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Validate the Go-Live Readiness of Your SAP Marketing Cloud Project

Go-Live Readiness Assessment

Have you finished your implementation of SAP Marketing Cloud and are about to execute your first go-live Campaigns? Or are you at the beginning of an implementation project and want to have a compact overview of common pitfalls and how you can avoid them?

This article will help you prevent potential issues and secure a smooth go-live. You will be able to run a verification of your SAP Marketing Cloud tenant before launching your first campaigns. The checks below include topics like the application configuration, audience selection, or campaign setup that can have a critical impact on your campaign go-live success.

Table of Contents


Introduction

The go-live checklist and checkpoints are derived from our experience on many different customer projects. Depending on your context, business requirements, and solution design, you might need to check other important areas beyond this list. However, this list is a good starting point for your customer-specific projects and can be extended to fit your needs. Please note that the checklist does not replace a detailed review of your technical design or campaign setup. Therefore, always consider to run a full and detailed analysis with the help of external experts.

To structure the check items, we have classified them into different areas:

  • Campaign Design
  • Audience Selection
  • Application Configuration
  • E-mail Channel Readiness
  • Operations

Go-Live Readiness Assessment

Campaign Design

Check Item Checkpoints Best Practices / Recommendations

Campaign Types

Have the right campaign types (for example, trigger-based, recurring, one-time) been used for building the go-live campaigns?

For campaigns which should react to a specific contact interaction (for example, whitepaper download), consider the use of trigger-based campaigns.

Dynamic Campaigns

In case a dynamic campaign is used:

Does the segmentation model contain an exclusion of customers who have already been part of an earlier send out?

Always-on campaigns are typically being used for sending messages to new joiners of a target group. It might be necessary to exclude customers who have already been addressed with earlier send outs. This will prevent double-sends to one contact.

Sender Profile

Verify the available sender profiles and send a test e-mail for the relevant sender profiles.

  • Sender profiles have the right marketing areas assigned.

  • The sender address is understandable, related to the customer's brand and not confusing recipients.

Campaign Content

Verify the campaign message and send a test e-mail for the defined campaign messages.

The test e-mail is sent and displays correctly (check on different devices/browsers).

Marketing Permission Verify that the Ignore Marketing Permission setting is not activated on the campaign level. It is generally recommended to use the marketing permission check. The setting Ignore Marketing Permission is only relevant for very rare cases (for example, communication of a terms and conditions change, you legally have to send to all customers - independent from their permissions).

Audience Selection

Check Item Checkpoints Best Practices / Recommendations

Attributes with a Dynamic Reference

For automated campaigns with a recurring frequency: Are Segmentation attributes used with a dynamic date/time reference?

In most cases, we recommend to use the dynamic references for recurring campaigns.

Example: For Birthday campaigns, sending out e-mails every day, the date of birth attribute needs to be segmented with a dynamic reference date "This 1 Day".

Key Figure

In case key figures are applied: Have filter conditions been used for further filtering of the target audience?

Depending on the actual business scenario, key figures in segmentation might need to be restricted through a condition. We recommend double-checking with the marketers which business scenarios require usage of key figures and to verify, if any conditions need to be applied or not.

For Example: Sales volume with a restriction on the date.

Segmentation Profile

Are segmentation patterns, which are being applied in every segmentation model, in use (for example, show only contacts with existing e-mail address)?

To increase usability and remove a potential source of user errors, we recommend getting rid of segmentation patterns which are applied to every segmentation model.

Consider these two recommended options to achieve this:

1. Use a filter in segmentation profile:

    • Increases usability and removes a potential source of error for marketers.

    • Authorization on segmentation profile is possible.

2. Use filter push-down to custom HANA view

  • Increases performance compared to segmentation profile filter.

  • Allows more sophisticated conditions than simple filters on the segmentation profile.

  • Requires delta-checks of custom HANA view compared to the standard view during release upgrades.

Segmentation Profile

For the segmentation profile that is being used for the go-live campaigns: Are additional data sources joined through the HANA view instead of the configuration app?

Please join additional data sources* through the HANA view directly to the star join. Using the configuration app to do the join will decrease the query performance.

*Especially for data sources with many entries and data sources which need to be joined with each other (for example, multiple Customer Business Objects) before joining to the star join.

Data Validation

For the attributes that are used for segmenting the target group and for personalizing the content:

  • Check data completeness (for example, empty attributes for personalization).

  • Check data quality (for example, dummy data).

For the personalization of campaign messages, only attributes with a very high data quality should be used. Consider the use of a fallback in case the attribute is empty for a contact.

Marketing Permission

Verify if marketing permissions have been imported.

Are contacts without existing marketing permissions excluded in the segmentation model?

In case of social outbound scenarios (custom audience) are in scope: Are there explicit marketing permissions for the social channels?

The advantage of excluding contacts without marketing permissions in the segmentation are:

  • Reduces the risk of communicating to customers without marketing permission (for example, by misusing the flag Ignore Marketing Permission on campaign level).
  • Faster campaign execution, as contacts without permissions are not part of the target group.
  • Avoids negative effects on your IP/domain reputation for e-mail campaigns.

