Adding a human touch to Marketing Cloud projects with Julien Coatelen from Bluewolf

Video Recording: Adding a human touch to Marketing Cloud projects with Julien Coatalen from Bluewolf

Watch the previous episode of Heroes of Marketing Cloud here.

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Transcript: Adding a human touch to Marketing Cloud projects with Julien Coatelen from Bluewolf

Anthony: Hi Julien, welcome to this series.

Julien: Thanks, nice to be with you today.

Anthony: Thanks for finding the time today for us, now for those who don’t know you yet. Could you please introduce yourself to our viewers?

Julien: So my name is Julien Coatelen, I’m a Salesforce Marketing Cloud practice lead at Bluewolf an IBM company. I have been working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2013 where I built my first Marketing Cloud team at Deloitte digital progressively doing five years and in 2016 I created a Salesforce Marketing Cloud user group in France which now has 500 members almost. And more recently I have been elected a Marketing Champion by Salesforce.

Anthony: That’s quite a background. One thing that stood out there for me, I think you mentioned you’ve been working with Marketing Cloud since 2013 you said?

Julien: Yeah, exactly. So basically, I was a first official partner at this time with another company where we used to work with ExactTarget before the purchase from Salesforce in 2014.

Anthony: That’s so interesting. Yeah, I remember hearing about the ExactTarget already when I was in the Salesforce project myself at a big pharma company. And they were thinking about getting ExactTarget then they chose not to and then two weeks later it was announced that Salesforce would acquire ExactTarget. So it’s funny how those things go.

Julien: Exactly. Yes, for someone it’s a bit more strategic because I used to work with Pardot and ExactTarget and ExactTarget crushes Pardot and Salesforce crashes ExactTarget. And they have both Pardot and ExactTarget in their suite so it’s interesting to get the full story of the Marketing Automation solutions kit in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Anthony: It’s funny that you mentioned Pardot. I didn’t realize you were also familiar with Pardot and this is how I ended up with Marketing Cloud. First I went to the Pardot route and then… that’s cool. Now you also mention that you know also become a Salesforce Marketing Champion this year, so congratulations! What does it mean to you to be nominated?

Julien: Well, the Marketing Champions program is an amazing journey that borrows Marketing experts around the world to give back to the community. These recognitions also help us to get more visibility and to exchange between all Marketing Champions in the first place. But actually, you have to be a Marketing Champion before actually becoming a Marketing Champion officially in this program. So it is a natural continuation in my investment with the French community of marketers and a good opportunity to share the best of my knowledge in digital marketing.

Anthony: Right. So it’s almost more like a recognition of all the work you’ve already been doing. It’s not like this new title just gives you new rights, I suppose?

Julien: Yeah, you see, as some Marketing Champions get like a new status, since for me I was already in a Salesforce Marketing Cloud User Group. I already got some kind of status in France, but with this new program also comes a recognition which is also dissociated. For me, it’s more like an opportunity to connect with other Marketing Champions, because my hat of a User Group leader is to share with the community, and with Marketing Champions it’s a more global network around the world.

Anthony: Indeed, talking about your French user group. What kind of activities do you guys do?

Julien: Actually, I’m very fond of our French Marketing Cloud community. Indeed it has been a long trail to engage with individual members about the expectations. I remember our first meeting like 5 years ago with only a few participants and it took time to reach our first 100 attendees sites… And we have a webinar with a user group, we managed to get very quickly our first 50 registers with active members only, with only a post on WhatsApp. So now the events have like from 100 to 130 registered persons composed of Salesforce clients, Partners, and much more, so we propose exclusive content for Marketing locals to improve their skills and also enjoy some good moments with other marketers. So the spirit of our user group, quality of content, focus on marketing, and also good vibes, so to exchange with each other.

Anthony: That’s great. Did I hear correctly that you guys use a WhatsApp group?

