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Four Ways of Engagement: Voices from Dreamforce #4

One consistent thread running through all the discussions of worker empowerment, AI, and UX at Dreamforce 2017 was customer engagement, whether those customers be small or large businesses, or individual consumers. After all, that’s the ultimate goal of efficiently accessing and using all these great new technologies.

Under a canopy, after dark, outside the Moscone conference center; while walking down Folsom Street, outside Blue Bottle Coffee; and in the Dreamforce Marketing Lodge at the Palace Hotel, I heard from established and start-up companies about their different perspectives on hooking the customer.

The largest business intelligence database

Dun & Bradstreet‘s perspective is clear. It engages through data. The data goes right back to its roots as The Mercantile Agency, a credit-reporting service born in New York in the 1840s. Flash forward, and CMO Rishi Dave tells me that today they have “the world’s largest commercial database as a core asset.” Deterministic data “has been the core business for 175 years,” said Dave. Our data sources have accumulated over a very long time.” D&B recognizes 280 million businesses around the world, and the key individuals within them. “Our proprietary technology ingests data and leverages it into different use cases.”

What’s more, a lot of B2B data is explicitly tied to a D-U-N-S number, a unique nine-digit identified for businesses. It’s the data that has provided a springboard to launch the company into B2B sales and marketing.

“End to end,” says Dave. D&B Optimizer for Salesforce leans on that vast core data-set to check that Salesforce data is clean, complete, and actionable. D&B offers marketing analytics — propensity data, lookalike modeling, ABM; digital marketing services, from website personalization to agile forms; programmatic buying, based on deterministic rather than just probabilistic data. D&B can embed its business data, not just in Salesforce, but in other “cloud-based apps” from Adobe and Oracle, for example; and it can provide data directly to clients through APIs.

But D&B has its own cloud-based services too: D&B Hoovers for B2B sales acceleration, bolstered by the acquisition of Avention; Workbench for data optimization; DataVision for surfacing best customers and markets. But that doesn’t mean the company is going soup-to-nuts. “We can create campaigns within Workbench, but it doesn’t make sense for us to go into marketing automation,” said Dave. “We’re not going to build a CRM app.”

Dave’s takes on Dreamforce? “It’s the first Google has ever connected with a CRM and marketing automation system outside Google. That’s really unique.” He also appreciates the enhancements to Journey Builder. “It’s time we stopped sending messages to people we know won’t engage with them,” he said.

The Customer’s Voice: Cloudcherry

The Singapore-to-San Francisco start-up Cloudcherry is listening to the voice of the customer. It was recognized by Gartner last month as a representative vendor in the category. “That’s hardly new,” co-founder and CEO Vinod Muthukrishnan told me, as we huddled around a table outside the packed and noisy Blue Bottle Coffee shop just off Mission Street.

First there was market research and focus groups, he explained. Then there was customer experience management (top down). We’re now at the point where it’s possible to engage throughout the entire journey. Cloudcherry, he said, offers “entire journey building and visualization on our platform [across] 17 channels: from chatbot to social media to a tablet in-store.” Marketing just isn’t omnichannel, he said, “unless you can stitch the 17 channels together.”

The platform will integrate with any CRM system to pull in the context around the journey. With “forward-looking” analytics, including churn prediction based on historic, demographic, and transactional data, Cloudcherry’s sweet spot would seem to be B2C: “But we have B2B brands too,” said Muthukrishnan, including a Fortune 10 company.

This was Muthukrishnan’s first Dreamforce: “The energy is slightly more than your run-of-the-mill event,” he smiled. “The eco-system of [Salesforce] partners is absolutely unbelievable.” Cloudcherry has a strategic and ISV parnership with Salesforce — “the product synergy is immense” — and an ISV co-sell relationship with Microsoft.


The final frontier? The employee’s signature

Just when you thought every nook and cranny of email marketing had been explored in granular detail, along comes a new idea. And when it’s driven by a former Chief Product Officer at Salesforce (11 years at the company), it might just be worth paying attention.

CEO Bryan Wade simply says that Sigstr has discovered a new email engagement channel: the signature in the employee email chain. “It’s really easy to put dynamic calls to action there,” he said. And it tracks from top to bottom of the funnel. There are diminishing returns on marketing through traditional channels, he said. And this is the “ultimate ABM” system: in every case, sender and receiver are both known.

It’s not a question of typing html code into the email. Sigstr offers uniform signature templates framing campaign banners or other calls to action. They’ve seen not only increased engagement, but increased (30%) time spent engaged with emails. Integration with Salesforce drives personalization by leveraging CRM data, and it’s easy to write performance data from Sigstr email campaigns back into Salesforce. (Sigstr works with other platforms too: “A lot customers run Marketo and Salesforce,” said Wade.)

On Dreamforce: “For marketers, it’s doing a really good job of making it clear where B2B and B2C marketers should go. They face different sets of problems.” On the Google announcement: “There’s a clear message that Google is working to move into the enterprise. There’s no better partner [than Salesforce].” And on Sigstr’s own relationship with Salesforce: “We’re a small start-up. It’s hard to get attention from the big guys. But it was one call with Salesforce.” Integration was easy, he said.

Becoming a Better Storyteller: Prezi

Overtaking Powerpoint in the presentation market might seem a quixotic aim. But with 85 million users and 325 million presentations created using its technology, that’s precisely Prezi‘s quest. At Dreamforce, the company’s booth was built to resemble a big furry monster of a boring presentation, with dull blinking eyes. The tag lines: Defeat Dull Presentations, and Banish Blah.

Prezi is having some fun with its mission. But Peter Arvai, co-founder and CEO, was eager to explain the science behind it as we walked down Folsom Street from Prezi’s office to the Dreamforce floor. This summer, a double-blind study, supported by Prezi but independently conducted by Harvard researchers, compared the efficacy of Powerpoint, Prezi, and oral presentations with no visual aids. Results showed Powerpoint and no visual aids were roughly equally effective, but that Prezi was significantly more favored by the audience, revealing “a communication preference for using the panning-and-zooming animations that characterize Prezi presentations.”

Arvai offers a simple thought experiment to illustrate how Prezi works. Try it. Think of your five favorite kitchen appliances. (Pause.) Okay, how did you do that? If you’re anything like me, or most people, you placed yourself mentally in your kitchen and looked around. The effect of the deep animation in Prezi presentations, which can now be augmented with AR, is to put the audience in a spatially structured environment — a “walk-through” — a natural environment in which to remember things. Sounds better than staring a list of bullet-points, right?

How does this help marketers? Prezi Business was launched a year ago. It’s not just a presentation tool: “It includes analytics, and obviously custom design, and branding templates that help companies keep a unified visual appearance.” B2B sales and marketing presentations: “That’s the main use case for Prezi business.”

Given the cost of getting to a client meeting, why waste the opportunity with a slide deck and boring lists?

I did get to play around with a Prezi AR demo at the booth: It allowed me to point, pull, and move objects within the presentation with my hands. But you have to see it; and in that spirit, here’s what Prezi presentations look like:

Prezi has a recent integration with Salesforce allowing users to access their presentations in Salesforce, generate shareable links to them, and check which elements are performing most effectively.


Salesforce covered DMN’s expenses to attend Dreamforce.

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