How Salesforce is Transforming Content Marketing

Salesforce understands the essential relationship between content and business growth.

That’s why the world’s #1 CRM is elevating the role of content across its entire marketing ecosystem.

They even created a new position to lead the transformation: Hayley Nelson is Salesforce’s first-ever Vice President of Content Marketing.

In this webinar, go behind the scenes with Hayley and Nick Gernert, CEO of WordPress VIP, to learn how Hayley is helping Salesforce create content that drives business growth across an organization of 40,000 people—including the tools she’s using to get the job done.


Hayley Nelson

Hayley Nelson, VP of Content Marketing, Salesforce

As the first VP of Content Marketing at Salesforce, Hayley oversees content strategy and operations, social media, video, podcasting and web publishing for the global marketing team. Previously Hayley lead content strategy at Airbnb, where she implemented a “newsroom” approach to social media and spearheaded experimentation with podcasts, magazine and film. Over her 20+ year career Hayley has held marketing and product development roles at The New York Times, Wired Magazine, and CNET focused on leading change (digital transformation). Her expertise is in leveraging technology and content to engage customers and build communities. Hayley is a passionate mentor and advisor to startup founders and CEOs.

Nick Gernert

Nick Gernert, CEO, WordPress VIP

With more than two decades working across the open web, Nick leads the enterprise WordPress business known as WordPress VIP, where he is responsible for the overall business strategy behind enabling the world’s most demanding businesses to drive results through digital customer experiences.

Introducing WordPress VIP for Salesforce


Tess Needham (00:02):

All righty. I think we can get started. Hi everybody. Welcome to our webinar on how Salesforce is transforming content marketing. I’m Tess. I’m part of the marketing team here at WordPress VIP. We’re seeing more and more that content is at the core of how customers experience brands. So we wanted to bring together a couple of content experts to discuss the evolution of brand storytelling and how to do it faster, better, and smarter than ever before.

Tess Needham (00:27):

So I’m excited to welcome Hayley Nelson, Salesforce’s VP of Content Marketing, alongside Nick Gernert, CEO of WordPress VIP, to talk about how Salesforce is rethinking their entire content ecosystem. Oh, we have some time for Q&A near the end of the session. So when questions occur to you, just drop them in the Q&A box here in Zoom and we’ll try to address as many as possible at the end. So, Nick, I’ll hand it over to you to get us started.

Nick Gernert (00:53):

Great. Thank you, Tess, and thank you everyone for joining us here for today’s webinar. As Tess mentioned, I’m Nick Gernert, CEO of WordPress VIP. I’m really excited about what we have in store for you all today. So if you don’t mind, I’ll start with a bit of background on what brings us here today, and then we’ll jump into the conversation with Hayley.

Nick Gernert (01:13):

For those of you who may be new to us here, WordPress VIP is enterprise WordPress. This webinar series is focused on highlighting the trends and insights that we believe define the future of digital customer experience. This is why I’m so excited to be joined by my good friend Hayley Nelson, VP of Content Marketing at Salesforce, to share with you how they’re transforming marketing through content.

Nick Gernert (01:35):

This is a topic that’s near and dear to our collective hearts here at WordPress VPI, as we believe that content is core to the connections we make with our customers. As previous methods of acquiring and engaging with new customer, new and existing customers, see diminishing returns, more and more enterprises are looking for ways to solve for things like flat or declining traffic, declining customer engagement, or languishing conversion rates.

Nick Gernert (02:00):

The reality is this decline places immense stress on achieving business goals, and it’s not something that is solved by simply buying more traffic. Rather the roles of a sound content strategy along with platforms that support the strategy are critical to great customer experiences and achieving business goals.

Nick Gernert (02:21):

The platform to support these strategies is really our role here WordPress VIP. Across this industry, the common term now to describe where an organization meets its customer is the digital experience platform. Serving digital experiences to our customers now looks at integrated and cohesive pieces of technology that enable things like the composition and management and delivery of content, but also then the optimization, contextualization of those digital experiences, and then across multiple channels, wherever our customers are in the customer journey. This is a bit of a mouthful.

Nick Gernert (02:56):

So to simplify it, when we talk about digital experiences we’re really talking about the customer experience. The digital experience platform isn’t a single piece of software in our eyes. It’s a strategy. We believe that no two companies define a successful customer experience the same way.

