Salesforce Connections is the official event for all things marketing and commerce in the Salesforce realm (Digital 360). The event attracts digital marketers, Account Engagement (Pardot)/Marketing Cloud specialists, and Commerce specialists who want to hear news of innovations, and be inspired to apply that within their own organizations.
Salesforce Connections (abbreviated to CNX) is an annual event that usually takes place in May/June. Connections will be back on May 22 – 23, 2024, both live in Chicago and on-demand via the Salesforce+ streaming service.
Digital 360 is not a product itself but instead is an umbrella term that Salesforce uses to neatly package up three products: Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and Experience Cloud.
What is Salesforce Connections?
While Dreamforce is Salesforce’s flagship event aimed at everyone, Connections is aimed at anyone who is actively marketing or merchandising with the Salesforce platform. This means the content is focused on Salesforce from a marketing/commerce point of view – getting deep into Salesforce’s feature demos, the product development roadmap, and exciting announcements.
Types of sessions include:
- Main Keynote: Showcases the highlights in Salesforce innovations. Demos will string together multiple products to show why the Salesforce platform products are more powerful when working as a cohesive solution. This is the session that will get you pumped up!
- Solution Keynote: My personal favorite. While the main keynote will showcase the biggest innovations using demos, the solution keynotes explore these in a more product-focused way. i.e. showing off the product interface and sharing roadmap details.
- Breakout Session: Sessions with a relatively large audience that focus on a specific product area (duration: 40 minutes).
- Theater Session: Sessions with a smaller audience that focus on a specific product area, delivering bite size information (duration: 20 minutes). These sessions are more casual, where you’re able to hop in and out while walking around the expo hall.
- Circles of Success: Another of my favorite session formats. Small peer-to-peer group discussions where everyone at the table has a chance to discuss how they use Salesforce product/s, and hear from other Salesforce customers to get ideas or solve challenges.
- Hands-On Workshop: Bring your laptop! These guided sessions help you learn how to set up specific solutions, e.g. create an entry event, set a goal, and define customer interactions – all within Journey Builder.
After hours, there are plenty of parties and happy hours to continue networking. One evening, Salesforce will host a concert – past performers have included One Republic, Neon Trees, and MisterWives.
Connections Announcements and Themes (2022-23)
NFT Cloud (2022)
Salesforce ventured into Web 3.0 with NFT Cloud entering the customer pilot phase. The aim was for NFT Cloud customers to drive communities who are passionate about the brand. It’s a shift from being a customer to an audience, and now to a true community due to the element of ownership.
Salesforce thought this through carefully. NFT Cloud was to go to market with trust and sustainability (two of Salesforce’s core values) by design.
Marketing Cloud CDP and Commerce Cloud (2022)
Starting 2022, there was a big focus on Marketing Cloud CDP – Salesforce’s customer data platform – as the springboard from which the other innovations lead. Marketing Cloud CDP, the jewel in the crown, connects data from across the entire Customer 360 platform (i.e. all Salesforce products and integrated data sources) to build unified customer profiles.
It’s not just about the segmentation. Activation is crucial – as in, activating personalized engagement across marketing, sales, service, commerce, etc. – in a way that’s efficient.
- New AppExchange Partners for CDP: There were 12 new marketing intelligence partnerships that will extend Marketing Cloud CDP capabilities, including The Trade Desk, Acxiom, LiveRamp, Neustar, and others.
- Triggered Campaign Messages: Deliver personalized 1-to-1 engagements to customers based on new product catalog additions alongside behavioral triggers. The emphasis was on trusted, first-party data. Using data that’s generated by your organization to understand customer product preferences is the future-proof way to go, especially in light of the “cookieless future” and demise of third-party data.
- Intelligence Commerce Insights App: This app from Marketing Cloud Intelligence (formerly Datorama) connects commerce and marketing data across platforms, such as order data and product-level data, and visualizes performance data over time with out of the box, interactive dashboards.
- Digital Command Center for Slack: Stay ahead on marketing and commerce performance with alerts sent to Slack. Avoid adverse business impacts (e.g. revenue loss) by pooling team members to take proactive actions, and hit “resolved”.
Another focus was the connection between Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud; Salesforce’s objective is to automate what has traditionally involved integrations that are expensive to build and maintain.
TikTok + Salesforce: Launch Ads With Commerce Cloud (2022)
Commerce Cloud customers can tap into TikTok to support their brand discovery. In practice, marketers can create adverts for TikTok and redirect TikTok-ers to your site. Then additional actions can occur, such as sending an offer. These ad campaigns are easy to launch from Commerce Cloud, thanks to the closer integration.
Single Source of Truth (2022)
This is the ‘holy grail’ of data strategy – a single source of truth gives you one view of each person, unifying their data across all of your databases. This means that there is no conflicting data (i.e. different data in multiple systems for the same data point) and therefore, everyone in the organization is using the same data to make decisions.
Marketing GPT (2023)
Marketing GPT is the AI capabilities that Salesforce are adding under the Einstein 1 ‘umbrella’. With Marketing GPT, Salesforce aims to give marketers an AI-connected user interface that augments campaign brief conception, audience/segment discovery, and content creation.
Commerce GPT (2023)
Commerce GPT is the AI capabilities that Salesforce are adding under the Einstein 1 ‘umbrella’. With Commerce GPT, Salesforce aims to deliver an AI-connected user interface that accelerates new storefront creation and guidance towards goals for merchandisers, and conversational commerce for shoppers.
Google Cloud Platform Partnership (2023)
Salesforce recognizes that customers could have data stored in external systems, as well as custom AI models. The partnership with Google Cloud allows organizations to bring data and large language models (LLMs) from Google, to support what happens within Salesforce Data Cloud.
Typeface Partnership (2023)
Typeface delivers generative content (images and layouts) that are specific to your brand guidelines. Not only will marketers gain efficiency in their days, but will also be able to scale content creation to achieve more advanced personalization – i.e. creating multiple content variations, each relevant to the recipient.
Salesforce Connections 2024
Connections will be back on May 22 – 23, 2024, both live in Chicago, and on-demand via the Salesforce+ streaming service.
Registration is not yet open – but we will make an announcement when the time comes.