Salesforce’s marketing cloud and the 450-million member mobile messaging platform LINE have announced a partnership at the Salesforce conference today in Tokyo, Japan.
But LINE is just the beginning. WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger could be next.
“We think it’s huge for 1-1 marketing,” Salesforce VP R.J. Talyor told me today. “We talk about customer journeys, and how they’ve replaced campaigns … they’re event driven and customer-based.”
This move, he says, is just another step in enabling Salesforce’s vision for enabling brands and consumers to have global conversations at human scale. Talyor (no, it’s not Taylor) is VP for mobile products for the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, which is owned by and part of Salesforce.
“We want to be everywhere a consumer has a relationship with a brand,” he said.
The partnership marks the first time marketers can connect personally with consumers via one of the world’s premier messaging services. Brands will be able to send short multimedia messages to LINE users who have opted in and given permission.
Examples that Talyor mentioned include personalized offers, coupons, exclusive content such as might be shared by a band or recording artist, or behind-the-scenes pictures and videos. Stickers, which LINE users prize as emotional, funny, or meaningful ways to interact with others, are also part of what brands could offer consumers.
With additional permission, brands will also be able to connect what they know about users with LINE user’s personal information, enabling extremely relevant and personalized communications.
LINE currently allows companies with official paid accounts (which cost about $25,000/year) to message their followers with a single broadcast message. There are about 100 companies in Japan alone with these accounts, with an average following of 3.5 million users, according to Kantan Games. Via this new partnership, those brands could now send personalized messages to targeted groups or individuals.
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It’s not going too far to say that this is ground-breaking capability.
But if Salesforce has its way, this partnership will soon be joined by others.
“We believe these group messaging apps are part of the future of mobile messaging,” Talyor told me. “As soon as these APIs become available … we’ll extend these capabilities to any messaging apps, such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger.”
Which, of course, is starting to enable the monetization of messaging beyond stickers and apps, and beyond mass-media style campaigns.
It’s also a massive step toward the realization of the 1-1 Salesforce vision, in which companies can talk to consumers on an individual level, personalized to exactly what they are interested in and looking for. That vision requires a single view of people across devices and social platforms as well as an understanding of their relationship with a brand, and content tailored to that person.
“When you sign up and provide permission, marketers can ask you to provide your first name and last name, or, if you allow your information to be shared, can link you to the Marketing Cloud,” Talyor said.
Once that’s done, brands will be able to segment LINE users according to profile data in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, including location and language, engage in personal two-way communication, and “drive engagement” via rich media such as videos, images, and audio files, Salesforce said.
LINE of course is Asian in origin, but boasts a global audience. The service recently announced hitting the 450 million member milestone, and reportedly has a goal to reach 500 million users by the of this year. There are rumors that company is planning a dual U.S. and Japan IPO. This partnership is likely a test case that Facebook and other, more North American and European-based messaging proprietors will be watching very closely in order to determine how best to implement similar features in their own services.
The partnership is currently in private beta, and although Talyor said that early results were very positive, Salesforce did not release any data about their scope or effectiveness.
“Marketing has shifted from brands managing customers through campaigns, to brands and customers engaging on a journey together. Now more than ever, that journey is taking place on a mobile device,” Scott McCorkle, CEO of ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, said in a statement. “ExactTarget Marketing Cloud empowers brands to take advantage of this shift by connecting with customers in new ways through SMS, MMS push notifications, and now mobile messaging, including LINE and its more than 400 million global users.”