Julien: Exactly. It has been some tests and learning to define which are the best channels to engage in our community. We started with the Salesforce Success group like the official user group on the website and after that, we quickly created a LinkedIn page/group to mirror the community to the ones who usually don’t go to success groups on Salesforce. And after that, we wanted to be more real-time to, you know, for an event and you want to push some real-time message to interact with the community we created this WhatsApp group, which is also to promote some other types of content. We tried to push more innovative and recent articles, post on LinkedIn more like the main communication on our user group to help and support there on real-time message on WhatsApp also we tried to get the initiative on Slack during the lockdown but… just trying and testing everything to get some feedback from the community.

Anthony: Yeah, it stood out to me because in our Dutch user group we also use WhatsApp, you know it’s not per se a Salesforce technology, so it’s interesting that in the different groups they refer to the same technologies. But we also not use it for general knowledge sharing the articles but the main community updates someone’s looking for a new job posting that also happens.

Julien: Yes, more and more in the community you see some requests for job offers on-demand, needs, or requests. Also, different kinds of extra use of the community, but yes we are opportunists and we don’t want to close doors when we have some specific requests. Not only on the content or sharing feedback but also on some kind of other topics.

Anthony: I’m also curious about Slack because we use it in our company all the time. But I haven’t seen it being used in the user groups so how’s that working out?

Julien: Actually, as for the Slack, yeah, I created some channels where you have administration, creative management, data management, tracking and reporting, the really dedicated certification you’re supposed to find the direction based on the recurring questions. Specific questions that you could have as a member and basically the Slack channel is to make people help with each other, to help them to contribute proactively with the community. And I found that more partners were engaged with that but less daily users so it was more about questions when you’re stuck so the initial goal of the Success group is maybe redundant, maybe duplicate the platform for this kind of use.

Anthony: I know there’s also some kind of Email Specialist user group. I might have the name a bit wrong, but I know there’s a very active community there for the Marketing Cloud, right? Either way, we’ll make sure for the listeners and for the viewers to put the links to the LinkedIn Group, your own user group, and the Slack channel, we’ll put them all in the resources of this video. Asides from that do you think that there’s something that makes the French Salesforce community unique or maybe different from other communities?

Julien: Interesting question actually, I think that French people are somewhat more reserved, I mean the Marketing experts they don’t expose their knowledge very easily by a certain percent. And new users, not mature users can be very shy in that sense. But once we create confidence as a team we manage to be very creative together and also together large audience during our events but what makes so successful as one of the larger user groups all over the world, not owned by Salesforce because they are very huge, is that we execute our own advice and we keep improving over the time trying new event formats to find what people really love.

Anthony: That’s an interesting topic to me, you know being in Belgium I’m right in between of Paris and Amsterdam sometimes you see the Dutch culture which is notoriously direct and indeed the French culture more reserved and may be built towards the relationships and building trust which is also a good thing of course but it’s a different way of working.

Julien: To be concrete we tried some organization of the room. We pitch and there’s a big audience in front of us like physically, we tried by a group of people like a mini-workshop where people can work together, we tried to split the room into three parts inviting some third parties like ISVs or external pitcher and basically, we got some very interesting feedback about some different organization where we managed to get the interactions with people and that’s why today we really want to make something oriented towards workshop to make our members more proactive and more engaged with our content.

Anthony: That sounds really interesting though I do wonder now given the pandemic how are you going about these things?

Julien: The webinar that we are making tomorrow, is more like a workshop, we’re getting some time on demo on how to process. We keep some time for them to do the job by their side. So the goal is to have that interaction with us, with them so we can show some nice content, simple, step by step tutorial. And after that, they have some free time when they can execute by their side and we can get some real time interactions about “what you think about this?”, “Did you get to manage that successfully by your side and what is some example of using this feature for your own industry or this kind of interaction?” So we have a red line and after that, it’s all about interaction.

Anthony: Yeah, we’re currently doing a pilot with a very large customer and during this pilot, we’re setting all these success criteria and doing the workshops and actually it was a client who came up with this tool, I haven’t heard of it before it’s called Mural and essentially that is to have this big whiteboard but digitally are you using some tools like that yourself?

