dreamforce keynote

Salesforce is going with the moniker Internet of Customers to define its strategy of connecting the world's smart devices. That focus was again on display during the Marketing Cloud keynote today at Dreamforce 2013 in San Francisco.

ExactTarget leaders Scott Dorsey and Scott McCorkle presented the talk, Market 1:1 with Your Customers to Grow Faster. 

All of the Connected Things

Marketers will have the ability to send personalized messages to connected devices of every kind if Salesforce has anything to do say about it. McCorkle, ExactTarget president of technology and strategy, used another futuristic example during his keynote — much like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff did a day earlier in his main address.

Email is still the workhorse of digital marketing, explained Dorsey, CEO of ExactTarget. But Salesforce wants to connect every kind of device it can. In this case, McCorkle showed off a demonstration of how a connected Ford Mustang could be included in a customized campaign.

Say a car in need of service passes a Ford dealership. The dealership could message send a service reminder directly to the car's in-dash display. If the motorist didn't respond to that message, then he could be added to a Facebook Custom Audience and shown a targeted Facebook ad. If there was still no response, an SMS message could be sent with a coupon as an incentive.

Furthermore, McClorkle said, he could foresee a situation where that message sent directly to the car could include a time sensitive information about immediate service appointment openings.

It was a great example of a connected world, but some attendees, like Douglas Hsieh also called it "a little scary."

"Connecting all those touch points was something we thought we could do but now we actually can," added Hsieh, who works for New York City based Avero, which provides analytics for the hospitality industry. Avero uses ExactTarget, but only for email, noted Hsieh's colleague, Sandhya Rao, vice president of marketing and product.

"This is fabulous for marketers; so we can consolidate channels," she said. "We're an SMB so its hard to manage all that."

Rao mentioned she had used Pardot in the past, a company Salesforce picked up in its ExactTarget acquisition this summer. She was attending Dreamforce to see if her company need to buy Pardot again or just upgrade from ExactTarget to get more advanced marketing features.


ExactTarget campaign builder in action at the Salesforce Marketing Cloud keynote at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Calif.

Who is Marketing Automation for?

Like the Avero team, Emily Dempsey from Zayo Group in Boulder, Colo. wasn't quite ready for building nurturing campaigns with a tool like ExactTarget. Zayo Group provides bandwidth infrastructure for telecommunications and Internet companies, and it uses Salesforce for things like financial reporting and networking, Dempsey said.

"We don't need social tools so much, but we have developed about 80% of what we use Salesforce for in house," she said.

"We actually don't use Salesforce as much for things like lead scoring. I didn't even start out in marketing. So I'm trying to get my team back to using Salesforce for the kinds of things it was meant for."

Zayo Group recently signed a year long agreement with Net Results for help with marketing automation, and Dempsey said she was mostly using it for tracking website visitors. Net Results could get swapped out for ExactTarget next year if it's a good fit she said. 

Zayo Group may have to undergo some financial restructuring in the near future, Dempsey said, in relation to a (possible) IPO. Coupled with the fact more and more small companies are looking to add bandwidth from her company, Zayo Group may have to change its marketing approach, she said. 

"We have a license for Radian6, but I don't think we've ever used it. There's a big disconnect between IT and marketing, and right now we've got 60,000 profiles in our database that no one is managing."

Clearly these Salesforce customers need help deciding what tools to use and how. But are they the kinds of businesses Benioff and Co. are really focused on? Salesforce is all about the enterprise, so it's no surprise businesses like Avero and Zayo Group are not at the center of the company's attention.