Application Configuration

Check Item Checkpoints Best Practices / Recommendations
ID_ORIGIN Configuration

The ID_ORIGIN configuration was done and considers the following settings:

  • For Identification
  • One per Contact
  • Technical

It is important to get the settings right and to find the right config-variant per ID_ORIGIN - all data sources need to be aligned between each other.

For more details refer to the following article: Set-Up Profiling & Match-Merge Logic for SAP Marketing Cloud

Interaction Type Definition Is the Interaction type definition consistent and based on best practices?
  • Use the same interaction types for the same event/business document.
  • Try to use standard interaction types and pay attention to special logic (for example, e-mail bounce hard interactions will remove the e-mail facet).
  • Fill the Source Object Type and Source Object ID for business documents type and the ID of the source system.
  • Use the IA_REASON field where applicable.

Interaction Type Processing Logic

Are specific interaction types used that will trigger additional processing logic. If yes, are they used for the intended standard use case?

Some standard interaction types are linked with additional processing logic. This logic is often updated with a new release. Example interaction types with additional processing logic:

  • EMAIL_BOUNCE_HARD

  • MKT_PERM_OPTIN

  • MKT_PERM_OPTOUT

  • NEWSLETTER_SUBSCR

  • NEWSLETTER_UNSUBSCR

Use standard interaction types only for the intended purpose of those to prevent issues. Especially, prevent to misuse the standard interaction types for workarounds.

Marketing Permissions

Has the configuration of marketing permission handling (implicit/explicit for inbound/outbound) been done for all countries in scope?


  • All countries in scope should have a permission (implicit/explicit) defined per the communication media in use.
  • Also, define a default permission setting for customers without a country assigned (Caution: A blank entry is not considered as an asterisk (*) but means no country assigned).
Marketing Permissions with Marketing Area Check if the switch Activate Marketing Area Check during Campaign Execution is activated. This step only applies in case your marketing permissions are bound to a certain marketing area. In case the switch is activated, only the marketing permissions with a marketing area assigned will be considered during the permission check. For more details, refer to the documentation Implications of Activating Marketing Areas in Campaign Execution.
Monitoring Error Check

Check the following monitoring applications for errors or abnormalities:

  • Application Log
  • Import Monitor
  • Marketing Application Jobs
Error messages should be analyzed and resolved. We also recommend to look at messages with a "Warning" status to assess the impact on your scenarios.

E-mail Channel Readiness

Check Item Checkpoints Best Practices / Recommendations

IP-Warm Up

If e-mail campaigns are in scope: Have the IP addresses for the go-live campaigns been warmed up?

A warm-up is necessary to make the IP and domain known to the providers. 

Create a plan for warming up the customer's IPs in order to avoid a spam classification and low delivery rates.

Domain Reputation Has the reputation of the IP and domain to be used for the go-live campaigns been checked and is acceptable?

The reputation is a rating to determine if the sent e-mail is trusted and secure and thereby decides on the delivery of the e-mails. One's own reputation can be checked, for example through Litmus, senderscore.com or any other e-mail or spam testing tool.

Quality of Contact List

Did you perform any contact list clean-up for your go-live campaign target audience? Do you have confidence in the data quality of your contact list?

Did you apply any measures to ensure that only valid addresses are being used during your go-live campaign execution (for example, check the existence of e-mail addresses with a service provider)?

Which processes have you put in place to keep up the quality of the contact list?

Sending e-mails to non-existent e-mail addresses or with irrelevant content will increase the risk that an e-mail will be marked as spam. To keep up data quality, we recommend to make use of the following:

  • Double-Opt-In/Out
  • Feedback Loops
  • Sunsetting Processes
  • Preference Center

Operations

Check Item Checkpoints Best Practices / Recommendations

Support Processes

Is there a process in place for incident handling?

Is the support launchpad accessible for incident creation (S-User)?

There should be defined processes for addressing productive incidents. Make sure to test the S-User access before you go live.

User Acceptance Tests

Have user acceptance tests (UAT) been conducted?

By conducting UAT, you can ensure that your implementation is verified and tested by the people who are going to be working with it on a daily basis. 

Upgrade Management

Quarterly shipments from SAP require the customer to perform regression tests for the new releases.

Are there processes in place to handle the upgrades?

You should nominate candidates who are in control of the quarterly upgrades. They should introduce and govern the upgrade process, for example, regression tests, timelines, communication within the organization, and more.

Operations Team

Is there a operations team in place to take over the typical operations activities?

Upgrades, incidents, user management, monitoring, bounce monitoring and many more topics from the operations area require dedicated roles and resources.



Conclusion

This article provided you with a list of checkpoints that you should perform before going live with your SAP Marketing Cloud project. By conducting the cross-checks, you can reduce the risk during and after go-live for your campaigns. The checks should be leveraged as a basis to craft your own and use case specific assessment. For further support with the go-live assessment, feel free to refer to the related services highlighted in the box on the right hand side of your screen.