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Ignore Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Shiny Objects and Focus on Needs

Jun 25, 2021
Jeff Haws

Salesforce is good at waving shiny objects in front of marketers to convince them Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) is the solution they need. “Look at all these features we have! Don’t you need this? And if not, don’t you dream of the day you’ll need it?”

Maybe it can even seem insufficiently aspirational to say that’s not something you need, because … maybe one day? But that isn’t the most efficient or effective way to approach your martech stack. Be honest with yourself. Is that something that’s going to help your team? Because, if not, you owe it to yourself to read further.

AMPScript “expands Marketing Cloud functionality”

This is how they position it. That quote is straight from their website.

They’re not wrong; it does expand Marketing Cloud functionality, by essentially forcing you to use it. But what is AMPScript? If you’ve used SFMC for any amount of time, you’re likely somewhat familiar. It’s their own proprietary coding language that allows you to go beyond the basics when building dynamic, personalized messaging campaigns — once you learn it, that is. Or hire someone who has.

MessageGears provides you with all the same functionality as Salesforce while using FreeMarker, an open-source language that many developers are already familiar with and translates elsewhere easily.

There’s money in that, no doubt. A quick LinkedIn search shows dozens of open positions for developers who know AMPScript. Salesforce loves this because it makes them stickier for your organization — once you’ve trained people and/or hired developers specifically in using the AMPScript language, it can become that much bigger a pill to swallow if you ever consider leaving for a different platform. MessageGears provides you with all the same functionality as Salesforce while using FreeMarker, an open-source language that many developers are already familiar with and translates elsewhere easily.

When you’re first talking to Salesforce, they won’t talk about any of that. They’ll tell you how flexible and versatile AMPScript is, all the possibilities it will open for your team when it comes to campaign personalization. They’ll say it’s easy to learn, and they’ll even help you along the way as you get your team up to speed — for a price, of course.

Salesforce may make it sound tempting, but whatever the possible benefits might be, will it be a long-term positive for your team to double down so much on a coding language that’s exclusive to one platform? And can’t you get much of the same functionality elsewhere without tying yourself so firmly to Salesforce?

Sending your data out to Audience Builder

In the early conversations with Salesforce, they’re going to show you demos of their UI, talking about how you can segment audiences however you want based upon your data in their cloud. In those demos, the UI really will look slick. You’ll hear lots of big talk about the power of their platform, and everything it allows you to do with your data.

If you’re prepared to press them on the process a bit, they’ll say data syncs aren’t that big of a deal. Their customers do them every day, and they don’t hear many complaints. And, after all, how often do you really need truly live data to build audiences with?

Think about the time you’ll be waiting or syncs to complete, the difficulty you’ll face in sending timely campaigns. Are the tradeoffs really worth it?

Here’s the key: that’s the question you need to have already answered before you ever get into that room. Because their salespeople are trained to overcome any objections you might have, and misdirect you to the shiny objects that are going to light up the eyes of marketers. If you’re reactive rather than proactive, they’ll be ready to pounce.

Think about the time you’ll be waiting or syncs to complete, the difficulty you’ll face in sending timely campaigns. Are the tradeoffs really worth it? Not to mention, they’ll be charging you to store your data — the same data you’re already paying to store in your own database. Why would you want to pay to store that twice? Is that something that helps your team do its job better?

What do you actually need?

Don’t just take Salesforce’s word that a feature is easy to use or essential to your marketing efforts. They’re going to tell you whatever it takes to get you to sign on the dotted line. Instead, independent of talking to Salesforce — or any email service provider — determine with your team what your true needs are, and what you’re willing to pay for.

  • Does learning a proprietary coding language appeal to your team?
  • Do you need a slick UI if it means shipping your data to someone else’s cloud?
  • How about abandoned cart campaigns? Are those important to you?
  • Coupons?
  • Seamless integration across email, mobile push, and SMS?
  • Using your live data behind your firewall to build campaigns rather than shipping it elsewhere first?

If you can make this determination, it will help you resist the shiny objects and rose-colored glasses Salesforce gives you.

And know that MessageGears is built with you, the enterprise marketer, in mind. We let you maintain control over your live data and use it to build campaigns. We match — and often exceed — SFMC’s functionality while using FreeMarker.

Getting the help you deserve

During the sales process, Salesforce is going to talk up their massive customer support team, and tell you about all the help they deliver every day. They’ll say the expertise is there to get you through any challenges you might encounter, whether it’s in the transition or after you’re fully onboarded.

It’s not all lies. They certainly have a massive customer support team, and they do what they can for a lot of customers each day. What Salesforce won’t tell you is that they’re doing much of that for extra fees, for those who go into their Premier queue. And, even then, it’s still a queue. And that queue can still seem endless to the customers waiting for a callback.

At MessageGears, we have a dedicated Customer Success team that provides someone available to you 24/7 to help in whatever way we need to in order to ensure the success of your team.

Lack of expertise in customer support isn’t their issue; they’re just not willing to invest the resources it would take to adequately support all their customers. Whatever they say up front, the stories of their abysmal customer support are legend, and they go back years.

You might be tempted to play that down. Maybe you won’t need a lot of support. Certainly, they’ll tell you how easy everything will be, so it won’t be an issue. But you have to know it won’t be as simple as you expect it to be. At MessageGears, we have a dedicated Customer Success team that provides someone available to you 24/7 to help in whatever way we need to in order to ensure the success of your team. It’s one of the main reasons we virtually never lose a customer. They feel supported. Their success is our success. We may work with several of the world’s largest brands, but we continue to invest in the resources to make sure we can give them all the white glove service they truly deserve.

Because, at MessageGears, we want to make sure this is a relationship you value as a customer. We’re a customer marketing platform with three products all built around the philosophy that you’ve spent a lot of resources collecting and organizing your data, and you should be able to use it without technology getting in the way. And we want to provide all the resources you need to make it work for your team. Let us help you to make the right decision about your next messaging partner.

About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused on producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.

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