Part Family Reunion, Part Jamboree: The Road to Dreamforce Is Back

Whether you’re a fresh-eyed first-timer at Dreamforce or a seasoned veteran with a collection of walking shoes and backpacks from Dreamforces past, the first episode of The Road to Dreamforce is your starting point. We kicked off our 5th season of The Road to Dreamforce to help you prepare for the learning event of the year and to get you a headstart on everything you need to know. The Road to Dreamforce will cover all things transportation, logistics, agenda, sessions, speakers, Dreamfest, and a whole lot more. Read on to catch up on what you missed!

New Year, New Format

For our 5th season of Road to Dreamforce, we are revamping our weekly format. We’re bringing you bite-sized Dreamforce updates and news every Tuesday on Dreamforce.com/Video. Join us for our traditional, live-streamed episodes on Tuesday Sept. 5 and Tuesday Oct. 31, both at 11 am PT. We’re also thrilled to announce our new thought leadership-centric podcast, Blazing Trails. Since last Dreamforce, we’ve been on the road recording interviews with some of the most exciting, world-changing, and inspiring leaders. Stay tuned for more on Blazing Trails!

Wait…What is Dreamforce?

Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world, held in downtown San Francisco from November 6 to 9. It’s four days of learning, equality, and fun! Dreamforce is part-family reunion, part-jamboree and our recently launched National Parks campaign encapsulates just that. Trailhead, the fun way to learn Salesforce, will be everywhere at Dreamforce. Be sure to earn your Get Ready for Dreamforce Trailhead badge here!

Call for Speakers

Think you have what it takes to speak at Dreamforce? Speaking at Dreamforce is a fantastic experience and if you have ever attended, you know that the quality of session speakers is extremely high. If you are thinking “Hey, I have a great story to tell and I should submit my idea!” Well if that’s the case then here are a few tips and guidelines to give you an idea of what we’re looking for. Find out more about our Call for Speakers here!

Sneak Peek at This Year’s Agenda

For the first time in a few years, Dreamforce begins on a Monday morning. Be sure to grab a coffee and your walking shoes. Here’s an early look at this year’s Agenda*:

  • Monday – Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s Main Keynote

  • Tuesday – Equality Summit, Product/Industry Keynote, Dreamfest

  • Wednesday – Equality Summit, Parties

  • Thursday – Be Your Best!

*Agenda subject to change.

Want to know what’s going on with construction at Moscone Center? Will Dreamforce sell out this year? Will there be free Expo+ passes this year? Watch the first episode of The Road to Dreamforce to find out!

 

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Citizen Development: The Next Frontier for IT Innovation

Once upon a time, IT teams were content to release a single app for various stakeholders — employees, customers, etc. — and let it live as-is without any updates for two or three years. But now, those same stakeholders expect updates every few weeks — or even in a matter of days. Put simply, the days of static technology are over, and IT has a lot of development work on its plate just to keep up with standards, let alone differentiate from the competition.

But according to Salesforce’s second annual “State of IT” report, only 45% of IT leaders can design/prototype an app per business requirements in under a month (and only 47% can deploy an app within the same timeframe). Frankly, that’s not quite up to par with customer expectations. While such timelines may have been lofty goals a few years ago, they increasingly represent targets for IT teams to hit in order to meet customers’ constantly evolving expectations — and the business’ ability to deliver on them.

If there was a way to free up more of your IT team’s time and innovate faster, would you?

Of course you would. That’s why more and more IT leaders are exploring citizen development (i.e., empowering business users to create apps using IT-sanctioned development environments) and low-code platforms as a means of turning up the dial on their teams’  productivity and accelerating their pace of development.

