Compassion and the magic wand for Marketing Cloud with Chris Zullo

Video Recording: Compassion and the magic wand for Marketing Cloud with Chris Zullo

Watch the previous episode of Heroes of Marketing Cloud here.

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Transcript: Compassion and the magic wand for Marketing Cloud with Chris Zullo

Anthony: Hey Chris, welcome to this series.

Chris: Hey Anthony, how are you doing?

Anthony: I’m great. I’m so glad we have you on the show. The weather looks a bit better over there in this here.

Chris: It’s certainly sunny, but it’s a little brisk this morning.

Anthony: Well, everything probably beats Northern Europe right now, for sure.

Chris: That’s a fair point. Temperature-wise anyways.

Anthony: Could you please introduce yourself to our viewers?

Chris: Sure, I’m Chris Zullo. I’m the Marketing Practice Director at AllCloud, and I am a Salesforce MVP as well as a Marketing Champion.

Anthony: Fantastic, it’s a great amount of titles that I definitely would love to dive into but hey, I noticed something on LinkedIn where your title says you’re also a puzzle solver. What does that mean?

Chris: What it means is I like to see how things fit together and you know, not every piece that looks like a fit actually is so the way I look at it is figure out what are the pieces on the board figure out how they should fit together and then figure out the best way to you know, put those together so I can have a complete view of the picture that I’m putting together.

Anthony: It sounds like architecture.

Chris: It is. You know there is a lot of thought that goes into it and you don’t typically build a house without putting in a pen to paper and creating a Blueprint and design and planning. So yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment.

Anthony: I’ve seen people try for sure without all that.

Chris: It’s sometimes fun but usually it doesn’t end well.

Anthony: Gotcha. Do you actually play puzzles or games asides the work puzzles?

Chris: I do, you know, I don’t do as many jigsaw puzzles on you know, on the tables as I used to, I actually did that quite a bit in my younger days. But I do play a lot of board games with my family. We play multiple times a week and you know the whole family. We sit down at the kitchen table and you know; somebody picks something out of our stack and we just got to have a good time.

Anthony: Oh, that’s fantastic. Multiple times a week that’s even I have a hard time getting my friends even once a month, so you’ll have to teach me more about this multiple times a week board game thing later. Could you tell a bit more about your Marketing Cloud journey though?

Chris: Sure, sort of like the accidental Admin story you made have heard. I’ve always been marketing focused or you know certainly passionate towards the marketing aspect of the business world, and I’ve worked with a number of products over the years on various tools. And so yeah, when I got into the Salesforce ecosystem, Marketing Cloud was nothing yet. ExactTarget was a separate tool. I was actually working with one of one of their competitors that happens to be a neighbor of theirs up the road just north of Indianapolis and my focus was on marketing Automation and I got into Salesforce through integration. So, I was integrating how the two working with and plugging it into Salesforce and mapping be at the field back and forth and then as Salesforce started to acquire various components of what is the Marketing Cloud today. I leaned in heavily and jumped in with both feet starting with Radian6 and Bodymedia which is now Social Studio among other acquisitions that are wrapped into that product.

Anthony: Although, I heard a rumor that I should maybe verify this first met before saying on camera, but that some parts of the Social Studio are going to be decommissioned actually.

Chris: Yeah, you know, I’m not sure what they will do with that. I mean, I’ve enjoyed various aspects of it and it’s certainly one of my favorite tools and features is under the Marketing Cloud umbrella. And so hopefully it’s nothing that I enjoy working with. But yeah, I mean, it’s always good to prune anything. That’s maybe not as relevant or as useful as it used to be. So, I’m not sure what specifically they would pull out, but It’d be interesting to see where that goes out.

Anthony: We’ll check how that goes. We’ll put the link in the description of the video. Either way for anyone watching we tend to put resources in the description of either YouTube or our blog, whatever you’re watching from. Going back to you Chris in your introduction, you mentioned that you’re an MVP since recently you’re a Marketing Champion. Congrats on both of those. Can you explain what these titles mean to you personally? Sure, so I’ll start with the MVP title since I’ve had that one a little bit longer than the Marketing Champion official definition is most valuable professional and what it means to me is just an acknowledgment and recognition of you know contributions to the community-at-large. It’s going above and beyond your day job in… we all want to be the best we can be within our professional capabilities if you will, but yeah, it’s stepping out and whether it’s writing blog post answering questions or otherwise helping others on their path that’s to me what is an MVP and honestly, it’s it is a humbling title to have so I think that’s the best way I could describe it’s a very humbling title to have. I don’t feel that I’ve earned that title because it does sound much bigger. Maybe that’s just me over-analyzing the title, but sometimes it’s overwhelming.

