Experience Cloud
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Salesforce Experience Cloud: An in-depth guide

Want to build stronger relationships with your customers? Need to expand your reach?

“Customer experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization. Customer experience is the new marketing.” – Steve Cannon, Vice Chairman of AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE)

But, in today’s world, where marketing budgets are tighter than ever, you might be thinking:

  • Is the investment in CX worth it?
  • Who is Experience Cloud for anyway?
  • What does Experience Cloud implementation cost? And how long does it take?

We’re here to help. Our comprehensive guide on Salesforce Experience Cloud covers the most commonly asked questions and shares success stories of brands that have implemented it—along with compelling stats from Forrester about Experience Cloud ROI. But, more on that later.

Table of contents

  • What is Salesforce Experience Cloud?
  • Key Features and Benefits of Experience Cloud
  • Different Types of Portals within Experience Cloud
  • Key Considerations Before Implementing Experience Cloud
  • Technical and Infrastructure Considerations
  • Training and Adoption Management
  • Pricing: Investing in Salesforce Experience Cloud
  • Evaluating Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Real-World Examples: SaltClick’s Implementations
  • National Ability Center Participant Portal
  • Is Salesforce Experience Cloud Right for Your Organization?

What is Salesforce Experience Cloud?

Salesforce Experience Cloud is a Cloud solution that offers a variety of engagement features and tools businesses need to create personalized experiences for customers, partners, and employees — in a centralized platform and in real-time.

It has tools you’ll need to manage:

  1. Communities and discussion forums
  2. Social media
  3. Content
  4. Mobile applications
  5. Websites
  6. Portals

And the goal is the same. To engage, enable, and empower your audience and drive them closer towards your goals.

From Community Cloud to Experience Cloud

Until 2021, the Salesforce Experience Cloud was called Community Cloud. Why did the name change? To capture new UI (user interface), and the full-breath of connected digital experiences you can create, such as portals, websites, help centers, forums, and mobile apps.

Today, the platform integrates with websites and any Salesforce product (like Slack and Tableau)—saving you the stress of switching between tools.

Experience Cloud gives you a view of your customers across all data sources and enables you to:

  • Build stronger relationships
  • Respond to questions in real time
  • Serve up a tailored customer experience

Let’s take a look at how its features are beneficial to businesses like yours.

Key features and benefits of Salesforce Experience Cloud

To explain the various benefits that are available to Experience Cloud users, it’s helpful to first group them for better understanding:

  1. Customization and Branding
  2. Integration with Salesforce CRM
  3. Mobile-First Design and Accessibility
  4. Advanced Analytics and Reporting

Customization and branding

One of the cool features of the Salesforce Experience Cloud is its customization — ranging from no-code to pro-code. Some of these include:

  • In-built themes: Customize any pre-built mobile responsive themes to suit your brand.
  • Color scheme: More freehand to customize. All you need to do is upload your logo and tailor the theme’s color scheme to drive a consistent brand experience, look and feel, that your customers are used to.
  • AI-powered website builder: More freedom to use customer data and suggestions to your advantage. This helps your audience discover relevant content, groups, and experts. All based on their interests, desires, and preferences.

Integration with Salesforce CRM

Salesforce umbrellas everything a business needs to drive revenue. For example, keeping track of customer interactions and sales data.

On one hand, Salesforce gives you customer insights and key performance metrics. On the other, Experience Cloud empowers you to take that data and contextualize it into personalized experiences for your partners, customers, and employees.

Mobile-first design and accessibility

In the age of digital transformation, UX is no longer considered an afterthought. It’s a must that an emphatic UX will be present from the onset.

Thankfully, Experience Cloud is now providing this to its customers. It combines a sleek, modern, optimized UX with essential business data and advanced member engagements.

Your audience won’t only need to come back, but will want to come back to a carefully designed experience site that was created with their needs in mind.

Advanced analytics and reporting

The actual value of a site is in connecting members with meaningful data through digital interaction and business processes.

