Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Discovery

Good data discovery begins with good questions.

I’ve been present in over five dozen Salesforce Marketing Cloud data discovery sessions over the past 10 years, ranging from integration discoveries to lifecycle marketing campaigns discoveries. In my opinion, a good discovery is led by someone with the ability to see into a set of data and grasp the potential of what can be learned from it. You learn by asking questions.

Questions for data discovery meetings should be driven by strategic marketing needs and technical requirements of implementation, as well as best practices.

Let me give a simple example.

When developing at Risk Journey, which is designed to stop customers leaving or unsubscribing, we need the following information: email ID, name, surname, date of last transaction (or, as an alternative, a flag saying that a customer is at risk).

This is a high-level example, but it shows the structure of a discovery session. The data analyst or consultant should ask the Three Ws: why, what, and where.

1. Why do we need it? (i.e. why do we need to run an at-risk campaign?)
2. What do we need to do that? What variable do you use to determine that a customer is at risk?
3. Where do we find the required data to confirm a customer is at risk?

This can be expanded further to make five Ws:

4. When do we get the data? When the data is being refreshed and how often?
5. What is the next step? What happens if the customer has been removed from At Risk segment, which other journeys customer should fall into?

Key people

It is equally important to have the right stake holders present at the meeting. I have constantly experienced meetings where data stakeholders, or stakeholders who strategically developed the journeys, were missing. As a result, answers to questions were incomplete or misleading to an extreme level.

The optimal structure of the team for a discovery meeting is as follows:

Implementation Partner:
SFMC Consultant (Certified Solution Consultant)
Data Business Analyst (or DBA)
Strategic Marketing Consultant

Marketing Manager (Marketer)
Data Architect / Analyst
SFMC Manager (owner of Salesforce Marketing Cloud).

Such team composition enables you to ask the right questions and have the correct understanding of the answers.

What documents are required?

It is best practice to have at least the following documents provided prior to the meeting:

1. Data schema
2. Schematic of Journeys
3. Description of data required to run the journey
4. Proposed mapping of data fields
5. ETL process description and requirements (if any)

These documents must be shared at least a week before the session so that relevant parties can prepare their answers and conduct relevant investigation to clarify items they may be unsure of.

Direction of a session

Participants should set a clear agenda detailing how long each topic will be discussed, as well as the order of the topics.

Obviously, it depends on scope of the implementation, but the following agenda should fit most data discovery sessions:

– Introduction in order to lay out the agenda.
– Overview of a proposed journey(s).
– Overview of a proposed mapping based on the analysis.
– Overview of remaining questions.
– Input from the client team.
– Metrics the client wants to extract after a subscriber has completed his journey (this may impact the schema if some variables need to be exported for further analysis).
– Summary of what has been discussed and finalization of the meeting.
– Action list for the next meeting or follow up.

Depending on the complexity of the integration, try to avoid going into irrelevant topics. Otherwise, such discoveries tend to wander into new journey development sessions. This is not bad, but out of scope of a discovery meeting.


The Salesforce Marketing Cloud data discovery has its own specifics that must be considered. This will ensure the success of implementation and will make the customer’s experience more satisfactory and transparent.