Today’s marketers have a lot to tackle. How do you reach customers with the right message, at the right time, on the right channel? How do you choose between the hundreds of marketing tools and technologies out there – and stitch them all together to create a great marketing platform?
How do you make sure your customers have a smooth journey – and a consistent brand experience – from marketing to sales to post-purchase service? And how do you maximise every opportunity to turn an unknown individual into a fanatical customer, without coming across as creepy or intrusive?
All these questions and many more were addressed at Salesforce World Tour London 2017, where a dedicated session explored the challenges facing both B2C and B2B marketers.
"Technology has created huge opportunities for marketers over the past 10 years", said Salesforce UK area vice president Steve Corfield.
Digital marketing means every campaign and every interaction can be measured and analysed. Marketers know who’s engaging with their campaigns, and which channels and approaches are generating the best results.
It’s no longer a case of “I know half of my marketing works, but I don’t know which half”.
But digital marketing is table stakes now – the smart organisations are the ones who are creating complete, tailored, 1-1 journeys for every customer, taking each one from initial awareness through to post-purchase support as a single, connected experience.
The session highlighted examples of organisations doing this particularly well. One is Fanatics, a global retailer of branded apparel and merchandise for sports team fans. It employs only five marketers, yet seamlessly executes 27,000 email campaigns a year – a total of 4 billion emails.
Fanatics isn’t marketing into the blue: it has an intimate knowledge of every customer and the sports team they support. It knows what kind of products they’re likely to buy, at what point in the year, and why. It knows just what to say to a customer when their team loses or wins, or when a key player moves on.
It has to, because its own customers are such passionate, knowledgeable fans. “If we get it wrong, they recognise it immediately,” says Linda Moon, director of CRM strategy at Fanatics, in a video shown during the session.
Fanatics can do all this with a team of five because it uses the Salesforce Customer Success Platform to underpin all of its customer-facing operations.
A live demo showed how Fanatics uses the Salesforce Data Management Platform – new in the Spring 2017 release of Marketing Cloud – to build an audience of lookalike customers from third-party data, and serve targeted ads to them on their favourite sports websites and channels.
Clicking on an ad – on desktop or mobile – opens a window with a click-to-buy link driven by Commerce Cloud. Fanatics has used Journey Builder to make sure that if the customer abandons the transaction, it triggers an email in Marketing Cloud to remind them they were interested, and give them another chance to buy.
If the customer accidentally orders the product in the wrong size, they can immediately fire up a messaging chat with a service rep, who can see the customer’s entire previous interaction history (or conversation) in Service Cloud, and get a replacement dispatched.
Finally, if the customer posts a selfie of themselves wearing their new t-shirt on social media, Salesforce’s new Einstein AI Vision image recognition software can immediately identify it and alert the marketing team, who can share or comment approvingly.
To create a tailored customer journey like this using disparate tools and systems would be a mammoth task, but Salesforce makes it easy – by unifying Marketing, Commerce and Service on a single platform, with a single source of customer data.
That’s an incredible boon for marketers who don’t want to waste valuable time cobbling different systems together. “We don’t want to stitch things together; it’s wasted effort,” Lee Woodward, chief experience officer at beauty product retailer Crabtree & Evelyn, told the Salesforce World Tour audience.
His company is currently undergoing a complete transformation, breaking down silos between teams, putting the customer experience at the heart of the business and using its new, customer-centric approach to drive a geographical expansion into China.
“Salesforce is the glue. It sits in one place, and it all talks to each other,” said Lee Woodward. “It takes away all of the worry about the way things talk to each other, so we can focus on the big things, like why are we doing this, and how does it benefit our customers.”
The more Salesforce invests in its platform, the more power it gives to marketers to deliver seamless, connected experiences. One exciting emerging area is the Internet of Things, which allows brands to learn much more about their customers from the way they use their connected devices – and create tailored experiences for them accordingly.
Steve Corfield told the audience how General Motors is already connecting its connected cars to the Salesforce platform, which can then send real-time marketing messages to drivers and passengers based on their known preferences.
Artificial intelligence is starting to play a huge role in improving marketing targeting and spend, too. We already saw how Salesforce’s Einstein AI Vision can recognise when a customer posts a brand-related image on social media. But Salesforce’s built-in AI is driving all kinds of improvements: from determining the time a customer is most receptive to marketing messages; to understanding which channels and platforms each customer will respond to best; to predicting which prospects are most likely to buy based on their behaviour.
Marketers no longer have to worry about the best time of day to send a marketing message: Einstein already knows. And in B2B, marketers can be confident in the quality of the leads that get handed to Sales, because Einstein has already ranked them on their propensity to buy. Marketers who use Einstein as their personal data scientist now know exactly where to focus to drive maximum conversions and sales.
A recurring message at Salesforce World Tour 2017 was that today’s customers buy experiences – not products. If marketers can make their activities part of a single, connected brand experience that makes customers feel special and appreciated, the whole organisation will benefit in terms of happier, more loyal customers, who will in turn drive business growth.
“As marketers, we are all trying to get closer to our customers,” says Fanatics’ vice president for CRM and loyalty, Matthew Smith. “If you can build a deeper relationship with that customer, ultimately we think we can serve them better. Salesforce allows us to do that.”
Ready to start creating those great customer experiences? Download this insightful and practical Creating a Connected Customer Experience guide.