Salesforce Connections – This Year’s Key Learnings for Digital Transformation Leaders
Bravo to Salesforce. Connections, its annual digital marketing and commerce conference, was back in-person this month for the first time since 2019!
Salesforce rolled out a whimsical, outdoorsy National Parks and Forests theme in Chicago to create a cohesive and immersive experience for digital and marketing leaders. The event hosted sessions focused on marketing, e-commerce and digital within the Salesforce ecosystem, and thus key platforms of focus were Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Customer 360.
The goals of the conference were skill building, sharing ideas, community building and celebration, and Salesforce certainly achieved this with flying colors! In fact, some of the sessions were so wildly popular that “Session Full” signs were a common occurrence. Below I highlight key learnings and key takeaways I observed during the two-day event.
Key learnings from Connections 2022:
Customer Data Platform
A dominant theme from the conference, the Salesforce Customer Data Platform (CDP) was featured heavily as a key component to consolidate marketing and engagement data from Salesforce with external data sources (e.g., EDW, ERP). First, CDP is a broader strategy and framework that combines customer databases and all touchpoints or interactions for understanding how customers interact with your product or service. Many vendors besides Salesforce offer products for CDP. You can think of CDP as an evolution of CRM (Customer Relationship Management); however, the trusted customer profile includes all data beyond CRM that is stitched together to form a unified source of truth. Salesforce has a massive advantage over the competition due to native integration between CDP and Marketing Cloud, as well as automation tools for a simplified user experience. My favorite session from Connections was learning about Salesforce and School Specialty partnering to implement Salesforce CDP, and optimizing their personalization in marketing for improved customer outcomes.
Omni-Channel for Engagement
This isn’t a new trend, but customers expect to receive communications in their preferred communications modality and on their preferred device. While Marketing Cloud Journey Builder is a key enabler for this strategy, it was good to see more traction from Salesforce products like OmniStudio being highlighted. With OmniStudio, member data can be pulled together from Salesforce and external data sources for service agents via FlexCards. FlexCards will increasingly be used to show the right data at the right time. No more hunting and pecking for agents. Journey Builder and OmniStudio can work together for multi-channel experiences.
I had no idea that Marketing Cloud Journey Builder is so popular that to attend the workshops, attendees had to secure a spot 45 minutes in advance! The sessions were fantastic, so I am glad I was able to take part and learn more ways to leverage Journey Builder functionality. At Kenway Consulting, we use Journey Builder with our clients to create seamless and individually customized communications across many channels (SMS, Email, Phone Calls, Direct Mail, etc.). The most powerful paradigm of Journey Builder is that the strategy can support automation engagement, and can anticipate and react to interactions with the customer. From a build perspective, Journey Builder is very accessible, comprised mostly of drag and drop components to configure. Additionally, Journey Builder can be extended to support custom code, so your customer activities can support anything or integrate with other systems. My favorite part about Journey Builder is the closely related product (Automation Studio) and how automation and real-time entry events can create a 100% automated solution to scale engagements while maintaining personalization.
Salesforce Innovation & NFTs
Perhaps the biggest product announcement is the pilot for NFT (Non-Fungible Token) Cloud. NFT Cloud is Salesforce’s foray into crypto as it will help companies mint and sell NFTs on a trusted platform. More than anything, this will help with brand expansion into digital networks. For those new to NFTs, think of this as a smart digital contract and proof of ownership that can be trusted. Time will tell if Salesforce is ahead of the industry or chasing a trend that will ultimately fade. I personally believe NFTs are here to stay for practical purposes such as proof of ownership for large purchases or large assets.
Key Takeaways from Connections 2022:
- Most Common Buzzword: Personalization
- Top Product Announcement: NFT Cloud
- Top Marketing Trend: Cookieless Future
- Top Technology Tend: Web3
- Best “WOW Your Customers” example: Humana & Meaningful Customer Movements
- Most Popular Product: Salesforce Customer Data Platform (CDP)
- Bright Spot: Marketing Cloud Career Path sessions give-away of free certification exam vouchers ($200 value)
- Blue Spot: Apparently I need to learn more about composting and sustainability, which I am committed to do. I did get shamed at the conference when disposing my lunch by not selecting the right bins for trash, recycle and compost!
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