Another good thing about this platform is its analytics feature. It gives you deep insights into how your clients interact with the community and surfaces common questions. Plus, it’s built on Salesforce CRM-rich data and business processes, offering you the insights you need to do more.

Portals types within Experience Cloud

Salesforce Experience Cloud has a variety of portal options. Each is fine-tuned for different needs and caters to diverse user groups. They are:

  • Customer Portal
  • Partner Portal
  • Employee Portal

Customer Portals

Some customers prefer to call the customer help center for help. Some prefer to self-serve through a portal.

For instance, a prospect may prefer to speak to an agent via a call to troubleshoot a complicated technical issue. Others may be comfortable enough to resolve their case solo, checking the service portal for past questions previous customers have asked.

Salesforce Customer Portals

To win prospects and retain your customers, you must create a portal for them. It’s a win-win situation for your business, prospects, customers, and service team.

Benefits and use cases of customer portals

The customer portal is all about engagement. Driving interest and movement around your product, company, and services to streamline operations, enhance employee productivity, and build a tight-knit community.

Some other ways it’s beneficial for your business:

  • Allows customers to ask questions
  • Promotes learning and connection
  • Lets customers view the status of their order
  • Empowers personalized content at scale

Partner Portals

Partner portals make it very easy for others to do business with you. Instead of capturing information in spreadsheets or losing valuable details in email threads, Salesforce Experience Cloud enables you to create a centralized place for your partners.

Collaborative Features and Benefits

Salesforce Experience Cloud partner portals allow businesses to collaborate in many ways:

  • Lead management: You can assign a lead to a partner of your choice based on filters such as location or specialty. Partners can also decide to share their lead with you.
  • Opportunity management: You may have an opportunity you want your partner to handle during the sales cycle (or vice versa), where your partner wants you to present a particular opportunity.
  • Better visibility on partner sales: Brands often need more insights to forecast what’s coming up in their partner’s network. With the partner portal, you can access partner sales records to better plan and forecast from an operational perspective.
  • Distributed marketing: Streamlines the sharing of materials like brochures, data, price lists, and discounts in their currency. An extra remarkable aspect of this is allowing your partners to white-label it. For example, they can add their logo, color, and more to establish their brand identity and showcase it to their clients.
  • Support: Partners have access to your support materials to aid their customers. And for more complex cases, if your materials don’t answer their questions, they have direct access to your service team.

More features of the partner portal:

  • Collaborate with partners by sharing CRM data and information
  • Collaborate on potential customers and deals
  • Forecast channel sales
  • Performance tracking
  • Enhance channel marketing efficiency
  • Onboard and educate partners

Employee Portals

Imagine Salesforce’s employee portal as your digital command center. It’s your gateway to the company’s inner workings. You can catch up on updates, manage your benefits, and keep tabs on your performance.

It’s your direct line to collaborate with colleagues and access resources that supercharge your productivity and learning and development. It’s your all-in-one workplace toolkit, accessible whenever you need it.

Now that you’ve got a clear picture of what Salesforce’s employee portal is, let’s look closely at its standout features.

Enhancing Internal Communication and Collaboration

  • Instant Connectivity: Easily connect with employees for rapid communications and queries.
  • Effortless Collaboration: Enhance teamwork by merging workspaces, documents, and project assets into a well-structured central hub.
  • Expert Network: Locate and engage with in-house experts quickly. You also get to profit from their wealth of knowledge and experience.
  • Mobile Friendly: Regardless of where you are, you can work on your mobile device, for flexibility and easy access.

Every type of portal you find in Salesforce Experience Cloud has its unique job to do. They’re like tools in a toolkit, designed to suit the specific needs of different users and industries. The end game?

Better engagement, teamwork, and revenue.

