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EXCLUSIVE: Salesforce’s New Metrics for Marketing Success

Today, Salesforce releases a new report, “Trends and Tactics Driving Marketing ROI.” From our exclusive preview, and an interview with Chris Jacob, senior director of product marketing for the Marketing Cloud, we can tell you that the Salesforce data underlines and clarifies a major shake-up for marketers. Marketing is going full funnel, owning CX end to end.

It’s been evident for at least the last two years that marketers are being compelled to take more responsibility for all stages on the customer journey. In other words, it’s obviously not just about acquisition and revenue any more. What follows from that is a pressing need for nimble, relevant metrics to demonstrate success right through the funnel — or beyond the funnel, for those who don’t believe in it any more. And that means, ever wider use of technologies which can prove ROI.

Jacob told me Salesforce had identified as need for research on practitioner-level trends. “Can this help me in my day job, or help me optimize a campaign? What are other marketers doing if they’re in a similar size business to me? That level of insight was lacking in the market, and that was the idea behind conducting this research.”

The background, of course, is the changing demands made on brands by customers, and how marketers are responding, “The most interesting thing at a macro-level here,” said Jacob, “is the fact that lifetime value is the number one metric being tracked, and the highest-growth rate one. It’s showing that we’re in an evolution here, of trying to respond to customers by saying that experience is just as important as product or service.”

It’s no surprise that the key support for marketers being able to respond to the modern customer is data, and specifically data integration. “The spectrum of data integration varies greatly depending on the size of the business, the amount of data, the resources and infrastructure you have, workflows and bureaucracy,” Jacob explained. 

Tactical use of AI

Another important element is AI, of course. At Salesforce’s estimate, three in 10 marketers are using AI; but they’re using it in practical ways. “The top two ways marketers are using AI,” said Jacob, “are journey personalization, and real time next best offer, regardless of channel or device. So it’s not about using technology to re-imagine everything, it’s using it to do things you’re already doing, but in a better and more scaleable way.”

Note too, said Jacob, that the three in 10 figure represents a growth of 44 percent over the last two years. The projected growth rate over the next two years is dramatic. “We’re on an exponential hockey-stick, and it’s not just a B2C trend, it’s an overall trend. At the tactical level, what this means that marketers are using AI for two uses cases today, but by the end of next year they’ll be using it for four additional use cases.

Where are the bots?

Despite all the buzz around chatbots and automated, guided selling, they’re mentioned only once in the report. Is that surprising? “I think,” said Jacob, “this is one where marketers are behind customers.” Preferred channels for interacting with brands certainly include mobile chat, live chat, and chatbots. “Marketer adoption is just slow. The most common use area is customer service of course. Marketers are asking, where do I bring it in? And they have to grapple with personalization versus privacy.”

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From DMP to CDP

“As you’re aware from following us, we see data evolution as something that’s clearly going to happen, as it relates to what a DMP traditionally manages, and what a CDP as a category supposedly manages. Five years from now, will there be two delineated technology categories? Potentially unlikely.”According to the report, DMP use cases are expanding to include identity resolution and content personalization — making them sound more like CDPs. Is there a difference here which matters?

With an increasing number of data sources, as well as the increasing quantity of data, there’s no point, said Jacob, in the data residing in multiple systems. “The point is to have it reside in one system. How quickly we get there is the open-ended question. Otherwise we’ll have fragmented views of the customer which differ by organizational function, resulting in fragmented experiences.”

Goodbye CMO, hello CXO?

If marketers are now responsible for the customer journey over a lifetime, doesn’t that mean that their responsibilities will inevitably come to encompass, not only loyalty and retention, but service and support. It seems that the marketer’s territory is significantly expanding. “I agree,” said Jacob. “That was a macro-trend we noted back in January. Forty-five percent of marketers are being tasked by the CEO to own experience, and obviously experience transcends marketing. What does that mean if I’m actually running a campaign?

“At the tactical level, customer satisfaction is the number one metric to evaluate retention and advocacy; I don’t think that’s surprising. It’s also the number one metric to evaluate branding, which suggests that people are evaluating things in a much more holistic way. And it’s also one of the top three metrics for evaluating acquisition. When I get a customer into the top of my funnel, I need to be thoughtful about how that’s happening, because satisfaction is just as important a metric as CPA and other lead-qualifying metrics.”

Read Next: The Customer is Everything

In other words: “You can’t just spray and pray, and get people regardless of how you get them.” Quantity is still important, Jacob said, but there was an increasing sensitivity to the quality of the experience, right down the funnel.

Doesn’t all this imply that the shift from CMO to CXO is inevitable? “I don’t know where the actual title is going to go,” Jacob told me, “CMO, CXO, or CDO. The titles may stay as they are, while the remit expands. Ultimately the title doesn’t really matter, but the idea that someone within the organization should own experience is really important, and experience is not just marketing.”

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