Julien: Exactly. So Mural is a good example of the way of interacting with the community and even on the on-site events we are used to working with this kind of interaction with a tool which is called Polleverywhere. So Polleverywhere is an interesting tool where we can interact with some real-time pull integrated into the PowerPoint so to keep the flow of the presentation and we keep some real-time statistics in the screen integrated on the mobile device or web device some feedback from the audience so it’s really interesting to adapt from the offline or online universe to different tool and to current context with he distance then it’s really interesting to get this Mural tool and we use that a lot.

Anthony: Great, I love these concrete recommendations so we’ll make sure to put it in the comments so people can try and find it for themselves, and yeah, I’ll try Mural myself seems interesting. And actually, if we just shift gears for a second and go to your career. You’ve already mentioned that you worked at several consulting firms and now you’re at BlueWolf, I imagine through your career you’ve done a few exciting projects. Was there one that stood out the most for you?

Julien: Yeah, actually Marketing Cloud allowed me to travel all around the world and I have very good memories of projects in South Africa which are not only interesting for the multi globe dimension but also for the human experience, we often pitch you know the importance of customer experience that it’s our first concern on projects regarding the delivery and team experience, this project was a great success in all aspects delivery, innovation, team’s commitment, human and cultural experience and I recommend you once in your life to visit Capetown. It’s an amazing city really, really loved it.

Anthony: Okay, that’s great! I’ve never been there myself but my co-founder our CTO Jonathan has been there and actually when he was there he sent back a selfie with penguins, that’s actually how we got the idea of using penguins for DESelect so I’ve seen pictures I can tell you that much. And what about challenging projects is there anything you can tell us about that?

Julien: You know it’s also fun to speak about digital transformation. My vision of digital transformation is really challenging as it includes transformation in technology, business model, team spirit, delivery, governance model, many aspects. So I ran a very challenging project where this transformation happened almost all at once, like in every dimension. I saw in one year the full company transforming its rooms to welcome agile with post-its everywhere. Migrating their Adobe technology to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, from the internal team to the extended team with us and also we totally updated and accelerated the release management, they were all dependent with each other, with different teams so the change in management has been really important and I think taking a step back nobody was ready for such a big change but we made it, thanks to the right people around the table and the right vision of what we want to achieve in the end.

Anthony: And you know, it sounds like a lot of stuff is going on the project. Was it sometimes hard for you personally? Was it personally challenging for you?

Julien: Yes, my personal challenge is that you have many solicitations at the same time and the real challenge is to bring the right quality and to get the right time to the mission that you want to deserve so my personal qualities are that I’m a very active person and I want to be everywhere, so I personally like to get my personal and professional life balanced.

Anthony: How does that work if you are a consultant?

Julien: It’s all about the self-limits you know. Also, the passion that you have with your work I started as a consultant before becoming a manager or practice lead and basically being a consultant I used to do more than what my company was expecting from me because I totally loved that it was all about research, eminence, it was all about organizing events. Making the user group, making some relationships, networking with the community with our partners. All that is not a part of my initial job, it’s something that I wanted to do because I love that and it also helped to create how I am today.

Anthony: Oh yeah, and I can relate, don’t get me wrong, otherwise we’d not be doing an interview in the first place. But you’re also right it’s all about prioritization if I can call it that way. It’s one of my constant struggles as well, to be honest. In general, do you have some tips, some newer people in your team let’s say, or at other consulting firms who have a tough time managing their time and dealing with personal stress even? Do you have some recommendations there?

Julien: Well, for the joke, I would say to stressed people that if you count your job performance then nobody will be able to speak about failure and neither of success of course. What I mean here is that stress is correlated with misunderstanding, the more you test and the more you know about your project the less stress you have and actually, there’s no way to stress that far if you follow best practices in your job. And you’re not alone, you can be helped by my Marketing Cloud community by myself as Marketing Cloud Champion, by Salesforce support, also which can help you with your daily life and your daily work also by your success manager if you have any on your project so just relax, have a deep breath and find the reason why you are stressed and try to get rid of that anxiety because there is no reason but get prepared as much as possible.

