This week’s news regarding Salesforce and Buddy Media caused quite a stir in CRM land. We see this as another part of Salesforce’s strategy to build out a technology platform to manage the entire customer experience across channels. With the explosion of social media and mobile, customer engagement and the customer experience are poised to become major competitive differentiators for companies and therefore an area of significant future investment. In fact, Gartner predicts that within the next few years, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs do. Salesforce was clearly one of the earliest companies to recognize this shift and with their acquisitions of Radian6, Heroku and now Buddy Media, Salesforce has assembled a formidable portfolio of solutions for forward-thinking CMOs.
The Salesforce CMO Portfolio
Salesforce now has a full solution set to manage the marketing funnel across the four major channels - offline/direct, web, email and social.
Salesforce CRM has always been strong in managing direct interactions with customers. Site.com, Force.com and Service Cloud increasingly provide the tools needed to manage flexible websites and create engaging web-based customer experiences. Campaigns and Service Cloud provide some tools to manage e-mail interactions with customers although the solution is much stronger for providing e-mail support than for e-mail based marketing and lead nurturing. With the acquisition of Radian6, Salesforce got into the then nascent social marketing space. Radian6 provides the ability to monitor what’s being said about your brand or product and react to it but it’s essentially a tool that helps you react to the conversations happening around your brand. Adding Heroku started to change that dynamic a bit by enabling enterprises to build custom apps to engage more proactively with customers and prospects on social networks. Now with Buddy Media, the elements are in place to proactively manage social presence, run campaigns and measure the impact of those social campaigns. Going far beyond monitoring, the Buddy product suite (once integrated with CRM) will be a powerful platform for companies that ‘get it’ and develop strategies for engaging and responding to social customers and prospects.
The Buddy portfolio provides tools across the spectrum of engagement with many natural connection points to existing Salesforce capabilities and tools:
- ProfileBuddy - for creating and deploying custom, local content on social networks via standardized brand templates
- ReachBuddy - for adding social hooks and connections to content across brand sites and social profiles
- ConversationBuddy - for managing social conversations with brand protection capabilities
- BuyBuddy - for creating, monitoring and optimizing social campaigns
- ConversionBuddy - for identifying sharing trends for brand content and product information on Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs and other forms of social media with tracking for shares, clicks, conversions (i.e., content shares to website traffic or email sign-ups) and sales
This is extraordinarily powerful when you consider the central management and scaling capabilities this will provide to marketing teams responsible for national or global brands. Consider how they’ll be able to serve and assist large networks of franchisees, resellers and affiliates - all through their Salesforce tool set. And they’ll be able to measure impact and tune each of their touchpoints as needed.
What this Means for Salesforce’s Customers and Community
This is a great step forward for Salesforce customers and the community with clear benefits:
- Better ROI: ability to connect the dots between social marketing efforts and activity currently managed in Salesforce, specifically sales and service efforts.
- More control of marketing and messaging: visible results, reporting and trends along with the ability to engage and act on social feedback.
Together with Site.com and Radian6, Buddy Media tools will help round-out Salesforce’s marketing offerings and capabilities. These will form the basis of a new Salesforce cloud with as many intricacies and need for community experts as the current Sales, Service, Collaboration or Custom clouds. We expect this is the beginning of major push around the Marketing Cloud that will culminate in a significant announcement at Dreamforce.
At this point, Salesforce has assembled a powerful portfolio of tools for the CMO of the future. They’ve doubled down on social with arguably the most complete set of tools (once fully integrated) in the industry. So where do they go next? There are two of the potential areas for investment:
- Marketing automation: this is an area that is very close to traditional CRM and would round out Salesforce’s CMO portfolio nicely. Being able to score, nurture and convert leads developed through direct or social marketing would be powerful. In addition, bringing lead scoring, nurturing and flow logic to social platforms such as Radian6 and Buddy could be game-changing. Currently email is the preferred channel for lead nurturing and the question is whether it’ll be supplanted over time by social channels. Salesforce’s moves to date could be read to suggest that they believe that social is where the future of customer experience lies. One could make the case either for or against email so it’ll be interesting to see where Salesforce goes next.
- Multi-channel campaign management and analytics: The other area that Salesforce may focus on is in pulling all the pieces of their CMO portfolio together. As we’ve described, they now have full bag of tools for the CMO but this is truly a case where integrating the tools could produce an exponential increase in value. Salesforce now has the ability to give a salesperson insight into what their customer is talking about on Twitter, what emails they opened, what they liked on their company’s Facebook page and what messages they’ve responded to recently. On the marketing side, Salesforce has the data to help marketers optimize offers and campaigns across channels. Could Salesforce’s upcoming webinar on Big Data be a hint that they plan to help companies make sense of masses of social interaction data very soon?
Regardless of what’s next, this is an exciting time for marketers because we not only have lots of new ways to engage with customers but increasingly sophisticated tools to measure our impact!