Nick Gernert (03:12):

To each of you on this webinar today, your customer experience is powered by a collection of technologies. The most successful initiatives start with teams choosing what technologies make sense for them to optimize the customer journey. One thing that we believe strongly is that content sits at the core of any successful digital experience strategy.

Nick Gernert (03:32):

Here at WordPress VIP, we’re focused on working with our own customers to deliver a better customer experience for their own customers. WordPress is known for its ubiquity across the web, but not always thought of for its impact within enterprises. But specifically within enterprises, WordPress already enjoys 26% market share, and that number is growing. Not only is adoption growing, but so is the strategic nature that WordPress VIP plays as the platform central to the customer experience. This comes back to our strengths in content.

Nick Gernert (04:02):

If I could ask you all to think about anything regarding your own platforms behind digital experiences, I would ask you to think about four fundamentals we believe are key to long-term success: flexibility, ownership, simplicity, and agility. Why these elements are important comes back to why I’m excited that we have Hayley with us here, because content being central to delivering a great customer experience, we want to ensure that digital is not the choke point there. Executing the work Hayley is going to walk us through is enabled through the fundamentals we hold core to our own offerings.

Nick Gernert (04:35):

So when I say flexibility, I mean that flexibility is key to ensuring digital platforms easily integrate with other systems across an organization. Ownership is critical to sustaining great customer experiences because we then own the customer journey rather than locking it up in proprietary solutions. Simplicity, and I don’t mean simplicity and a lack of capability, but rather these platforms should not take deep technical resources or heavy training. When they do, they limit the overall capabilities of those closest to the content and to the customer.

Nick Gernert (05:08):

With agility, these platforms must adapt and iterate at the pace organizations demands. Otherwise, this is when digital becomes that choke point. Then even the best content strategies will not see their full potential.

Nick Gernert (05:21):

So, Hayley, you know some of these fundamentals quite well because you’ve spent quite a bit of time across media and some amazing brands where content and digital needed to be as connected as possible in order for you to deliver a great customer experience. So if you don’t mind, I’d love for you to take us maybe through your own background and now what’s brought you into this exciting new role here with Salesforce.

Hayley Nelson (05:42):

Awesome. Thank you, Nick, and thank you, Tess. Thank you guys for having me. I spent about the first 20 years of my career, that definitely dates me, in media and from the emergence of the web and the very beginning of thinking about how technology would influence the delivery of great journalism. I started at Wired Magazine and worked on CNET and spent many years at The New York Times in product development roles, and ultimately came back to Wired to run product development. That was just about five years ago.

Hayley Nelson (06:17):

So my journey was always thinking about how is the end user experiencing the story and how do we take advantage of technology to do it in new ways? That was everything from starting the first blogs at the New York Times, helping journalists understand how to use the data and the analytics. So really helping paint the picture of the interactivity and the engagement that we were seeing and how the interactivity and the engagement in the metrics could really inform and shape basically how we presented the news in the case of the New York Times or the stories in the case of Wired.

Hayley Nelson (06:57):

That skill is exactly what we’re doing in marketing today. We’re all thinking about the end user and then user journey and how we can engage people with the right story at the right time. So after very long run in media, which I loved so dearly and I feel so passionate about, it became so increasingly difficult with the rise of social media to capture attention. I felt like I’ve come to the end of my learning curve and I thought, “What’s next?”

Hayley Nelson (07:28):

To me, being here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley … And I was always working on business and technology sections both at The Times and, of course, at Wired, always oriented around truly innovative companies and that the leading edge of innovation. I thought I want to be in one of those companies. How can I help one of those companies really tell their story and how can I bring the mindset I have around user engagement and content ecosystems to a company that has a great story to tell?

Hayley Nelson (08:04):

And so, I made a jump to Airbnb at the time and did some really interesting work. It’s fascinating because every company really has a core DNA that comes from a specific place. At Airbnb, that was definitely design. Here at Salesforce, it’s definitely sales.

Hayley Nelson (08:25):

And so, I felt like a fish out of water in some ways, sort of an interloper. Here I am a media person and I’m in marketing and I’m trying to figure out, okay, how does this work and really shifting my mindset.

Hayley Nelson (08:42):

What I love about where I am now is that marketing is this incredible art and science, this mix of how do we develop really compelling narratives? What stories do we tell at what levels? How do you look at audiences and prospects? How do you nurture them? To me, it’s so complex and it’s so exciting.

