marks ExactTarget anniversary with Marketing Cloud upgrade

UPDATED: The CRM giant takes a pulse check on its Marketing Cloud platform one year after the $2.5B acquisition of ExactTarget.


SAN FRANCISCO — picked up ExactTarget for $2.5 billion last year, and the "journey" is only getting started.

Salesforce executives provided a pulse check on the engagement system at the cloud giant's current San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday morning.

Pointing toward a 2013 Gartner analyst memo, chief marketing officer Lynn Vojvodich argued that marketing will be one of the top three "imperatives" for all CEOs.

"This is really just fundamental connections," observed Vojvodich about the Internet-of-Things movement, citing there will be more than 75 billion connected products by 2020.

When you connect all these apps and devices, continued Vojvodich, you can connect to your customers in brand new ways.

"This is more powerful than the Internet-of-Things. It's the Internet-of-Customers," remarked Vojvodich.

Salesforce's foundation for the Internet-of-Things/Customers strategy is Salesforce1, unveiled at Dreamforce 2013 last November.

The platform taps into the CRM giant's flagship Sales and Service Clouds, the AppExchange, and the Marketing Cloud, now branded by one of Salesforce's most prominent takeovers to date.

Salesforce1 offers businesses, which include Facebook and Microsoft, among other tech giant customers, with a zoomed-in view on each individual customer, which should enable these companies to deliver personalized content across all channels and devices.

Emphasizing the cloud makes these connections and social networks possible, Vojvodich further cited there will be more than 4.5 billion users and five billion smartphones online by 2017.

"I literally run my life, pathetically, from my phone," quipped Vojvodich.

While touting Salesforce1 as a prime mechanism for connecting with customers throughout their "journey," Scott McCorkle, CEO for the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, acknowledged that many companies have disconnected experiences. 

"That's a problem. That's what we need to solve," McCorkle answered, pointing toward the Journey Builder tool for mapping customer experiences and engagement.

Also first introduced at Dreamforce last year, Salesforce introduced the next version of Journey Builder on Wednesday, designed to operate in the way marketers think rather than the way computer systems work. 

The three pillars for the upgrade consist of more activity and journey tracing through customer Maps, Triggers for automatic responding to actions (or lack thereof) in real time (i.e., abandoned online shopping carts, etc.), and Metrics for testing and optimizing each and every interaction.

The additional visual analytics are tailored to enable marketers to pinpoint and trace a customer's journey through virtually any digital channel, including email, mobile, social, web, and, increasingly, wearable connected devices. 

Journey Builder itself is already generally available for Salesforce1 customers. The Maps, Triggers, and Metrics functions are scheduled to roll out during the third quarter of fiscal 2015.

Pricing starts at $5,000 per year for a subscription license. There is also a tiered pricing model in place based on messages sent.

UPDATE: issued a correction to the announcement it issued on Wednesday. The company originally wrote that pricing would start at $5,000 per month. The correct rate is $5,000 per year.