Salesforce's new Journey Builder is the most completely integrated tool in its Marketing Cloud yet

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Following closely on the heels of arch rival Oracle's updates to its marketing cloud, Salesforce trotted out a shiny new product update of its own, and it might just be its most powerful integration yet.

At a press-only event in San Francisco today, the top execs of Salesforce's ExactTarget Marketing Cloud unveiled the next generation of Journey Builder, a customer interaction planning and execution tool within its ExactTarget marketing automation platform.

The new Journey Builder looks and acts as a virtual whiteboard for marketers, allowing them to create a flow chart of how the brand will respond to each customer interaction with their product or communication channel. Not only can marketers sketch out the corresponding actions they will take when responding to customer activity, they can also automate the execution of those actions within the platform.

Scott McCorkle, the newly appointed CEO of Salesforce's ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, introduced the new Journey Builder and said its user interface was designed to reflect the way a marketer thinks, not the way a machine works.

"The new Journey Builder lets marketer work they would using a whiteboard with sticky notes and drawing their workflows," said "They no longer have to feel like they're working in software."

Journey Builder's user interface literally looks like a whiteboard, with the customer journey moving from left to right. A marketer starts by picking a "trigger" action to respond to, such as a customer downloading an app, signing up for an email, or abandoning a shopping cart. They can then devise what action to take based on the trigger, such as sending a customized email,  push notification or SMS message. The workflow works very much with an intuitive "If this happens then do X action" logic, and with the whiteboard based interface, the entire process is easy to understand holistically. Each trigger and response is called an "interaction" and a series of interactions with similar objective can be placed in separate sections of the customer lifecycle, such a s"Acquire" "On Board" and "Engage." Here's what it looks like:

In addition, marketers can test the type of engagement they are deploying. Multiple types of emails can be designed and sent as a response to a single trigger, and the user will receive analytics on which one performed the best. Journey Builder's Metrics can also provide performance numbers in comparison to a benchmark goal set by the marketer. For example, "Whenever a customer abandons a cart, I want to send them this email, and I want 40% of them to open it." The Metrics would display how many of those customers ended up opening the email, and also which type of email worked best (if a marketer created a test.)

In this simple call and response based campaign builder, Salesforce has created possibly the most visually appealing and intuitive tool for marketers. All the triggers and responses can be set with drag and drop functionality, and the timeline is represented naturally moving from left to right. The experience delivers on the promise of "looking the way marketers think." 

Here'a video from Salesforce explaining how the new Journey Builder works:

While Salesforce has been criticized for lagging behind in the integration of its marketing suite, especially compared to Adobe, Journey Builder goes a long way in answering the critics. The triggers created in the platform can come from a variety of point-of-interactions, such as the website, the mobile app and social media channels. Conversely, the responses across all those channels can be created within Journey Builder as well. A marketer could respond to a customer abandoning a shopping cart on a website with a Facebook ad offering them a discount. The ad gets created through Salesforce's Social.com, but is initiated through the Journey Builder. In addition to the social media listening and publishing capabilities of Buddy Media and Radian6, Journey Builder can also pull in third party customer data from platforms such as BlueKai, in order to craft even more accurate customer profile information.

The revamped Journey Builder is a powerful integration of all of Salesforce's solutions, not just its Marketing Cloud. Users can also create triggers based on customer activity in Salesforce's Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, making the brand respond to a single view of a customer, rather than multiple personas across different software. 

For the first time since it launched its Marketing Cloud last year, Salesforce's integration of its core services offers exponential value to customers, giving them a big incentive to purchase all the cloud solutions together. Therein lies its big advantage over Adobe. By integrating with CRM and Service, the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud is extending its capabilities far beyond the marketing unit, and focusing on the complete customer experience with a brand.


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