Our team was in Chicago attending Salesforce Connections’19, one of the largest events dedicated to marketing, e-commerce and customer service. After three days of thought leadership, inspiring speakers and breakout sessions, our Marketing & E-Commerce Strategist, Anna-Maria Morena, has summarized everything you need to know to elevate your customer engagement game.

Here is your recap of the 6 trends to watch out for:
1. Real-time digital engagements
2. Chatbots, Conversational Commerce & Microbrand
3. Cult Brand Behaviour
4. Evolution of CRM and Challenges
5. Einstein AI in Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud
6. Email and Website Best Practices

Let’s explore them together!

1. Real-time digital engagements

We know it and we keep hearing that: Customers now more than ever are expecting a seamless continuous experience across all the different channels. And this makes total sense. Think about it, if you have a customer service case open, you don’t want to send him marketing emails for some promotions. Basically, customers just want to have the feeling that your company heard them, and that they don’t have to repeat themselves over and over. Offering this cross-channel experience is not an option anymore. If you are not delivering that kind of experience, your customers are gonna look elsewhere more and more for a company that will. Click here for more info about it!

2. Chatbots, Conversational Commerce & Microbrand

A marketing trend that is rising, in terms of technology, is chatbots, conversational commerce, and anything that makes you behave like a microbrand. The goal here is to optimize the service level that your company delivers to a customer. Lately, there has been a lot of talks about how Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant can help with your overall customer experience, and how to use them to upsell purchases, by being responsive to your customer needs.

Now let’s switch to conversational commerce. Here we talk about the notion of online chat and sending customers SMS reminders or recommendations, for instance, where they can purchase directly products with their Google Pay or Apple Pay (as we can see in the example below). This notion is showing the concept of how you can increase your customer loyalty while getting more purchases out of your customers.

Another trend seen was behaving like a microbrand. First, what does it mean? Behaving like a microbrand is leveraging highly targeted marketing campaigns to zone in a really specific clientele (for example when Adidas will set campaigns to target only their runners). And if this strategy is a real trend right now, it’s because it provides value to your company by having an authentic conversation with your customers, and of course, the result is better campaign performances. 

3. Cult Brand Behaviour

Another trend seen at Connections was Cult Brand Behaviour, and how it can really increase the revenue that you can get from customers.

Cult Brand Behaviour is all about brand love. To build a Cult Brand, you need to be hyper-focused on your customers. To succeed in it, you need to have well mapped out your customer experience and customer lifecycle from end to end. All of your marketing efforts have to be integrated and every touchpoint needs to be personalized. The brands that use this strategy are really conveying the message that they are purpose-driven businesses. When we talk about ‘cult’ it can sound a little intense but it’s all about creating more benefits for your Relationship Marketing in order to have a higher customer lifetime value, higher loyalty, higher engagement and are just making more money. If you want to know more about building a cult brand behaviour it’s here!

And if you want some examples, go check out how SoulCycle  or Peloton are doing! Even Salesforce built a strong B2B brand behaviour when you think about it.

4. Evolution of CRM and Challenges

During Connections, Salesforce was also talking about the upcoming acquisitions, all the new technologies that are coming out, whether it’s about CASL, GDPR, data accuracy, and new digital touchpoints coming up every day. 

To make sure you always have the tools you need, they just acquired Tableau and Quip for a few examples. They’ve also introduced Mulesoft, that provides integration software for connecting applications, data and devices. If you want to have an overview of all the Salesforce news, it’s here

But the most interesting in it is how Salesforce is constantly trying to evolve and adapt its offering to the new needs, to make to an organization a lot easier to implement new technologies.

5. Einstein AI in Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud

There were also many sessions regarding artificial intelligence, and how by 2025 AI is essentially gonna be baked into all solutions, faded away into the background. It will really become your new digital assistant. Salesforce presented all the different launches they are gonna have regarding Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud. 