Hayley Nelson (09:05):

So coming here to Salesforce, I came here seven months ago, so I’m very new in the Salesforce scheme of things. People have very long tenures here. It’s just been incredibly fascinating to see such a complex marketing organization and just to see such incredible strength here.

Hayley Nelson (09:28):

I was really invited here to build a content capability. It’s a brand new function at this company. We’ve had a small team that started about a year ago. So when I joined seven months ago, it’s been a big ramp and they’ve brought some teams together under me for the first time where we’re really trying to find some new synergies. Should I pause there, Nick, or keep going?

Nick Gernert (09:56):

No, I mean that’s great. I think it’s important for the group to know that this is … The seven months, I think, is important because there’s something that led Salesforce to that moment where it was like we even need this function to exist. And so, it would be great to get a look into what are the factors that even lead to the moment where you go into the organization and then start to build this.

Hayley Nelson (10:17):

Yeah, I think there’s a bunch of factors. I mean, one, at the very top is Marc Benioff, truly a visionary, sees the future of the company, but really also the future of marketing, and a sense from Marc down to our fantastic CMO Stephanie Buscemi that we need to be talking to people in a different way.

Hayley Nelson (10:41):

The company has incredible strength when it comes to event marketing and product marketing. Of course, sales being the DNA of the company, it’s, for 20 years of incredible growth, been a lot of sell, sell, sell. And so, product marketing does that very well, events does that very well.

Hayley Nelson (11:00):

But I think where we are in culture today is because people pick and choose the media they want to see, the voice has to be very real and very authentic. No one really wants to be sold something when they’re not ready to buy it.

Hayley Nelson (11:16):

So we have a lot of work to do here at Salesforce around both brand awareness, about who we are and what we do, but how we can help people. How do we help people in their jobs, whether you’re an email marketer or a sales ops person, or maybe you’re a CEO or a CXO or a CTO and you’re really leading a digital transformation? We have valuable insights to share with people across all segments of what you would consider the user segmentation grid. It’s time for us to organize our narratives and organize our efforts to really take advantage of this moment.

Hayley Nelson (11:59):

And so, I think there’s a sense that we just need to balance the marketing portfolio with content. I think every company is at a point too where the tools have made it so easy for the proliferation of content at companies. I’ve seen so many examples of just everyone can start an email newsletter, anyone can start a podcast. There’s blog posts going out, there’s a million microsites and subdomains. Every company is trying to figure out, “How do I get my arms around this?” It’s a massive amount of communication that’s going out the door. Just like a strong publication, having some consistency to the voice and tone is crucial for a brand.

Hayley Nelson (12:45):

And so, a lot of the work we need to do is putting systems in place to traffic and organize the content to make sure we have things tagged properly and measured properly. I think, as everyone on this call probably knows, the martech stack is super challenging, and figuring out how to get all of the systems you need in place to do content properly, it is a humongous challenge.

Hayley Nelson (13:12):

So we’re working on that. I think at the same time we’re literally working on the words we use and how we speak as a brand and how can we cut through some of the marketing jargon, how can we use fewer cliches, transcend this, transform that. It’s tired.

Hayley Nelson (13:35):

And so, how can we be more real and what are the amazing stories that we can share from incredible customers? We have access to the most incredible companies in the world and the most sophisticated executives at these companies, and they’re all solving common problems when it comes to how do I use technology to run my business. Salesforce helps with that at so many different levels with our platform and tools.

Hayley Nelson (14:03):

And so, there’s just so much depth we can harvest from the experience we have with our customers and that we can share back out in the form of marketing. That’s what we’re organizing to do.

Nick Gernert (14:18):

It’s super fascinating. You talk about the proliferation of everything from sites to content and different types of content. The challenge is not necessarily that the content doesn’t exist. The challenge is really in just focus and consistency. I mean how are you approaching that as you come in? You talked about getting your arms around it. What does getting your arms around it really mean for you right now?

Hayley Nelson (14:46):

Yeah, I mean it’s a few things. One is just identifying, okay, who’s creating content at this organization? For us, that could be at least 200 to 500 people. That’s maybe not even a global number. Then it’s saying, “Okay. What’s going out the door? Let’s do some sort of audit to just look at what we’ve got and what is the state of it.” Some of the stuff that is still being optimized for SEO is maybe outdated and needs a refresh.

Hayley Nelson (15:16):

Certainly we looked at our website last fall and said, “Hold on. We’re missing a whole basic area where we need to provide just tools and guidelines and our best practices and our playbooks.” So we built something we call the resource center. A lot of other companies have this. HubSpot does this really well, for example. But just providing the resources in an organized way so people can find them. So doing an audit for that work was crucial because it gave us a good sense of who’s creating and what do we have.