Before implementing Experience Cloud

Though it may be tempting to jump right in and start building an Experience Cloud site — especially looking at Salesforce’s capabilities—proper planning will ensure a more secure path to success. You need to:

  • Understand your business needs
  • Check your current systems and processes
  • Identify key stakeholders and their objectives/problems

Understanding your business needs

Every business is unique. The first thing to consider is: Does Experience Cloud sync up with your business objectives. To get to the root of this, you’ll want to know:

  • Your long-term goals
  • The challenges you want to solve with the platform
  • The cost/your timeline

Answering the above, will help you vet Experience Cloud and see if it can be tailored to your objectives. It’ll also help you make a better decision and customize a site that matches your brand identity and messaging.

Lastly, the pricing of the Salesforce Experience Cloud depends on the number of features you want. A good understanding of your business will help you select the right features and customizations so you don’t end up[ paying for the wrong tier or tools you won’t use because they don’t align with your business goals or users.

Evaluating current systems and processes

This step is essential for the following reasons:

  • Integration: Evaluating where your data lives ensures a smooth transition and minimizes disruptions. It’s easier when your data lives in Salesforce CRM.
  • Data Migration: Migrating data from one system to another can be complex. Taking the time to check your data structure and quality before the transition ensures that data integrity, hygiene, and accuracy remain intact.

Identifying key stakeholders and their needs

What to consider:

  • Stakeholders Alignment: First, you need to understand what your stakeholders want to solve. You can tailor Salesforce Experience Cloud to suit them when you know that. Then, you’re sure to deliver what they need most in the most effective and efficient way possible. Additionally, taking this first step improves adoption rates and ROI.
  • User Adoption: In the big picture, every stakeholder in your organization adds to its success by making it more valuable. Involving key stakeholders in decision-making makes them feel like they own the project and are on board. They will try out the new platform when you’ve integrated their feedback, and have made them a part of the process.
  • Handling objections: Objections are why people say no. It might be time, money, doubt, or wondering if a new solution is really needed. When that happens, engage users in a conversation and show them how the platform will help deliver more customized content to unique audiences.

Thinking of all these steps before implementing Salesforce Experience Cloud sets the stage for a tailored and successful adoption that addresses the diverse requirements of your organization.

Technical and infrastructure considerations

We’ve been discussing general considerations before opting for the Experience Cloud. Let’s talk about the technical part now — the things that need to be in place at the backend.

Scalability and performance

By scalability, we mean the ability of a system to handle an increased amount of work and user traffic without altering its performance or user experience. For instance, a scalable website should be able to handle increased traffic with no disruption to performance.

In the context of the Experience Cloud, scalability guarantees that your system can handle more users and their changing demands. So, as the platform grows and more people join, it remains responsive.

Hint: Conduct performance testing: Make a bunch of users use the platform simultaneously. You’ll be able to spot any weak spots or places that might affect performance. And it’ll help identify where to adjust before you go live.

Security and compliance

Security is a significant concern in our everyday lives. It’s why you rush back home if you remember you’ve left your front door open. It’s also why you lock your car when you park it in a lot.

When you plan on using Salesforce Experience Cloud for a site that handles sensitive data, you need the right security in place.

  • Authentication and approval: Install robust authentication methods to ensure only authorized users can access the platform.
  • Firewalls detection: Install firewall detection systems. They’re like your guards on duty, watching for shady activity around your home. And if they spot something fishy, they’ll jump into action and stop it.
  • Regular security audits: Using the latest security updates, perform security audits to spot and fix likely vulnerabilities in your implementation.
  • Penetration testing: Conduct penetration testing to replicate what possible real-world attacks would look like and how to identify them without losing your data to hackers.
  • User education: Enlighten your users about how to keep data safe at their end, like using strong passwords, 2FA, recognizing and reporting suspicious actions.
  • Response plan: Create a plan for when things go haywire — it’s like having a superhero backup ready. This way your team knows what to do if there’s a security or data breach. Its job is to cut through the chaos and quickly get things back on track.

