Salesforce Connections – This Year’s Key Learnings
The future of customer experience is here, and it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI). This was the central theme at Salesforce Connections 2023 (#CXN23), which took place on June 7 & 8 in Chicago, IL. Over two days, Connections brought together more than 10,000 customer-first innovators from around the world to learn about how CRM, AI, Marketing, Commerce, and Digital Experiences are transforming the way businesses engage with their customers.
As a Salesforce partner, Kenway Consulting was well-represented by six of our Salesforce experts, and the following highlights our key learnings that you might be able to apply to your business. Overall, the event in 2023 was valuable for anyone seeking to learn more about how Salesforce can enhance customer experiences.
Key learnings from Salesforce Connections:
While numerous new products and features were announced, the standout gem was Marketing GPT. Salesforce had previously unveiled new AI capabilities in the Einstein GPT suite, and Marketing GPT is the latest addition, slated for General Availability (GA) in Spring 2024. Marketing GPT harnesses the power of Salesforce’s trusted AI partners in conjunction with large language models (LLMs), empowering marketers to utilize natural language prompts and expedite various use cases. Below are some of the features we find most appealing for boosting productivity and efficiency:
- Segment creation (GA October 2023): Salesforce offers Data Cloud as a complementary feature alongside Marketing Cloud, enabling rapid creation of segments without the need to write queries or rely on technology teams for support. This significantly enhances targeting capabilities.
- Email content creation (GA February 2024): You can accelerate the creation of emails, including subject lines, body content, and generative images. Marketing GPT leverages successful messaging from past customer journeys, providing significant value. Salesforce has partnered with Typeface for generative AI images. The opening keynote presentation featured a compelling demo of generative AI, showcasing the immense creative power of this feature.
- Segment Intelligence (GA October 2023): Leveraging Data Cloud, Segment Intelligence automatically provides analytics to enhance intelligence on audience engagement. It includes optimizations and activations.
It should also be noted that generative AI is coming to every cloud (e.g., Sales GPT, Service GPT, Tableau GPT, Slack GPT, Commerce GPT).
Data Cloud, initially announced as Genie at Dreamforce 2022, has seen subsequent investments in new features and seamless integrations, showcasing the value customers can derive from connecting all their customer data. Serving as a single source of truth, Data Cloud encompasses Sales Cloud data, Marketing Cloud data, external customer data, and more. By automating the collection of this diverse data, marketers gain access to an ‘Engagement Feed’ that highlights critical events such as website visits, website behavior, segment additions, journey data, and more. This unified view provides a powerful means to comprehend customers, make informed marketing decisions, and take action.
Zero ETL: Data Cloud + Google Cloud (BigQuery)
Yes, another win for Data Cloud! Salesforce recently unveiled an exciting partnership between Data Cloud and Google BigQuery, a leading cloud data warehouse from Google. This collaboration establishes a secure link and enables a zero-copy clone. In simpler terms, it allows you to query data in BigQuery directly from Salesforce’s Data Cloud, eliminating the need for data movement or transformations (ETL). Say goodbye to costly data pipelines and embrace a seamless data experience.
At Kenway, we think this is the first step towards industry wide adoption for Data Cloud and it helps to address the overlap with existing cloud data warehouses and makes them function well together.
The product formerly known as Pardot
Salesforce has very recently rebranded Pardot as ‘Marketing Cloud Account Engagement’ and Connections showcased many of the advanced features that have been added, specifically AI features. Now, please do not confuse Marketing Cloud Account Engagement with Marketing Cloud.
- Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot): B2B marketing automation tool
- Marketing Cloud: B2C marketing platform
Marketing Cloud Account Engagement features are keen on engaging customers at the right time and at the right cadence. Of the many new AI features, two worth highlighting as the following:
- Einstein Attribution: Automates marketing attribution and showcases the ROI of marketing spend.
- Einstein Campaign Insights: This feature answers the question of which campaigns are the most effective (great for input into the next campaign) and helps to uncover new audiences to target.
Personalization and strategies to improve engagement
Customer engagement and personalization were major focal points of this year’s Connections event. With the help of Data Cloud and Einstein GPT, marketers can now create personalized messages using reliable customer data, leading to more effective customer engagement. These new AI tools not only enable the creation of powerful marketing content and copy, but also empower sales and service teams to choose the right words and responses, thereby saving time during direct customer interactions. Personalization emerged as a consistent theme last year, and achieving personalization at scale will remain a key objective for many organizations this year.
Final Salesforce Connections thoughts from our experts:
Colin Knapp – Kenway Salesforce Co-Practice Lead
AI and data have emerged as the primary drivers of effective connections in the business world. This comes as no surprise, as leveraging high-quality data and implementing precise segmentation techniques can significantly enhance interactions with marketing materials and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates. In line with this trend, Salesforce has made substantial investments in AI and data, transitioning from a traditional CRM/SaaS platform to a data-driven company. Their aim is to empower users to collect, process, and make informed decisions based on their data within the Salesforce ecosystem.