The “State of IT” report notes that citizen development provides a number of benefits to IT teams, including:

  • Increased productivity of existing IT staff

  • Increased development speed

  • New ways for IT to partner with the business

  • Availability of technical staff to concentrate more on complex tasks/initiatives

  • Bridging of the gap between business requirements and technical execution

Citizen development frees up scarce IT staff to focus on the more innovative projects their technical expertise is best suited for. Right now, IT carries the burden of those day-to-day tasks, devoting 54% of their time to things like maintaining legacy infrastructure that requires substantial upkeep. IT executives realize they can free up more of their time and innovate faster if they:

  1. Involve business-savvy citizen developers in mission-critical app development (especially at the prototyping stage)

  2. Reduce their backlog of non-mission-critical apps by empowering citizen developers to build apps independently with limited involvement from IT

Citizen Development Comes with Concerns
While 88% of IT leaders currently use or plan to use low-code development in the next 12–18 months, they’re still worried about the repercussions in terms of IT governance and adequate training programs for business users and other non-developers — and they have fair reasons. Only 24% strongly agree they have IT governance processes in place for non-developers to build apps, and 29% strongly agree they have adequate training programs in place.

Yet, citizen development continues to grow, as 74% of IT leaders plan to increasingly shift some application-building responsibilities to business users over the next 12–18 months. It’s critical that the mandates, as well as the limits, of business users’ involvement be well-defined and documented to ensure successful democratization of low-code development.

Low-code platforms like Salesforce make it easier than ever to offload development to users throughout the business using templates and point-and-click tools to build beautiful, fully functional apps that adhere to company security standards with minimal IT involvement. By making it easier for business users to share responsibility for app design and production, IT can successfully win back time, increase innovation, and find new ways to add value to key areas of the business.

Learn more about the challenges facing IT, while getting new tech insights and research by downloading Salesforce’s second annual “State of IT” report.

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4 Ways to Get More Out of Your B2B Marketing Automation

Connecting with customers. Staying on top of leads. Running nurture campaigns.

Yep, B2B marketers wear a lot of hats these days. So, it’s no wonder you’re always on the lookout for new tools or tips to help you automate, simplify, and streamline whatever you can.

We hear you. At Salesforce Pardot, we love coming up with new ways to help you market and sell faster and smarter. It’s what we’re all about. I’m excited to tell you about some new resources that can help you get more out of your marketing automation.

Accelerators for Pardot are one-on-one engagements with Salesforce Specialists, who help you to achieve a specific goal. What makes Accelerators so effective? Not only do we put together a plan tailored to your business goal – we walk you through the process, so you know how to repeat it in the future.

We have four Accelerators for Pardot. They’re designed to address the stage of your implementation, your team’s strengths and areas where you want to grow, and your marketing and sales goals.

Here’s a quick overview of our Accelerators and how each one can help you reach your goals:

Getting Started with Pardot

If you’ve already implemented Pardot and are looking for best practices to get the most out of the platform, you’ll want to check out this Accelerator. You’ll learn how to build, execute, and report on marketing automation campaigns. This Accelerator will help you get a deeper understanding of your Pardot accounts and teach your marketing team how to build and report on their own campaigns. Ultimately, you’ll increase accountability and make your daily marketing practices more efficient.

Salesforce Engage QuickStart

Once you’re feeling good about your Pardot implementation, your next step might be implementing Engage, a feature that automates alerts, campaigns, and reports to help marketing and sales teams work together more effectively. This Accelerator gives you a guided overview of how to implement Engage within your environment. You’ll learn how to set up and update page layouts, assign user licenses, publish campaigns, and track adoption with reports and dashboards. Plus, your Salesforce Specialist will give you personalized recommendations to help you reach your specific goals.

Salesforce Engage Best Practices for the Marketer

After you set up Engage, you’ll need to get your Marketing team on board. This Accelerator teaches your marketing team how to create and deploy Salesforce Engage Campaigns, email templates, and nurture programs that your sales team can share with prospects. Plus, your specialist will help you set up reports and alerts, so you can see what’s working (and what isn’t), then improve the way you connect with customers. You’ll also save your marketing team and admin time by automating repetitive tasks, sharing tasks among the team, and making it easier to edit sales emails and other assets.

