How Salesforce is gathering its own customer data through its new streaming video play

The lead image is an illustration of a robot watching TV.

As Salesforce wraps up this year’s Dreamforce conference — where pandemic restrictions meant only 500 VIP members were invited to join cutesy woodland mascots in-person while the rest tuned in virtually — the company’s recently-launched online collection of original shows and content from its conferences, deemed Salesforce+, serves as a potential reservoir of data to tap about those very Salesforce devotees.

And that information about those customers — such as whether the videos they view relate to business-to-business commerce techniques or data management products — is funneled into the very customer data platform, called Salesforce CDP, the company is pitching back at them. 

“We’re using the martech product portfolio including CDP in order to build rich profiles of our customers and prospects,” Mike Kostow, marketing cloud EVP and GM at Salesforce, told Digiday. Internally, the company calls its approach to promoting its own products Salesforce-on-Salesforce.

Although people do not have to be logged in to watch videos on Salesforce+, the company expects a lot of people watching the streaming content to be logged in using their TrailblazerIDs, which will allow the company to connect the data dots generated through their video views to other information it has about them.

Salesforce, which has cobbled together some of its data management and martech capabilities by acquiring firms including MuleSoft, Tableau Software and Datorama, launched its Salesforce+ product at this year’s Dreamforce conference held Sept. 21 through 23. Inspired by streaming services like Netflix or Disney+, the offering dishes up original series featuring interviews with execs such as IBM’s CMO Carla Piñeyro Sublett and athletes like Arizona Cardinals’ offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, along with training videos and product demos from events the firm has held over the years.

The company recommends those shows to Salesforce+ viewers using another one of its own products, Interaction Studio, which identifies people, monitors digital behavior and tailors what they see on websites they interact with in real-time. “If I see that you’re interested in my keynote, or the Marketing Cloud Roadmap keynote,” said Kostow, “I’m building a pretty good sense that you’ve got interest in marketing technology.”

All that viewership data from those video streams is combined with what Salesforce meticulously tracks about its customers, gleaned through its sales and customer service channels like emails, chats or phone calls. That data is tacked onto purchase information showing what products clients have already signed up to use.

Call it an extreme example of the first-party data Salesforce wants its own customers to take into its CDP to manage and use when they themselves market to their own customers. The company recently added the CDP to its AppExchange, the compendium of software applications that plug into Salesforce technologies, to make it easier for clients to connect that first-party data to the data from third-party companies that’s available in the exchange. “You marry that with what they’re saying to your sales team [and] it’s more about what happens when you bring all that together,” said Kostow.

Christopher Bayerle, a certified Salesforce consultant with “Ranger” status — a ranking of a Sequoia-level heights in the company’s “trailblazer” hierarchy for users of its products — said the Salesforce-on-Salesforce strategy makes a lot of sense. “Of course they want to know what you’re watching on Salesforce+ and have that guide their conversation with you because that is also the tool they’re selling to people who are watching it,” he said.

Kostow said Salesforce is also considering turning Slack, the work chat and collaboration platform it bought in January, into another marketing vehicle for its own products. “It is on our longer-term roadmap,” he said.

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