Salesforce Experience

Ivan Razine

Blog owner of, SFMC Developer at ENGIE Electrabel, Brussels, 36 y.o.

My journey with Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) has started almost 3 years ago.

I used to be a Consultant. After about 1.5 years working for my first client, ENGIE Electrabel, I applied for an internal position at ENGIE and was accepted. I was happy to have this position as it opened many doors and eventually allowed me to become a Marketing Cloud developer in the Marketing and Sales department.

I haven’t learned IT, I am a Graphic Designer.

When I was studying, I first believed I’d become a French-Russian conference interpreter. When that dream failed, I started studying to be a Graphic Designer and thought my work will always be related to Photoshop and Illustrator. Then, my interest shifted towards creating website designs and Adobe Flash animations and games. Eventually I’ve learned jQuery to make my websites more dynamic.

My first idea was to start a YouTube channel, but getting a demo Marketing Cloud account for someone who’s not a Salesforce partner turned out to be impossible at that time.

I’ve created my blog out of anger.

The anger directed at the poor, incomplete and sometimes incorrect official documentation. I had no lucrative goals in mind. I just wanted to share my findings with the developers who were struggling as much as I did.

When I’ve started to work with SFMC and touched scripting topics, there very few helpful resources and some of the scripting code in the official Salesforce documentation had bugs. I tested on my own first and then created a collection of code snippets just for me. Then, I started sharing them on internal Wiki to help my colleagues and after some time, I realized that I wanted more people to know about my findings. This is how my blog came to be.

I wanted to improve my own skills whereas help others to know the real use case scenarios.

The best of what I’m making, I’m not posting on my blog. The goal of my blog is to provide the developers with enough knowledge to figure out things for themselves. Blunt copy-pasting is the enemy of learning.

My main benefit from the blog is that people know my name across the Globe, from the US till Australia. The rest is a bonus.

If I have a complex technical question and I can’t figure out the answer on my own, I try to contact Sascha Huwald for answers, as he’s more skilled than me in both security and code related questions. For everything related to AMPscript, Eliot’s website is my absolute reference.

The most of time I am using Google and YouTube as my biggest allies for finding answers.

But I know nothing about it… Ok, I will go and learn about that.

Greg Poirier (CEO of CloudKettle) contacted me and we agreed to collaborate, either in writing or podcast formats. The topic Greg and his team chose was related to Marketing Cloud Security and since my knowledge about web security was next to zero, I was hesitant to accept. In order to acquire more knowledge, I contacted my company’s security team, which lead me to be accepted as a member of the Security Guild, where I could learn and ask whatever question I had about security. As a result, I was eventually asked to make a department-wide presentation about one of the most asked about topics: cookie security. After that session I felt confident enough to speak externally about security-related topics and share my knowledge with the others. As Eliot just joined CloudKettle, he asked me if I was interested to make a webinar together and I immediately accepted. Later on, after the video was released, Guilda Hilaire asked Eliot and me to do the same for LookUp Answers. And this is how all of it came to be.

Before my first LookUp session I thought I would cover everything I had to say in about 20 minutes, but it turned out that I could speak for an additional hour, as I’ve prepared a lot of material to share with the Community.

The idea about reCAPTCHA articles came with a situation, when we started to receive a lot of records created by the SPAM bots through the web forms. Interestingly, most of the data was having the surname ‘Smith’.

I was asked on LookUp Answers how to use reCAPTCHA v3 but I didn’t have the answer. So, the content for my next article was immediately chosen.

Bots are seeking for the most used fields: first name, last name, email. To prevent these bots from creating a record through a cloud page form, we can hide those fields with CSS and make a condition in the code: if these fields are filled out, then don’t send the data to the data extension. For the real fields, the naming could be used in a different way: customer first name, customer last name, email of a customer, etc. This technique is called Honeypot and is easier to implement than reCAPTCHA, but it won’t help against more advanced bot attacks.

JavaScript made a huge progress in the past years, jQuery is not needed anymore.

I am very strong in email building. Today and at my demand, every SFMC email that goes out my company, goes through my Quality Control.

Outlook 2016 is the weirdest Outlook that exists. It’s an enemy to any email.

I liked Pardot very much. But then Marketing Cloud came into my life.

Apparently in Belgium, I’m one of the few people who have a vast experience and deep knowledge in creating responsive HTML emails. One company wanted to hire me because of this particular skill. I’ve spent two hours during the interview, speaking only about emails. Eventually, I learned that my profile was very hard to find.

Some HTML elements are not recommended for use in HTML email, like h1, h2, p, etc. TD tags are the best tags to keep your inline styling, as they will look the same across all the platforms.

Working with code is stressful. Sometimes the code doesn’t work, and you ask yourself what’ wrong here. Then, you see that you forgot to put one bracket.

The problem comes when a person sees the code for the first time. To have an eye for the code took me almost two years of practicing. Before I needed to squint and try to analyze what’s written in the code. Now I’m reading it like in the movie Matrix.

Marketing is a theory. Sometimes it works, and you know why. Sometimes it works, but you have no idea why.

A/B testing is a doubtful practice. The key is audience segmentation. Based on different terms: living standard, age, product preference, etc.

My successful strategy is to inform a client at each stage of development even during the earliest one. Every change made on each stage takes me less time to amend, whereas if the same change would be made in the very end it will take far more time.

Perfectionism needs to die.

I was taught a Pareto rule (80/20) that helps me a lot right now: with 80% of work you will succeed, everything above that will need much more time and energy. The result and revenue in both cases won’t have a big difference. That’s what I learned when I was working for an e-commerce.

Begin immediately and fast.

Then it will become easier to handle things. Before, writing one article took me up to 1-2 days, now I can make one in 3-4 hours.

To start with something, you need to have a clear idea. In my case the idea was to fill the gap in missing documentation of SSJS and AMPscript.

For those who is starting a career with SFMC, I would recommend being a part of the Community. It’s very easy. If a person sits all the time in Facebook, he/she could also visit LinkedIn and read some interesting content and informative article there.

The most of valid information is free: webinars, blogs. Just open, read, listen, and learn.

From the technical Marketing Cloud perspective, bloggers helped me a lot!

I’ve developed an app that works in Marketing Cloud and performs a search and replace for a certain word across all the blocks of the Content Builder. The issue that led to such development was a request for a change in the base URL of some images that were scattered across thousands of HTML blocks. This app saved us several weeks of manual work.

I like this feeling that I made some contribution in Marketing Cloud information base.

My blog gives an inspiration and sometimes a kick for some people to start their own blogging activity.

Providing professional trainings was my idea for this year, but the COVID19 health crisis changed all my plans.

When the quarantine has started in Belgium, our offices were closed and everyone at Marketing and Sales started to work from home. The result was an important increase in productivity and since then, the management is considering letting more people working remotely.

The most important is to have some activity that you love. I can code for a long period of time and it never exhausts me.

This year I’ve started learning Vue.js, with which new interesting possibilities with Marketing Cloud forms are opened.

I have a tradition, every year during New Year holidays I fly to Moscow to visit my relatives, this year unfortunately it won’t happen.

All my dreams came true this year. All the goals were met. When you love what you’re doing and you know it well, then everything works out eventually and the doors start opening themselves. When you are good at your craft, people will notice.

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