Salesforce Engage Best Practices for Sales

Engage helps your sales team take advantage of marketing automation, so you’ll want to make sure the team knows how to use this powerful feature to close more deals. This Accelerator shows sales how to send marketing emails to prospects and add them to nurture campaigns. Your specialist will help you demonstrate how Engage aligns with their sales goals and makes it easier to reach them.

How to get started with Pardot Accelerators

Thinking about signing up for a Pardot Accelerator? Check out the Accelerator Library to learn more about how to get started. Once you’ve found an Accelerator that’s right for you, go to Help & Training to request an Accelerator, or contact your Account Executive for help.

If you’ve got a Premier for Pardot Success Plan, Accelerators are a benefit included with your plan. To learn more about Premier for Pardot, check out our blog post or contact your Account Executive for more information.

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How Certifications Validate the Knowledge You’ve Gained Through Experience Over Time

I recently attended a presentation at a user group meeting given by a Salesforce MVP. In her personal introduction, she mentioned that she “only” holds two certifications. She told us that number can look quite sad when there are currently more than twenty different certifications available.

She only mentioned it in passing and it was more as a light joke. But it did make me think about how people experience certifications in the current Salesforce world. The days of there only being a handful of credentials available is in the past. So the BIG question is:

“When are certifications a valid representation of a person’s knowledge, and when are too many maybe too much?”

Nowadays, it’s much more common for people to hold multiple certifications than it used to be. Before, if you were looking for a developer role, having a Force.com Advanced Developer or Platform Developer II certification used to be a “nice to have.” But today, this level of credential is basically mandatory.

Earning a certification doesn’t automatically mean you also have a good work ethic, just like holding an Advanced Developer credential does not make you a great developer per se. The important thing is that a certification shows that you know the Salesforce best practices—how to abide by them, and when to push them to the limit.

Because Salesforce is designed to be quite intuitive, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually dealing with strategic business applications. Even the higher management layers within a business are fully aware of the importance of certified people and favor steering towards having a team with certified members. And, let’s be honest, when you work in a Salesforce team it’s now pretty much expected that you know everything.

Over the last few years, Salesforce has become more structured and a lot more defined. For businesses, the testing, failing, and ultimate awesomeness of implementing something completely new has somewhat gone away. The wide availability of best practices and a huge (and very vocal!) community have taken away the need for a lot of the old-fashioned guesswork.

As this legwork has already been done by others, it means you no longer have to (re)invent the wheel for an entire implementation process. This more established ecosystem, combined with the much more mature industry, has also led to a much clearer view on the roles and profiles needed within a Salesforce team.

Today, a good Salesforce person needs to know at least a little about a lot!

And this is where certifications come into their own. An admin needs to be a little bit of a developer, but also be able to handle business requirements and do analysis. A developer needs to be a little bit of an admin, as they do some analysis, but are also expected to make architectural decisions. On top of that, everyone has to do quality control and make important decisions. And the way to prove this cross-functional knowledge is through certifications.

Passing an exam feels like a validation of the knowledge you have gained through experience over time.

I’m currently on my Certified Technical Architect (CTA) journey—as are many others right now. And it’s not because it seems to be the latest buzzword, it’s because I am ready. I’m simply at that stage in my career.

I got my first certification in 2013, then another in 2014, two more in 2015, and eleven between 2016 and now. Even though this seems like a steep curve after a slow start, I strongly believe that a certification should reflect your actual knowledge and complement your experience, not just represent your ability to learn by rote and reproduce text.

Certifications hold more value if the timeline of getting them reflects your actual story of experience—not just an arbitrary number to make you seem more qualified.

Take, for example, the new architect track (which is great, by the way!). I recommend that everyone who works in a development organization, or even as an administrator for that matter, should take the designer exams. Studying for these gives you the “bigger picture” view of general IT architecture in the Salesforce context. This is extremely valuable for yourself and the company you work for.

