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Hope is not a strategy. But these announcements make me bullish Salesforce’s strategy is paying off.

Updated: Apr 2


Salesforce’s Data Cloud was named Gartner’s leading Customer Data Platform on Tuesday. Salesforce followed that up with the announcement of Marketing Cloud Growth Edition, which some of us have been anticipating for some time now. If you’re a fan of Salesforce, what a week! 


The conversations over the coming months surrounding the Marketing Cloud Growth Edition (MC Growth Edition) and Data Cloud will likely oscillate between two extremes - a messianic belief in its potential to revolutionize the marketing technology landscape, or deep-seated questions about its immediate utility.


Whether you’re shouting Salesforce praises from the rooftops, feeling cynical, are downright confused, or just want to know more, I figured I’d share some of the conversations we’re having with customers at UpperRight. Our view lies somewhere in the middle!


Looking back reveals the need for innovation


With Marketing Cloud Engagement and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (formerly Pardot) both serving as robust, feature-rich platforms, one might wonder about the necessity for a new product. The key to understanding this innovation lies in the origins and infrastructure of these platforms, and the ongoing pursuit of a unified marketing platform strategy at Salesforce. 


Historically, Salesforce's marketing solutions were not originally built in-house but were instead acquired and integrated into the Salesforce ecosystem. Despite their powerful capabilities, these platforms operate on different technology stacks and data models from Salesforce's core, leading to integration challenges and scalability issues. Furthermore, the reliance on large, schema-dependent datasets and SQL for complex segmentation can hinder flexibility and require significant expertise to manage effectively at scale.


Marketing Cloud Growth Edition, however, is built natively on Salesforce's core platform. This means it inherits the Customer 360 data model within Data Cloud, and Salesforce’s core platform tooling for security, metadata, automation, and analytics and artificial intelligence. To the customer, this will ultimately offer a seamless, unified platform for customer data management, orchestration, activation, and engagement. The introduction of the new product signals an architectural coherence that finally catches up to the slide ware that’s been promising unified data, unified decisions, unified experiences for a long time. Game-changing, right?


A vision beyond the present: chess, not checkers


A critical aspect to understand about MC Growth Edition is not merely what it offers today, but the strategic direction it represents for the future.

As we look to the horizon, it's clear that the Marketing Cloud Growth Edition is just the beginning. Salesforce's aggressive roadmap for MC Growth Edition suggests rapid evolution, paralleling the swift expansion observed with Data Cloud.

This forward-looking perspective is crucial, especially for organizations not in the throes of an immediate platform selection. More innovation will be rolled out, and existing customers will be able to take advantage of some of these features without migrating to the new edition. 


The signaling of unified tools for seamless marketing and experience operations


A notable point of friction for current Salesforce users is the disparate set of tools for similar functions across its platforms. This won’t go away in the near-term.


There is the existence of multiple email builders and content management systems within Salesforce's suite. There are multiple analytics tools, and segmentation engines. Rest assured - we don't think this is the future. Rather, MC Growth Edition signals a shift towards unification, aiming to consolidate these functionalities into a cohesive set of tools. With this foundation for expansion and evolution, Salesforce is looking to set a new standard for what businesses can expect from their marketing technology platforms.


We also think this initiative, which will first encompass email and landing page builders alongside a singular segmentation engine, embodies the concept of a shift towards "composable services” in the marketing stack. Salesforce’s approach aims to simplify the user experience within marketing, but also enhance the adaptability and efficiency of Salesforce's offerings for digital and IT organizations.


The ripple effect of innovation for existing customers


For organizations contemplating the adoption of marketing automation or those new to marketing within the Salesforce environment, MC Growth Edition presents a compelling proposition. However, existing customers of MC Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud Engagement are advised to pause and consider the broader implications. 


First, Salesforce is strategically planning to extend the innovations of MC Growth Edition to its current customer base without necessitating immediate platform switches. This gradual integration means that existing users can anticipate new features and functionalities becoming available within their current setups, thereby benefiting from the development efforts invested in MC Growth Edition without the disruption of migration.


The Salesforce Einstein 1 Platform Advantage


Marketing Cloud Growth Edition stands out by being natively built on Salesforce's Einstein 1 Platform. This leverages a single Customer 360 Information Model managed in Data Cloud, and offers a unified platform for ingesting and harmonizing customer data without the need for replication across different systems. It also will inherit future innovations to the platform that previously were separate products on top of the existing Marketing Cloud database, including encryption and security. The advantages of being on CORE include:


  • Petabyte-scale data processing: Enables handling large datasets efficiently, ensuring scalability and performance.

  • Unified platform: Simplifies the data architecture, reducing complexity and improving reliability.

  • Real-time data activation: Allows for marketing communications to be triggered by in-the-moment data, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of campaigns.

  • Improved security and governance: enabling marketing to leverage the broad suite of Salesforce security and privacy capabilities natively without replication. 

One unified data segmentation engine to rule them all

At the heart of what we’re seeing in the vision for Marketing Cloud Growth Edition is the promise of a unified data, customer identity, and activation model powered by the Customer Data Platform (Data Cloud). This approach offers several benefits:


  • Dynamic segmentation: Create and adjust customer segments in real-time, enabling personalized marketing at scale.

  • Cross-channel activation: Utilize harmonized data to coordinate marketing efforts across channels, ensuring a consistent and engaging customer experiences within and across Salesforce and non-Salesforce applications.


Unified decisioning with Salesforce Flow and AI

One of the most significant enhancements brought by Marketing Cloud Growth Edition is the introduction of unified decisioning powered by Salesforce Flow and additional AI-powered toolsets. This integration facilitates:

  • Automated customer journeys: Tailor marketing efforts based on real-time customer interactions and behaviors.

  • AI-driven insights: Leverage AI to uncover patterns and predict customer needs, optimizing marketing strategies for better outcomes.

  • Efficient resource allocation: Automate and optimize marketing processes, freeing up resources to focus on strategic initiatives.

While not a replacement for Journey Builder today, expect to see further innovation in the automation and experience orchestration space in the core platform.


In conclusion - be hopeful!


While the conversation around MC Growth Edition may currently be mired in extremes, a closer examination reveals a strong product strategy and requires a balanced perspective on the application to your Salesforce roadmap.


The essence of MC Growth Edition's promise lies in its future potential, the strategic unification of marketing tools, and the inclusive approach to innovation dissemination across Salesforce's customer base. 


As we delve deeper into the specifics of MC Growth Edition in forthcoming discussions, it's essential to keep this balanced outlook in mind, recognizing the platform's evolving capabilities and its implications for the broader Salesforce ecosystem.


Let’s keep the conversation going… 

For businesses seeking to leverage these advanced capabilities and navigate the complexities of modern marketing technology, partnering with experts like us at UpperRight can unlock new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and strategic insight. With a deep understanding of Salesforce solutions, including the new Marketing Cloud Growth Edition, we’re ready to help you harness the full power of your marketing technology investments, ensuring you’re positioned to thrive in the digital age - in the UpperRight!

 

Michael Turcotte is Partner and Chief Revenue Officer of UpperRight, The Customer Experience Consultancy.  He is also a former six-year veteran of Salesforce and a self admitted MarTech nerd. He can be reached at Mike@upperight.com.

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