Innovation Series: How Lev Innovates in Marketing Cloud
Innovation Series: How Lev Innovates in Marketing Cloud
This is the first episode of the Innovation Series -- where we will highlight experts from Lev, Salesforce, and our customers to learn how they are innovating in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
In this episode, hosts Bobby Tichy and Cole Fisher talk with Brian Esham who is the Director of Emerging Services at Lev. Brian leads a team that is focused on the new technology coming out of Salesforce, and how to help Lev's customers use it to their fullest potential.
Brian has been an integral part of leading Lev in creating innovative solutions like Abandoned Cart, integrating Datorama with Marketing Cloud, and connecting Interaction Studio data across the entire Salesforce ecosystem. Bobby, Cole, and Brian discuss why these solutions were created and how we did it.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the In the Clouds podcast. In the Clouds is a marketing cloud podcast powered by Lev the most influential marketing focused Salesforce consultancy in the world. Lev is customer experience obsessed and podcast hosts Bobby Tichy and Cole Fisher have partnered with some of the world's most well known brands to help them master meaningful one on one connection with their customers. In this podcast, they'll combine strategy and deep technical expertise to share best practices, how tos and real life use cases and solutions for the world's top brands using Salesforce products today.
Bobby Tichy: Hi Cole.
Cole Fisher: Hey Bobby.
Bobby Tichy: How you doing?
Cole Fisher: Not too shabby, how are you?
Bobby Tichy: Great.
Cole Fisher: It feels like we're ignoring someone.
Bobby Tichy: Maybe, but we'll let him just sit there for a while until we get through the introductions. And we told him to hold his breath until it was actually his turn to talk. It'll be interesting to see how he reacts when he actually is allowed to talk. But welcome to the In the Clouds podcast. Bobby Tichy, Cole Fisher. We're really excited because we're kicking off our innovation series and what this is is a number of podcasts that will be with folks from Lev, customers of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as well as partners of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We're really excited to kick this off with Brian Esham, who leads emerging services, the emerging services team here at Lev. Brian, if you wouldn't mind just doing a brief intro of yourself and then we'll dive into it.
Brian Esham: Right, thanks Bobby. That was definitely a long time to hold my breath, but I'm all right.
Cole Fisher: Could barely even hear the exasperated exhale.
Brian Esham: That's right.
Bobby Tichy: Gosh, it must be doing a lot of cardio.
Brian Esham: Yeah. I actually have the world record for holding my breath. Actually that's not true at all. Yeah, nice to meet everybody out there. Quick introduction for me, as Bobby thinks, as he said, I lead our emerging services team. Really my role is centered around innovation and how we look at new technology that's coming out of Salesforce or that they have brought into their ecosystem through a different acquisition. And then how do we help customers use that and use it to its fullest potential? That's my role.
Bobby Tichy: And what's your astrology sign?
Brian Esham: I have no idea.
Cole Fisher: That's a fair answer.
Bobby Tichy: That is the right answer, actually. That's the right answer. Well, thanks again for joining us. When we think about innovation and we were talking with Brian about the specific things we wanted to ask him about, there are three main ones that Brian has had a big hand in coming up with and implementing. One is around abandoned cart. Next one is around Datorama and integrating that into marketing cloud, making sure we can get data out of there and then also Interaction Studio and really being able to connect data across Salesforce. For the first one here, Cole, I'll kick it over to you.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. Brian, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the abandoned cart solution kind of how we came up with to originally, what sort of spawned the need for it and how it's being leveraged right now.
Brian Esham: Yeah. Cole, it's a great question. What we had heard really from a lot of our clients is they wanted just a really simple way to run an abandoned cart program without needing their IT team to do a lot of work or without having to worry about doing kind of all the data processing that's involved and finding somebody that has abandoned their cart. And there just wasn't really a great way to do that, that we had seen with other clients. That's why we were constantly being asked, you know," Hey, what's the best way to do this? Any other ways to accomplish this?" In terms of kind of the route that we took with that and this is kind of one of the ways that I think about innovation is, how do you make something or how do you do with the tools that are available and maybe use them in a slightly different way? The reason, that is kind of really the reason why we came up with it, but then the how of how we came up with it is what are the tools that are available? Clients already have Google Tag Manager typically running on their site and looking at some of this data that is relevant to an abandoned cart and Salesforce has Heroku out there, that's great at spinning up small applications or very, very large ones and running those at scale. And then you got marketing cloud that sends the emails so why not just pull them all three together, tie them together with kind of a custom application and be able to actually have a very simple abandoned cart solution. That's really kind of the why. And I guess the how in terms of coming up with that offering.