Hayley Nelson (15:51):

Then it’s really starting to shape a center of excellence. So you’re not going to be a cop, the police in any situation, but you’re going to say, “We’re going to develop best practices that everyone can plug into.”

Hayley Nelson (16:03):

And so, I have a fantastic lead of content operations and strategy, Jessica Bergmann. She led the work to really develop a playbook that spelled it out, what do we mean by content, how do we want to measure it, how do we want to think about journeys, how do we want to think about language, channels, and started to bring together people. We have different types of gatherings where we bring content creators together. We have a global content council meeting. We have various ways where we just try to disseminate the playbook.

Hayley Nelson (16:39):

I think that helps get people on the same page, but you really have to tackle it in a multi-pronged way. You have to communicate it in so many different ways. I think, one, by showing examples of good work and the kind of work we want to move to. So at the same time as we’ve been laying that foundation with playbooks and best practices, we’ve also been trying to kick off some work to show, “This is what a sort of editorial series can look like and this is what episodic programming can look like.”

Hayley Nelson (17:09):

I think most marketers, until very recently, they think, “I’ve got a launch. I need a campaign. I’m going to spend something up,” and then it’s done. It achieved what it needed to achieve. What we’re really trying to do is shift that thinking to how do I create an ongoing conversation here? How do I think about who I’m trying to reach? And how do I continue to beat the drum of what I need to communicate over time and across channels? How do I use social in a cool way to engage people? How do I think in a smart way about email? How do I use the blog? How do I think about the site? How do I think about event content?

Hayley Nelson (17:49):

I think we’re trying to get people to stop thinking one-off, start thinking building an ecosystem. And so, when you try to develop a process for this, and I think a lot of companies probably do this, this wasn’t native to Salesforce yet, is an integrated planning process. Tess, if you want to bring that slide up, we can take a look at that.

Tess Needham (18:18):

Sure thing.

Hayley Nelson (18:19):

It’s, in a very basic way, making sure that content strategy is at the table when marketing plans are hatched and developed. And so-

Tess Needham (18:30):

Sorry, Hayley, is it the ecosystem slide?

Hayley Nelson (18:32):

That’s slide number three.

Tess Needham (18:34):

You wanted slide number three?

Hayley Nelson (18:38):

Yeah. It sounds basic, but a lot of times people think, “Okay. I’m going to plan a campaign because that’s just core marketing DNA,” budget, campaign, execution, “Oh, then I’ll think about social media,” or, “Then I’ll think about can we write something?”

Hayley Nelson (18:56):

And so, we’re just trying to put content into the beginning of the planning process to say let us work to identify our end user needs together. Let’s identify the journey that we think the prospects will be on. Then let’s work together to figure out, okay, what are the typical product marketing tools that we need for this? What are the content series that can come out of this? Then how do we make sure we have consistent creative direction across the whole thing?

Hayley Nelson (19:26):

Because I think a lot of companies’ marketing departments are siloed and product marketing will come up with something that looks very different than what the content team might come up with. So making sure we have creative oversight of all the assets that are coming out.

Hayley Nelson (19:40):

In our case, we’re organizing this by lines of business. So sales cloud, for example, marketing cloud. And so, aligning budgets to make sure again that content is an afterthought where we say, “Do we have money for that?” just looking at it holistically as a team.

Hayley Nelson (19:57):

And so, we’re at the very beginning. It’s a new experiment. Actually, next week is going to be the first time that we start to review these plans. It’s really exciting because it’s a lot of structure. Some people might say, and I can hear questions, “But how do you still have creative experimentation? How do you still have good ideas pop up?”

Hayley Nelson (20:19):

That’s something we’re trying to figure out. We’re trying to figure out … Structure and planning is awesome when you want to change the way the Titanic is going. It’s going to be slow, there’s a lot of people on board, and you need that process just so clearly articulated.

Hayley Nelson (20:40):

On the other hand, as we all know, in marketing often a creative gets a light bulb on Bart and comes into the office and is like, “I have this great idea.” Well, certainly, we want to hear it. So we’re trying to figure out what’s that mix and how does that work.

Nick Gernert (20:57):

And how does that look across an organization of 40,000 people or more?

