We caught up with Woodson Martin, CMO of the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, during the Salesforce ExactTarget Connections 2014 conference in Indiana. We spoke with him about the convergence of marketing and IT and why mobile will force marketers to rethink the customer experience.
TechRadar Pro: Where is the marriage between marketing and IT heading?
Woodson Martin: This is a massive transformation. The CMO has always considered themselves owner of the brand. But the experience of the brand is delivered through service, through the salesperson in the retail store, through the popcorn vendor at a concert venue. Every touchpoint is an experience that impacts perception, loyalty and interest. Because of the technology available, [brands have] the ability to collect interaction data, and because of the power of the phone, brands can know who and where I am and what I just did. If I grant permission to the brands I trust they can use that information to create an experience that motivates me to continue on that journey and to buy more. That is an unprecedented opportunity for the CMO and the brand.
TRP: Does this mean a smaller role for the IT department? Should we expect consolidation in IT as tools become easier and more intuitive to use?
Martin: People in IT have a very safe future. Tech doesn't become less important in the industry. If you're in tech and have expertise with specific tech, you need to constantly evolve your skills and adapt to new tech. If you don't you probably will become irrelevant. IT is a disciple and continues to be a safe career investment. We're excited about giving IT and developers the tools to make amazing things happen.
TRP: A lot of what you have discussed this week revolves around mobile. Where do you expect mobile marketing to head in terms of how fluent marketers will need to be with the technology? Particularly with wearables entering the mix?
Martin: Marketers need to pay attention to what's happening with these technologies. None of us know which one will become the next iPhone. The iPhone and smartphones have changed everything about marketing. Where is the next revolution coming? Which technologies are hitting the market now? I don't know yet. I can tell you that wearable tech is a trend, not a blip. We have the average American today with five or six device categories of wearables that can be interesting, but most still don't take advantage and still rely on phones and apps. Some of the categories are becoming big and converging, like health and fitness devices. We're seeing health and fitness stuff on new devices like the Apple Watch. Marketers need to have these devices and understand these experiences and how manufacturers are integrating these experiences. That's coordinated in a way that would make any traditional marketer say "Oh, wow, we need to rethink our customer journey. What is the unboxing experience of our brand when someone opens that smartwatch?" We have so much to learn from these new technologies and devices.
TRP: Salesforce has done a lot to add to its social expertise with the acquisitions of Buddy Media, Radian6 and ExactTarget. Is there any room for additional improvement or investment? Where should we look?
Martin: These things are hard to predict. Social is a rapidly changing landscape. We will keep our eyes open and meet with young companies that are innovating. We're always looking for good integrations with existing tech. We are really excited about our platform becoming a place where the CMOs and IT want to put all the data about their customers, regardless of channels. When they can put that data in and use it, then customers win and we win. We want to work with any technology brands are using to collect valuable information.
TRP: For many, email seems to be old hat, but the technology is constantly evolving. Can you talk about where email is and where you see it going in the next couple of years?
Martin: It's the workhorse of digital communications. The bulk of information still travels through email. Email notifications are generated by apps. Email is unsurpassed as a channel for asynchronous communication. It's not going anywhere. Email evolves because the devices evolve, because the challenges of deliverability and relevance are evolving. That continues to be a major focus for us. But it's only one of the channels that are important. Consistency across channels is where we're most excited.
TRP: How does Salesforce1 fit into everything you've been discussing this week? Does mobile app deployment figure to be a significant driver of growth for Salesforce or is it supplementary to web-based apps?
Martin: Salesforce1 is our platform for building apps and mobile apps. I think about it as the tech that allows me to run my business from my phone. I think of Heroku and Journey Builder for Apps as the deliverers of those experiences for my customers. I can use Journey Builder for Apps to enhance the experience of using my app, to customize and personalized the app I built for my customers. The benefit of the SalesForce1 platform is the amazing variety of things I can build. There is no easier way to deploy these apps across phones and tablets, PCs or anything else. We are super excited about bringing together all of these ideas to drive together the applications.