Salesforce.com released a new generation of the Marketing Cloud, which the company said is designed to address the needs of companies looking to expand beyond traditional online media buys to social and mobile media with a broad set of online services.
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud gives marketers the ability to automate the process of launching ad campaigns across multiple social media platforms and mobile devices.
As part of the rollout June 17, the company also announced partnerships with Facebook and Twitter as well as several ad networks. Key components of the Marketing Cloud include a next-generation version of Salesforce Journey Builder, the cloud-based system designed to help marketers target and personalize messaging in real time to customers across a variety of online channels.
Also new are pre-built Sales Cloud and Service Cloud events and activities within Journey Builder that are designed to simplify management of marketing, sales, service and other customer interactions.
Another new feature, pre-built Journey Triggers, makes Salesforce objects, such as contacts, leads, accounts and cases as well as custom objects, available as pre-built triggers in Journey Builder. The idea is that marketers can now automate in-bound event-driven triggers, such as a customer joining a loyalty program or downloading an app, and then send the customer a message on any channel.
Salesforce also rolled out a new version of its Active Audiences ad platform, which synchronizes ad targeting with CRM. Active Audiences is designed to help marketers run more relevant ads across all of the places they execute campaigns.
"It's an interesting play by Salesforce," Charles King, Pund-IT president and principal analyst of Pund-IT, told eWEEK. "It's kind of a natural service for them to offer a next-generation marketing cloud with a single-view, unified approach to constructing marketing and advertising campaigns.
Adding the "handshake between their customers and social networks is complementary to the Marketing Cloud and could actually make the process easier for customers," King said.
The challenge a lot of businesses face these days "is how to incorporate online and social advertising into traditional advertising campaigns in ways that makes sense strategically and financially," he said.
The timing of the announcement is important for Salesforce, King said, since customers already have plenty of alternatives when it comes to online ad services. "If Salesforce doesn't do this now, it's going to get squeezed out by competitors," said King. "This is a way for them to make the relationships they already have with customers more sticky."
Every customer interaction, whether it's engaging with a marketing campaign, speaking with a salesperson or getting a customer support case resolved, is an opportunity to build a relationship and define the brand, according to Salesforce. "Because of this, companies are now competing on customer experience," Salesforce said in a statement.
Marketing Cloud is getting a thumbs-up from some early customers. "Making the right offer to an engaged customer at the optimal time is every retailer's sweet spot," said Kimberly Ruthenbeck, director of Web Customer Experience at Room & Board, a national chain of home furnishing stores.
"The direct conversion from customers who engage with predictive content powered by the Marketing Cloud and then click to buy is 150 percent higher than the site average," Ruthenbeck said.