Integrating Sitecore and Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Headquartered in Dallas, Stream Energy began in 2005 with a simple, innovative idea: selling energy by word of mouth. This unique approach to an industry that hadn’t changed much in the past 100 years quickly made Stream the largest direct-sales energy company in the world, with over $7 billion in revenue across six states. Energy was just the beginning, and with the help of Hero Digital, today Stream has dropped “energy” from its name and now offers additional essential services (including wireless, phone, and identity protection services) and a business opportunity in all 50 states.

As a part of our ongoing engagement with Stream, Hero Digital was tasked with finding a solution to deliver a weekly email to over thirty thousand sales associates. These time-sensitive updates are a vital communication channel between the corporate team and a diverse network of associates who rely on these emails for information about upcoming promotions and events. The email needed to be consistent with Stream’s Currents brand and be sent from a large-scale, reliable mail service.

Fast and flexible email creation with existing content

After researching the available options, we helped Stream select and implement the Sitecore Email Experience Manager (EXM) for this task. With both the primary Stream website and the Currents blog hosted on the Sitecore Experience Platform, EXM was a logical choice that allowed a quick launch using the Dyn email delivery service. The primary advantage to using this platform over a dedicated email design-and-delivery product was that it allowed Stream to leverage existing blog content and imagery to quickly create these targeted messages.

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Figure 1. Sitecore Email Experience Manager (EXM) allows blog content to be quickly inserted into an email template

The Email Experience Manager was instantly familiar to content editors, with controls and an interface that closely resemble the process for adding or editing any other page on the Stream site. This allowed for templates to be created in a matter of minutes, rather than the hours or days required for other email creation systems. EXM performed well, and sent over a million email messages in the first year of use.

As time went on however, Stream continued to grow, expanding its email marketing effort across multiple channels and systems. The company began to use Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) as the primary tool for campaigns sent outside of Sitecore. With this expansion, a new challenge was presented to us – find a way to integrate Salesforce Marketing Cloud with the content housed in Sitecore.

Thankfully, Marketing Cloud has a robust API architecture that allows for email templates to be created with a single call to either their REST or SOAP endpoints. After some basic setup and testing, we were able to architect a solution that allows the entire HTML email template to be sent from Sitecore directly into Marketing Cloud.

Integrating Salesforce Marketing Cloud with EXM

Rather than build out a new page or admin dashboard to handle this functionality, we decided to integrate the API call with the system everyone already knows well – Sitecore EXM. Now a user can create an email like they always have, with a familiar interface and exiting content, but on the last step of the process, a second action button has been added. The user can choose to either send the message directly through Dyn like they have in the past, or with one single click, send the email template over to Marketing Cloud where recipients can be added and the sending can be scheduled.

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Figure 2. Adding a single button to the final step allows a new integration to work side-by-side with existing functionality

Added benefits of a new platform

With this new integration in place, Stream has the ability to own a single-source system for recipient list management and email analytics. The system enables advanced click-through tracking and spam-filtering functionality, along with the ability to automate sending based on internal business rules. With no transitional downtime or re-training for content editors, this project represents a significant cost savings for Stream and is the first step of an expanded email consolidation effort led by Hero Digital.