Salesforce brings Connections, its marketing show, to New York this week. It’ll be three days of the usual breakouts and education along with keynotes and presentations designed to make you think about what could be, not just what is.
That last bit is important because too often we embrace new technologies to do what we’ve always done, hoping it will be better, faster and cheaper. But it won’t be any of that unless you dedicate yourself to those things. I have always been fascinated by the exchange of value tied up in delivering a product and I think it goes back to the Middle Ages.
Back in the day, most people didn’t read or write in part because the educational system was almost nonexistent and because what learning there was tended to be conducted in Latin, a language only the upper classes understood. In that world, significant agreements were commemorated by something durable like a stone.
However it happened, somehow we got accustomed to exchanging value through exchange of something durable which worked reasonably well into the modern age as we sold things and took money in exchange for the value delivered. This works less well today because we are increasingly delivering things as a service via subscriptions. Today we deliver know-how and process as much as we do anything of durable value—at least that’s the hope.
Vendors like delivering concrete things because it makes the accounting easier, but customers buy things because they’re hoping to receive know-how and with that disconnect we see the rise of the subscription economy. Subscriptions have made all the difference lately and they are poised to take over the economy. Because of this, marketing has never been more important and that’s why marketing shows have become such big draws. Oracle held a well-attended summit in Las Vegas over the winter whose main component was its Eloqua user event, Marketo did the same in May in San Francisco, and Salesforce is poised to do the same in New York.
If marketing is important, then to my mind one of the most important parts is a new idea called journey mapping. With journey maps marketers and others can plan out the trajectory of a customer interaction. This might not seem like a lot but when you plan you discover the hidden things that could go wrong, the many ways that a process could be interrupted or blow up and you can proactively fix the break point before it does any lasting damage.
This is huge because in my research the things that customers complain about most are failed processes, especially times when something unplanned for happens and the process blows up leaving the customer stranded and frustrated about having to start over.
This is really the big promise of modern marketing. Most marketing suites will give you some idea of the metrics about lead generation, revenue, and scoring. All of them are needed and important because they provide insights into what’s going on. But avoiding having bad things happen is even more important to my way of thinking.
Journey mapping isn’t unique to Salesforce Exact Target but it is an important explainer of why marketing has become so important. In the spray and pray marketing era you could always expect to generate leads almost in spite of yourself. But we live in zero-sum markets today. Getting a new customer means someone else loses that customer and you really don’t want to be that someone else. So you plan, you model, you take the measure of every customer including life time value and value already derived.
That’s why journey mapping is so important and why I am such a geek about it. Exact Target was an important player in marketing automation even before it was acquired by Salesforce and became foundational to the Marketing Cloud. There is a bigger story about customer journeys and journey maps that can best be told from within the whole CRM suite and that’s a good reason to attend Connections in New York this week.