Marketers: What You May Have Missed From Dreamforce ’23

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Another Dreamforce has wrapped up – and what a week it’s been. Personally, I was splitting my time between news coverage, absorbing knowledge on Data Cloud, and having great conversations with marketers. 

This is my chance to share the week’s highlights, beyond the keynote stages…

To get up to speed, read the guides below for a summary of the main and marketing keynotes:

1. Data Cloud Freemium – What Does This Mean for You?

Salesforce announced free Data Cloud licenses. While capped at 10,000 unified profiles, this will kick off the journey of many customers into these previously mysterious Salesforce products. 

Note: You must have Sales or Service Cloud, Enterprise or Unlimited edition.

READ MORE: Salesforce Provide Free Data Cloud and Tableau Licenses

Data Cloud will be providing the connectivity between various Salesforce ‘clouds’ – in other words, it gets the data flowing. This enhanced, underlying layer will power generative AI features that need relevant data, fast. 

So, what does this mean for you? News came out towards the close of Dreamforce that Salesforce will be hiring 3,300 employees in a bounce back after their 10% workforce layoff at the start of this year. The main reason cited was Data Cloud – requiring both engineers to enhance the architecture, and salespeople to sell it. 

This is a bold decision from Salesforce, in terms of the number of hires, plus the fact that some will be ‘boomerang employees’ (laid off, and rehired). Salesforce wouldn’t have taken this decision lightly without seeing true future demand here. Our prediction is that this will filter down to the network of Salesforce consulting partners, and Salesforce customer organizations could start looking for ways to implement and maximize freemium Data Cloud.

READ MORE: Salesforce to Hire 3,300 Employees in a Bounce Back After Layoffs

2. New Data Cloud Consultant Certification

Following on smoothly, Salesforce launched the new Data Cloud Consultant certification on September 6th, in the run-up to Dreamforce, which gave us a striking indication that Data Cloud would feature in the limelight. 

The official Trailhead exam guide describes the ideal candidate as those “who have experience implementing and consulting on enterprise data platforms in a customer-facing role, including designing, configuring, and architecting solutions.” (Source)

Are you going to pursue this certification? It could be a good asset to have for your career.

READ MORE: Salesforce Launches: Data Cloud Consultant Certification

3. Workshop: Real-Time API Integration With Data Cloud

Marketing Cloud Architect and MVP, Eliot Harper, hosted a truly informative workshop on how to plan data integrations into Data Cloud. With so many new concepts and ‘moving parts’ to the architecture, Eliot was able to break it down into a checklist to help us get up and running with planning. Topics included: 

  • Your data landscape: Data source, infrastructure, and integration platforms.
  • Data sources: The content they contain, their system identifier, and the frequency this data needs to be ingested by Data Cloud. 
  • Data extract requirements: Which APIs at your disposal should you use to take data from an external source, and specifying the target platform.  
  • Activation platforms: Putting your Data Cloud segments to use, including why and the objectives for personalization. 
  • Data actions: Injecting data into other systems, to be put to use.

Receiving a copy of the booklet “Data Cloud Demystified” that Eliot has authored was a nice touch (I appreciate something I can scribble notes on!). Plus, Flo (the flying squirrel Trailhead mascot) also thought the content interesting, joining our table for the discussion. 

4. Data Cloud + Einstein: Plan Your Marketing Data Strategy

Another session I got a lot out of was presented by Marketing Architect, Timo Kovala. Again, this is how to get the ball rolling on a Data Cloud implementation, making considerations beyond the technology. You could have all the technology, but a shaky data quality and data ownership foundation.

With AI, data quality trumps quantity – [that’s] why adopting a data strategy is now more important than ever. Timo Kovala

As one of The DRIP’s expert authors, Timo has said he will be writing more on this topic for the coming months – so keep an eye out for that indispensable content. For now, I will provide a summary of the session: 

  • How Data Cloud and Einstein tie together: Einstein ingests and unifies your customer data, which can then be connected to Salesforce’s own model or an external model provider of your choice.
  • Risks of feeding bad data to Einstein: Messy engagement and campaign data leads to misleading recommendations, outdated, false and incomplete data lead to invalid segments, among other risks. 
  • Questions: The things you need to ask to form your marketing data strategy. 
  • Assessing the costs and returns: In other words, the cost of data versus the value of trusted data and speed to insights. 
  • Identifying key stakeholders: Hint, there are potentially many you will need to involve. 
  • Building an overview: Where marketing data is collected, used, shared, and managed. 
  • Creating a minimum viable product: This will involve outlining the minimum amount of data required to achieve a business use case (and therefore, prove the concept that Data Cloud is valuable for your organization).
  • Form a Data Center of Excellence: To maintain the continuous improvement of data quality.

This session was recorded, which you can watch on-demand on Salesforce+.  

