SAN FRANCISCO—Salesforce is bumping up the capabilities of its Journey Builder cloud marketing product with new features aimed at helping companies gain more insights about how their customers are interacting with them.
The new features for Journey Builder, which is part of Salesforce's ExactTarget Marketing Cloud service, include improved customer personalization tools, easier customer activity mapping capabilities and new Journey Metrics data measurement tools.
The new capabilities were unveiled here July 30 at a Global Media Day event sponsored by the company. Journey Builder is the company's customer journey management platform, which can be used by companies to plan, personalize and optimize customer interactions via email, social media and more across a wide variety of devices.
The latest version of the Journey Builder cloud service includes a new interface that allows companies to more easily map what customers are doing across email, mobile devices, social networks, the Internet and more, according to the company. The updates now provide new performance measurement capabilities, as well as new optimization tools that will better allow companies to create overall views of how customers see and use their brands and products.
Also added to the latest version are additional pre-set "triggers" for responsive actions that can be activated when customers perform an action, such as abandoning an online shopping cart or buying a product. The additional automatic triggers, which supplement a wide variety of previously released triggers, can help marketers "automatically deliver the right message, channel and timing for each customer experience," according to Salesforce.
The new Journey Metrics tools add visual analytics capabilities that allow marketers to now test and monitor the effectiveness of every interaction that companies have with their customers. The metrics tools will let marketers track and test every part of a customer interaction in real time against goals using behavioral data such as purchases, downloads, loyalty achievements and app usage.
So what will the new tools offer for marketers who are seeking innovative ways to better connect their companies with their customers and to transform them into long-term relationships?
Plenty, said Richard Fouts, an analyst with Gartner. "Customers are recognizing their own journeys" in getting information about products or services that can lead them to make purchases, he said. "I think what Salesforce realizes is that customers want to control their own journeys."
When companies track customer activities and offer them benefits, rewards or other incentives to make purchases or interact, they are working to help their customers pull the trigger on actions that close the deal, said Fouts. "I think there's an opportunity for companies like Salesforce … to really make this thing a [stellar] offering."
One thing companies must remember, he said, is that systems like Journey Builder still require that staffers with deep user-experience (UX) expertise are still needed to make it all a successful operation. "You can design your own experiences in Journey Builder, which I think is a great thing, but marketers aren't UX builders. You need someone who understands the discipline of users, even with something like this."
Susan Etlinger, an analyst with Altimeter Group, said that in the world of customer journey mapping, it can sometimes be open to question whether companies ultimately make correct inferences from the data they collect about their customers and their behaviors. "I actually think that the exercise of trying to figure out what a customer does on your Website is really important," she said. "It's important that companies like Salesforce are starting to build products around it. It still remains to be seen how it is working out."
One example of this, said Etlinger, is that some customer journey mapping products wrongly identify online shopping cart abandonment automatically as a potential sale gone wrong, resulting in direct offers to the customer to finish the transaction after perhaps offering an incentive. But such offers could be misguided, she said. Instead, the cart could simply have been used by a customer because adequate bookmarking capabilities were not provided. "There are a lot of assumptions that [vendor] companies make as they try to build products around users."
Salesforce, a provider of cloud-based marketing software, acquired ExactTarget in 2013 for $2.5 billion. The deal gave Salesforce new ways to help companies to gather more information about their customers across sales, service and marketing channels.