Learn about Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the feature-rich marketing automation platform that helps increase customer engagement, provide a personalized experience, and improve customer satisfaction.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is Salesforce’s platform (or “Cloud”) in the area of marketing automation and customer engagement. It is a SaaS platform made up of four “base versions,” each with different levels of functionality and multiple additional components users can purchase to provide integrated solutions.
Historically, SFMC’s core functionality was not initially developed by Salesforce, but rather gained by Salesforce in their acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013. That’s why you still come across the term“ExactTarget” when researching Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Salesforce acquired Pardot in the same acquisition. Pardot was initially developed as a B2B (business-to-business) marketing automation platform for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), as opposed to ExactTarget, which was more B2C (business to customer) focused. Pardot still exists today in the Salesforce ecosystem, but hasn’t been integrated or merged into SFMC/ExactTarget, nor has it been rebranded as a Salesforce “Cloud” product.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a platform capable of supporting many marketing processes, including multi-channel campaign execution, dynamic customer journey mapping, pre- and post-campaign analytics such as audience building and segmentation, social media engagement and advertising, and a data management platform. The Marketing Cloud uses components they call “Studios” and “Builders” to achieve this:
- “Studios” manage and engage with channels of communication. In the Marketing Cloud, they include Email Studio, Interaction Studio, Social Studio and Mobile Studio.
- “Builders” manage customer data, content and customer journeys in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform. They are often used by the Studios but don’t have to be. For example, Studios do not use Analytics Builder.
What Can You Do with Salesforce Marketing Cloud?
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a feature-rich platform with capabilities across the marketing domain, including:
- Real-time customer engagement
- Email and marketing automation
- Social media engagement, listening and advertising
- Mobile (SMS) messaging and push notifications
- Customer marketing analytics
A customer journey enabled in Salesforce Marketing Cloud helps illustrate some of these key capabilities. In SFMC, you can use Journey Builder to create automated multi-channel journeys using many of the capabilities above to provide a personalized customer experience.
The tool can deliver messages to each contact based on current customer data analysis and then trigger new messages based on real-time changes and interactions. The journeys can have multiple branches (like a tree) – and decisions can go on different branches based on:
- Contact data in the Marketing Cloud relates to the contact receiving your information. The data associated with a contact, or any change in their data, can determine which journey branch to take. For example, a contact could be in a communication journey for prospects but then convert to a customer. The change in their contact data in SFMC could automatically remove them from a prospect journey and place them into a new customer journey.
- Journey data is about customer behaviors and interactions with the Marketing Cloud journey, such as email opens or clicks. One example is a welcome journey. After purchasing a product, a customer may receive multiple emails (Email 1 – welcome, Email 2 – product registration, Email 3 – product usage tips, and so on). Salesforce Marketing Cloud can detect who is opening and interacting with each email. This enables you to send a customer down a branch to resend Email 2, for example, if someone doesn’t open or click after a designated time, or it may send them down a branch to receive Email 3 if they have opened and interacted with Email 2.
SFMC Journey builder allows you to construct journeys that consist of email and SMS messaging, as well as direct mail using AppExchange partners. Multi-channel messaging for marketing campaigns allows:
- Service and support case communication – Use emails to communicate service and support content for each customer. Use SMS to communicate more timely information (e.g., service personnel on their way, a change in your service/support case status such as a closure).
- Post-purchase communication – Use emails and SMS to share post-purchase communications. For example, you can create a journey with emails for shipment status — up to the point that something is delivered — at which time the Marketing Cloud sends an email to the customer to inform them that delivery is complete, and then follow up with a product registration email, possibly followed by a customer survey.
- Financial communications – Use emails and SMS to communicate financial status related to loans or credit. For example, emails help remind customers of upcoming loan payments if they have not yet been made by a designated date. On the actual due date, an SMS message can help ensure they don’t miss their payment and face late payment penalties.
SFMC has some dynamic components that create web personalization for email recipients and further increase engagement. These include:
- Dynamic content – This includes creating personalized email content and subject lines based on an individual’s attributes and associated customer data and rules applied to them. The email content will populate based on who the message recipient is, delivering a personalized experience without crafting multiple versions of a single email.
- Dynamic sending profiles – This enables creating custom sending addresses for an email; a common use case is building one email and varying the sender based on which salesperson has the relationship with the message recipient.
All the above helps drive customer engagement with your brand and ideally creates a strong customer relationship by delivering relevant and timely content. These journeys are the foundation of creating automated and personalized experiences with your brand through more intelligent communications.
Marketing Cloud also provides a wealth of data about the communications it orchestrates and executes, which helps with reporting, data analytics and insights. Such SFMC data augments the existing contact data received from other systems integrated with it, including the Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration with Google Analytics 360 that enables you to track the customer journey more thoroughly.
You can put this company data to good use for various purposes, including performance analysis for marketing campaigns, segmentation and audience building.
Can Any Company Use Marketing Cloud?
Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers span many industries and company sizes. While Marketing Cloud is primarily considered an enterprise-level platform, its different editions make it flexible enough for virtually any organization.
In addition, with à la carte selection of add-on features, you can tailor the Marketing Cloud to your (and your customers’) changing needs.
And while Salesforce Marketing Cloud was designed mainly as a B2C platform, B2B companies also use it. In fact, the use of Marketing Cloud in B2B is increasing as SFMC’s users, especially decision makers, expect to receive customer journey maps like those of B2C customers.
In addition to the cost of any replacement platform, you have to consider other impacts, including:
- Data analytics,reporting SFMC’s impact to existing metrics
- The ability to support your enterprise data model and data migrations
- The overall impact to your company (training, organization structure, ROI, and so on.)
- Your ability to deliver an improved customer experience while driving your desired business outcomes.