Matteo Sala, a developer and analyst from Italy, strolled away fromSalesforce.com's Marketing Cloud presentation at Dreamforce today liking what hesaw.
"The marketing cloud is very exciting. Journey Map is veryinteresting," said Sala, already a customer of the Salesforce Sales andService clouds. "We sawa lot of innovation in this product."
It was probably the exact reaction that Scott McCorkle, CEO of the MarketingCloud, had hoped for during a keynote speech that included demonstrations of the ways Salesforce technologies already work at such customer-centric companies likeFitbit, LiveNation and McDonalds.
Talk of Free Trials
It's notable then that McCorkle told reporters covering the massivetechnology conference that he could soon be under "tremendouspressure" to offer free trials for companies that can't afford to pay forone. "We want companies of every size to be able to use our platform," McCorkle told TheHub.
Free trials are somewhat unusual for enterprise software companies, but couldbecome more common as companies like Salesforce, Oracle,Adobe, Sitecoreand others try to stimulate a return on investment from the marketing cloudsthat they've assembled over the past two to three years through costly acquisitions.
The marketing vision at Salesforce and at some of its rivals is impressive: creating marketing machines that can whisper just the right words atjust the right time to customers, no matter if they are on the move with amobile phone, searching the web, reading ads or walking into a store.
McCorkle and other managers on the marketing team dazzled thousands ofconference attendees as they showed how their clients have designed customer journeymaps, customized newsletters and mobile apps on the fly and used drag-and-droptechnologies designed for the average business user.
For example, Live Nation, which sells concert tickets online, not only tracksmillions of individuals for more than 4,000 attributes, but knows just when tooffer them a chance to buy tickets to see their favorite artists. If the fansbuy the tickets and brag about it on social media, Live Nation can send messagesto their friends. As they drive to a concert, the mobile app can direct them toVIP parking. And when they enter the venue, it can even direct them to theconcession stands.
With Salesforce, all of that will be supported by the company's brand newanalytics cloud, Wave, that can process vast amounts of data and share it innear real time with the marketing, sales and service workers across a company.Together, the company's six clouds make up what Salesforce, a company known forcustomer relationship management, is calling "The customer success platform."
"We've unveiled our positioning as the customer success platform becausewe're certainly trying to communicate that we're more than the sales cloud,legacy CRM, the No. 1 product there," Jeff Rohrs, vice president formarketing insights at ExactTarget, which Salesforce acquired in mid-2013.
"We've tied together the best-of-breed solutions," he said in aninterview with CMSWire. "Now we're bringing them into an ecosystem thatisn't just one cloud, but six clouds: sales, service, marketing, community,platform and now we're announcing the analytics side of it."
Despite his enthusiasm, foot traffic at the company's Marketing Cloud exhibiton the Dreamforceshow floor, shown above, was light during spot checks by CMSWire.
While Salesforce would like to see companies adopt the entire suite ofproducts -- a goal it shares with Adobe, Oracle and others -- relativelyfew companies do. Instead, they tend to blend certain features with servicesoffered by the 1,000-plus marketing technology companies. The dynamic iscreating the potential for a price war in what SitecoreCEO Michael Seifert calls an "arms race."
The Challenge Ahead
Dion Hinchcliffe, chief strategy officer at the executive consulting firmAdjuvi and CMSWire contributor, said he thinks Salesforce's visionis "on message."
"We're seeing this overall convergence of all these activities on the backend," he said, adding:
The challenge I think comes moreon the delivery side where they've been doing a lot of product development. The pieces haven't come together consistently, the qualityhasn't always been where it needs to be. And theintegration certainly hasn't been where it needs to be. I think we're seeingsome things that will help with that here, but they still have a lot of homeworkto do."
The final impact of Dreamforce won't be known until Wall Street analystsreview Salesforce's earning reports over the next few quarters. Clearly, it willtake more than free trials and splashy demos to boost the bottom line.
In the meantime, shares of Salesforce, which traded around $59 last Thursday,have fallen to just over $53 during a costly show designed to showcase the company's strengths. That decline came as the broader market also fell.