These security best practices ensure Salesforce Experience Cloud fits within your business and ensure your operations run smoothly without skimping on safeguarding your data.

Training and adoption management

Adopting something new comes with some learning and mindset shifts. By learning, we mean putting in effort to learn how something works. By mindset shifts, we mean a growth mindset — the ability to evolve with time.

Businesses that want growth must embrace the latter. Otherwise, they’re left behind. How to grow? Educate your team and manage the transition to Salesforce Experience Cloud and adoption.

Educating your team

Educating your employees and stakeholders about how the Experience Cloud can be the next big thing for your business. There’s less friction when you tell people about something beforehand.

Although the cloud ranges from no-code to pro-code features, taking further steps to educate your team will help with the following:

  • Smooth adoption: When your team understands how it’d help, they’ll jump in effortlessly.
  • Getting the most: Educated users can unlock the platform’s full potential, squeezing out every benefit.
  • Productivity: When they understand the features and benefits, they adopt it because it’ll make their work productive and not harder.
  • Active participation: When your team feels at ease with the technology, they’ll be all in without hesitation.

Managing the transition and adoption

Years ago, many tasks required manual handling; working from home seemed impossible, and AI seemed like a hopeless dream. Now, it’s happening before our eyes. The fun thing is we have two sets of people as this goes on. Those still sleeping and those who understand they cannot fight this shift and find the best way to embrace it.

Rather than ask, “Will AI take my job?” ask, “How to incorporate AI into my job.” The future will be kind to those who are strategic thinkers. That future is now.

To get started:

  • Be clear with your objectives — what you intend to achieve
  • Identify those whom this transition will affect early
  • Develop a plan to guide them through the transition and discover their major concerns
  • Support them by celebrating wins at every milestone reached

Now that you know how to teach your team about this and make them embrace the adoption, it’s time to discuss pricing.

Pricing: Investing in Salesforce Experience Cloud

If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re sure the platform is a good investment. Yet, it comes with a price depending on your unique needs, which we’ll discuss below:

Pricing models and tiers

Salesforce Experience Cloud has four pricing plans:

1: Self Service – Customer Community

Price: $2 per login or $5 per member per month

You’ll get features like:

  • Self-Service – Customer Community plan includes:
  • Account Portal Templates
  • Case Management
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Experience Management
  • Knowledge
  • Lightning Flow Automation

2: Self Service – Customer Community Plus

Price: $6 per login or $15 per member per month

You’ll get features like:

  • Self Service – Customer Community Plus plan includes:
  • Account Portal Templates
  • Case Management
  • Customer Service
  • Customizable Reports
  • Delegated Administration
  • Digital Experience Management

3: Partner Relationship Management

Price: $10 per login or $25 per member per month

You’ll get features like:

  • Self-Service – Customer Community plan includes:
  • Account Portal Templates
  • Case Management
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Experience Management
  • Knowledge
  • Lightning Flow Automation

4: External Apps Pricing

Price: $15/login or $35/member

You’ll get features like:

  • The creation of up to 100 custom objects
  • Adjustment of the platform with low-code builders
  • Enhancement of the platform with data storage
  • Access to Salesforce CMS
  • Unlimited content records
  • Content types submission
  • Supported channels
  • Facilitation of customer and partner access with access management and identity services

Add-Ons and Additional Costs

Add-ons are extra features you might need to create a custom Salesforce Experience Cloud site that effortlessly captures your brand. The complete price is available on the Salesforce add-ons guide.

Your best bet is to chat with us for the nitty-gritty on pricing. We’ll get you a personalized quote that fits your business and use case like a glove.

With all these costs, let’s see if Experience Cloud is worth it.

Evaluating Return on Investment (ROI)

There’s a lot of pressure right now in marketing, like limited budget and layoffs, yet marketers must still put in the effort to meet customers’ needs. So before buying, you’ll need to answer:
“Will Experience Cloud be worth it? And meet expectations?”

