Salesforce on Wednesday announced its next-generation marketing cloud at the Salesforce Connections digital marketing event held in New York this week.
The new release has enhancements to Journey Builder that let companies work with the customer journey across sales, service, marketing, custom apps and more.
Salesforce also announced the addition of LiveRamp, LiveIntent, Neustar and Viant to Active Audiences, which it introduced in March with partners Twitter and Facebook.
“These new partnerships will extend Active Audiences’ scope to reach audiences across the broad display advertising ecosystem,” said Gordon Evans, VP of product marketing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
“Now Salesforce users can activate CRM data and run ads across more than 100 digital advertising networks and technologies,” he told CRM Buyer.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Journey Builder are generally available now, but new Journey Builder activities, triggers and events with Sales Cloud and Service Cloud will be available in Q4.
New Active Audiences display features are scheduled for general availability in Q3.
What Else Is New
The latest iteration of Journey Builder lets companies guide customers on one-to-one journeys across channels and devices to ensure delivery of the right message, at the right time, through the right channel.
Companies can connect every customer interaction across every department — from post-service customer satisfaction to product adoption programs, from loyalty programs to employee on-boarding — through new prebuilt Sales Cloud and Service Cloud events and activities in Journey Builder.
Further, contacts, leads, accounts, cases and custom objects are now available as prebuilt triggers in Journey Builder. That lets marketers automate inbound event-driven triggers such as a customer joining a loyalty program or downloading an app.
Such actions will trigger a message to the customer on any channel.
Triggers also can automatically modify customer contact record data, or set up wait times and decision splits to adjust customer journeys in real time.
“My personal interest is in journey mapping with Journey Builder because I believe all marketing should start with vendors understanding their customers’ journeys,” said Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research.
“Many think they know, but it’s amazing what you discover when you begin the modeling process,” he told CRM Buyer.
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud “appears to be a very solid approach to handle the most vexing issue facing companies, which is to quickly hear, understand, anticipate and answer the service and product needs of customers, no matter what channel they’re using,” remarked Brendan Read, customer contact industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Its use of event-triggered automation, personalization and linking of targeted ads with CRM “expands the marketing focus to what customers want, and when, from what companies think they want, and when,” he told CRM Buyer.
Comparisons With the Competition
Salesforce appears to be lagging its chief frenemy, Oracle, which introduced new features for its marketing cloud in April.
“Oracle is trying to unify audience data from its own marketing assets — Eloqua and Responsys — so that it can be pushed back into those applications for further use, and is further down that road than Salesforce is right now,” observed Matt Mullen, senior analyst at 451 Research.
Other players include IBM and Adobe.
“I would argue IBM doesn’t have a marketing cloud,” Mullen told CRM Buyer. “Rather, they have assets that they pull together with services.”
Oracle “is all about managing and collecting the data for use in the broader dynamic supply chain, and has strong relationships with systems integrators to build out sophisticated platforms,” Mullen said. Salesforce “is most similar to Adobe, in that it’s still largely focused on the consumer marketer and their needs.”
However, making comparisons is a dicey business, because “marketing is a big, hairy objective with lots of potential moving parts,” Pombriant commented.
“Each vendor has strengths and weaknesses,” he noted. “Comparison might not be the best yardstick, because all vendors develop products first for their existing customers, and each presumably knows that demand.”