Salesforce Bolsters its Marketing Cloud with Predictive Decisions

Salesforce has added capabilities to its Marketing Cloud with the release of Predictive Decisions, which will give marketers greater power to make use of data to organize their campaigns.

Predictive Decisions includes three key improvements. The Collect Beacon feature allows companies to insert a line of java script into their Web sites or mobile applications to observe and track consumer behavior. It then relays the recorded information back into Salesforce, where the predictive intelligence engine automatically processes data about where customers clicked, what they searched for, and what items appealed to them most. The product integrates workflow and automation into the analytics page to help marketers target customers by making inferences based on user activity.

If a retail company notices that customers are consistently abandoning its Web site after glancing at a red bicycle, for example, it can make more educated decisions regarding what that the information suggests. Predictive Decisions will give marketers access to content modules that determine immediately what information will appeal to each customer and assesses what kinds of messages will lead to the highest conversion rates.

For Salesforce, this marks another effort to encourage organizations to incorporate data into their marketing decisions. "What we've seen from our research is that decision-making in marketing tends to be driven by the highest-paid person, but in reality data-driven decisions tend to be more meaningful and more accurate over time," Gordon Evans, vice president of product marketing at Salesforce, says.

Predictive Decisions will make it easier for marketers to act on insights in real time rather than having to give the information to a third party to analyze. This is especially important, Evans says, in light of feedback provided by customers. Companies, he says, were having trouble concentrating their data in a central location and couldn't make sense of it within a reasonable time frame without undergoing the tedious process of sending it to IT.

"The features are native to the same solution," Evans points out. "So you don't have to rely on one tool for your predictive recommendations, another tool for your data and data management, and yet another tool for your channels for executing your campaign. It's all in one place."

Salesforce points to Room and Board, a high-end furniture retailer, as an early adopter that has seen success using Predictive Decisions. Room and Board wished to enhance its marketing campaigns by making them more similar experiences customers are offered in the stores, wherein a sales rep could act as a consultant by making suggestions based on the information at hand. “They created a post-purchase campaign," Meghann York-Meenan, senior manager of product marketing, predictive, and data analytics at Salesforce, says. If somebody purchased, for instance, a couch online, they used an email marketing campaign to then follow up with that individual based on the customer's profile. The customers would then get suggestions for furniture tailored to their personal tastes based on predictive intelligence.

"When predictive product recommendations are inserted into email campaigns, we see a 25 percent increase in lift in terms of conversion on the Web site," York-Meenan says.

The product also has practical applications for industries outside of retail. Web sites that rely on content to generate revenue can use the program to figure out what articles will appeal to particular types of readers on email lists and ultimately generate more ad money. "With financial services institutions, we have some customers who are making next-best offers [based on what they know about the person's activity and history]," York-Meenan says.

Predictive Decisions will be available in May and free to existing Salesforce customers. New customers can get the features in the Marketing Cloud Pro Edition.


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