Forrester researched the ROI business gets from implementing the Experience Cloud. The research revealed that companies who invest in the platform see a 342% return on their investment within 3 years. It’s worth the hype, after all.

The Forrester research also revealed:

  • About $35 million of incremental revenue attributed to Experience Cloud digital experiences.
  • Business process automation and reduced cost to serve drive $2.7 million in savings.
  • It consolidated $1.3 million of legacy technology stack licensing, consulting, and maintenance costs.
  • Speed to development of mobile applications with Salesforce Mobile Publisher saved $191,000 in development costs.

Source: Forrester

There are also many unquantified benefits, like how dashboards and reporting improved visibility and enabled data-driven decision-making. And how Tableau drove intelligent custom optimizations.

Calculating Potential Business Gains

To check the possible advantages of adopting Salesforce Experience Cloud for your company, first assess its measurable and subjective benefits.

  • Improved customer engagement: It makes it possible to improve customer fulfillment, reduce support costs, and boost sales by providing personalized experiences.
  • Simplified workflows: Automate tasks and reduce administrative work to save time and increase revenue.
  • Better decision making: Leverage analytics tools for informed decisions affecting sales, marketing ROI, and inventory management.
  • Scalability: Experience Cloud scales with your business, saving IT costs.
  • Outperforming competitors: Easily outshine your competitors by providing superior customer experiences and gaining market share.
  • Customer retention: Reduce churn by giving a better experience driving higher customer lifetime value.

Factoring in Implementation and Maintenance Costs

Besides the good things Salesforce Experience Cloud can do for your business, you must also consider things like:

Salesforce subscription, fees, and consulting costs. E.g.

  • Experience Cloud subscriptions: Salesforce tailors each subscription to fit the needs of each customer. The price depends on the type of digital experience you want.

If you want authenticated access, you’ll pay for units such as logins or members. This lets your company be precise about how frequent or occasional users you must cater to.

  • Add-On costs: These are extra licenses you might need for apps you get from the Salesforce AppExchange or more Salesforce packages.

Implementation labor and ongoing management costs.

  • Internal implementation labor: These are both business and technical resources that participated in implementing Experience Cloud.
  • Training costs: Having an expert train your technical users and partners.

Real-World Examples: SaltClick’s Implementations

Enough of the theories. Let’s get practical. See Experience Cloud in action.

National Ability Center Participant Portal

The is a nonprofit organization based in Park City, Utah. NAC’s mission is to aid people with disabilities in participating in outdoor recreation.

Project Overview

In 2023, the National Ability Center considered balancing technology and outdoor activities and gathering data digitally for the types of people they serve: participants, volunteers, and donors.

Before this, they used paper forms to gather data, which can be time-consuming.

All these made NAC contact us to implement the Experience Cloud. Hoping to digitalize the way the company interacts with its diverse community, providing a seamless, personalized, and collaborative ecosystem for all stakeholders involved.

Key features and benefits realized

National Ability Center realized countless vital features and benefits, profoundly streamlining its operations:

  • Personalized portals: Users get their hands on personalized portals tailored to their needs. It makes it easy for its users to sign up for programs, keep track of their schedules, and access essential resources.
  • Streamlined communication: Made it effortless for participants, volunteers, and donors to communicate seamlessly. This led to a more connected community and information sharing.
  • Accessible resources: The platform made information accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities, it also allowed admins to easily make changes without needing IT.
  • Enhanced training: Instructors loved the improved tools. Planning lessons better, tracking progress, and getting real-time feedback were more straightforward, which enhanced their adaptive sports programs.
  • Community engagement: The National Ability Center created an online hangout. Participants and families could chat, share stories, and support each other and stay up-to-date with NAC happenings.
  • Intelligent data use: Analyzed participants’ preferences and program performance. They made intelligent decisions based on customer behavior and insights.

