If it’s harder than catching an Uber, then your product has room for improvement. How’s that for cut through? So says Lee Hawksley, Senior VP and GM of Salesforce Marketing Cloud JAPAC.

This simple idea of putting the customer experience at the heart of company thinking is causing C-suite executives to reorient their entire businesses.

That’s not just from a marketing perspective,” Hawksley said. “It even spans as far as how do we rebuild and re-architect our organisation design? How do we think about our own internal culture where the customer is number one, two and three on every employee’s agenda?

These are some of the things our customers are grappling with as they take a different lens on the way they think about their business,” he told Which-50.

Hawksley was speaking in between sessions at the company’s Future of Marketing event in Sydney where he argued the imperative to restructure is driven by heightened consumer expectations.

People talk about disruption of industries. Uber and AirBnB get mentioned for disrupting the industries they are in, but I think that they’ve had a much more profound effect. And that has changed the way we as consumers think about frictionless experiences.

For marketers, that means there’s a move away from campaign-centric thinking to treating consumers like individuals.

Hawksley said the concept of relevant communications is still evolving, but the technology is there to allow marketers to provide personal and contextual messages at scale.

Now the challenge for marketers is: get your heads around it. Understand your customer and actually respond, put some effort in,” he said.

The gradual shift away from a myopic view of customer acquisition targets to a more holistic view of the value of the overall customer lifecycle and experience is continuing.

Five to seven years ago you’d go and meet with a marketing department and all their KPIs were all about customer acquisition,” Hawksley said. “You go and talk to them now and it’s all about lifetime value, it’s all about customer experience throughout the whole lifecycle. It’s less top of the funnel and more what happens in the funnel.

The Power Of Facebook & First-Party Data

However, customer acquisition is still a key requirement for marketers.

I welcome all the focus on what’s happening in the funnel rather than acquisition — but if a marketer is still not focusing some of their attention on acquisition they’re not going to last very long.

He highlighted the power of Facebook opening up its APIs to companies like Salesforce in customer acquisition.

Our vision of the future of advertising is that it is all going to be all first-party data lead,” Hawksley said.

As marketers we have all this data waiting to be unlocked, waiting to be tapped into and tools like [Salesforce] Ad Studio are really allowing marketers to make the most of that first-party data by connecting it to networks like Facebook, Google, so on and so forth.

Targeting new customers by using lookalikes with Facebook’s first-party data is “extraordinarily powerful,” according to Hawksley.

Coming Soon: Commerce Cloud

On 1 June 2016, Salesforce acquired cloud-based e-commerce platform Demandware for $US2.8 billion.

Hawksley explained that the acquisition provides adjacencies for Salesforce and was largely customer-driven. Salesforce and Demandware have a history of working together in joint-client scenarios, and more of their clients will build transactions into their operations in the future.

More and more of our customers were saying ecommerce is going to be a really important part of their future even if they don’t do ecommerce today,” Hawksley said.

I think you are going to see a lot more organisations that have been historically disintermediated from their end consumer starting to connect with them in a different way. I don’t think that’s necessarily going to be at the detriment of traditional retailers. I think it is going to augment it.

Hawksley said Demandware and Commerce Cloud are being used interchangeably at the moment, but will most likely be known as Commerce Cloud going forward.

I think the concept of Commerce Cloud will expand beyond where Demandware is at today,” Hawksley said.

Hawksley said retailers have kept pace with or outpaced global players in terms of digital, bUT there is still a disconnect from a customer’s online profile when they walk into a physical store.

By and large, retailers in Australia are at least as good, and in many cases better, than anything else in the world — digitally. But when you walk in store it’s a completely disconnected experience because you know who I am online, you give me these great rich experiences but I walk in store and I’m all of a sudden anonymous and you’ve got no idea who I am.”

The Demandware acquisition isn’t just about ecommerce. Salesforce will likely look at ways to fuse together digital and physical experiences. Salesforce released a report titled The 2016 Salesforce Empowered Shopper Report which found Australian retailers have a big opportunity to provide a consistent experience across digital and in-store channels to acquire, engage, and retain shoppers.

I think the future of retail is a very exciting space. I think we have an opportunity to lead and drive that with the Demandware acquisition, becoming Commerce Cloud and actually what it can do for physical retail, not just online retail.

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