To achieve this transformation, Salesforce is actively pursuing partnerships and integrations with leading technology providers, such as Snowflake, OpenAI, and Google. These collaborations enable Salesforce to offer its customers a wealth of data resources and facilitate seamless data integration without the need to duplicate data across different platforms. By embracing these strategic alliances, Salesforce seeks to provide comprehensive data solutions to all its customers, ensuring they have access to the most up-to-date and relevant information for their business needs.
Salesforce recognizes the immense value of AI and data in today’s business landscape and is making significant efforts to position itself as a dominant player in this realm. Through its partnerships with industry leaders and its evolving platform capabilities, Salesforce aims to empower organizations to harness the power of data-driven insights and unlock new opportunities for growth and success.
John Candioto – Kenway Salesforce Co-Practice Lead
After over a decade of widespread Salesforce usage, certain aspects remain as crucial as ever in today’s business landscape:
- User adoption: Ensuring that your team embraces and effectively utilizes technology remains a top priority. Without user adoption, even the most advanced tools won’t deliver their full potential.
- Sales intelligence: Gaining valuable insights into your customers and prospects continues to be paramount. The ability to understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors empowers your sales team to make informed decisions and forge stronger relationships.
- Staying agile: Flexibility is key in both the micro and macro aspects of your business. Adapting quickly to changing circumstances allows you to seize opportunities and navigate challenges with ease.
It’s important to note that the technology available today doesn’t merely impact these areas—it catalyzes and empowers their pursuit. Advancements in technology provide unprecedented opportunities to drive user adoption, uncover deeper sales intelligence, and achieve agility on a whole new level. Embrace the possibilities and harness the full potential of what the future holds.
Erin Peters – Salesforce Administrator
Immersed within the captivating and whimsical ‘National Parks’ ambiance of Connections, I found myself enveloped in a symphony of knowledge and inspiration. The event proved to be an unparalleled platform where the potential of AI was explored and celebrated. One moment that stood out was when Dan Levy delved into the profound importance of individuality and transparency in our rapidly evolving world. Levy’s insights on individuality struck a chord, reminding us that each person possesses a unique set of talents, perspectives, and aspirations. By embracing our individuality, we unlock a boundless wellspring of creativity and innovation, enabling us to transcend conventional boundaries and achieve extraordinary feats in an industry where it is beneficial to stand out.
The call for transparency echoed powerfully, emphasizing the value of openness and honesty in our interactions and endeavors. Levy’s words served as a gentle reminder that in an era defined by complex technologies and intricate systems, fostering transparency is key to building trust and forging meaningful connections. By embracing transparency, we lay the foundation for collaboration, cooperation, and collective growth. These profound ideas seamlessly intertwined with Kenway’s core values. As an organization, Kenway has always celebrated the uniqueness and individuality of its members, recognizing that it is through their diverse talents and perspectives that true brilliance emerges. Moreover, transparency lies at the core of Kenway’s Guiding Principles, nurturing an environment of trust and open communication where ideas flow freely, fostering collaboration internally and with our clients.
Melissa Thomas – Salesforce Administrator
I had an incredible experience at Salesforce Connections, where I was thoroughly impressed by the event’s organization and content. The conference left me feeling highly motivated to further explore and enhance my knowledge through Trailhead education. Throughout the sessions, there was a consistent emphasis on cutting-edge technologies like Einstein GPT and Predictive AI. These innovative tools were repeatedly mentioned as the key to gaining a comprehensive understanding of customers by leveraging AI.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about the journeys of renowned brands that have successfully transitioned to cloud-based data platforms. Instead of wasting time on data aggregation, these companies now prioritize analyzing the customer experience. By adopting this approach, they can focus on gaining valuable insights that inform their strategies and improve interactions with customers.
Mike Radford – Salesforce Solution Architect
In the ‘Campground’ section of the conference, a large, illuminated screen displayed the tagline ‘Salesforce – A Customer Company’. This served as a powerful reminder of Salesforce’s dedication to providing differentiated features that give the platform a competitive edge. While numerous low-code and customer portal technology platforms exist in the market, Salesforce stands out by prioritizing features that enhance customer personalization and engagement. While competing platforms may offer business process automation, rules engines, and governed data collection, they often lack the specialization in features that Salesforce excels in. With that being said, Salesforce Customer 360 is worth another look for any organization struggling with trusted customer data.
Spencer Moulthrop– Salesforce Developer
A significant takeaway from Connections was the remarkable speed at which Salesforce is embracing generative AI. This bold transition into the new era of AI can be unsettling for many, but Salesforce’s strong emphasis on trust and privacy helps alleviate those concerns. With a focus on the security of customer data, they leverage their in-house large language model and incorporate external data that is thoroughly vetted by AI experts. Witnessing their progress firsthand was truly exhilarating as it showcased the immense potential that AI holds within a relatively short timeframe. It is truly impressive to see how Salesforce’s unwavering dedication has propelled them forward in the AI space, fostering an atmosphere of anticipation for the future possibilities that lie ahead.