Salesforce Marketing Cloud CDPs: Salesforce CDP & Interaction Studio

Introduction to the Salesforce Marketing cloud CDP Products: Salesforce CDP & Interaction Studio (IS)

This post distinguishes features, benefits, and use cases for the two customer data platform products within the Salesforce Marketing Cloud—Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio.

Search Discovery helps brands select and implement CDPs based on each client’s unique business requirements. Read more to see if either (or both) of these CDP products might work for you.

Multichannel marketers and large scale advertisers with integrated marketing goals are currently busy scouring the web (and answering marketing emails) to answer these questions: Do I need a CDP? And Which CDP is the best fit for our brand?

We help clients answer these questions through our partnerships with major CDP brands, including Salesforce. Using our tool-agnostic approach, we help clients find the best CDP for their business requirements in both B2B and B2C spaces.

Why do companies invest in Salesforce CDP or Interaction Studio (IS)?

In the latest Salesforce State of Marketing report, 78% of high performers said they use a CDP, vs. 58% of underperformers. CDPs are important right now because they help deliver excellent, personalized client experiences, they address current challenges marketers face, and they help marketers drive growth.

  • Marketers need to create targeted, personalized, actionable campaigns: CDPs manage ID resolution, customer profile building, real-time customer segmentation, and activation capabilities within user-friendly interfaces that don’t rely on IT resources.
  • Marketers have siloed customer data: CDPs ingest, unify, and integrate customer data across channels and make that data accessible to other marketing and analytic tools.
  • Marketers face growing data governance and privacy demands: CDPs respect consumer privacy and safely govern your data while complying with CCPA and GDPR regulations.
  • Marketers face measurement problems with the disappearance of third-party cookies: CDPs create centralized, accurate campaign measurement with analytics and data science (machine learning, predictions, recommendations), and boost the value of your first-party data asset.

Some background on the Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio

Salesforce has two products available in the CDP space. The first one to market, Interaction Studio, was originally a white-labeled CDP platform out of the UK called Thunderhead. Salesforce replaced Thunderhead when they acquired the Evergage platform in February 2020 and rebranded the Evergage platform as Interaction Studio (Thunderhead is now an independent customer journey orchestration tool that works with—but is not a part of—the Salesforce ecosystem).

At the same time that those changes were in the works, Salesforce was investing in building its own CDP, which is different from (but connects with) Interaction Studio. It was initially developed under the name Customer 360 Audiences, but it was renamed ‘Salesforce CDP’ with the Summer ‘21 (May) release.

The takeaways here: Of the two products that Salesforce offers with CDP features, Interaction Studio (the platform formerly known as ‘Evergage’) has been in the market longer than Salesforce CDP. These are two totally separate sets of code, and you can license one or both of them. Salesforce CDP is currently positioned as the Salesforce “long-term CDP solution,” and when you buy it, Messaging and Journeys are included as a part of its unified marketing solution. Both tools have a great deal of potential for clients who are using the Salesforce Marketing Cloud stack.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Product Orientation

Both of these CDPs live within the Salesforce ecosystem under the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Salesforce categorizes the products within the Marketing Cloud within the five solution headings in the columns below. The table below compiles information from the Marketing Cloud website to map which products fit within each solution.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions include email marketing solution, digital marketing solution, B2B demand generation solution, marketing analytics solution, and digital advertising solution for the following products: Email Studio, Journey Builder, IS, Salesforce CDP, Pardot, Advertising Studio, Mobile Studio, Social Studio, Content Manager, Google Analytics 360, Loyalty Manager, and Datorama Reports.

How are Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio (IS) differentiated?

Salesforce positions their CDPs within two buckets that differentiate systemic functionality. These two buckets are:

  • Insights – including data capture, data harmonization, data unification, and segmentation; and
  • Engagement – digital experience personalization, dynamic optimization, messaging personalization—like email, SMS, or push, and “next best offer/action”—across endpoints like call center, POS, etc.

There are obviously areas of functional overlap within these buckets, and indeed among the two Salesforce CDP options. However, this bucketing system puts Salesforce CDP into the insights bucket and Interaction Studio in the engagement bucket.

At this stage, Salesforce CDP caters to brands looking to scale insights-driven capabilities and activation, whereas Interaction Studio is most focused on real-time interaction management and personalization. However, the Salesforce roadmap seeks to combine the Salesforce CDP insights with Interaction Studio’s engagement focus and to connect seamlessly with all the products within the Marketing Cloud for an integrated digital 360 customer data experience.

What are the features and benefits of Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio for your business?

