As I come off a round of conferences, I’ve been thinking about the consolidation in email and messaging and how that reflects the changes and trends in marketing as a whole. Sixteen months ago, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget and much has changed in the intervening time.
How these two are presenting their current and future capabilities largely reflects the big themes, but also shows some disconnects.
1. The Empowered Customer and the Rise of Marketing Technology
A number of themes kept recurring this year at both Connections and Dreamforce, but the ones that came through loudest were data, customer journey, and mobile. That’s hardly a big surprise. These are some of the biggest themes in the marketing and advertising worlds right now.
The (mobile) Internet is empowering customers like we’ve never seen before with access to information that was unheard of 10 years ago. This has caused marketers to reach for more sophisticated marketing technology to better understand their customers and meet their needs ahead of time.
What surprised me was the lack of announcements in regards to content. Marketing is undergoing a technology revolution and content is vital to the new world, but it seems tools are playing catchup. There were no significant announcements around content – minor improvements here and there, but nothing substantial.
2. The New Customer Journey
The big announcements at these conferences focused heavily on the customer journey. The empowered customer takes a path to purchase that is far different from the traditional funnel models and often far more complex.
Salesforce gets this. The focus on “journey-builder” and bringing it to the sales and services clouds as well as the marketing cloud emphasizes their belief in its importance. Regardless of whether journey builder will scale effectively, it is a reflection of the changing customer journey and we must all adapt.
3. The Single Customer View
Effectively implementing cross-channel customer journeys requires the collection and collation of customer data across channels – the single customer view.
What’s needed is the ability to combine all of an organization’s customer behavior data into a single location with a consistent format so that it can be utilized to create richer, more personal customer experiences. It remains to be seen how well Salesforce will enable connectivity between its clouds, but that too is a reflection of the blurring lines between advertising, marketing, and sales.
4. Advertising, Meet Marketing
Advertising and marketing are colliding. What used to be broadcast is becoming individually addressable and what used to be seen as purely direct-response is now a brand vehicle.
It was surprising then that there was no announcement at these conferences related to ad integration. With Social.com and Buddy Media, the marketing cloud has social well covered, but there’s a big gap in the wider digital space. Perhaps Salesforce believes the social networks have it covered, especially with Facebook’s announcement of the rebirth of Atlas. I think it’s more likely they’re still working out a deal and we’ll hear something soon.
5. All Change for an Integrated Future
Finally Connections felt different this year. Change is to be expected, but at last year’s Connections the message was that ExactTarget would continue and have a key role in Salesforce’s future.
This year it was the Salesforce Connections conference – a prelude to, and baby brother of, Dreamforce. From the outset it felt like the final Connections. With Dreamforce being such a juggernaut and the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud in serious need of a name shortening, one had to wonder why next year people would make the trek to Indy when ‘cisco is so much more convenient.
Then at the very end of the very last session came the announcement by Scott McCorkle that next year Connections would be in New York in June, effectively making it Dreamforce East. And then he announced that the (long expected) name shortening was happening with immediate effect. The “Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud” was to become just the “Salesforce Marketing Cloud.”
Truly the end of an era, but also a reflection of the seismic changes underway in the world of advertising and marketing.
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