Understanding Salesforce Marketing Contacts


Originally authored by Chester Bullock

Salesforce Contacts and Your Contract

Salesforce Marketing Cloud users often ask, “How does our contact number impact our invoice and charges?” This post clears up the confusion and shows how to pare down contact count to maximize marketing dollars. 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud contracts were once based on two things: a software fee and a message fee. Now, Salesforce Marketing Cloud charges users a third fee—for sendable contacts.

This charge includes any contact ever emailed. Say a company only has an active population of 500,000 subscribers. If they have sent emails to 2,000,000 contacts, then SFMC will charge them based on 2,000,000 contacts, regardless of how many are active. 

To make matters worse, no tools within Salesforce Marketing Cloud clarify the active user count. And the numbers Salesforce comes back with are often wrong. Here’s what we recommend.

Who are the Active Users?

Start by identifying active users. Active, in this sense, means people that it benefits your company to send to again. It might be in a week, or it might be in a year, but you do not want to delete these people.

Secondly, examine data. Are you using a unique subscriber key for each email address or mobile number, or does one email address have multiple subscriber keys? This is the most common reason we see accounts with over-inflated contact numbers: The same contact exists in the account two or more times. In one account, we saw one contact represented by 10 different subscriber keys. Be sure to utilize good data management practices to keep costs low.

How do you remove Inactive Users?

Now that you know who the active users are and can rest assured your data represents a one-to-one relationship, you can query against all subscribers. This will produce a data extension containing the subscriber key of all inactive contacts no longer needed.

From here, go to Contact Builder, then into All Contacts and click on the trashcan in the upper right corner. Next, select “Delete contacts from data extension.” Follow the prompts to locate the data extension, and finally proceed with the deletion.

The default setting puts each contact into a 30-day hold period. Adjust this down to 0 days to make the change immediate. This is set in Contact Builder, under Contacts Configuration, then Contact Delete, under Manage Settings.

If you do not have the trash can in the upper right corner, enable it by going to Contact Builder, then into Contacts Configuration, then selecting Contact Delete and checking the “On” option.

Looking Ahead

By clearing your account of inactive contacts, you’ll save some money on your database contract. This will become more important when Salesforce decides to start charging for data storage, as every little bit will help. While Salesforce has not announced data storage costs, it is coming. In the meantime, clear out some old contacts from your account.


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Understanding Salesforce Marketing Contacts

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