The State of Salesforce in 2015

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The State of Salesforce. Credit: BlueWolf
The State of Salesforce. Credit: BlueWolf

The State of Salesforce: The future of the Marketing Cloud
This week Bluewolf published their latest State of Salesforce report – and if you use Salesforce, or are generally interested in the growth of marketing and sales technology, it’s a very interesting read. For our marketing and sales enablement audience, I’ve detailed the highlights below.

For reference, Marketing Cloud is the product grouping Salesforce use to refer to the aggregated capabilities of their acquisitions in the marketing arena, including ExactTarget (enterprise email marketing with cross-channel publishing and analytics), Pardot (marketing automation), iGoDigital (product personalization in email), and Radian6 (social media listening).

The Marketing Cloud is growing fast
Of the 1000 Salesforce clients surveyed, 18% already use the Marketing Cloud, but its future outlook is rated as “on fire”, with its adoption expected to double by the end of 2015. The Sales and Service clouds, Salesforce’s home territory, have much higher adoption, but low growth rates.

Marketing has a leadership voice
Although historically sales has always had a voice in the boardroom, marketing has sometimes struggled for strategic and revenue-generating impact. The predictability of digital marketing to digitally-native customers has now changed this, with 91% of surveyed companies saying marketing now has executive-level representation. In addition, marketing has become more data-driven and technology-dependent than sales and service – giving it a key role in digital transformation across the business.

Analytics is hot and getting hotter
93% of marketers surveyed say that they have invested in analytical tools (56% of these are outside of Salesforce), and 100% say they are planning to increase their investment in analytics. And predictive analytics is an area with opportunity for huge growth, with only 19% of companies rating their use predictive analytics as mature. The key area of focus is in deploying predictive analytics where they address and recommend next-best actions for frequently recurring decisions, rather than ad hoc, or one off strategic ones.

Marketing ROI is driven by better data
Effective personalized marketing relies on live, context-rich data that is integrated across channels and functions. 65% of marketers have integrated a marketing automation tool with Salesforce, but only 7% are extremely satisfied with it (59% are somewhat satisfied). Tools that enable painless syncing of customer data across market, service and sales cloud are the foundation of driving ROI, as the resulting content-rich customer profiles improves customer experience and the ability for the business to serve upcoming needs and desires.

There is a move beyond predictive, to prescriptive
Leaders are using Salesforce to become increasingly proactive, and supporting technologies are enabling this shift through prescriptive as well as predictive analytics. This is especially true in the sales intelligence arena, where contextual insight is no longer simply informing what might happen, but what the sales rep should do about it in human terms. There is a strong confidence, especially in larger businesses, that this will deliver strong gains in productivity and performance.

The State of Salesforce report shows that companies are waking up to the opportunity to use Salesforce for more than just CRM — it has become an enterprise-wide platform that can unite sales, service, and marketing.

Increasingly, this marriage of departments is producing large volumes of ‘unstructured data’. At the DreamForce conference last year, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, put the unstructured data situation in context by explaining that a focus on typical transaction and account information meant unstructured data now outweighs structured data 5-to-1 within the marketing, sales and service environments.

Benioff went on to identify that the biggest imperative for customer-centric companies is to make sense of their unstructured data so as to be in a position to leverage it to better understand and influence the customer journey.

As we get further into 2015, it will be interesting to see how technologies in Salesforce’s application ecosystem make sure marketing, sales and service environments are optimally customer-centric.

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