Cole Fisher: Very cool, kind of guerrilla tactics of everything. If they're in the Salesforce ecosystem, they've got all these tools at their disposal, how can we kind of piece this into a unique order and implementation to have some new capabilities that we haven't come up with yet or we haven't been able to leverage before this.
Brian Esham: Yep, exactly.
Cole Fisher: Great. Abandoned cart is kind of the poster child of abandonment triggers, so are there product or category browse form abandonment? What other sort of abandonment products does this lend itself to?
Brian Esham: Yeah, great question. And this is where it kind of gets fun because there's more innovation then happening within this innovation. Originally this was really centered around abandoned cart and then as we're talking about it internally or with customers, then a lot of questions come up of," Oh well, can this watch if somebody, maybe they don't actually do anything with their cart, but they're just abandoning a browse when they started to fill out this form and they've abandoned this form." And so it's really easy to then start to kind of abstract it away and think of it more as a hey, somebody took this action, but they didn't take this other corresponding action and that's who we want to really look at it. There's a lot of different things that you can do with it when you think about it in a more kind of abstract way like that.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. That's pretty great. And I feel too, abandoned cart probably gets the most credit for significant revenue impacts. If you want to impress somebody, impress a marketer, build an abandoned cart program and tie revenue to it. Because the amount of revenue that is tied to abandonment campaigns is really big. Kind of my question to you is, aside from just seeing lots of bottom line revenue impacts, how is it helping a lot of these Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers?
Brian Esham: Yeah, that's a good question. I would say how it's helping customers outside of just adding to the bottom line and it can be a really good kind of user experience. If you set up your abandoned cart program and your email's really nice, it's a great way to give somebody a coupon for$ 10 off,$ 20 off, a certain percentage and really help build some loyalty there. I think it's also helpful from a maintenance perspective. The way that we built the tool is just very, very lightweight. It doesn't require a lot of maintenance, didn't require IT to get involved and do a lot. It's adding value and kind of removing some headaches or maintenance on the client's side so they don't really have to worry about this tool that's out here running just kind of it runs and it does its thing. And it's pretty simple to keep going.
Cole Fisher: Yeah, it's nice to have hands off, constantly running program, especially when it's something that ties that well to revenue. That's big man, very cool stuff.
Bobby Tichy: The second solution around Datorama and integrating to Marketing Cloud, I think is relevant, especially with some of the new releases that Salesforce has had, where there's going to be, it kind of looks like Datorama is going to be the email reporting dashboard within Marketing Cloud proper, but obviously there's still a ton of other use cases for connecting Marketing Cloud data to Datorama. Curious initially why you came up with the solution and how you came up with the solution.
Brian Esham: Yeah. This was early on, shortly after Salesforce had purchased Datorama and going through that acquisition. And again, clients hear," Hey Salesforce has purchased this business intelligence tool that really shows me all of what my marketing campaigns are doing." And separately they've already got Marketing Cloud up and running. They're sending lots of emails so very quick question from clients was," Well, how do I connect the two of these together and see in Datorama, what people were doing with emails?" That kind of need was there pretty much right away. And again, we're looking at it from a how can we solve this problem easily? What can we do with existing tools? Again, this is kind of an interesting way that we approach this. And it's something that I think it's helpful to kind of think about when we think about invention and innovation is what's the right way to do it? Initially when we came up with a solution, it involved creating a Python script that would actually run inside of Datorama and go pull data from Marketing Cloud. What we didn't really think about was can marketers maintain this? I don't know about you guys, I don't know too many marketers that write Python code on the side and are going to maintain that. We actually somewhat abandoned that solution a little bit and came up with something that was maybe a little less elegant, but ultimately much more maintainable where it just involved using some of the existing import export tools within Marketing Cloud and Datorama to move some data back and forth between the systems. Kind of had two different rounds of innovation and kind of solutioning in that, in connecting those two different platforms.
Bobby Tichy: The more updated version, what does that solution look like?
Brian Esham: Yeah, so it's really using the power of Automation Studio and Marketing Cloud, where we can go write a bunch of SQL queries. We can get the data packaged up however we want it to look like and then drop it out on Datorama's FTP. And that way, it's something that those that are already familiar with Marketing Cloud, they already know how to do a lot of that work.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, for sure.