Unfortunately, I failed my first attempt at the CTA review board. It was a great experience, though. The panel were very professional, but as expected, the assignment was hard. And when I say hard, I mean really hard. I walked out the exam room already knowing the massive list of things I needed to revisit and learn.

So when all is said and done, why do I hold so many certifications? Besides the validation they bring (and the fun I have passing them), the industry standard for Salesforce professionals is only going one way, and that’s up! As I’m a sucker for a challenge, I’ve set myself the goal of making it all the way to the Salesforce top.

My certifications have given me the confidence to go for the higher-spec jobs. When applying for a job, you stand out just a little more when you have multiple credentials, as it proves you have the skills and abilities required. This makes you a more interesting candidate to invite for an interview.

Certifications are a valuable reflection of your knowledge. They also help you to show that you take your job seriously—especially if you’re a freelancer—as they demonstrate that you are willing and able to invest your time in learning the depths of a great platform. And I hope the future brings more—perhaps even specific credentials like Lighting Developer or Lightning App Builder.

Advice from a seasoned cert pro? Set yourself a goal and reach for your own “top.” It doesn’t have to be CTA, but set a realistic learning goal with achievable milestones along the way. Start earning those Trailhead badges. Get a developer org and start exploring. Join the Success Community and start collaborating. Then go for your certification. 

You may even find that your certification journey sets a good example for others and you inspire each other to aim even higher. The more you immerse yourself into the Salesforce world, the more knowledge, opportunity, and joy it will bring you!

Justus’s Certifications:

Salesforce Certified Force.com Developer October 24, 2013
Salesforce Certified Administrator July 16, 2014
Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder August 19, 2015
Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator December 16, 2015
Salesforce Certified Force.com Advanced Developer March 16, 2016
Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I April 6, 2016
Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II April 6, 2016
Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle & Deployment Designer October 14, 2016
Salesforce Certified Data Architecture & Management Designer November 16, 2016
Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer November 23, 2016
Salesforce Certified Integration Architecture Designer December 7, 2016
Salesforce Certified System Architect January 20, 2017
Salesforce Certified Identity and Access Management Designer January 20, 2017
Salesforce Certified Application Architect February 1, 2017
Salesforce Certified Community Cloud Consultant May 12, 2017

If you’ve been inspired by Justus’s story, learn more about how you, too, can become a Salesforce Certified Professional.

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Salesforce’s “2017 Connected Investor Report” Offers Insights into the Advisor-Investor Relationship

With the growing popularity of investors using both technology and human advice to achieve their financial goals, advisors are under more pressure than ever before to exceed the expectations of today’s digitally savvy clients. To better understand how Americans choose and communicate with financial advisors, determine goals for the management of their investments—as well as measure consumer sentiment and trust in financial institutions, Salesforce conducted its “2017 Connected Investor Report.” Surveying 2,000 adults, the key findings from the “Connected Investor Report” include:

Choosing the Right Match: What Makes an Advisor the Right Fit?

  • Americans who currently use a human financial advisor cited strong trust in their advisor’s judgment (69%), accessibility to them (68%) and the fact the advisor has a clear understanding of their and their families’ goals (59%) as top reasons reasons they feel their advisor is a good fit for them.
  • However, only about half of those surveyed believe that their advisors are aware of their savings goals (54%) or the ages they want to retire (48%). 

Managing Money: What Are Americans Saving For?  

  • When asked what they were currently saving for, retirement ranked highest for both Gen Xers (42%) and baby boomers (37%), while millennials (43%) chose general expenses.
  • More than half of baby boomers (58%) feel very or somewhat knowledgeable about different investment options compared to 43% of their millennial counterparts.

Communicating with Investors: Can AI Foster Stronger Relationships?

  • Americans who use human financial advisors primarily communicate with their advisors quarterly (40%), or annually or less often (27%), with only 10% of those surveyed communicating on a weekly basis.
  • Despite the rise of digital technologies, such as mobile apps, social media and more, communication between investors and advisors is primarily done today via traditional channels such as talking on the phone (73%) or meeting in-person (61%).