Hayley Nelson (21:02):

Yeah. Well, because we are organized into basically six clouds, we are duplicating this process across six clouds. Then there’s the stuff that I am super passionate about, which is brand-level narratives. That’s really where we lead with our values and explain the values of the company.

Nick Gernert (21:26):

Tess and I were just talking about really just the piece you were mentioning, the going from siloed to everyone working together and having to have awareness of each other. This is not just about content comes in at some point. It needs to be an integrated part of the process, which I was saying it’s the natural iteration of a lot of these things.

Nick Gernert (21:45):

This is where, as these channels have come up and these different ways to connect with our customers have come together, we’re just now starting to really prioritize how to work across them as opposed to just maybe through one or the other in doing that.

Nick Gernert (21:58):

So maybe one area where we could pick back up is just what does success look like as you’re looking into just seven months? You mentioned you have this unveiling of sorts tomorrow where you’ve got what’s going into the plan. How are you thinking about success early on in this and maybe as it grows [crosstalk 00:22:17]?

Hayley Nelson (22:17):

Yeah. I mean I think about it on a couple of levels. I mean for me it’s really building this foundation, and that’s both the talent that we need to do this work, so building my team, and then getting the systems and processes in place. Some of that is the ops kind of stuff. It’s we need an editorial calendar. We need a place where content can live. We need all the metrics in place. We need access to the data.

Hayley Nelson (22:49):

Se we just launched a beautiful content analytics dashboard where, for the first time, we can start to look at performance and have a shared view of it. So some super basics.

Hayley Nelson (23:02):

Then it’s really just success will be getting this process in place, having it run for a cycle, and just assessing how did it work, what did we learn, how can we make some adjustments and tweaks and iterate on it, and then redo it for the next cycle.

Hayley Nelson (23:18):

So I think what’s awesome is I feel like I have a lot of permission to experiment and to test and learn, because everything we do is it’s the first time we’re doing it. A lot of people on my team are the first people in their role, just like I’m the first person who’s VP of content here. So we all have permission to test and learn and to fail and then to regroup. So I think having some great examples of tests and failures and learnings is going to be success.

Hayley Nelson (23:48):

Now, of course, we want to have some great outputs, too. One of the fundamental things aside from systems and ops is strategies. How do we approach podcasts holistically? How do we think about our video channels? How do we move from one-offs to episodic programming?

Hayley Nelson (24:08):

So success for me will be having some great examples of episodic programming, of an area where we can start an ongoing conversation, and having some great experimentation. Our social channels are really the frontlines for content going out the door to our community, and we have a lot of great experimentation going on there.

Hayley Nelson (24:31):

Social is an awesome place to experiment because everyone knows it changes so fast anyway. The way people use it, the tools that are offered. It’s an awesome place to test and learn. And so, putting those strategies in place for all of the media we want to use and the mediums we want to use.

Hayley Nelson (24:57):

Then what can we create that’s great? I’m excited about the Blazing Trails Podcast that we’re doing. Nick, we dragged you into that to [crosstalk 00:25:06]-

Nick Gernert (25:05):

It’s been a lot of fun.

Hayley Nelson (25:08):

… sponsor a partner for us. But because we have this incredible access to great thinkers at Salesforce and we attract incredible conversations that we have at our events, of course, around the world, but that we have day-to-day with customers, really figuring out the way to showcase those. So that will be success for me.

Hayley Nelson (25:29):

Now obviously everyone’s going to say, “But what are your KPIs?” and, “How are you really going to measure that?” That is crucial too, but I am more focused on getting this machine up and running. If you can picture Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, like I want the chocolate blueberries shipping, shipping, shipping. I want everyone to understand how the machines work. I want everyone to see the data. How many blueberries did we produce today?

Hayley Nelson (25:54):

So I want that up and humming. I think it’s going to be a little bit harder for us to figure out all of the backend to really analyze when people read a piece of content or watched a video, the action that they took, and did that ultimately result in a sale for us. That’s going to be tricky to set up, and we’re tackling that in a number of different ways. So as much as I’m after that outcome as a KPI, it’s going to be harder to get there.

Nick Gernert (26:30):

So if I hear you right, though, you’re saying, for anybody else that might be in a similar position that’s joined us for this, that’s helping really start from very little and actually mature this, that you might be focusing on the wrong areas if you’re coming in and saying, “All right. Let’s take time on site or let some metric of how long we’re getting with someone or how many people, things like this,” if we’re just starting from there and saying, “This is what we want to make sure we move,” you might be getting a bit ahead of yourself without having done a lot [crosstalk 00:27:03].

