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Voices From Connections 2019

For our final round-up from Salesforce Connections 2019, a global digital agency’s perspective on the announcements, and reactions from Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Pardot.

We’ve Been Doing CRM for Some Time

Armita Peymandoust is VP of product management at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I asked her about the impact the CDP announcement for Customer 360 would have on marketers.  “As you’re using it in your marketing department, you maybe call it a CDP, but it’s really bigger than that. It’s customer relationship management, and we’ve been doing that for some time around here. At the end of the day, it’s data sets and customer profiles.”

But what about the challenge of addressing individual customers based on their profiles? Can you go beyond segments yet? “Where Einstein can come in and personalize for you is in creating those segments automatically. Specifically around 1:1 engagement, and real-time engagement, the way it’s generally done is that you define a type of persona, and as a customer falls into that persona, they fall into the next set of steps. That’s how personalization ends up working.”

Peymandoust is focused on Einstein uses in Marketing Cloud, so she wanted to highlight three new features, announced at Connections. “The first is Einstein Engagement Frequency, which finds the sweet range for engagement with your customers, so you’re not either going overboard, or leaving some money on the table. You can select a KPI that you care about, and it shows you the range automatically. We also announced Einstein Send Time Optimization, within Journey Builder, to optimize the send time of whatever activity you have there. In addition, we announced Einstein Content Tagging, which uses image recognition to tag images in your content library.”

One more major theme was front of mind for Peymandoust. “Marketers are now ready to use AI more and more. Our new state of marketing research shows that 78 percent of marketers are using it now, or plan to use it over the next two years, because it’s now a necessity to meet the demands of their customers, and do personalization at scale.”

Isobar: The Time is Past for ‘It’s Too Complicated’ BS

The global digital agency Isobar, with competences from creative ideation to marketing tech implementation, is a Salesforce partner — but they also partner with other major players in the space, like Adobe. In a lively three-way conversation, chief innovation officer Dave Meeker, and chief creative officer Ricardo Salema, share their views on Connections, and the customer experience space in general. 

Salesforce, of course, isn’t the only major customer experience vendor on the journey to creating a CDP; based on this week’s announcements, it may be leading the pack. Is this an important trend? “Absolutely,” said Meeker. “Everybody’s talking about digital transformation. I think about where we’ve come from, where customer data was always about operational efficiency, and improving the guts of the business. The creatives weren’t involved. But as the market has changed, we’re now talking, not about business transformation (I’m not McKinsey), but about experience-led transformation. A person who walks into a retail store, once you take their phone number, that should be all you need to know their name, their last purchase in the store; and if I go online, you know about me; if I call the call center, you know about me. And the time is past where it’s okay for those to be separate channels, separated on purpose because ‘It’s too complicated in our enterprise, and we haven’t migrated or merged our data.’ BS.”

But you must encounter clients with well-entrenched silos? “We’ve heard, ‘That’s not my responsibility, I’m responsible for the retail channel,'” confirmed Meeker. “If you’re the CEO if that company, that’s not an excuse. People are responsible for the customer experience across all those channels. We’ve tried all the buzzwords. We’ve talked about omnichannel, we’ve had 360 degree view — whatever you want to call it. Why hasn’t it happened? Because it’s hard, it’s expensive. We can go into a client and say, here’s the experience we want to bring to market. Historically they would say, that sounds great, but we don’t have the data or systems and services in place. Now, because of comprehensive platforms like Salesforce, that excuse goes away. Of course you can, you just need to take that step forward. We can connect the dots, and prove that a happy customer is a repeat customer.”

“The keystone is the customer,” added Salema. “Because in the customer’s mind, if something doesn’t work it doesn’t work, and the offer becomes irrelevant. It’s hard to recover from that. The new table stakes are, everything is lined up and working seamlessly, you’re offering me what I need when I need, because otherwise there are other options for me.”

Meeker and Salema admit, of course, that a platform like Salesforce does come at a cost. “There’s something to be said for being a large multi-national  corporation with a bunch of power, and money in the bank, because you can make these changes,” said Meeker. “But if anyone thinks they’re going to lead this with the technology, they’re mistaken. That’s not going to move the needle, if it’s going to allow us to operate the same old way, with data in different databases. If we focus on the experience, we then force the brands to operate differently. There’s a human component, and there’s a change management component.” One major change brought about by the Internet, Meeker observed, is that if a customer doesn’t like a product or service, they no longer tell just their friends; they tell everybody. “Uh oh. So now I have to focus dollars not just on acquiring customers,  but on their whole experience. The customer experience is no longer just in marketing.

“Are we there yet? No. Is there a bunch of enterprise change management that has to happen? Yes. But it’s not the software which needs to catch up with the humans. Humans need to catch up with the platforms which can be put into place.”

But the customer isn’t just driving this need for change within brands; it’s also, surely, driving a change in strategy within the customer experience technology space? In the last year or so, I’ve seen the major players shift from presenting portfolios of focused offerings, to recognizing the need to dismantle the boundaries between the offerings. “The customer doesn’t sees those as different channels,” said Salema. “They see it as a brand, where the fulfillment is really messed up.”

We’re talking at a Salesforce conference, of course, but Isobar doesn’t only partner with Salesforce. Is “agnostic” the right word? Not really, Meeker explained. “We identify problem spaces, come up with ideas, apply design thinking, but the difference between us and our competitors is that we also execute. We’re able to say, here is this beautiful idea, and because we know that you have the Salesforce platform, we used common language and methodology for it. Salesforce will bring us into client relationships because they know we offer these services. Yes, we do the same thing with Adobe, and other partners, but it’s a non-agnostic approach to problem solving: how do we use that platform you’ve already spent money on to get the most bang for your buck on new types of experiences.”

B2B In The House

Finally, Connections as a conference has its roots in B2C (it actually evolved from Exact Target’s user conference). Even so, Salesforce Pardot was represented there, and VP of marketing Nate Skinner shared his enthusiasm for the new CDP from a B2B angle. “This is a hard problem to solve,” he said, echoing comments by CMO Stephanie Buscemi in her keynote. “There’s a reason everyone talks about it, but no-one does it. The Pardot customers, as well as the Service and Sales Cloud customers, will all get the benefits.”

The CDP approach is as relevant to B2B as to B2C, said Skinner. “Let me give you an example: Grainger, a great Chicago-area manufacturer, multi-national. They sell to a discrete number of customers worldwide. What they want to be able to do is evolve the relationship with these customers they’ve had for years, decades, because those customers offer new products and new services, open new offices, and expand into new markets; and Pardot and Sales Cloud on the CDP, on the Customer 360 platform, helps them see those insights. Einstein is telling them about segments they didn’t even know to look for.”

A couple of announcements for B2B almost got lost in the B2C rush. One news item, Pardot’s integration with Zoom. “People know Zoom as a world-class video conferencing platform, with an unbelievable historic IPO. People don’t always know that they also have probably the world’s best webinar platform. What we announced today is that you can now connect that platform to Pardot, so if someone attends a webinar, all the engagement data feeds direct into Pardot.”

Secondly, Pardot is now integrating with Service Cloud. “The licensing was limited to Sales Cloud customers, but you can now connect with Pardot if you’re a Service Cloud customer. What we heard constantly was, we use it for sales, but our service department has a vision of what this can do for customers who are already customers.” In other words, when promoting a next-best-offer, or cross-selling or up-selling, brands don’t want to treat acquired customers as strangers. “Pardot has capabilities for this, as well as for finding new customers. You can use Pardot to nurture the customer relationship, and build brand loyalty; you don’t have to use something separate.” 

Salesforce covered DMN’s expenses to attend Connections 2019.

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