Anthony: But you get front seats at Salesforce connections.

Chris: That is a huge perk that I absolutely enjoy so, yeah, definitely worth the price of admission which fortunately is free to be in the program. The other one Marketing Champion it’s a product-specific accreditation and I won’t say accreditation, but again another recognition for really leaning into a specific area of the product stack that Salesforce has. As I mentioned, you know, I’m very deep and passionate about the marketing technologies that Salesforce has.

Anthony: Awesome. Thanks for elaborating on that. Now, recently you wrote an article with a relatively provocative title that is ‘End the Marketing Cloud’. Can you share the story behind that one?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. That was probably the most enjoyable piece I’ve ever written. Certainly, I enjoyed throwing that title down which was inspired by Star Wars and The Last Jedi when Luke Skywalker said, it’s time for the year of the Jedi to end. I was like yep, definitely stealing that one.

Anthony: Yeah, I didn’t catch the reference, but it definitely was a good clickbait for me personally, cause I clicked on it when I saw it.

Chris: That was a thing you like you do is definitely the most clickbait title I’ve ever thrown down. But the meat behind that is something that’s been on my mind for years and I have spoken about it with various folks inside and outside Salesforce, but it’s really that the Marketing Cloud as a name is not wholly accurate of everything that it can do. Certainly, there’s a number of scenarios where people that use a Marketing Cloud or parts of the Marketing Cloud aren’t necessarily marketing or they don’t view themselves as marketers, you know, for instance, your healthcare, higher education. These two really jump out at me and it was funny, it was I think at a Dreamforce years ago that a good friend of mine was in a session I had to lead and was thought it was about Marketing Cloud and just having a just informal chat after the session with a bunch of folks in the audience and I had mentioned you know that you’re doing one or two things with any business or you’re either trying to increase revenue or lower costs, and that was a little too narrowly focused for you know somebody that’s in higher education and they gently corrected me on that and it made me think like you know what you’re absolutely right while both of those are somewhat applicable to virtually any organization that is dependent on funds going and coming in or going out to support whatever services they’re doing it was it was just too narrow. And so, at that point, I realized it’s really much more about the engagement aspect of it end of the day. There are people on either end of that conversation. Whether you realize it’s a conversation or not. It is and should be a two-way street. And you can’t necessarily talk to everybody directly. But if you are communicating with somebody who wants to hear from you, we need to treat that with respect and so it is really about you know, it’s not just what’s in it for me. It’s what’s in it for you? And so am I providing you value or is it just too one-sided so… long story short Marketing Cloud I think it needs to be remarketed, It needs to be rebranded renamed as the Engagement Cloud because that’s really much more inclusive because it covers so many channels, you know, it’s not just emails not just social, it’s not just mobile. You know, there’s advertising as well as various components to an engagement between one or more humans.

Anthony: It’s a very interesting point and actually now that you explain like this it makes me realize that I had similar experiences though I didn’t have inside as you have and definitely didn’t write a piece with such a good headline, but I recall for reaching out to a local government office because I knew they had that Marketing Cloud and thought maybe we can do something for them. So, they actually help train people who are unemployed or just migrated and I reached out to their IT architect saying “hey, we can probably help your marketers”. You know with segmentation etc., and he said you know we don’t have marketers” like oh wow completely missed the messaging there. It’s interesting that you’re saying that, not everyone who’s using it is even using that phrase.

Chris: Honestly, that’s interesting because you know, there’s a number of government organizations or agencies across the globe including here, that use the Marketing Cloud so that yeah, that’s another group again that wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as marketers, but they have the ability or would benefit from using something like marketing.

Anthony: Absolutely, absolutely. So, I mean we’ve covered blogging but Salesforce has a very great ecosystem with a huge community of people, called the Ohana, coined by Hawaiians, but mostly Benioff in the context of Salesforce. Are there any other ways that you’re active in Ohana that you contribute?

Chris: Definitely enjoy connecting with the folks like yourself. So, you know, I enjoy coming on in and having a chat about Marketing technology or engagement what have you also really liked to get out when we were allowed to go to various events and connect with people and help them learn more about what are the possible or how they might be out there doing something a certain way. If there may be other ways to enhance what they’re doing there are other ways to enjoy going to world tours, connections, Dreamforce, and the various community events. I was very personally hurt earlier this year when the pandemic really reached a tipping point and travel started getting restricted was literally days away from, we were going to London to participate in London Calling and obviously shut down a number of other groups and sessions. I was going to be a part of something like Southeast Raymond and so everything shifted virtual. So, while I shifted to do the virtual and it’s still fun. It’s not, it’s not quite the same as being there in person and connecting with people directly.