Salesforce CDP- System of insight/ manage data at scale

  • Ingests data sources
Salesforce CDP within Salesforce Marketing Cloud Ingests data from multiple sources to unify, deduplicate, and map data and provide a single customer profile (a universal customer ID).
Image source
  • Unifies, de-duplicates, and maps data to provide a single customer profile (a universal customer ID)
  • Provides marketers with user-friendly segmentation and insights
Salesforce CDP within Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides marketers with user-friendly segmentation and insights.
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  • Helps marketers create customer segments and leverage these segments for communication and activation at scale across channels
  • Connects to Commerce Cloud, Interaction Studio, Datorama, and Tableau
  • Gives marketers deeper customer data understanding of customer lifetime value (CLV), engagement scores, and more through the Calculated Insights feature.
  • Activates loyalty data including membership status, loyalty tier, and points balance across marketing and advertising segments through the Loyalty Management feature.

Interaction Studio – System of engagement/ real-time focus

  • Unifies customer data using web and mobile capture
  • Provides real-time interaction management
Salesforce Interaction Studio within Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides real-time customer interaction management.
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  • Delivers real-time personalization
  • Delivers audiences back into marketing cloud for journey optimization to improve campaign performance as it runs
Salesforce Interaction Studio within Salesforce Marketing Cloud delivers audiences back into the marketing cloud for journey optimization to improve campaign performance as it runs.
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  • Works seamlessly within the marketing cloud (like Journey Builder)- A/B testing and experiences delivered on any channel
  • Works with prospect data building profiles as well as customer data
  • Supports analysis of data collected in Interaction Studio in a data warehouse environment or applies machine-learning models and simulations using the data science workbench.

Salesforce Interaction Studio within Salesforce Marketing Cloud supports analysis of data collected in IS in a data warehouse environment or applies machine-learning models and simulations using the data science workbench. Image source[/caption

Salesforce CDP vs. Interaction Studio: Use Cases

Determining which CDP is best for you always depends on your business requirements and use cases.

Salesforce CDP works best for insights-driven use cases that need to manage a lot of data at scale, for example when clients require the following cases:

  • Data unification with batch enrichment and data mapping
  • Holistic customer identity resolution
  • Segmentation
  • Outbound Message Activation – email, mobile, digital advertising, other SF properties, any other channels that can ingest data from an S3 bucket
  • Lifestyle-focused initiatives that can benefit from enriched customer profiles in near real-time
  • Providing marketer-led experiences for customers

Interaction Studio works best for engagements-driven use cases that can happen on your website in real time. Consider using it when you require the following use cases:

  • “Real -time” data flow and profile store – understand how customers are interacting with the business on web or mobile app and use real-time cues to serve content.
  • Customer experience management both online and offline
  • Real-time interaction management
  • Event triggers and A/B testing
  • AI and next best action
  • Providing consumer-led experiences

Can you use Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio together?
Indeed, you can. Does it seem redundant to add another platform when Salesforce CDP serves as the “single source of truth”? A little. But here are use cases where it makes sense to consider using both solutions together to either round out or enhance your capabilities:

  • If you have a deep Salesforce footprint 
  • If you are a heavy email sender with real-time personalization requirements
  • If your teams are siloed:
  • If you have mid-level digital maturity

Who do these CDP platforms work best for?

If the use cases above tickle your fancy, consider whether your business goals, account make-up, and marketing and operations teams fit these criteria:

    • Are you looking for a single source of truth across marketing with unified customer profiles?
    • Do you want to improve data governance?
    • Do you want an automated segmentation process?
    • Do you want to activate data in near- or real-time for personalized, omnichannel journeys?
    • Do you already have Salesforce Marketing Cloud?
    • If you have Marketing Cloud, are you constantly over on the number of Contacts?
    • Do you have large amounts of customer data?
    • Are you a multichannel marketer with integrated marketing goals?
    • Are you a large scale advertising agency?
    • Do you have limited technical resources within your Marketing team?
    • Do you have challenges accessing and leveraging customer data sources?

If you answered yes to some or all of these, we can help you further evaluate your CDP options or get started with Salesforce CDP and/or Interaction Studio today.

The future for Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio

Right now, one or the other—or both—of these two platforms may be best suited for your needs. The CDP space is a very dynamic market. Products will continue to evolve and integrate, and if your day job won’t allow you to keep up with the changes, we encourage you to work with a partner like Search Discovery who can help you understand your current needs and where the products are headed.

Check out our other recent CDP posts:

Why are More Advanced Companies Investing in a CDP
How to Choose a CDP
Adobe Real-Time CDP Post 1: Features and Benefits

If you have any questions about either of these CDPs or any of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud products, reach out in the form (top right) to talk to our experts. We help with vendor evaluation, CDP selection, and CDP platform implementation and integration.

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