Brian Esham: It's really kind of refocusing what's already there.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. That's awesome. That's great. And I would think too, because one thing that we always talk to when we're talking about folks who are looking at Datorama, it's never that they just want to use Marketing Cloud as a single source or anything like that to build out their dashboards. It's how do I get my sales and service cloud data in there as well? Or how do I get my data that might be in data warehouse, but it's already connected to Marketing Cloud, which solves for those situations too.
Brian Esham: Yep. Yeah, exactly. Right. We've got these tools, let's connect them. Let's use them to their fullest potential.
Bobby Tichy: For sure. Awesome. That's great.
Cole Fisher: Brian, one of my favorite things about your job, actually kind of what makes your job so cool in emerging tech is that anytime something new comes across from Salesforce or a big acquisition, you get to go and figure it out and then be kind of on the forefront of all the problem solving that goes on with how does this solution fit into everything else? And so one of them was Evergage, the acquisition of Evergage, which then became Interaction Studio and with all these cool capabilities of real time interaction management, I get to geek out on a little bit with you on how we're training up and learning about it, but then came the challenge of how do we connect all that data across the entire Salesforce ecosystem? Stitching identities, where data is being stored, things like that. And so you came upon that pretty early as a challenge. I was kind of curious to hear how you solution for that and what we came up with in terms of some of the use cases of how we deal with that, especially around identities.
Brian Esham: Yeah. Great question. This is where it's kind of somewhat interesting of, like you said, on being on the forefront of some of this technology is there's lots of integrations planned and a lot of things that are going to be really, really cool that you can do between Interaction Studio, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud and tying all this together. But again, customers that are kind of on the forefront of that, they want to do it now. And they're not necessarily willing to wait for kind of a more robust solution. A lot of times that's where some of our innovation comes into play is trying to do some of those connections right now until there's something a little more robust in the future. But yeah, so what we were looking at here is really being able to think about kind of that whole flow of a user so that when somebody comes to a website and they fill out an email capture form that Interaction Studio presented to them, let's set a store in that just with Interaction Studio. Let's also send that over to Service Cloud so that we've got a record created for them in that system of record. And then that should flow back to Marketing Cloud so we can start to put them on a welcome journey. Again, there's a lot of things there where we can kind of be a little innovative and find different ways to kind of pass that data back and forth with those existing tool sets that are there.
Cole Fisher: Very cool. Where do you kind of, and off the cuff a little bit, where do you kind of draw the line of, hey, this is an innovation right now that you guys, this is functionality we need, this email acquisition really should go into Sales Cloud. This is where we need to live and we need to populate it in Marketing Cloud from there under that same subscriber key. Where do we find is the delineation of, hey, this is a capability that's on the roadmap, we should hold off on this. Or this is going to be something that we shouldn't innovate for just yet versus in the case of that pop up form where we're actually sending that, leveraging cloud pages and sending data into Sales Cloud then in the Marketing Cloud, as opposed to keeping it as is in sort of the base model of Interaction Studio where data used to live in that instance. Question is, where do you kind of delineate or advise a Salesforce customer to say," Yes, this is something that's worth innovating around right now," versus," This is something that's road mapped and it might not be worth building one way and then rethinking later on down the road?"
Brian Esham: Yeah. There's always kind of that risk that you may build something that's obsolete and for me, I'm okay with that. In fact, I hope that the things that we build that are innovative ideally become obsolete later and they're just kind of standard, that's a normal thing to do from a product perspective. I think the advantage of really looking at something early and coming up with maybe your own solution is you're going to learn a lot about how things operate and how things need to operate. For this particular example of trying to connect Interaction Studio and Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud, by doing this kind of custom process, we can learn what are the pitfalls? What are the scenarios we might run into that could cause problems? And how do we account for those? And then we can give that feedback to the product team, back to Salesforce so they can use that in developing kind of the actual robust functionality. I think otherwise, if you don't really have any hard data or hard experience to rely on, it's really just kind of sitting in a room and trying to think of, oh, what are the possible failure points? Or what could happen if we have this thing out here?
Cole Fisher: Yeah, and I think that's one of the underrated things that we don't maybe realize upfront, especially around your position. It's that feedback loop with Salesforce of, hey, this is something that we're doing, this is something we've seen and product roadmap, this is something that a lot of customers are asking about. Or this is how we're solving for this. And to your point, I think you said it well, it's essentially business use case driven. It it has business value to the customer, this is something worth doing. And if it becomes obsolete later on, if it becomes an out of the box feature for Interaction Studio or whatever piece of technology we're using, great. That's fine and our business impact was never impeded. We never actually lost out because of this. Like your point, I would much rather allow something to be replaced or sunset by natural out of the box features than limp along without it right now, when it's providing value.
