In all of the hoopla and merriment associated with the new Saleforce.com-Oracle bromance, it would have been easy to miss the other news from the Salesforce.com – the expanding Marketing Cloud. Salesforce.com is best known for it’s Sales Cloud CRM software but much of its recent R&D and M&A activity has been directed toward building up the marketing portfolio. Starting with the purchase of Radian6 and BuddyMedia and most recently ExactTarget and EdgeSpring, the Marketing Cloud has gone from a limited social platform to a full fledged digital marketing suite. Marketing Cloud has, essentially, gone from zero to warp 9 in an amazingly short amount of time.
The recent growth in the Saleforce.com digital marketing portfolio can easily be viewed as a reaction to competitive forces. With Oracle, Adobe, IBM, and SAP investing heavily in digital marketing, on both the marketing automation and analytics side, it can be construed as a move to keep them from falling behind their giant competitors.
Looking a bit deeper, it appears to be more than just a set of reflexive moves. Salesforce.com has, like it’s rivals, recognized that sales goes hand-in-hand with marketing. One cannot thrive without the other. Marketing has also changed dramatically. In the Mad Men past, marketing activities were designed around print and broadcast media campaigns. Campaigns were episodic, with defined start and finish dates, and simple metrics such as ad views. The connection between marketing and actual sales was indirect.
Today, marketing is a continuous activity, centered more on social and digital media. Social media allows for instant analysis of market conditions, immediate tweaks to message, and constant opportunities for customer engagement. Marketing activity happens across a broad range of digital and social media properties, with customers shifting their digital presence depending on circumstances and desires. In the past, interactions were one-way with a customer seeing an ad and hopefully responding with a purchase. Interactions today are two-way conversations across multiple media which present many opportunities to influence a customer to purchase a product. More important, the sharing capabilities of social media mean that customers themselves help to market to other customer. It’s also easier, given modern digital tools, to draw connections directly between marketing activities and sales leads, especially when those leads flow through a website or are fulfilled at an eCommerce site.
Salesforce.com’s recent acquisitions do more than fill in holes in their product portfolio. They position the company to help move their Sales Cloud customer into the new world of marketing. Another way to look at it is that Salesforce.com makes it easier for customers to upgrade their marketing to the modern era.
Competitors such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Adobe have been hard at work making the same capabilities available to their customers. Salesforce.com Sales Cloud customers, however, are often fanatical about the company . A comprehensive array of tools from their favorite CRM vendor makes it easy for their sales customers to advocate Marketing Cloud to their marketing counterparts. More important is the impression – true or not – that there will be a better integration between marketing and sales when the tools come from one company, especially a cloud vendor. Integrating CRM and digital marketing is a critical component of turning marketing leads into sales, especially in B2B companies.
Overall, these moves make sense for Salesforce.com customers – once they are fully integrated. At that point, customers will have a highly responsive, continuous marketing and sales solution that will remove much of the aggravation from making all the parts of continuous, digital customer engagement work together. Making these parts work together is the key to driving sales and revenue from digital engagement.