Anthony: I fully agree. I’ve always enjoyed my time at Dreamforce and Salesforce Connections, especially so much to make good connections. You have interesting chats and well, you know, once we’re allowed to go out again. I’ll happily buy you a beer at the first or a drink of your choice at the first event we get to meet. Now, you hinted that earlier you work with several Marketing Automation solutions, obviously being a practice leader, you had some share of project experience, I guess. How does Marketing Cloud differ from other Salesforce solutions? So, I would say it’s one of the few, true, in my opinion, platforms. There’s a number of your points, solutions, tools, and applications. But very few have the depth and breadth of the Marketing Cloud. It’s maybe not quite as large as the Core Clouds on the CRM side of Salesforce, like Sales, Service, Community, what have you, but it’s a platform. It’s supporting multiple channels. It can do a number of the heavy lifting for you from automation, segmentation, journeys what have you and so it is to me a platform and needs to be viewed as such it’s not just a simple add-on. It’s not just shouldn’t be an afterthought of oh, we need to send some emails to let’s, you know, let’s go do this. It is something that can support most organizations. Just matter of like how big of a piece of the Marketing Cloud do you need to accomplish your goals?

Anthony: Makes sense. And looking back to the projects that you have done was there one project that really stood out that was remarkable to you?

Chris: Honestly, I mean there has been a number of those types of projects. I think the one that stands out the most was a multi-cloud transformation project that I worked with an amazing health care provider here in the States that you really had outgrown its in-house solution that they had actually built-in purpose to get the job done. But you know after 10 years in a number of you know, customizations. It wasn’t as efficient as it was at the beginning, right? So, you know, just helping them with their transformation from the CRM all the way through the marketing enabling them to cut down their segmentation from days to minutes imagine sitting down and writing a query even the simple query that may take still take hours to compile because there is just so much technical depth and you’re just so many silos the kind of cut through to get everything in order to just to create this one of you and being able to just bring that under one roof within the Marketing Cloud and being able to just say, yep. Here’s my segment boom, and a couple of minutes later it’s there or even faster.

Anthony: It sounds like a very recognizable story. It seems that we have similar project experiences.

Chris: Yeah, that’s definitely one that stands out.

Anthony: And that was multi-cloud you say.

Chris: That was multi-Cloud, Sales, Service, multiple external integrations, there were a number of teams it was huge over a year-long engagement. The client team was amazing, my project team was amazing, it was sure…

Anthony: Can we know the name of the client it was, in case, you want to give a little shout out?

Chris: Sure, Care first, Healthcare. Amazing organization up in Maryland.

Anthony: Fantastic, it sounds like an awesome project to have been a part of. Now with this customer, you already mentioned the segmentation. Now obviously us being an ISV provider, Independent Software Vendor. I’d be interested to learn if there are certain custom features that are coming up from customers that are not out of the box in Marketing Cloud? Despite being such a wide platform.

Chris: Well, two that come out. And I think one will be close to home to you. So, the first one is Preference Center, being able to do more than out of the box Preference Center which gets the job done, but it is very static and there’s only so much customization you can do so highly regulated organization or one who really has some strong branding needs will need to step beyond the out-of-the-box Preference Center within Marketing Cloud. So that’s something that comes up a fair amount and the other one is segmentation. Marketing Cloud, the way I describe it to people, it’s not rocket science, but it is a little different than maybe what you’re used to in terms of organizing your data and it can be as simple as you needed to because there are a number of ways to simply segment your data however in more complex and advanced segmentation needs when those situations arise you typically have to go into SQL and put some queries in place and most marketers don’t want to play with SQL. And so that sometimes you know when that comes up and if they don’t have somebody on staff that is comfortable with that that can be a challenge and transition for them at least at first. So those are the two things that come up a lot.

Anthony: Yeah, it gives me a little bit of a surprise. We even have a slide in our presentation deck. We call it the marketing automation hype cycle, where people get very pumped up at the start, we are going to automate everything. We’re going to have customer 360 multi-channel all the buzz words flying around and then the first campaign happens and like oh wait, we need SQL and then gets a little bit roller coaster from that point on if only there was a solution that could solve that huh?