Brian Esham: I kind of think of that as being a pretty big compliment, actually, that if you build something and it gets replaced, it's so valuable, so helpful that it gets replaced with standard product functionality, then apparently you were on the right track.
Cole Fisher: Yeah, it definitely is. And something you've come up against a number of times, I know.
Brian Esham: Yep. For sure.
Bobby Tichy: Well, thanks so much, Brian. Those are great. Looking forward to seeing what else you have come up, as well. As the ending of each of our podcasts, we have a completely unrelated and today's is who's your famous best friend? And what I mean by that is who is someone that is either, well I guess don't really have to be a celebrity, but someone who you think you'd like to have is your best friend or in your mind they're your best friend, they just don't know it yet.
Cole Fisher: Bobby stalks a lot of celebs so his list is long and distinguished.
Brian Esham: All right, well yeah. Do you guys want me to go first?
Cole Fisher: Yeah.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, go for all right.
Brian Esham: All right, so that's an interesting question. I'm going to pick somebody that I probably would have a lot in common with, so I'm going to go with a comedian. Mike Birbiglia, I feel like he and I would get along really well because he usually has a lot of awkward encounters and awkward stories and I feel like that's, I can relate to that. I feel like I have that a lot. I find myself in awkward situations or saying the wrong thing.
Bobby Tichy: Are you awkward?
Brian Esham: Apparently. Or, I also just think that I'm hilarious. I'm probably about half as funny as I think I am. And so we'd probably get along in that area at least.
Bobby Tichy: I'm pretty sure just about every guy thinks they're hilarious. I think every guy thinks they're hilarious and also thinks that they could fight. If it came down to it and there was a rumble be like, I'd be okay.
Brian Esham: Oh yeah, for sure. Totally.
Bobby Tichy: Cole, what about you?
Cole Fisher: Bobby, strikes me as the type of guy that walks into a room was like," Yeah, I'm funnier than anyone in this room and I can beat them all up." I got that going for me.
Bobby Tichy: Only when I walk into an empty room.
Cole Fisher: My celebrity best friend, I guess the first one that popped out to me and if you're local indie, you'll probably appreciate it more, it would be Peyton Manning. I don't know. I just think he's a huge goofball. I've heard stories, apparently he's a pretty fun guy off the field, but I think retired Peyton Manning probably has to be. I just imagine he'd meld all of the funny one liners and personality you see in all of like the commercials that he's still in. And I just kind of imagine that's what it's like hanging out with them. Yeah, that's probably my go to.
Bobby Tichy: Have you seen Peyton's Places?
Cole Fisher: I've not. I've seen the ads for it.
Bobby Tichy: Okay, it's pretty good.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. It'd be cool to hang out with him and hang out with somebody who that has a bigger forehead than me. I'd would rival him though. I would rival that.
Bobby Tichy: I'd love to see the ruler come out, be like, oh.
Cole Fisher: What about you, Bobby?
Bobby Tichy: I think mine would have to be there's this world famous podcast host, his name is Cole Fisher and I think he and I would get along pretty well.
Cole Fisher: I heard that guy's a chump.
Bobby Tichy: Seems to have a pretty good sense of humor. What's that?
Cole Fisher: I heard that guy's a chump, no talent.
Bobby Tichy: I would actually go with another comedian as well, Nate Bargatze who I think he actually has another Netflix special coming out soon, but just very my favorite kind of humor, just very low key, just really funny situations. And he seems like he'd be a fun guy to hang out with. I've heard a few interviews of him as well. And I don't know if he would be able to beat everybody up and be funnier than everybody the way I am, but I think he'd be fun to hang out with.
Cole Fisher: Well, and you can take him so.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, exactly.
Cole Fisher: That's a benefit too. That's just good friend chemistry right there.
Bobby Tichy: Maybe if he and I became friends, I could be his muscle.
Cole Fisher: There you go. You could be a bouncer.
Bobby Tichy: A flabby, unskilled fighter as your muscle. Oh man. Awesome. Well, thanks again, Brian. Really appreciate it. I loved learning about the abandoned cart solution and the integration with Datorama as well as Interaction Studio. Keep up the great work. Really appreciate having you on.
Brian Esham: Yeah. Happy to be here. Thanks guys.
Cole Fisher: Yeah, thank a lot, Brian.