to avoid pitfalls related to overall performance and ROI of the platform. Below, we’ve outlined a number of best practices you will want to understand, whether you are exploring Adobe Campaign as a potential solution, are close to implementing or have had the solution for several years and simply want to be assured you are following best practices.
The “Do’s” of Adobe Campaign
1. Utilize out-of-the-box functionality
One of the biggest strengths of the Adobe Campaign platform is its flexibility and customizable elements, but with that power comes some potential pitfalls. Many companies fall into the trap of recreating the wheel, particularly on their data structure. It’s important to have a good grasp on the core Adobe Campaign tables and how they can be extended before layering on new tables and creating a complex system of joins. Planning out your data structure upfront and utilizing most of the existing out-of-the-box schemas will go a long way to simplifying your overall experience with the tool.
2. Utilize Typology Rules
Typology rules are a powerful piece of functionality within Adobe Campaign that allow you to test various combinations by applying specific constraint rules. It is the final set of filters or rules that are checked and applied to a population immediately prior to messages being delivered out of Adobe Campaign. A recipient who matches the selection criteria set in a typology will be removed from the delivery. Adobe also includes reporting functionality allowing a business to monitor how much of the population is being held out based on these rules and adjust their marketing plan and business rules accordingly. Adobe Campaign provides functionality to maintain customized business rules which control what your customers see and how frequently they see it by using typologies. Having your team understand Adobe Campaign’s typology rule functionality and how they can be used to control, filter and monitor the sending of deliveries is a strong best practice to incorporate.
3. Have multiple instances available
If you only have one instance of Adobe Campaign (e.g., PROD), then it is difficult to design and test new campaigns without impacting the Production environment. As a result, adding new campaigns and modifications becomes a huge undertaking.
If possible, ensure your Adobe Campaign license from Adobe provides for you to have at least two (optimally three) separate instances (e.g., a DEV instance, a PROD instance and ideally a UAT instance). This will be highly beneficial to allow you the flexibility of testing out new campaigns or business logic in a DEV or UAT instance without ever impacting your PROD environment. You will also need to ensure you have agreed upon processes (such as version control) around your instances with a named IT-Admin that is responsible for ensuring the instances are updated in a timely manner and that ‘moves of packages’ across instances is done flawlessly.
With this in place, your team will have the ability to create/refine/adjust campaign logic until it is providing the expected results or potential ROI that you need, while also ensuring a positive customer experience.
4. Ensure consistent naming conventions
If solid, logical, uniform, easily-readable and commonly understood naming standards were not put in place during your Adobe Campaign implementation, it’s still not too late to devise or revise and use them going forward. This will facilitate easy retrieval of components, save unnecessary re-work, assist in staff training, aid in scaling your environment and make overall AC reporting much easier. Here are just some of the primary components you will want good naming standards for:
- Plans, Programs, Folders
- Delivery & Campaign Templates
- Typology Rules
- Personalization Blocks, Dynamic Content Blocks
A few good conventions that we have seen customers utilize include ensuring that no spaces are used, hyphens are utilized and appropriate casing is in place (e.g., capital letters are used for the first letter in a new word in the name). Also, the conventions should be as concise as possible (careful the names aren’t bloated), preferably in English, with an agreed upon date format and do not contain any special characters.
The conventions need to be documented and communicated so there is no lack of visibility to what the organization has decided for their standards. The importance of consistency and simplicity cannot be overstated!
5. Understand the Data
Adobe Campaign is a highly data-driven application. Those end-users and marketers in your organization that understand the available data within your company will be invaluable to a successful Adobe Campaign implementation and to your ongoing campaign deliveries. While they don’t need to be database developers or analysts, they absolutely need to understand the following:
- Data relationships (e.g., one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many)
- Data access (e.g., the ability to retrieve, modify, copy or move data elements)
- The basics of APIs and data joins (e.g., how APIs are used to link separate systems for data retrieval)
- Data enrichments (e.g., the process of enhancing existing information by supplementing missing or incomplete data)
- Owned data & non-owned data (e.g., who is the admin or owner of the different data elements)
- Transactional and non-transactional data (e.g., both types are important to guiding and tailoring personalized offers)
This can be a difficult undertaking as most organizations have a significant number of data sources and integrations coupled with security limitations and potentially un-readable naming conventions. However, if the data knowledge only exists in the IT area or with your core Analytics or Modeling team, then your Adobe Campaign end-users will be at a disadvantage and be highly reliant on IT for basic requirements or enhancements.