  • Personalization

In terms of personalization, Marketing Cloud will be able to show content recommendations and language insights like changing a word or phrase and replacing it with one that is going to have a higher engagement level. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been struggling to look for the twist in our phrases that will make the difference for the reader. So good news, you won’t have to spend time thinking about that because AI will do it for you. 

A lot of insights will be available too regarding marketing and social (Social Studio). Stay tuned for more info about it released soon!

  • Engagement

The next big topic with Einstein AI was with Engagement. There were a lot of releases in terms of engagement scoring and email insights (why sending maybe fewer emails or how to figure out different channels to reach your customers if emails are not working…).  

Marketing Cloud will also have Send Time Optimization for your automated emails. Which is great news for your journeys: we tend to create journeys, launch them, and then forget about them while they are running. Now your journeys will optimize the best sent time to ensure the best open rates.

In your journeys as well, Salesforce was talking a lot about Einstein personas and how it will automatically categorize people into predefined buckets (for example if you are a selective shopper, a window shopper, if there’s a need for a win-back campaign…): It will do all the heavy lifting for you.

  • Commerce Einstein Insights

The last release for Einstein was regarding Commerce Cloud. One of the Heads of a Health Care Cosmetics shared her dashboards to show us the different features available. We firstn saw Einstein Predictive Sort which uses AI and customer data to deliver more tailored product results, show the most relevant products at the top of the homepage in order to increase conversion. Also with Einstein Product Recommendation, you are able to eliminate the guesswork with automatically personalized merchandising on each web page and content to show in your emails.       

6. Email + Website Best Practices

Other interesting sessions at Connections were about emails and website best practices.

  • Dynamic content, polls and permission

Of course, we’ve talked a lot about dynamic content, how it is just becoming a must and how to use your segments to serve the best possible content to your users whether it’s about gender or geographical information. For instance, Nordstrom gave an example in terms of weather, where they were showing their audience different images depending on their geographical location if it was sunny or rainy that day. But dynamic content can also be used to plan different content if the product you sell is available online/offline or not available at that time, to avoid any frustration from your customers.

Another interesting thing was polling your email database: it can sound super intuitive,  but taking the time to ask your email customers what they wanna see, and not just through the preference center is a real plus. An interesting example about Harry Potter was presented, where they were showing the different Houses of Hogwarts, and the customer just had to click on his favourite House. This strategy helps you to know what type of content to display, and the results speak by themselves. The open rate not only increased by 260%, but the CTR actually went up by over 300%. Your customers told you what they wanna see. Same could be seen for a sports team for instance.    

Lastly, there was the notion of permissions. We know it with all the regulations, and yes permission is important, but not a lot of companies are doing it still. However, you really need to be super explicit about what communications you are gonna be exchanging, and what your customers are gonna get in terms of value. This will help you have qualified people on your list too.   

  • Let go of unengaged (ISPs are watching)

Another best practice is really letting go of those who are unengaged. There’s this belief that the more people we send emails to, the more chances we are gonna have to sell. But it’s really quality over quantity that you should think of.

  • Accessibility

Next on the list was accessibility, in a way that people check their email everywhere (yes, even in their bathroom), so brands have to adapt, whether it’s having HTML emails, putting caches in your videos for people who don’t have headphones, high contrast screens when you are outdoors, as you can see in the example below with the word gallery, not in terms of colours, but also backgrounds.

  • Always On Campaigns and Testing

Last in terms of trends, was Always On Campaigns and testing. Companies need to embrace automation, but not in a way “set it and forget it” as we all did, but analyze how your campaigns do, optimize them. Basically, test different contents, subject lines, pre-headers, channels… See how your customers react and take some lessons out of it. 

Now if you want to know more about the most successful campaigns and how to generate more revenue with automated ones, our team wrote an ebook on it that you might like (find it here). 

And that’s it for our recap on the Marketing & E-Commerce trends seen at Salesforce Connections’19!  

Hope you found value out of the topics covered, and if you want to watch the replay of the webinar our team made after Connections to explain all of this, it’s here ←

Or click here if you are curious about the top Customer Service trends!