Anthony: Oh yeah, and actually I think that tip is spot on, You just reminded me of my very first Salesforce project ever; It was a Sunday night. I was super stressed about one of my first workshops ever as a consultant the next day and you know, common sense would say, oh relax, have a glass of wine or something. But instead, I applied myself to studying, and then it gave me the knowledge and confidence the next day to handle it.

Julien: I mean as far as you’re focused on your objectives and you prepare, you test a lot then it’s going alright. But sometimes stress is really linked to a lack of anything. I made a study two weeks ago and one of my questions was related to your daily issues on Marketing Cloud and I listed a lot of “lack”. Lack of technical expertise, lack of knowledge, lack of whatever there were dozen of different issues and basically what I found is that lack of technical expertise was one of the main aspects of anxiety in the company, so yeah, most marketers are really anxious because they don’t have these technical skills. For that, I think we have some incoming questions that will be an answer for the stress.

Anthony: Yeah, I mean being dependent on technical expertise for non-technical users like marketers typically. But before we dig deeper into that, I was wondering about all these Marketing projects that you had. Best practices say usually stay close out of the box, follow Salesforce guidelines. Nonetheless, customers will come up with all sorts of customer requirements, and sometimes for a good reason. What is the most extraordinary or unique feature that a customer has requested you?

Julien: I see recurring needs from my clients for features that aren’t yet existing in Marketing Cloud and sometimes I request my team to build it. Some of our custom development has been released by Salesforce in the product road map like the release management and stories that we have created years ago but…

Anthony: Ohh, hold on!

Julien: I saw many kinds of extraordinary types of custom features built on Marketing Cloud likes connectors with different third parties solutions. But what I find most impressive is the adaptation of standard digital marketing assets applied specifically for Marketing Cloud, I can give you some examples of that. For example, you can create a fully custom attribution model to measure the uplift of marketing initiatives, regarding the global turnover of the company (within Marketing) or you can also build some kind of RFM segmentation tool. To have like 4 to 11 standard segments of customers based only on purchase data. This kind of use which is totally adapted to digital marketing knowledge and best practices of the tool and technology that is what’s most impressive is how we can adapt these digital best practices on the platform to create value.

Anthony: I like that you point out RFM we’ve also written about that. And with all the data that typically customers will store in Marketing Cloud, it’s definitely out there. Now as you know here at DESelect we create an app that helps marketers to create these kinds of advanced segments without SQL for instance. To what extent has segmentation been a pain in your projects? I’d love to hear what challenges you’ve encountered.

Julien: Advanced segmentation is really hard for non-technical marketers. It requires SQL in Marketing Cloud so that’s why a tool like DESelect for me is really an advantage for functional teams that don’t have any technical architecture for developers internally or independence because sometimes you do have these technical people in your team but they’re fully committed to their projects so you can’t go to them to create your segmentation. You’re supposed to be autonomous in your digital campaign, your marketing campaign and it’s much nicer to be autonomous and independent on your campaign and integrate these kinds of advanced segmentation so indeed for more than 50% of the marketers in the market I would say that the only way to operate the advanced segmentation is to request for help or to make it by themselves by the tool like DESelect.

Anthony: Yes, absolutely. Thanks for these kind words, by the way, we see a little bit of both. We see especially in mid-sized corporates up to 5000 employees it will often be marketers themselves who do it, but if you go beyond that for the real enterprise. The world’s biggest automotive companies or FMCG companies come to mind; they do typically have a fully centralized marketing automation team of maybe 5 to 15 or even more people and they still love DESelect because it’s still a little bit faster than doing SQL but asides Marketing Cloud. There are so many things being released there are so many modules. What are you still interested in learning also just for your own practice what capabilities do you want to continue building in the future?

