Should Salesforce.com Be On Your Marketing Automation Shortlist?
I’m extremely satisfied with the quality of our marketing technology and I think you’ll find it’s extremely competitive today.
- Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff
If you’re looking for customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce.com is an obvious go-to for sales and service functionality. When it comes to marketing automation, however, should the 800-pound gorilla of CRM make your shortlist?
Many buyers will evaluate Salesforce.com because the marketing application is bundled with their Sales Cloud 2 product. You’ve got to love a free app. However, marketing automation specialists, like Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot, provide features that enable far more sophisticated marketing strategies. So, who should consider Salesforce.com’s marketing application? Who should look elsewhere?
To answer these questions, we decided to take a look at Salesforce.com’s marketing offering and assess whether this leader in CRM should make your marketing automation shortlist.
Functionality: The Meat of the Matter
Product functionality is, of course, a critical component of any software evaluation. We used our own Marketing Automation Functional Evaluation Guide to evaluate Salesforce.com’s marketing offering. After seeking the expertise of several members on our Software Advisory Board, we were able to asses the seven high-level marketing automation functions listed in the table below.
|Lead Capture||Impressive website builder with landing page tools for “web-to-lead” lead generation.||Lacks additional form building capabilities beyond “web-to-lead”.|
|Lead Nurturing||Linear, multi-step campaign building for limited drip marketing.||Lacks multi-step, multi-channel branched campaigns with behavior-triggered events.|
|Lead Scoring||Basic lead scoring based on demographic data (BANT).||Lacks behavioral or implicit lead scoring capabilities.|
|Email Marketing||Low-volume email capabilities for smaller campaigns (2,000/day).||Lacks scalability for larger campaigns (e.g. 2,500+ emails/day). Weak in email deliverability.|
|Data Management||Crowd-sourcing in Jigsaw app to maintain up-to-date information on leads.||Lacks automated deduplication of contacts gathered in web-to-lead process.|
|CRM Integration||As a suite, integration is native and compelling.|
|Reporting & Analysis||Reports track lead progress and campaign effectiveness.||Lacks sophisticated lead behavior tracking on websites.|
Clearly, Salesforce.com offers rudimentary marketing automation capabilities, but their offering doesn’t have the same depth of functionality found in many of today’s leading marketing automation systems.
Who Should Have Salesforce.com on Their Short List?
Salesforce.com could be a great starter system for many companies. Their marketing app is ideal for existing users of Salesforce.com CRM that have modest marketing aspirations. Specifically, it is a good solution for basic lead and campaign management. Salesforce.com’s marketing application is a good fit for buyers who:
- Currently use Salesforce.com CRM and don’t want to integrate additional systems.
- Want to automate simple, linear, drip marketing campaigns only.
- Plan to market to a relatively small database of prospects (i.e. <2,500 records), but do not plan to scale for larger campaigns.
- Want a segmented database for tracking which campaigns touched a specific lead, but do not need to track detailed lead response to campaigns.
- Want to replace manual data entry with automated lead capture and contact management.
Who Should Evaluate Best-of-Breed Marketing Automation But what if you need to move beyond the basics? Lead nurturing is a sophisticated marketing strategy gaining attention because of its promise to engage buyers more personally throughout long sales cycles. Effective lead nurturing requires detailed tracking of buyer behaviors, as well as dependent logic or triggers for moving customers into new campaigns based on those behaviors. Salesforce.com is lacking many of these capabilities. Salesforce.com’s marketing application is not a good fit for buyers who:
- Require scalability for large volume (2,500+ leads) email campaigns.
- Want to track website visitor activity, such as downloading a whitepaper.
- Need to score buyers based on behavioral criteria such as frequency of website visits, pages viewed, or response to email campaigns.
- Require automatic deduplication of leads as they enter the system to avoid sending the same email or marketing collateral multiple times.
- Want sophisticated branched campaigns with an “if-then” logic flow based on buyer behavior.
If you are serious about lead nurturing, these features are a “must-have.” The strongest option, then, is to integrate a marketing automation solution, such as Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot with Salesforce.com CRM.
Salesforce.com’s bundled marketing app provides functionality for basic marketing processes. Many companies, however, will outgrow Salesforce.com’s marketing tool. These companies should consider integrating a best-of-breed vendor.
It should be noted that current Salesforce.com users have the option of enhancing the marketing tool with add-ons through the AppExchange. In fact, Jep Castelein wrote an interesting article on using the add-on tools in the Salesforce.com ecosystem to create a more sophisticated marketing automation solution. Another option is hiring a consultant or Salesforce.com reseller to build out more sophisticated workflows if your needs become moderately more complex.
As for innovation, we do not expect Salesforce.com to invest substantially in marketing application anytime soon. Salesforce.com has made it clear that the primary focus of their investments are in developing their platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Additionally, their legacy is in sales force automation and customer service, two markets that dwarf the relatively nascent marketing automation market. For Salesforce.com, the return on investing in marketing automation probably isn’t there.
As always, we love to get your feedback. Please, let us know what you think of our assessment in the comment section below.