Salesforce.com combines social investments for Marketing Cloud

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff greets Mens Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer at Dreamforce 2012
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff greets Mens Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer at Dreamforce 2012

Anxious marketers wanting to know what Salesforce.com would ultimately do with its acquisitions of social commerce provider Buddy Media and social media metrics company Radian6 finally have their answer. At the cloud-based CRM giant's annual Dreamforce conference, company CEO Marc Benioff announced Marketing Cloud, an application that combines the assets of the two recent acquisitions.

Driving the need for Marketing Cloud is the growing maturation of enterprise social media marketing, according to Brett Queener, Salesforce's EVP of Marketing Cloud. “We ask CMOs, ‘How is it going' and what we hear is that they've been managing [social marketing] with one or two people in a corner,” Queener said during the keynote. “That doesn't work anymore. They need to manage social across all campaigns and across all people.”

Marketing Cloud is designed to enable companies to measure brand presence across social channels, to track and publish content across those channels, to measure the ROI of various social connections, and to allow marketers to decide whether to interact with customers on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis.

To illustrate these benefits, Queener presented a video featuring Australia's Commonwealth Bank—an actual case study according to Marketing Cloud CMO Michael Lazerow—in which the bank noticed the phenomenal success of its home loans unit on social media compared its other business units. Commonwealth saw via Marketing Cloud that a certain video had gone viral and noticed that, despite its popularity, only a small percentage of Facebook fans had actually noticed it. The bank created a Facebook ad around the video to further promote it, targeted it to married prospects within the home-buying age, and embedded links leading to more information about Commonwealth's home loan services.

The key to Marketing Cloud, Queener said, is its all-in-one delivery and its ease-of-use, meant to alleviate a common pain point marketers in large organizations face: the logistical difficulties accommodating social practices “with the speed social demands.”

“Marketing has been the most under-served area of the enterprise,” Queener explained. “There have been all these little point solutions and that's hard for a big company to adopt.”

Men's Wearhouse, for instance, needed to drastically update its marketing strategy in order to expand its audience. “As you know, we built our business on baby boomers and $1 billion of television advertising,” said Men's Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer during the keynote. “We are now targeting the millennial generation. We use Marketing Cloud to monitor what they like and don't like about our stores.” Men's Wearhouse has stated before how it relies on social elements to determine future products and advertising campaigns.

Despite Saleforce's big push into marketing departments with Marketing Cloud, the CRM giant had not always planned on combining Buddy Media and Radian6 technologies, Lazerow says. “The natural reaction was to leave them separate,” he recalls. In June he approached Benioff about combining the two products to create a solution that could provide “insights that drive better ad creative and content marketing.”

Ultimately, Marketing Cloud gets its content-publishing interface from Buddy Media and its analytics and insights from Radian6.

Lazerow acknowledges that for some companies, adding a social component to marketing—or any business unit—is a significant shift as it requires internal reorganization. “It's difficult [for companies] to be brave and say, ‘We want to reinvent,'” he says.

Despite the glut of social media tools offered by nearly every technology vendor, Lazerow is adamant that Marketing Cloud is different, as many competitors leverage the social buzzword to push tools of questionable use. “A lot of social media selling has been [based on] the excitement around social,” he says. “We're leading with a value-based sell.”

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