System of Engagement

In order to engage and support people at the center of whatever service, product, or program you are offering, it’s important to create and maintain a connected and consistent view of them in order to deliver a successful experience.

People engage with people

Throughout my career, conversations around an organizations CRM (aka Customer Relationship Management system) have referred to it as the system of record (SOR) or source of truth (SOT). These terms are not always interchangeable. For the purpose of this post, I will consider them one in the same, SOR/T for short. Next, I will define what is a system of engagement and how it relates to CRM.

For all intents and purposes, The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a communication and engagement platform used to share information through various channels to engage with your audience (customers, constituents, students, patients, donors, and . . . you get the picture that this list can go on for a while). What it is NOT, is the single source of truth for any one individual. It can, however, be the single source of digital engagement. It can even support traditional offline communications, but that is conversation for another day.

Regardless of the channel of communication, people expect a consistent experience and at minimum for you to get their name right, should you choose to personalize your messages. Email, mobile, or any communication channel for that matter, should leverage the same view of the person to whom they are delivering messages.

Your system of engagement isn’t just for marketing. For more on this topic, refer to my post titled End the Marketing Cloud. Just like channels shouldn’t matter, the stage that each person chooses to engage with you should not prevent you from delivering consistent communications where, different parts of your organization are aware of what has happen so far and should be able to make informed decisions when responding to or initiating a conversation. For example, if a person has requested support with a product/service, it would make sense not cross/up-sell something else before you have resolved their concern. Similarly, if I just bought something, I hope I’m not immediately bombarded with ads everywhere I go to buy the thing I just bought! In cases where I just donated to a cause, does it really makes sense to hit me up immediately after with another a request for more money?

The point is your CRM and SOE should be connected with each other, and connected with other systems, as needed, to ensure the best possible view of the people who have chosen your organization. They are not obligated to choose you and you should not assume they always will. Do what you can to connect the fragments of their profile so that you can thoughtfully utilize it to deliver and respond with timely messages for any and all relevant occasions.

Even if you have all your systems mapped and documented with respect to how your systems are connected, have you mapped out the various touch points between you and those who have engaged with you? Are these reflected in your overall architecture? Are there any gaps or areas of opportunity to improve profile accuracy? As automated as society has become, people still expect people to be on the other end. That is why it’s important to put as much care and thought into your system of engagement as your system of record or source truth.

End the Marketing Cloud

It’s time for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (product) to end.

If only I could get Luke Skywalker himself to utter these words the same way he delivered a similar line in the Last Jedi, “It’s time for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (product) to end.” Especially, after the recent renaming for the Community Cloud (product) as the Experience Cloud (blog). That name change was made to include various enhancements and product additions.

The term marketing does not encompass all that the cloud it represents is capable of doing. It hasn’t for a while. I’ve had countless conversations with friends, colleagues, and customers who share a similar point of view. Sure, you can market with it, but not everyone that uses it, markets, at least that not all they do. The Marketing Cloud platform, which is what it truly is, does so much more than just market.

The Marketing Cloud support multiple channels, and when combined provide a omni-channel engagement and communication solution for many industries and organizations. For example, many higher education institutions use Marketing Cloud’s email, mobile, and social tools to engage with its students and their families on a number of topics. Add in former and prospective students to the mix and you’re looking at marketing, service, fundraising to name a few.

A few years ago, after delivering a session focused on Marketing Cloud, I referenced an old analogy that organizations are either looking to increase revenue or decrease costs. This analogy fell flat with the higher education portion of the audience. A good friend of mine, who is a career member of the higher ed community and present at the time, gently corrected me. That’s when I realized the Marketing Cloud is all wrong. It’s not inclusive enough. It’s far too limiting, and does not project to current and potential users what its true nature is.

The Salesforce CRM (Sales/Service Clouds) in many cases is considered the source of truth (SOT) or system of record (SOR). This is very common when integrated with the Marketing Cloud, which I like to refer to as the system of engagement (SOE). That is why Salesforce should “end” the Marketing Cloud as we know it. It’s time for the rise of the Engagement Cloud!