As the boundaries between enterprise marketing technology and the ad stack continue to blur, digital marketers demand systems that “do more.” With first-party datasets that sit close to the consumer – these often include purchase and interaction histories – CRM data is especially attractive to digital advertisers.
Conversely, access to broader demand signals and third-party data can enhance digital marketers’ reach. After speaking at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview 2014 last week in New York, CMO of Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud Michael Lazerow (he cofounded Buddy Media, which was acquired by Salesforce.com for $689 million in 2012) elaborated on what the CRM giant does and doesn’t want to be for marketers.
AdExchanger: Salesforce.com’s $2.5 billion acquisition of ExactTarget was among the top dollar-value deals in technology M&A in 2013. Are you still shopping?
MICHAEL LAZEROW: I can’t comment on the company’s acquisitions, but what I can say is, we are actively looking to build a business that gets our customers closer to their customers and that’s what the ExactTarget deal was all about. It was, “How do you automate these customer journeys at massive scale?” If you haven’t seen someone in 30 days, what do you send them? Is it an email, a text, a tweet? Is it on Facebook or an in-app notification? We think the world’s moving from single point solutions to a unified view of the customer. If you look at our [CRM] usage stats, this is software that is being used everyday to interact with customers. Traditionally, it’s been through a sales person, [because] Salesforce.com started in sales automation. But [now] it’s how can you move through to B2B marketing automation [into] this world of B2C, one-to-one personalized digital marketing. That’s what our clients are doing with it.
So are you deliberately moving into B2C?
We have to be API-first [and to] be part of an ecosystem and not just a technology. That’s where we have 25 Insights partners on the [Radian6] listening business and work with thousands of companies with the ExactTarget [partner network]. We have an open data platform so that when a company like Gap starts with us, they can bring ten years of purchase data into our platform and use that to target messaging. It used to be that [marketing] would just be email and text and then it became social networks, and now, mobile notifications. So we hope to work with all sorts of companies, including the large owners of the ad stack.
Do you expect all of these stacks to be consolidated into a giant end-to-end solution?
We don’t think there’s going to be one company that owns the whole marketing stack. We want to be part of the ecosystem. We never look at it as, “We want to own the ecosystem." We’ve got tons of great agency partners [like] WPP, Publicis, Omnicom. What we want to own is this one-to-one, digital marketing platform that is more of a system of engagement you use – and more and more – that will interact with your ad stack, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, open web, mobile. You should be able to use your CRM data to power your ads wherever possible.
Will social media be the designated path for Salesforce.com in paid media? Or do you plan to do more?
When you look at the amount of money flowing by client [on its last earnings call, Salesforce.com said Marketing Cloud brought in $81 million in revenue for Q3] and the decisions we’re managing, [social] is obviously our strength. … But, the future of advertising is this kind of living, breathing marketing automation product that when you turn on the TV and you log in with your social accounts, the TV is both your mobile phone and computer on the wall and it knows who you are and what services you subscribe to.
All of a sudden, your TV ads are addressable to you and it becomes, “Do you want to show an ad to your most loyal customers if you’re Delta Airlines on TV?” Of course. It’s not about low fares and selection. It becomes a fundamentally different message. Data builds relevancy and relevancy drives business results. If a customer thinks you’re relevant to them, you’ll do a whole hell of a lot better than if it’s just blunt instrument advertising. All data is about is, ”How do you get more relevant?”
Is being more relevant providing a “two-way experience” for both brand and consumer? How does this change marketing decisions?
Marketers are now sitting at the center of product conversations. If you look at [Google’s acquisition of] Nest, that is a marketing-led company built on the back of great technology. That’s basically, “We will help you be more comfortable and safer as a family.” I think people like being serviced with great experiences. I think the best marketing is great service and giving them something for being who they are. You look at these companies that have been built from the ground up during the cloud, social, mobile revolution – those are the companies that have won [the hearts, minds] and wallet share of customers.
Uber would seem like a classic example.
People don’t just use Uber. They evangelize Uber and the reason is, it’s not hard to go out and hail a cab, but isn’t it better to sit in a café and be notified when the car is here and just get into the car? Everything is going to be on demand and replenish itself. Like Uber – is it great marketing or a great service? If you’re a hotel in Las Vegas and a big gambler with you walks into another hotel and you message him and give him $1,000 to come back to you, is that marketing or sales? Who knows? But it makes good business sense. As much as we talk about optimization and creativity, your customers don’t care about optimization. They care about how you treat them.
What B2C brands are you currently working with?
If you look at the companies we work with, from Nike to Gap to Unilever and financial services companies like Bank of America, they’re companies that have put the person at the center. Gap kind of pays attention to who is this person, what did they buy, what do they like, what have they looked at on the website, what did they react to in terms of campaigns, emails, social, and so what started with B2B kind of marketing automation has now involved into one-to-one digital communications at scale. If you look at what Unilever’s doing, it’s more about getting close to the customer, as opposed to the faceless consumer. We think B2C, one-to-one personalized messaging or marketing at massive scale is the future.
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