Salesforce has unveiled its new customer data platform (CDP) which will be available in beta later this year.

The technology is billed as a mechanism that will allow marketers to finally achieve the single view of the customer.

Gartner defines a CDP as “a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimise the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”

If that sounds familiar it’s because rather than being considered a new technology, “CDPs can be understood as a repackaging of already existing features that are inconveniently distributed and thus untapped across various alternatives.”

According to Gartner, “The new and novel aspect of a CDP is the productisation of these features and acknowledgment that marketers are still struggling to get value out of their enormous investments in both customer data and technology.”

The CDP has been attracting attention, hype and martech investment over recent years — according to Gartner, client interest in CDPs quadrupled in 2017 — as marketers continue to struggle with siloed data, fragmented customer journeys and increased regulatory pressure from the likes of GDPR.

(Yesterday Adobe announced its CDP, housed within the Adobe Experience Platform, in available in beta.)

Salesforce made the strategic product announcement at the company’s Connections conference in Chicago today.

According to the official spiel, the CDP, called Customer 360, will enable companies to unify customer data, manage identity and consent, segment and activate audiences, and optimise engagement with AI-powered insights.

Customer 360 Service Console with Commerce data

The product builds on Customer 360, introduced at Dreamforce last year, which allows companies to connect Salesforce apps and create a unified customer ID to build a single view of the customer.

Speaking at Connections this morning, Stephanie Buscemi, Chief Marketing Officer Salesforce, acknowledged the difficulty of putting together a single view of the customer.

“We know the Customer 360, getting to that is the Nirvana, the Holy Grail, and it’s not easy to do,” Buscemi said. “We will continue to innovate and bring you things that will help accelerate that.”

“Salesforce Customer 360 is our solution to you to give you a single platform to connect across sales, service, marketing and commerce to give you best in class applications in all of those areas, and then have a platform underneath that gives you all the critical platform capabilities and services to power those applications and build your own applications.”

Buscemi also briefly touched on Salesforce’s recent $15 billion Tableau acquisition – which is yet to close – describing the combination as like “peanut butter and jelly”.

“This is the best of two worlds coming together,” she said. “You’re taking the leader in CRM, who’s been focused on customer engagement, and getting to all those touch points, and you’re bringing it together with the number one analytics company who has been focused on bringing data into businesses knowing that data is the fuel for decision making, and make it easier for people to get insights from the data to orchestrate those amazing customer journeys.”

“So more to come on that, [if I say] anymore to here I might be fired,” she joked. “We’re really  looking forward to talking to you more about that joining a family and what is to come there.”

The next generation of Customer 360

Matt Tippets, VP of Product Strategy, said the next generation of Customer 360 will provide marketers with “one place one product to implement a modern customer data strategy.”

During the marketing keynote at Connections, Tippets noted last year Customer 360 was focused on the unique ID across the Salesforce clouds. This year the platform will contain all customer profile data, offline and online, while respecting privacy and consent.

Tippets said Customer 360 will be included in relevant marketing cloud products and act as a single place for marketers to create audience segments and activate campaigns in any channel.

The Salesforce CDP features include:

  • Data Unification and Consent Management: Brands will be able to unify all of their customer data to create rich customer profiles. This includes known and unknown data such as cookies, customer first-party IDs and more. With Salesforce’s consent management framework, companies also have the ability to easily gain customer consent wherever they engage–from email marketing to digital advertising.
  • Advanced Audience Segmentation: Segmentation capabilities will allow companies to identify specific groups of people to engage with in real-time based on demographics, engagement history and all other customer data available. For example, a company will be able to build an audience of female shoppers interested in running shoes based on information gathered from a combination of web browsing activities across several retail sites, marketing email interactions, previous purchases and more.
  • Personalised Engagement Everywhere: Once a brand knows what audience segment they’d like to reach, it can then activate the customer data across marketing, commerce, service and beyond. This means companies won’t skip a beat, reaching customers and prospects across channels like ads, email, social, mobile and web that are all integrated to deliver a continuous experience with the brand.
  • Optimisation Based on Einstein Insights: With artificial intelligence, companies will be able to analyse and understand how and when to engage with customers to drive customer loyalty and improve business performance. Customer profiles are continuously updated based on their behaviours – as customers click on an ad, browse an ecommerce catalogue, buy a product and open an email. This allows brands to leverage AI to drive the most relevant mix of product and channel recommendations to optimise channel engagement and customer satisfaction.
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