Chris: If only.

Anthony: Well on that note, what I like about Salesforce is that it’s an open ecosystem. As the Salesforce AppExchange largest B2B App Store in the world. Curious if you’ve worked with any apps recently that you would recommend to our audience?

Chris: I mean, first of all, I’ve recently discovered yours. I’m excited to get more experience with your Solutions. But one that I have worked with recently is a big fan of SalesWings there. That’s an amazing solution again filling a huge need within Marketing Cloud, so I know you recently chatted with Philip…

Anthony: Oh yeah.

Chris: A big, big fan of them, always a huge fan of Litmus as well. You know, I don’t think enough people appreciate or get out the value that Litmus can bring to their marketing operations and executions. Those are probably the two biggest from a marketing perspective.

Anthony: So, make sure to add them as well, and absolutely Phillip’s a great guy. He’s made a great solution for a great company, so we know we know them well for sure. And asides from our side we’d love to give you a team a demo or an awareness session, but we can take that offline. So, aside from that are there any pain points for you in Marketing Cloud currently?

Chris: I think if there was one, I think there would be no knock-on what customer 360 is bringing to the table, but I think just managing a single view of the customer profile. Sometimes can be challenging, I think. What I would love would be to have one unique key that we don’t necessarily have to worry about, you know, the subscriber key is the golden key if you will, to managing and maintaining, you know a single view of any one person and personally I would love it. Even if it was just behind the scenes and seamless to us. I wish there was a connection to a placeholder if you will to the Salesforce CRM where there was one unique key more often than not it is maybe less jungly, you know, for example, if you use the leads and contacts you need to be more thoughtful around your contact model your data model if you will and so there are some challenges when you have a more complex contact model and I would love that to be simplified without necessarily requiring an add-on service or requiring a customer to have to go engage with you know, a consultant on a lengthy process to untangle some of the things that if it wasn’t accounted for when they first got started naming a lot of this is not the unintentional path they go down, but when it comes up it can be quite painful.

Anthony: Absolutely. It’s so easy to make some rookie mistakes on Marketing Cloud projects that come to haunt you later. In fact, we’re working on the eBook right now about such things in the data model, because we hear clients talk about that a lot and partners actually, so we’re going to write an eBook about that. In fact, by the time this interview is live it might as well be published also, we’ll put the link in the description here too.

Chris: Awesome, can’t wait to read it.

Anthony: Awesome, and we’d really appreciate feedback from someone from you as well. So, what do you think is the future of Marketing Cloud?

Chris: Well, that’s a loaded question. But in a perfect world, I would love to see a best in the breed, you know, child, if you will. Where what was ExactTarget in the various components and Pardot were one unified and amazing solution. Where depending on what your needs were it has various features that make each unique and amazing would be in again to a united front I think too often people refer to Pardot or Marketing Cloud as if they’re separate entities in Pardot is a part of the Marketing Cloud email Studios actually the name of the tool that used to be known as ExactTarget and there’s a lot of obviously similarities when you are sending emails now, they have some very specific features and capabilities that make them very different. But the emails and so I would love for that to be a more cohesive marriage or just like to sort of merging them into one. Realistically. I don’t know that that will ever happen but in a perfect world, I could just wave a magic wand that would be the result would be that we were talking about the Marketing Cloud aka Salesforce Engagement Cloud the best of Pardot the best of ExactTarget would be combined into one amazing solution. Right.

Anthony: I mean we’re dealing with lots of legacy from past acquisitions, right? I’ve been a bit out of touch with Pardot to be really frank. I was originally introduced to Marketing Automation via Pardot. But I’ve been specializing only in Marketing Cloud in recent years. But what I saw is that a lot of trends are going for Pardot to be more of a part of a Sales Cloud. Being more on the platform, much more components are available in Lightning. Have you seen more about that?

Chris: Yeah, they definitely have. I think Pardot had the benefits of being a few years younger than ExactTarget because ExactTarget has been around from the beginning. It’s about the same age as Salesforce. I’m not sure which one actually came first. So, within a year or two, there’s two solutions or products that were born. But when Pardot came first they came in with the idea that they were going to leverage Salesforce as much as possible, at least the Salesforce solution. And so yeah just by default it more naturally fits into the Sales Cloud design and architecture it has always been more at home if you will. And there have been you know phases over the past few years where it was more to the position of being a part of the Sales Club at the end of the day, it’s still marketing automation. It’s still you know has much more in common with ExactTarget and other tools like it then it does with you with a CRM even though it is a great compliment, and you have a great partnership with it. So yeah, I love having it in Salesforce and having it look like it just like it’s always been there like it belongs, but I would never in my own words say that is a Sales Cloud solution or Service Cloud solution. It is distinctly different and has very different capabilities and objectives. Then yeah, the other features that it might be, you know sharing the same storage with.