Maintaining Trust: Do Clients have Confidence in Their Advisors’?

  • More than two-thirds of Americans who currently use a financial advisor (67%) strongly or somewhat agree that they are concerned with how the market will be affected by the recent moves made by the Trump Administration.
  • However, most are confident that their advisor is prepared for upcoming regulatory changes (96%) and trust that they have their best interests at heart when making decisions (95%).

If you’re interested in learning more about client relationships with their wealth management firms and advisors, download the full Salesforce “2017 Connected Investor Report.” And learn more about Salesforce solutions for financial services.

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5 Email Call-to-Action Best Practices to Drive Conversions

You’ve probably come across a few calls to action (or CTAs) over the past few days, if not the past few hours or minutes. Whether you’re reading emails, scrolling through social, or ordering on a mobile app, every company hopes that you’ll heed its call to action.

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Each call to action is different, but the goal is the same: to get you, the consumer, to do something — hopefully something clear and specific. Even in a confined space, such as an email, marketers have to find creative ways to make every call to action stand out. And that doesn’t have to include MAKING YOUR CTA BIG AND SCARY, showing off with some bold text, or adding enthusiasm with an exclamation point!

People are used to filtering all that spammy noise because they see it all too often. Marketers can break through the noise with a few email call-to-action best practices.

Here are five tips:

  1. Be honest. People see enough clickbait throughout the day to know when they’re being toyed with. Let’s say you get an email from a new company; perhaps you signed up for its email list after clicking on an Instagram ad. It sends you a welcome email that has an interesting call to action at the end. It says, “We Dare You to Click Here.” While this phrasing could work, depending on how well the company knows its audience, it’s a bold risk. The call to action reads like clickbait and may come off as disingenuous to some readers.

    To avoid this, make sure your call to action is honest and clear. Audiences prefer to know what they’re getting into when they click. To know for sure, it’s best that you test multiple calls to action to find out which perform best.

  2. Test options. To figure out which calls to action get the most clicks and conversions, it’s best to test out a few. Through A/B testing, you can decide exactly how to write a good call to action because your data will tell you which options are working — and which aren’t. “Learn More From Our Blog” might perform better than “Explore Our Infinite Wisdom.” Testing each option is the best way to drive more conversions.

  3. Use action verbs. Beginning your calls to action with strong action verbs will make your message pop in every email. Take a look at these two calls to action.

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    Which one is more inviting and more direct? The first one offers both clear information and a directive.

  4. Pick a color. When you choose to use a call-to-action button instead of a text hyperlink, it’s best to pick a color that stands out from the rest of your email. For example, if you use a lot of green in the rest of the email, it’s a good practice to avoid using green for the call-to-action button. You don’t want your button to blend in with the rest of the email content.

  5. Keep it short. Imagine this text linked: Register today for the best conference to hit San Francisco this summer. Linking all of that text with that ubiquitous blue hyperlink color makes it seem like you’re calling out every part of the text, which isn’t necessary. Instead, keep your calls to action short and sweet. Readers prefer quick, direct action items, not lengthy sentences.

Using effective email calls to action can help you drive conversions, but they aren’t the only thing you need to consider for an effective email strategy. Check out more email marketing tips that break through the clutter and capture customer attention.

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5 Ways to Build Trust With Your Team

The importance of trust in the workplace was something I did not understand early in my career. I was more concerned with progress and performance. But as I’ve grown as a leader, now serving as Director of Marketing at Salesforce, I’ve come to realize that progress and performance are dependent on trust. I would go so far as to say that if a team or an individual is underperforming, there might be a level of trust that has been broken.

I remember being part of a team where we weren’t “rowing in the same direction.” My manager sent out a questionnaire for us to fill out anonymously and specifically asked us about how we can improve our collaboration as a team.

