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  • Writer's pictureLeila

Demystifying SFMC Testing Environments: Sandboxes, Deployment, and More!

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Are you eager to dive into the world of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) implementation?

Don't worry, my fellow marketing automation wizards, SFMC.Essentials has you covered! This guide will help you navigate the mythical land of SFMC testing environments and deployment management.

First, let's address the burning question: do you truly need a testing environment?

Ask yourself the question, What do I want to test?

Assets like

  • Emails

  • Dynamic blocks

  • SMS

  • Push notifications

  • Landing pages / Cloud Pages

SFMC's built-in preview and test functionality does the trick. Setting up a testing environment is not adding value. If any, it will create unnecessary steps, more clicks thus increasing your time to make a campaign or journeys. Operational excellence, not.

Finding the need for capabilities to test
  • Complex new features

  • Separate testing data from production data

In these use cases, the value of a separate test environment is worth exploring

Lets consider your options.
In the SFMC realm, sandboxes are but an April Fool's joke.

Your options are limited to either

Each option has its pros and cons, like additional costs and manual deployment management.

Now, what about Deployment Manager and Package Manager?

These tools have been released to aid marketers in their quest for efficient deployment across business units and instances. However, they're not without their limitations – Inbox messages, for example, remain unsupported by both tools.

Despite the challenges, SFMC.Essentials created this pragmatic guide to empower you in make the right decisions for your testing strategy and help you unlock the full potential of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Let's explore the two options for creating a testing environment in SFMC.

Option 1 Enable a business unit as a testing environment

For those not using Salesforce data entry or complex Salesforce integrations, enabling a business unit as a testing environment is a viable option. This method allows you to

  • Create assets in the production environment

  • Share them with the testing business unit.

Keep in mind, enabling multi-org configuration is essential, and you'll need to manage manual deployment of journeys between the business units.

Option 2 - Purchase a separate SFMC instance

If your organization requires multiple testing environments or has numerous business units, investing in a separate SFMC instance might be the right choice.

This option comes with additional costs and configuration efforts, but it can be justified depending on your needs.

Finding yourself needed some extra pair of brains? Have a troubleshoot session with one of the SFMC.Essentials fixers

Lastly, let's delve deeper into Deployment Manager <> Package Manager.

Deployment manager

Replicates the overall framework and structure of Marketing Cloud journeys and automations. However, it doesn't copy journey configurations and automation activities that rely on Salesforce objects. Consequently, manual adjustments are still necessary, which is not great for efficiency and scalability due to the need for individually selecting all components.

Package Manager

is a tool that simplifies the process of migrating assets and configurations between different business units or instances. It allows users to bundle and deploy components, in a streamlined manner. Components as

  • email templates

  • content blocks,

  • data extensions,

  • journey configurations

will be handled with Package Manager. This makes it easier to maintain consistency across various environments and ensures smoother deployments with reduced manual intervention.

Package manager <> Deployment manager comparison

While these powerful tools can assist in deploying journeys and automations between instances, they can't perform miracles.

  • They don't support Inbox messages,

  • You may still encounter errors or need manual configuration.

(Un)fortunately, the effort required to plan, configure, and manage testing environments in SFMC is often underestimated.

With this guide in hand, you're well-equipped to make informed decisions about your SFMC testing strategy.
Remember, the key is to understand your organization's needs and choose the option that best aligns with your goals. Happy testing!
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