Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) have become two of the leading platforms for multi-channel marketing, and the go-to choices for Salesforce customers looking for marketing automation.
Taking a brief dip into their histories, these two tools were both acquisitions Salesforce made around a decade ago. Since then, the tools have been extended and enhanced in their own, respective ways.
We were fortunate enough to meet with Steve Hammond, who has been in the role of Marketing Cloud GM since the start of 2023. Steve spent almost two decades at Adobe, during which time he was involved in launching Adobe Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud. He’s passionate about joining Salesforce because there’s no technology quite like what Salesforce has built (i.e. its Data Cloud). His enthusiasm is infectious, which is why we’re confident that we can expect great things.
So, what could be on the horizon for Marketing Cloud and Account Engagement (Pardot)? This guide will cover the themes we’ve heard being spoken about – but please bear in mind that much of what we will cover is not set in stone. These themes are:
- Single Marketing Cloud platform? (Built on Data Cloud.)
- Marketing Cloud sandboxes? (To test configuration and upskill.)
- Marketing Cloud segmentation consolidation? (Moving towards there being less methods of segmentation.)
- Marketing analytics tools consolidation? (Tableau + Datorama + Data Cloud.)
- Moving towards suite pricing? (Versus licensing individual Salesforce products.)
Single Marketing Cloud Platform
There have been intentions to move Marketing Cloud Engage and Account Engagement (Pardot) onto a different platform for a number of years (personally, I first heard about this at Dreamforce ‘19).
But in this case, the plan is to move both tools onto Data Cloud, as it is already the foundation that powers connectivity between Salesforce ‘cloud’ products and ‘gets the data flowing’. Every Salesforce customer takes advantage of Data Cloud behind the scenes, regardless of whether they have purchased Data Cloud directly – but of course, when you invest into Data Cloud as an add-on you gain even stronger personalization and data unification.
Being two acquired products, both tools are currently running on their own, respective platforms, with advancements to move Account Engagement (Pardot) on to the core Salesforce platform.
Salesforce estimates that this will happen in the next three to five years, however, a more specific date is yet to be determined. Salesforce have indicated that they will be taking care of the migration for their customers.
As with all transformations on a far-reaching platform, like Salesforce, there are dependencies that need to be considered – in other words, what one engineering team wants to do may not be feasible until another engineering team has put something in place. In this case, we can speculate that Data Cloud has to be first powerful enough, and stable enough, to make it feasible. Data Cloud has come on in leaps and bounds in the past 18 months, so let’s continue to keep up to speed on those advances.
Marketing Cloud Sandboxes
When people embark on the journey to learn Marketing Cloud, one of the most common questions is around sandboxes. These are replicas of real-life Marketing Cloud environments that are a safe place to ‘play’ around in without impacting other platform users and prospects/customers. Sandboxes are also core to testing new functionality before deployment (going live) and troubleshooting errors.
However, Marketing Cloud doesn’t currently offer sandboxes for training or testing. The Marketing Cloud Product Marketing team expressed that this is one benefit that they are working to deliver. Again, a more specific date is yet to be determined.
Marketing Cloud Segmentation Consolidation
When it comes to Marketing Cloud, there’s very little that comes as standard. As you make your own data model you’ll be using a mind-blogging number of ways to structure attributes, unique identifiers, and audiences. Then once your data model is in place, there are numerous ways to actually segment data into even more granular audiences.
Data extensions are the primary way to store segmented data in Marketing Cloud. They enable you to essentially build a table within the app database that contains your data, exactly how you need to structure it – whether that’s a one-to-one relationship with the subscriber record, or a one-to-many relationship. And to leverage Marketing Cloud data with the rest of the platform (or vice versa), data needs to be stored in a data extension that has specific properties (i.e. synchronized data extensions).
Could we be moving away from data extensions in the future? If Marketing Cloud is moving on to Data Cloud, that could change how segmentation happens. If segmentation happens natively on Data Cloud, it removes the need for any syncing to occur.
Sure, Data Cloud has complex data sets, but is it more complex to use when we consider the multiple ways to design Marketing Cloud data models and perform segmentation?
Marketing Analytics Tools Consolidation
Tableau + Datorama + Data Cloud: three analytics tools that are powerful in their own right, but which do you use, and when?
The objective here will be to have one, go-to tool that incorporates the best of all three, so that marketers don’t have to choose between them. Not only will this improve the ease of use, but also organizations will only need to get approval once in security evaluations that are part of onboarding new vendors.
This will be a multi-year consolidation, so don’t expect any answers soon!
Moving Towards Suite Pricing?
Data Cloud, and the GenAI (GPT) innovations that Salesforce have been pumping out this year, blur the lines between business functions and disciplines. In other words, data is no longer siloed, and the same data is utilized by multiple teams, right across the Salesforce platform.
There’s a question mark around moving towards suite pricing, where one user license incorporates more functionality, as opposed to needing to purchase multiple licenses as add-ons. For example, Account Engagement (Pardot) is already included in the Sales Suite, which launched in 2023 and helps to answer the question: “Add-on, or upgrade?”.
This post has explained what could be on the horizon for Marketing Cloud and Account Engagement (Pardot). And while this is all intriguing, please bear in mind that much of what we have covered is not set in stone, and timelines are not specific.
What do you think is the most exciting? A single Marketing Cloud platform (built on Data Cloud), Marketing Cloud sandboxes, segmentation consolidation, marketing analytics tools consolidation, or moving towards suite pricing? Let us know in the comments…