As impersonal as it can sometimes seem, technology is key to helping companies build relationships with customers and deliver the personalized touch consumers have come to expect. Investing in technology, though, is costly. It takes forward-thinking vision and a smart strategy for onboarding a new system.
Luckily for Shutterfly, Mike Berry, who stepped into the role of head of marketing technology early in 2018, has a big vision for what tech can do. Under his leadership, Shutterfly is investing heavily in technology. The company recently migrated to Salesforce for both email and campaign segmentation, with the goal of gaining ground on some of the Silicon Valley giants and ensure the best possible experience for Shutterfly’s legions of fans.
“To make our communications as relevant and as valuable as possible for our tens of millions of customers, we need to invest in technology to tailor those communications to individual interests—and technology is the only way to scale to a high level of personalization across billions of messages a year,” Berry says. In other words, the technology must be sophisticated enough to slice customers into small segments and communicate with them based not only on the frequency of messages they’re receptive to, but also on their preferred device or channel—whether that’s email, a mobile app, or another platform.
Salesforce proved the perfect technology partner in two ways. First, because Shutterfly’s Customer Care team was also looking to replace its existing service solution and had selected a Salesforce Service Cloud implementation. “The benefit of having both marketing and service clouds managed by the same company were significant, as it would allow the two teams to share information, resulting in a better understanding of what marketing messages our customers were seeing and the identification of users who might not be interested in new offers,” Berry says.
The second is the Salesforce team’s excitement to play a role in Berry’s big vision. “Salesforce is honored to partner with Shutterfly, a brand synonymous with treasured memories,” says Jon Suarez-Davis, senior vice president of marketing at Salesforce. “We’re thrilled to play a role in the team’s use of technology to understand customers and build relationships across life’s milestones.”
To accomplish a nuanced segmentation of Shutterfly’s customers, Berry’s team had to first set up a database in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. “This meant we could take advantage of Salesforce’s data management platform, advertising studio, and email services to ensure content, channel, and communication timing and cadence were appropriate for each user,” Berry explained. “This also set the stage for the coordination of messages across those channels and others as we grow our multichannel execution capabilities.”
This work required a sizable investment of time, especially considering Berry’s team had been utilizing the same software solutions for nearly six years before this. Building and populating a new database was only the start, however. The team also had to learn a new user interface, a new programming language, a new campaign hierarchy, and a new way of building multitouch trigger campaigns. “We are still learning, but we see the complete environment at Salesforce as a definite step up from where we had been before.”
This work proved a worthy investment, as Shutterfly experienced no gap in capabilities or revenue during the implementation and has already seen increases in efficiency and the ability to achieve complex personalization in its messages to users. As an example, Shutterfly recently launched an email campaign with more than ninety thousand variations in its content. This investment has a hard benefit as well: Berry projects the technology adding long-term value and predicts an increase in incremental revenue to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
Berry and his team are also excited to use the predictive data models offered by Salesforce through its Einstein solution. The goal, again, is to improve the customer experience by making communications to customers as relevant as possible. “For example, Einstein allows us to identify people who are likely to unsubscribe to email in advance. Given that, we can vastly decrease the amount of email we send them or stop sending them email altogether and rely on our other marketing channels to reach them,” Berry says. “We can also use Einstein to stitch responses together across devices so we know that the same person clicked on an email on their laptop and then completed the purchase on their cell phone.”
“It is tempting to find a quick win, and sometimes that is necessary, but we need to think about the long- and short-term implications of our investments to ensure we continuously improve our tech stack to better serve the customer.”
The long-term value was an essential factor for Berry in selecting Salesforce as a technology partner. “Even if we decide the solution we are looking at meets our needs today, we have to make sure it will be a stepping stone to meeting our needs in the future,” he says. “It is tempting to find a quick win, and sometimes that is necessary, but we need to think about the long- and short-term implications of our investments to ensure we continuously improve our tech stack to better serve the customer.”
Investing in technology is just one half of the equation—Berry also believes strongly in investing in his team. When he first started at Shutterfly, the marketing tech team included only three people. He now leads four teams of twenty-five people overseeing marketing operations, marketing analytics, advertising operations, and marketing engineering across all but one of Shutterfly’s brands. “I knew from what the company wanted to grow into that we would need to grow in a variety of ways,” Berry says.
He first brought on board a data engineer team to construct a customer database to be support the company’s marketing efforts. “That team was built up in concurrence with a larger marketing operations team to support the requests from our marketing strategy teams and to begin to customize the content of our communications,” he says. Next came a marketing analytics team charged with providing insight into customer behaviors.
More growth is likely to come soon: Berry says he has identified a need for project management and application ownership, and his team is also looking into integrating with a marketing asset management solution. “The ultimate goal of this solution would be to add a content assembly mechanism so that the email itself will be build by a script and deployed completely without human effort.”
Salesforce Marketing Cloud helps marketers match every consumer with the right product. We provide brands the tools to know each consumer, personalize their experiences, and engage them across all channels. Salesforce Email Studio, the number one email solution, helps marketers send over 500 billion unique messages a year.
Learn more: sfdc.co/emailmarketing