Hayley Nelson (27:03):

I mean I think whatever metrics you have access to, if you’ve got Google Analytics or whatever your tool is, use them. Use it to inform what you create. Then I think that’s also … When I was doing product development in media, we looked at the data throughout the day, obviously. We used those insights to constantly be tweaking our roadmap and future prioritization.

Hayley Nelson (27:32):

It’s interesting, in marketing culture, I think because the way marketing used to be done, you run an ad campaign on TV or an out-of-home, and you don’t see results for weeks. You get them from your agency and the agency presents them. And so, now that we’re in a digital culture and we have real-time information, we just have to shift the mindsets of marketers so that they get a new habit to look at the data.

Hayley Nelson (27:58):

So we do have data that will show is this post getting traction right now? The part that I mentioned about hooking that up to revenue is much trickier. But I think it’s just creating new habits.

Nick Gernert (28:13):

Yeah, that’s great. If we can maybe put your looking-into-the-future hat on here as we keep going here, where is content marketing maybe trending just as in general and then as well as maybe what you’re thinking into the future, like once you’ve got ops set up and everyone is being consistent and the voice feels right and you’re tracking revenue? Where is the future?

Hayley Nelson (28:38):

For me, I tell my team if we do this right, none of us will have jobs as content marketers in the future. We’ll just be running marketing, because content should just be something that every marketer has in their toolkit. I mean of course there’s expertise and we’ll always want to have expertise, but I think content should just become a part of every marketer’s skillset and portfolio. And so, it’s just really just being integrated.

Hayley Nelson (29:04):

So, of course, you always want channel experts. I always want someone who’s an expert on Twitter on my team, who’s an expert on how to use YouTube. But really I want all the marketers at the company to feel comfortable saying, “Look, I’m going to put together some messaging and it’s going to go across these channels and it’s going to go across these months,” and think editorial calendar rather than a campaign calendar.

Hayley Nelson (29:29):

I think we’ll get there. I think it’s just part of culture change. I think that that’s where content’s going. I mean it reminds me a lot of in the ’90s when the internet was new. There were digital people, digital teams. They were always separate. So we had newsrooms where you had the print mag on that side of the wall and you had the digital team on that side of the wall. Then everything became digital, everything became integrated, and people sat together and thought about it the same way. How does my story manifest on the cover of a magazine? How does it manifest on the cover of the website or the front page of the website?

Hayley Nelson (30:06):

And so, that took that 10, 15 years to happen, and that was the life cycle of my career is that shift to integrating digital into everything that you do as a publisher. And so, how long will it take in marketing? I don’t know, but I think a lot of companies who are doing sophisticated content marketing are probably very close to being there.

Nick Gernert (30:29):

Yeah. That’s great. One thing it makes me think of is as you come in and as you’re setting a lot of this stuff up as well, where do the different technologies play in terms of your ability to execute on your agenda? One of the things I mentioned in the preamble here was just you can have the strategy, you have the planning, and then there’s actually where that meets the customer on the other end of that.

Nick Gernert (30:50):

And so, some of this is what’s existing and how does that impact your plans? Then also we are working together on a number of initiatives there. What are some of the things about, as we start to work together and helping power some of the things that all you are doing, how does that help accelerate and facilitate those deeper connections there?

Hayley Nelson (31:15):

Yeah. I mean you’re right. The content team is interdependent and rely on a lot of other teams here to do the work as a team. It’s got to be a holistic effort, especially when you think about the complicated things like email and all of the regulations that go into that. Things that seem simple are not.

Hayley Nelson (31:37):

Figuring out tools that can enable us to be agile and to spin things up that are experimental are crucial. I think every company is looking at tech debt. I mean we have systems that we run on, processes in place, there’s ways to go faster, there’s ways to plugin, and you always have to balance that sort of what are the trade-offs.

Hayley Nelson (32:04):

And so, I think when it comes to something like our blog where we are considering moving it to WordPress, it’s just that interest in having the agility and the flexibility and the ease of use that WordPress provides for something in there.

Nick Gernert (32:27):

Yeah. Then as you look across existing channels, there’s something that you had noted. I don’t know. Tess, if you don’t mind pulling together slide two. We just talk about the many ways to serve the audience, and I would just love to maybe pull this visual up for folks to wrap your head around.

