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Salesforce marketing automation makes one-to-one marketing a reality

Salesforce marketing automation is helping companies make communications less brute force, more personalized. But there are still kinks in the chain.

As the sales and marketing climate becomes more competitive, consumers have gotten more discriminating. Not only do customers want well-made products, they also want ease of access to companies in their communications. That's where tools like Salesforce marketing automation software come in. Tools like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud are designed to personalize communications between companies and their customers and to consolidate customer communication from various channels -- such as their tweets on social media, their comments in live chat -- and provide a single view of those communications to marketing professionals as well as customer service reps.

Still, some of this vision is more notional than real. Indeed, while many companies want a single, 360-degree view of the customer, they are still struggling to integrate customer information from far-flung applications. That is part of the reasons that, according to a recent Bluewolf Group report, less than 50% of 2,500 Salesforce customers use the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, though another 36% plan to adopt it in the near future.

In this guide to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, we look at some of the ways in which companies are using Salesforce marketing automation to get closer to customers -- and some of the pieces of the puzzle that still need to be integrated.

In the first piece, I explore how companies including Midas and Xtreme Lashes are exploiting Marketing Cloud to get closer to customers and be more targeted in their messaging.

Next, Steve Robins weighs some of the pros and cons of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, including predictive capabilities -- enabling companies to guess how customers will behave and market accordingly -- and journey mapping -- to be able to communicate with customers based on where they are in the buying cycle. At the same time, Robins notes, complexity and a limited marketing automation approach could hem in Marketing Cloud's prospects.

Finally, Jeff Kaplan explores how the recent purchase of Demandware, an e-commerce platform, could affect the Marketing Cloud and whether it positions Salesforce to take on competitors like Oracle in the larger digital experience realm.

Lauren Horwitz
Executive Editor

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How are you using Marketing Cloud in one-to-one marketing?
While our industry lives on cloud marketing, the joy is hardly unequivocal. Our little company (and our clients) have done our best to avoid machine-made "personalized" communications whenever possible. Everyone is well aware that there's nothing personal about it at all and it's nothing but a lot of back room data crunching. Or, as our clients put it, damn awful prying.

For our clients, it is not a pleasant user experience when some faceless entity knows what they buy, where they go, and what they watch. We have gotten far better results - and more clients - by talking to our clients. 
This is the problem with big data in general. Companies can collect all this data on their users, but turning it into actionable information is another story.