It’s no longer just about what the customer does. It’s becoming more about what the customer wants to do next.

That’s the idea behind Predictive Decisions, the new level of preemptive customer satisfaction launched today on Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud.

It looks at an anonymous or known customer’s preferences, analyzes the trail of customer interactions, and then offers recommended content, products, or offers in real time across such channels as websites and email.

“Before, data and content had to be pulled from third party sources,” Kimberly Ruthenbeck told me via email. She’s director of web customer experience at furniture retailer Room & Board, which uses the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Now, she said, Predictive Decisions makes it “much easier for us to implement the collection of user behavior” because data and content are streaming in real time into the platform. Plus, she noted, the personalization process is automated.

The customer gets a more “customized, in-store sales experience” across digital channels, she said. When the customer chooses — or rejects — the recommendations, Predictive Decisions automatically updates customer profiles to reflect those preferences.

A content-for-email screen that uses Predictive Decisions in Salesforce's Marketing Cloud.

Above: A content-for-email screen that uses Predictive Decisions in Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud.

Image Credit: Salesforce

“Marketers were struggling to use predictive marketing,” Salesforce VP of product marketing Gordon Evans told me.

Now, he said, it’s easier for Room & Board’s marketing channels to automatically suggest that a mid-30s woman who bought a gray sofa two weeks ago might be interested in a new black pillow that was just added to the catalog.

He said this new generation of the company’s predictive marketing required addressing several key challenges — including the difficulty of streaming multiple sources of customer data, content updates like new products, and the resulting personalized recommendations across all channels and across the entire customer journey.

The previous generation of predictive marketing on Marketing Cloud focused on websites, he said. “What we’re doing is expanding that into email and the rest of the channels, and making it easier to use.”

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For the seller, knowing what you want to buy before you do can mean a big difference. Salesforce says that Predictive Decisions can lift website revenue by 10 percent and the conversion rate in email by 25 percent.

Of course, “predictive” is a common modifier for “marketing” these days, with many platforms saying they provide recommendations. Evans said Predictive Decisions differs because the predictive engine is native to Marketing Cloud and the customer data, new content, and recommendations are streaming in real time to all the channels.

“Customers want relevant experiences when interacting with companies,” Corinne Sklar, CMO of Salesforce consulting partner Bluewolf, told me via email.

“Predictive analytics is the gateway to intelligent new experiences that distinguish brands and drive loyalty,” she said, adding that Bluewolf’s recent Salesforce report found that nearly three-quarters of the tech giant’s customers are increasing their investment in analytics, often to drive those “meaningful customer moments.”

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