At their annual Dreamforce shindig last week Salesforce.com announced the formalization of their marketing capabilities as the Marketing Cloud. Essentially it is a coupling of four key pillars of Salesforce.com’s front end:
- Customer intelligence: Data.com enriches contact and account information with fresh feeds from sources such as LinkedIn and many others. Enables both sales and marketing to create detailed contact profiles for segmentation, targeting and campaign management.
- Social advertising and content management: The recent Buddy Media acquisition provides support for a wide range of social channels (social, web, mobile) and formats including contests, videos, and photos. Users can coordinate their publishing and advertising activity and measure impact throughout the social sphere.
- Social listening and analytical tools: Radian 6 monitors popular social services such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, as well as blogs, forums, communities and more. Supports 17 languages and mobile access.
- Core CRM functionality: Salesforce.com consolidates resources to provide sales reps with a single source that can connect them with other applications, contacts, colleagues and workflows. Pulls data together into account/opportunity context. Delivers reporting data to sales and sales managers and can provide opportunity and pipeline performance data into other systems such as marketing and order management.
Salesforce.com is taking its “Social Business” mantra to heart by building its marketing functionality with a “social first” philosophy. The question is: will this be enough to satisfy Salesforce.com customers (and the company itself)? The answer is probably not. The functionality you won’t find in Marketing Cloud is significant – the core campaign management tools, workflows, analytics and more offered by marketing automation vendors (e.g. Eloqua, Marketo, Neolane, Pardot, etc.) Even though there are fewer seats to be sold to marketers as opposed to sales, these two worlds are rapidly converging. The systems needed to automate them will need to do likewise, as evidenced by the tight integration of most marketing automation systems with Salesforce.com and the recent announcement of Chatter for Eloqua.
But Marketing Cloud is undoubtedly only the first step, in fact it’s well beyond the first step for Salesforce.com and the only issue going forward is how do they continue to expand functionality in this area? The build or buy equation for Salesforce.com currently favors the build approach as valuations for marketing automation vendors are sky high, at least in terms of an acquisition. Salesforce.com has plenty of time to creep into the marketing automation arena, establish itself as a more serious threat and then re-evaluate its strategic decision around marketing functionality.
In the meantime, marketing automation vendors have their work cut out for them. They must stay well ahead of where Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud may go. They must continue to grow rapidly, prove their staying power and market value. Customers, however, should have no illusions that Marketing Cloud is an enterprise marketing automation platform in its current state. There is much more to marketing than social engagement especially for B2B models. Waiting for Marketing Cloud to evolve or for social to mature is simply not a choice, there is way too high a price to be paid in terms of market share, growth, and profitability. So if you’re considering marketing automation don’t delay or change course because of Marketing Cloud. Charge ahead full steam and should the social engagement of Marketing Cloud pop your ROI, by all means add it to your arsenal.