Why Salesforce is targeting SMBs with its new Marketing Cloud Growth Edition

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher February 20, 2024
Summary:
Steve Hammond, Salesforce EVP and GM of Marketing Cloud, explains the thinking behind the firm's latest offering.

growth

Last year Salesforce launched marketing capabilities as part of its Starters offering, an entry-level option that enables small companies to come in and get started. Today it delivers the next level up with Marketing Cloud Growth Edition.

This is designed for companies of up to 200 employees and integrates Data Cloud with Einstein 1, resulting in a combined dataset and application that gives marketers full capabilities to run their marketing organization, including integration with Sales, Service, and Commerce. 

Steve Hammond, Salesforce EVP and GM of Marketing Cloud, says:

The Marketing Cloud Growth Edition is really designed to make it very simple for any size of business to get up and going. But it's really tuned for that small to medium business. And it's designed to bring everything together that they would need in order to run their organization. It is Marketing Cloud. It's connected natively through the Data Cloud through the Einstein 1 platform with Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Commerce Cloud. So it gives them that capability to be able to do an end-to-end solution.

In developing the new edition, Salesforce looked at the most common use cases for small businesses that don't have the people or resources to do things like personalization campaigns or advanced testing. For example, with Marketing Cloud Growth, Hammond says a marketer can create an email re-marketing campaign and have the application walk them through setting that up:

It gives us immediate maturity into the space without having to start over from scratch. But it brings in a new application layer that lets our users solve problems across applications, across different kinds of scenarios and use cases in a very simplified way.

New AI functionality assists marketers by doing things like creating emails and images (through an integration with Typeface). Hammond also points to a new prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations - giving them the trust and confidence that their teams will know how to get in and start using the prompt builder effectively.

Trust

It is also important to note that the AI trust layer, a familiar theme with Salesforce’s AI pitch, comes into play, providing an environment where they protect sensitive information from getting out to any Large Language Model (LLM) and allows for filtering of insensitive responses coming back in. Hammond explains: 

Everybody wants to get into AI. But so many people just don't know where to start. And like you said, they don't know exactly how to trust that they're doing it in a safe way for their company, for their data, for their customers. And that's the role that we've decided to really lean into, to create this environment that creates this layer of trust for customers that we can take a lot of that ambiguity and unknown out of the equation and just really simply put the important AI elements into our interfaces in a way that is very simple to use, removes the doubt and creates a safe environment for data exchange in these environments. And that really does add that layer of efficiency that we're all looking for from AI.

No-cost Data Cloud

The Data Cloud is an integral part of this story. Hammond calls it "bridging technology," modernizing how companies connect data across the customer journey. The Data Cloud is built into the Marketing Cloud Growth Edition; there's no integration to do; you turn it on, and it works, says Hammond. 

Hammond says it’s important for any organization to think through what it wants to accomplish with existing datasets and systems. What’s the best way to leverage them in an advanced but simplified way?  One capability that he argues is very useful is the "zero-copy" capability. Data can stay in the systems where it originates, and a virtual copy of that data can be stored in the Data Cloud, enabling customers to analyze and use it in new ways. 

In terms of availability, Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the US and Canada, with plans to expand to EMEA at the end of this year.

My take

When Hammond was describing this new Marketing Cloud Growth edition, what immediately entered my mind was that this is a direct competitor for HubSpot. HubSpot has enterprise customers, but most people regard it as a platform for small to mid-size organizations, even it the vendor is working to change that impression. 

With Salesforce, the connections are there as well, built into the Einstein 1 and Data Cloud platform. At a price point that will work for smaller companies. How can it not be something small businesses will look at? Especially if they expect to grow over time and need more capabilities.

But even more than thinking it's a competitor to HubSpot, I thought about the ability to see and understand the customer across the entire journey. And I thought about what Ellie Fields, Chief Product Officer at Salesloft, told me when she said the handoff between Sales and Marketing is broken, and it's only by bridging the data between the two to give Sales a view of what happened in marketing that they can come into a Sales opportunity without starting from zero and very likely frustrating the potential customer. 

A view of customer data that gives every team the same information makes everyone better prepared to support customers. And giving each the ability to trigger experiences related to a particular event or experience should only improve the customer's overall experience significantly. 

This connecting of the data across the customer journey is critical and something people have talked about for years but never really managed. Imagine you are a customer service representative trying to help a customer resolve an issue, and you had access to everything that the customer did through marketing - eg visited the website, viewed specific pages, what campaigns they responded to -, giving you insights into the customer you wouldn't usually have. 

It's now an educated conversation, and once the issue is resolved, the service rep can trigger a new marketing experience tailored to the service interaction. This can happen because the data is all connected now - the Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud are connected at the foundation.

Developments like Marketing Cloud Growth that are designed to connect customer data and AI are finally closing in on the Holy Grail of a connected customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle. Considering marketers have been discussing needing to do this for many years, it’s encouraging to see it finally happening.

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