Julien: This is a very recurring question that we have with our partner manager at Salesforce before because of some kind of enablement. Sometimes based on the last purchase of Salesforce we have a lot of news regarding last purchases, in the past the Krux purchase, we have DMT we have Datorama, we first got Thunderhead then we got Evergage, it was more Evergage for the purchase and Thunderhead was more like partnership we had a lot of Marketing treats to focus and also a very interesting partner, let’s say experience to create around Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud. I would say as a Marketing Cloud Practice lead I have to get some focus, some play to activate because we can’t invest on every module and my own focus for sure is Interaction Studio is really something that I want to get huge expertise on because the commerce and the web is really a challenge that has been really released by the context even the Commerce Cloud projects asked if they are in a very well trend so for sure to keep this interaction between web and marketing. Interaction Studio is something that is relevant for our future as marketers.

Anthony: Oh absolutely, though I think being familiar with all of these tools to some extent the things like Krux and DMP now there’s such a different beast together compared to normal Marketing Cloud even within Marketing Cloud Mobile Studio is very different from Email Studio. How do you pick your battles?

Julien: My choice you mean? How do I select my place? I would say that it’s half the interaction I have with Solution Architects and people that are very close to the road map and the product team in Salesforce and also it would be deeply linked to the demand of my own clients. As I have a lot of interactions with my own clients, Salesforce, partners, marketing ecosystem interaction that we get with the users, yeah, it’s like my own maturity in the matter and then I would invest more in parts and less in other ones, yes, for sure.

Anthony: Of course, that makes sense. In general, that may be a hard question to answer, because you know we can’t look into the future but what do you think would be the next big thing in the Salesforce ecosystem in let’s say in the coming three years?

Julien: I got a very interesting meeting with a key Exec man in Salesforce in the US and he was speaking a few years back about the Salesforce Stack and today it’s clear than ever that we know the conversion of many things he said it’s not about the interface but also about the platform so for me one strategic play would be Customer 360 because it’s a really powerful solution which is also aggregating many issues and solve many concerns today so it could play some central role in CRM projects and by CRM I mean customer relationship management which could be Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Commerce Cloud or Marketing Cloud and this Customer 360 could be like central vision, the starting point on data quality and many aspects to begin with.

Anthony: And potentially even the orchestration of journeys the way I see it, because all the data come there, although the challenge would be finding the people in your organization who can be the orchestrators of course.

Julien: Yes, data has always been a key but more than ever marketers and companies do have to leverage their mentality and their skills on the data and I think that technically shows that we mentioned earlier really linking as much as possible. Because when I start marketing projects most of the time we set up Marketing Cloud and we try to start on quick wins and we have two options here. The first option is to have the right people in the team and we can leverage the solution and by the right people I mean most of the time technical people and if they don’t have technical people, they are more dependent on us as a partner. If we want to create value in terms of segmentation, personalization, and journey logic, it’s very important to get some quick wins really quick after the setup is done and the metrics of their team is part of the success of the project. Also not speaking about the platform but speaking about knowledge or expertise. It’s really important to get the right team, and you know, we used to speak about marketers but for me, it’s just finished. Today we’re speaking about data marketers and if as a marketer you don’t have any data knowledge then it’s really hard on advanced solutions like Marketing Cloud to really great a hundred percent of its capacities.

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a very powerful recommendation and a piece of advice with someone with an experience to back it up to close this episode, however, do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share with the audience or any message that you would like to share?

Julien: Actually I think we spoke a lot about different topics but I would only add that in this changing world we need more than ever to remain vigilant to secure this in-between place we are currently living. As a marketer, finding people whether these are your clients, partners etc with the right message is also something that we keep repeating but what’s new is being human over company-centric is very very important, showing that life keeps going and you can help them in this transition as a company. My last advice would be on this human interaction which is not only between the market and the customer with less pressure, less solicitation, more personalization but also with our team mates and our teams to be more human in this context. We speak about simple things like switching on a camera, getting some interactions all together so as far as we don’t get the last word of this transition we need to stay human and that’s maybe the best thing in this time.

Anthony; Stay human in a digital era, I think it’s a great message. Julien, it was an absolute pleasure having you on this episode. Thank you so much for your time.

Julien: Thank you for inviting me.

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