Anthony: Although I do wonder if efforts will become real, though the capabilities are different it will remain different products, of course, I do wonder if it will ever become a real part of the platform. So that integration is not an issue anymore, first of all, and not just for Pardot also for Marketing Cloud, and I have become very careful in speculating about this, but I remember years ago. There was a partner event in Indianapolis, and they gave very strong hints there let’s say that Pardot will become more and either that they’ve changed their mind. But then again sometimes I still hear hints about this, maybe it’s just very hard even for them. Want to take a step back on this one?

Chris: Sure. I think I don’t see that ever happening personally, I think because it started on a different text app yet to begin with that would be a monumental shift on the scale of the Titanic dodging icebergs like, you know, like it was nothing it, you know, because that is just such a massive change and shift like that would be a multiple-year intensive effort. And by the time that happened would it even be in a sort of us up to date on when the transition started like I feel like the goalposts so that the goal line the finished line constantly be moving further and further down the road. So, I don’t know that they would put that time and financial investment in there as opposed to really making all the connections, the integrations if you will so seamless that you don’t even think about it that you just you enable it and near the baseline connections in the hooks between the two are just so rock soil that you don’t even notice or you’re worried about that. I think that’s more likely in a perfect world again, if I could wave the wand, they would all be under the same roof all in the same tack and everything would be yes, you’re very happy and you never have issues with the mapping and integration. It would all be sort of a shared resource. Love to see it. I don’t know that we’ll ever see that.

Anthony: Very interesting. Let’s shift gears for a second, there’s always the elephant in the room. These days we are living in unprecedented times. So how has the pandemic changed your working routine? Are there any tips you care to share?

Chris: So, I mean, I would like to take credit for being a visionary in that regard, but fortunately for me, I’ve been a remote employee for over a decade so not a lot has changed in that regard other than the travel restrictions. Like when I went into an office it was typically traveling by plane to a client destination that obviously is not desired on either side at this point. So that’s it really overall like my daily routine doesn’t change much. It just means I didn’t have to get on the road.

Anthony: Gotcha. Is it different now that you miss the personal contact with your customers?

Chris: I mean, I certainly appreciate in value that face-to-face connection. There’s nothing that can replace that. So, it’s definitely something I think needs to continue where it’s appropriate but honestly from a daily routine like I’m not wasting time in traffic commuting to it to an office. It gives me greater flexibility in terms of how I spend my time this time I just can’t get back. Right, so, you know, I’m very fortunate that my commute is seconds as opposed to minutes or hours in some cases for some folks. But you know, I think the biggest thing you’re for those who may be more ease or newer to remote life. They’re all veterans by now, right because they all have about almost a year under their belt, but I think it’s just really important if you can carve out a dedicated space. I think the biggest challenge I’ve heard from folks is now they’re working on their kitchen table or working in the living room. It can be challenging to really focus when you’re sitting, you know, like a very comfy chair and laptops on you on your knees as opposed to being on a desk where you can sort of maybe have multiple monitors or just things are organized as opposed to the disruptive nature of changing rooms every day based on you do your living situation family roommates, whatever you like. It might not be able to have that dedicated space but as much as possible kind of carving out your area and just really normalizing as much as you can right.

Anthony: The kitchen would be my doom; I’ll be standing in the fridge nonstop.

Chris: Yeah, I’m on the opposite side of the house of the fridge.

Anthony: Thanks for sharing those tips. Do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share with our audience?

Chris: Just obviously stay safe do what you need to do, but just keep in mind we’re all doing our best we can. Personally, it’ll just be compassionate towards one another as I think there is a lack of that in the world today. Professionally, get after it. Whatever it is that you’re going after even if it’s not Marketing Cloud if it’s some other tool or product. There are so many options for you professionally as well as if from a solution perspective, you know, I love what you’re doing and all the options on the AppExchange and so does just it, you know, if you can think of it there’s a good chance there is an option available for you. And if not make it yourself and get after your own dream. So that’s what I’d share.

Anthony: I love that. And I also think that the message about compassion is really on point so great stuff Chris. It was really a pleasure to have you on today’s interview. Thank you so much for your time.

Chris: Appreciate it.

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