After reviewing the responses, he gathered us all together to talk through the issues. What a bold move!

What surfaced was a root of broken trust. A history of random re-orgs, unintentional hurt feelings, and a perceived lack of appreciation all built up and slowly eroded our trust in leadership and each other. However, that meeting opened the door to transparency and vulnerability — and it was a huge turning point for our team. I always will remember that manager and his desire to develop trust.

From my own career experience, here are 5 “Be’s” I’ve learned that can build a greater level of trust:

  1. Be Personal. I’ve told my previous team that my biggest regret was that I didn’t get to know them personally earlier. There was so much work to do, and I was focused on progress. But remembering that progress and performance is tied to trust, I pivoted and began to invest more in the relationships. Having lunch with them (vs. working through lunch), showing up for more non-work related activities, etc. not only increased trust, but I began to enjoy my job more. Win win!
  2. Be Bold. Every direct wants to know that their manager has their back and will remove barriers. Being bold builds trust. I’m not talking about an obnoxious, cocky attitude; more like understanding what your team needs and going after it. Even if you can’t get them everything they’re requesting, they’ll begin to trust that you’ll fight for them.
  3. Be Responsive. Even the best-intended communication is hollow if it’s not followed by corresponding action. Say you’ll do something only if you’re able to follow through, and don’t commit if there’s a chance that you won’t be able to deliver. Breaking a commitment can destroy trust you’ve built as well as make people less inclined to trust you in the future.
  4. Be Transparent. When we, as leaders, acknowledge our mistakes as well as our successes, our directs begin to see us as credible and will follow our lead. Encourage honest dialogue and foster accountability. Last year I created a hashtag #DreamJobTips on Chatter, our internal social network, that came from a place of my own growth as a leader as well as lessons I learned throughout my career. I’m not saying that you need to start a Chatter hashtag, but the point is that you can — and should be — transparent about your own growth.
  5. Be vulnerable. Healthy relationships grow during hard conversations. When you’re vulnerable (not emotional), it opens the door to increased trust in the relationship. A colleague once pulled me aside and shared that she was having a hard time trusting me due to a few things I’d said in passing. Though I meant nothing by my comments, it broke trust between us. If she hadn’t told me, I would never have known, and the relationship would’ve probably gotten worse. If you feel there’s even a small amount of trust broken, be bold and talk with that individual. It can be scary, but it’s worth the risk.

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship — whether it’s personal or professional. It isn’t just Salesforce’s #1 value we need have with our customers; it’s also the #1 value that we, as leaders, need to champion on our own teams.

Interested in joining the team at Salesforce? We’re hiring! See opportunities and apply today at salesforce.com/careers.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment Email Trends [infographic]

“Online shoppers abandoning their carts is a natural part of the buying process, but it’s also a high-value behavior that’s worthy of a response,” Salesforce points out in its 5 Blueprints for Building Smarter Emails. That report highlights eight “IQ Boost Opportunities” for your shopping cart abandonment emails—many of which are backed by the latest joint research by Litmus and Salesforce Marketing Cloud into these highly effective automated emails.

Conducted during the height of the 2013, 2014, and 2016 holiday seasons, our research into shopping cart abandonment email trends among U.S. retailers reveals clear trends around:

  • The post-trigger delay in sending these emails
  • The use of a series of cart abandonment emails
  • Highlighting the item(s) abandoned in the email and its subject line
  • The recommendation of alternative prorducts
  • The inclusion of seasonal messaging

Our findings, which are summarized in the infographic below, also reveal that less than a third of major U.S. retailers send shopping cart abandonment emails. That’s a big missed opportunity for retailers and other ecommerce companies to increase their conversion rates by helping their customers, who may be confused about pricing or shipping, uncertain about their product choices, or may just need a reminder about the items they left in their basket.

Whether your brand has an existing shopping cart abandonment program or is planning to set one up, use this data to inform how you build out yours so it effectively serves your customers and generates stellar returns.

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