Nick Gernert (32:45):

This goes back to maybe what you’re even referencing earlier on all the different elements here and putting your arms around all of these things. I mean maybe if you, maybe talk us through a bit about this and where these systems [crosstalk 00:32:58].

Hayley Nelson (32:58):

Yeah. I mean I think this goes back to content lives in a lot of places, and this is even a very abbreviated view. We probably need 10 more panels on this side. It lives on our website, it lives often on separate domains, Trailhead, for example, which is our learning platform. It lives in places where we’ve customized an experience for media with our newsroom. It lives on our blog.

Hayley Nelson (33:25):

And so, it’s a big discussion here, is just figuring out what is the best way to tackle this beast. Where does that make sense for things to live and how do we decide? Then how do we measure? And so, just figuring out that balance and the collection of places that we need to be publishing and how they all interface, and making sure that it feels like a seamless journey for the end user, that you always feel like you’re in our ecosystem, that nothing is jarringly different, and that we can move people from one thing to the next so that they get the information they need. I think this takes a lot of teams and a lot of people working together to figure it out.

Nick Gernert (34:12):

Yeah, thank you. All right, we’re at 40 minutes, Tess, and I want to be mindful of time. I’ve got plenty of things that I could ask Hayley. But we do have a lot of people here and I do see a Q&A channel that’s got some activity in it. And so, we’ll start, I think, Tess, if you’re okay with it, too. We’ll start maybe going into some of the questions here. What we can do is try to work through as many of these as we can in the time we have left here with the group.

Tess Needham (34:38):


Nick Gernert (34:38):

Sound good? All right.

Tess Needham (34:40):

That’s good.

Nick Gernert (34:40):

So, Hayley, let’s see. We’ve got a few things. We’ve got, “As you create these messaging tools and best practices, is it for Salesforce messaging to clients and potential partners, or is it for Salesforce to help clients with their content strategies?”

Hayley Nelson (35:00):

To help Salesforce clients with … No. Okay, no, no. I’m really talking about all the work I’m focused on doing is enabling my team of marketers to do the work they need to do to position their products to the marketplace.

Nick Gernert (35:16):

Got it. Great, thank you. Let’s see. Then there was a follow on to that. “Is that a growing part of what Salesforce offers outside companies, large and small, to help them with content strategy? Are there things where you all are doing now?”

Hayley Nelson (35:31):

Yeah, I think there are efforts there, for sure, on the products side. I’m not as close to them as I should be. But certainly, yeah, we have a lot of resources helping folks understand. I mean look at email marketing, for example. A lot of resources around how do you conduct an email marketing campaign, how to use marketing cloud to do that, how do you incorporate great content into a sales kickoff.

Hayley Nelson (35:55):

So, yeah, our content is designed to not just articulate the value prop of the products, but to tell the practitioners how they can use our tools to be great marketers, to be great salespeople or service people.

Nick Gernert (36:09):

Yeah, great. With regards to the what does success look like question and your test and learn approach, what KPIs or goals or objectives, things … What are they? What things that are tangible and measurable as you maybe think about those?

Hayley Nelson (36:26):

I knew there was going to be that question.

Nick Gernert (36:28):


Hayley Nelson (36:29):

I mean those are … We are workshopping that now as part of our business planning process. We have an incredible tool that we use here at Salesforce where everyone has a personal business plan for the work they’re going to do, and they ladder up and down. It’s an amazing way to align priorities.

Hayley Nelson (36:48):

So through that process, we’re talking about what should the goals be? Is it growing our following a certain percent on social? Is it attracting more unique visitors to our blog? Is it getting more people to sign up for our email? Is it about time spent on page? Is it about click-through to the next asset? I think it’s all of those things.

Nick Gernert (37:11):

And you’re in the stage now of just saying it’s all of those things, but still trying to figure out what are the better signals or what signals apply to what scenarios, a lot of those pieces.

Hayley Nelson (37:21):

Right. I think it’s a basket, as much as you want to prioritize one key metric, of course. That’s the guidance. I think we’re still discussing what is one key thing. I think it’s more like three to four key things that we may move the needle on.

Nick Gernert (37:39):

That’s great. So related to KPIs, “How might you distinguish KPIs at different points in the user journey? Our organization divides goals between teams, but shares the same audience.”

Hayley Nelson (37:53):

Yeah, I think the main thing is that KPIs are going to be different for different user segments and for different channels. So it’s going to be a bit of a patchwork quilt. I mean I think engagement is engagement at every level. The way that you reach out to and engage a C-level exec is very different. The way you measure that is very different than the way you would nurture a prospect who’s a dev or an admin. So we do segment that and look at those very differently.