The idea is to invest in Adobe Campaign end-users that have a data background and propensity, through initial and ongoing training on your database and technical infrastructure. Visual representations of your organization’s data, where the data exists and how often it is updated need to be created and continually shared with the marketing Adobe Campaign end-users. You cannot give them enough education on this topic; regular working sessions and brainstorms on your data inventory should be scheduled with maximum participation. If the Adobe Campaign end-users are not interested in the data tables and values and everything that goes along with understanding your data variables, you will likely not get the best investment out of Adobe Campaign. Ensuring that your Adobe Campaign end-users are data-savvy and comfortable digging into the structures is essential.
The “Don’ts” of Adobe Campaign
1. Do not modify out-of-the-box tables; extend them!
One of the key parts of the Adobe Campaign tool is the core tables underlying the system. If you’ve ever gone poking around at the Adobe Campaign schema structure, you may have even noticed the core tables come with warnings against modifying them. The reason for this is that when upgrading Adobe Campaign (and there are several throughout the year), there is a base assumption that those components are staying the same, so modifying them will cause issues. With that in mind, there are ways to customize those tables to meet your business needs. Adobe allows for the easy extension of tables and the addition of fields to those out-of-the-box tables via an easily configuration tool within the platform.
2. Do not implement custom solutions or coding if native functionality is available
There’s an old adage – “when all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” One of the biggest pitfalls we’ve seen clients encounter is when the users have a strong technical coding background and see that they can just write custom code and dive right in, often times recreating the wheel as they go. Adobe Campaign has an extremely robust set of activities which can handle the vast majority of the challenges a business may face. By creating a custom solution, you run the risk that it could cause issues with upgrades and when interacting with other components downstream. Additionally, you run the risk of the knowledge of that solution essentially disappearing should that team member change roles, positions or simply not document the customization in detail. By taking the time to learn the tools available to you as your first step, you’ll have a product that anyone familiar with Adobe Campaign can jump right into and work with in the future.
3. Do not implement crucial changes or updates directly in PROD
Testing in Adobe Campaign is essential to ensure proper system health and maintenance. As your business expands, data grows and schemas evolve and change. Even a small modification can have a large rippling effect. This is why it is crucial to ensure you have a testing environment to work in that mirrors production as closely as possible. With this in place, you can validate that changes will not cause a disruption of service or lead to any unexpected changes in your deliveries. Always remember that Adobe Campaign can be very specific; a change as small as the casing on an attribute can cause a workflow to fail. This is why it’s essential to test in lower environments and then promote those changes using Adobe’s out-of-the-box package management system.
4. Do not provide extended access for users with a non-technical background or understanding
Adobe Campaign has some robust controls around the access a user can have within the tool, and it is one of the more underutilized pieces of functionality we see. By defining user groups with appropriate levels of access, you can ensure that marketers aren’t able to accidentally make system level changes and that all users only have visibility to the information they need for their respective roles. A tightly defined set of user controls upfront ensures data security and system stability for your platform.
These are just several Do’s and Don’ts to be aware of when utilizing Adobe Campaign as a marketing automation platform. As stated before, while this is the market leading tool and is able to facilitate a myriad of solutions, it can be rather complex. Understanding how to best work with the platform and implement solutions that will scale is key to the overall success of your marketing practices. The last thing you want is to mistakenly cripple the system or cause a disruption in automation processes, so be sure to always test and analyze solutions before implementation.
We at Celerity are experts in the marketing automation platform, Adobe Campaign. Over the last 14 years, we have solved a wide variety of business challenges for fortune 1000 companies to help them squeeze every possible ounce of value out of the application. Significant value has been obtained by leveraging the data automation capabilities of the software to an increasing list of Adobe, 3rd party and home-grown applications both horizontally and vertically across an organization’s Martech stack. It is not uncommon for us to achieve 80% campaign automation with a 300% increase in data personalization over a short period with our clients.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to have a conversation if you would like to learn more!