Lessons learned

Here is what NAC learned at the end of the implementation:

  • Put people first: The top priority when creating and running this platform should be participants’ and instructors’ experiences.
  • Keep learning: It’s crucial to offer training and help to all platform users. Doing it that way will help you maximize your experience and enjoy it fully.
  • Accessibility matters: Ensuring the platform is accessible for people with disabilities is more than just a need, it’s part of NAC’s DNA.
  • Engagement is crucial: Building a lively online community requires active involvement and cultivating relationships among all participants.
  • Data utilization: You can discover insights to improve your programs and resource allocation by analyzing your data.
  • Plan for growth: When planning for growth, consider the potential size of your platform and its ability to meet future demands.

The National Ability Center’s journey with Salesforce Experience Cloud reveals how technology can bring people together. It creates a more inclusive and collaborative space that enriches the lives of individuals with diverse needs and goals.

Is Salesforce Experience Cloud right for your organization?

Times are changing. Customers want more from brands. Customers are no longer faceless. They want to participate, learn, exert influence, buy, associate, and start discussions. The solution to these desires is an Experience Cloud site.

But, before thinking of making the switch, there are two big questions you need to ask:

  • What are the pros and cons? Do the pros outweigh the cons?
  • Does Experience Cloud align with your business objectives?

Weighing pros and cons

We all agree that when the advantages of a thing surpass its disadvantages, it’s worth it, and vice versa. For example, if the benefits of a new piece of technology far outweigh its costs, it should be adopted and implemented.

Although Salesforce Experience Cloud presents advantages like customization, integration, and scalability, it’s essential to weigh its drawbacks, such as user learning curves, lack of a clear strategy, cluttered design, and confusing navigation.

One of the best ways to fast-track your success is to consult a Salesforce expert like us (SaltClick) to strike the right balance. We are to Salesforce what LeBron is to Basketball — legend.

Aligning with organizational goals and strategy

Specify your targets and what you aim to achieve with the Salesforce Experience Cloud. Suppose those goals are to engage, enable, and empower your customers, ultimately leading to more sales. In that case, the Experience Cloud will make it a reality, especially considering its cross-cloud functional capabilities across Sales, Marketing, Service, and Commerce clouds.

Our client, the National Ability Center, was so thrilled with the results of their first Experience Cloud site, they worked with us for another. And, given the success of those sites, they’ve just launched Marketing Cloud.

Experience Cloud Achievements:

  • 215 sign-ups in one day during our October launch for over 1,800 experiences, marking a record-breaking day.
  • An astonishing 40% surge over last year’s Day-1 registrations.
  • Ski and Snowboard program registrations skyrocketed with a 70% growth rate.
  • Instead of getting buried in technical support calls, NAC staff has 80% fewer phone inquiries on registration days.
  • Participants now spend 50% less time on registration, thanks to a revised participant profile which has condensed an 8-page form down to just 4.

Quantifiable Growth:

  • The first quarter of this fiscal year (Sept-Dec 2022) saw a 13% growth in Unique Participants and a 21% rise in total Experiences.
  • Between January to April, our team proudly provided over 11,500 experiences, which is a significant increase of 3,150 experiences (or 38% growth) compared to the previous year.

Efficiency & Collaboration:

  • This stellar growth can be directly attributed to the efficiencies of our Experience Cloud Sites, which have significantly benefited both our instructors and participants.

Diversity & Inclusion:

  • Every single experience directly impacts the lives of individuals with disabilities, showcasing our commitment to inclusivity.
  • Our board and staff are fervently working to mirror the diverse community surrounding us.

What We Think at SaltClick

Explore the benefits of using Experience Cloud for website building. It’s a platform that’s enriched by the data you already have. It’s great out-of-the-box, but can be a powerhouse with the right customizations and expertise.

Talk to us today if you’d like to unleash the power of the Experience Cloud in your business to engage customers better and drive revenue. We’re here to help.

Achieve your business goals with SaltClick

Get in touch to learn more about our Salesforce solutions and how we can help you.

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