5. Salesforce Starter: Step 1 of Marketing Cloud on Core

True to the Core sessions are highly anticipated and consistently popular. These sessions could be described as an “ask me anything” to Salesforce executives and product managers, where the audience can ask even the thorniest questions and get a transparent response.

A question around campaign members was posed – and before the question was even read or answered, Parker Harris, Co-Founder and CTO at Salesforce who was moderating the session, disclosed something that made me gasp: 

I’m so excited about the Einstein 1 platform which is a fully integrated platform [which also means that we’re] rebuilding marketing cloud acquisitions to be [Salesforce] native. Parker Harris, True to the Core at Dreamforce ‘23.

Salesforce Starter is a competitively priced edition for the small-medium business (SMB) market. Apparently, it will be the first version of marketing on core. Being speculative, we could see this as the testing ground. Parker did say that the capabilities will ‘grow up’ through to enterprise capabilities eventually, just like many of Salesforce’s offerings over the past two decades.

6. Marketing Cloud on Core Momentum

“More Core” was how the Marketing Cloud & Commerce Cloud generative AI features were framed. Coming up in the roadmap, there are 26 generative AI capabilities – with an additional 25+ set to arrive by the end of 2024 – all built on Data Cloud.

We know that moving Marketing Cloud onto the core Salesforce platform (now called the ‘Einstein 1 Platform’) is a major undertaking but it’s a positive sign that new features are being built straight onto the core platform.

READ MORE: The Future of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Next 5 Years)

7. Google Cloud + Marketing Cloud

Salesforce have extended their partnership with Google more than once this year. The main one that will benefit marketers is the pairing of Salesforce Data Cloud + Google Cloud Platform, announced at Connections ‘23. 

The Marketing Cloud and Google Cloud teams have been hard at work to deliver more features around segmentation and audience reporting that can be activated from one platform to the other. After connecting with the product managers, I’ll be sharing more content on how this works practically in the coming months.

READ MORE: Salesforce Extends Data Cloud With Google Cloud Platform Partnership

8. Salesforce Campaign Members Bugbears (Thinking Beyond)

As I mentioned, True to The Core sessions are a unique opportunity to get answers on the thorniest challenges you could be facing while working with the Salesforce platform. 

A question around campaign members was posed by an online attendee, which opened by expressing that the campaigns object hasn’t had more than one or two updates since Salesforce rolled it out 20 years ago – I can’t confirm this is true:

“One of the main issues has been campaign member statuses. [Asking for] more simple ways to update [statuses] at campaign creation with new campaign numbers statuses. Now there are many uses for campaigns, for both sales, marketing, and for nonprofits, will there be any more enhancements and Performance in UX?”

Jeanine Walters, Principal Architect, Software Engineering for Marketing Cloud, stepped up to respond. 

“There are a lot of changes coming to campaigns – in fact some of them have rolled out already with the Salesforce Starter project. We’re thinking bigger than campaign members. Just know that there are a ton of changes coming. It’s going to be more scalable, do a lot more, and connect to a lot more in Salesforce than it does today.”

What a cliffhanger! Salesforce is open to connecting with the community on feedback around campaigns and marketing automation.

9. Tasha’s Golden Hoodie

Tasha Rucker was the recipient of the coveted Golden Hoodie, in recognition of inspiring others in the Trailblazer community. My words won’t do it justice, so watch her passionate speech on-demand (starting @ 43:00).

10. Partner Expo & Marketers’ Banter

The Marketing Cloud section on the AppExchange continues to grow with new vendors plugging the functionality gaps in innovative ways. The partner expo had a section dedicated to marketing, where you could find the pioneers, and some of the newcomers. 

A main draw of Dreamforce for attendees is the opportunity to meet like-minded Salesforce professionals in spontaneous conversations – and the marketing community is a prime example of this. 

Sercante, as always, did a fantastic job of hosting ‘The Home for Marketers’, consistently at the Pink Elephant. All product ‘lodges’ were hosted in the Moscone Center; this included the Marketing Lodge, which used to be in the Palace Hotel. It was nice to know that there was another base for marketers to meet other marketers. New this year, Sercante also hosted roundtables on topics such as the “➕Diving Into Data Breakfast”, which I was gutted to not be able to attend. 

There were other notable moments, such as the hand painted bag Guilda was sporting (a gift from a Marketing Champion – raise your hand to be credited!), ‘how many marketers can you fit in an elevator’ during visiting the Ohana floor of the Salesforce tower, and ‘we’re marketers, not models!’ which was said while trying to shuffle around for the ‘optimal’ group picture on Friday (the tail end of Dreamforce).


Another Dreamforce has been and gone – but the energy isn’t all exhausted. As Salesforce marketers, there’s plenty for us to get stuck into following the announcements, and my writing ‘to do’ list has grown a lot

Dates for Dreamforce ‘24 have been announced, taking place on September 17th-19th, 2024 once again in San Francisco. 

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