Nick Gernert (38:24):

Yeah. That’s great. Along this way, especially you just mentioned channels, this one seems to relate to that, “What are the most effective messaging channels that you are seeing?” This is going to be somewhat context-dependent. Everybody’s going to be a bit different. Social, outbound, email, SMS, anything in there that you find are more effective?

Hayley Nelson (38:45):

Yeah. I mean for me personally I think email is still super effective. I think email only seems to be getting battered to me, and not just our own emails here with the work we’re doing. But when I look at emails that I get that are voiced and to the point and really delivering me something of value, I open those and I click through. And so, I’m still very bullish on emails being effective.

Hayley Nelson (39:13):

Social, I think, is effective for the right audience. We’ve had some great success engaging folks around specific events, around specific things that we’ve tried where we’re being more fun, more playful, more available to engage. So I’m always bullish on social.

Hayley Nelson (39:33):

We’ve had some great success initially with this resource center that we launched, because simply people needed to find that stuff and now they can. SEO and creating content wherever it lives is still a huge part of the mix.

Hayley Nelson (39:49):

I think there’s a lot of ways to be effective, some harder to measure than others. I mean for me the podcast that we’re doing, it’s number five on the business chart on iTunes. The sheer numbers you can put in any kind of context, but to me that’s pretty awesome for a brand to have that kind of following.

Hayley Nelson (40:11):

I think I look at things differently, but I think there’s a lot of ways to be successful. I think what’s most important is that you’re putting out a great story that someone finds value in and wants to engage with.

Hayley Nelson (40:25):

I think from a brand perspective, that’s the hardest thing is not selling too hard, not being boring, but really finding a great angle to deliver some wisdom or a nugget in a way that it’s easy to read and fun to read and something you want to share.

Hayley Nelson (40:45):

That’s a great way to think about successes is like when I see this thing pop up in my LinkedIn feed, do I want to immediately hit share and share that to my network? If you said, “What’s your one goal?” I would love that to be a way that we measure success, shareability. Is it worth a re-share?

Nick Gernert (41:03):

Yeah, that’s great. I guess tied to channels now. It’s more like me. You mentioned the podcast. Where does video fit into context strategy for you all? [crosstalk 00:41:14].

Hayley Nelson (41:13):

Yeah, it’s huge. It’s huge. In this company, I think we probably do more video than maybe any other company, because we have so many events and we livestream everything and we capture everything. So we have an incredible repository of video, and it’s ongoing. Then we have really awesome production capabilities here. We make beautiful customer films.

Hayley Nelson (41:37):

There’s a lot of work going on with video. I’m also trying to wrap my head around that. I mean one thing certainly is just optimizing where video lives. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. It’s a humongous opportunity for brands. We have a lot in there, but just doing some of that basic work to optimize it properly is crucial. So that’s a project we have under way. That’s just optimizing what we’ve got.

Hayley Nelson (42:04):

I’m really excited to experiment with video where we can experiment with things that are humorous, experiment with things that are less formal, less staged, experiment with new ways of sharing info in different lengths and sizes, using illustration and graphic design. I think there’s a lot of potential, and we’re at the very beginning of that exploration, building on some incredible core capabilities here.

Nick Gernert (42:31):

Can you share what maybe … I mean if you can’t, you can’t. But when you say something that’s not staged, what does that mean? That sounds somewhat scary, but also incredibly enticing. What-

Hayley Nelson (42:42):

Well, I think that’s the hard part is finding talent that doesn’t have to read it from a script. Not everyone is comfortable with standing up and interviewing someone and having it be a little bit casual. But that’s a normal conversation you want to share, what we’re doing right now, Nick. If you and I were both reading from a script this whole hour, there would be no one watching. It would be really boring.

Hayley Nelson (43:12):

But that’s a challenge too because with marketing you want to get the words right, you want to get the message right. There’s a danger zone there. That’s part of it.

Nick Gernert (43:24):

Got it, got it. All right. Sorry, that was my question. This is for the audience to ask questions. “What are some examples of the types of content that you use for marketing at Salesforce?” I think you’ve touched on some of this, but-

Hayley Nelson (43:38):

I mean I would say you name it, we do it, MOs and webinars and playbooks and guide books and e-books. It’s like a foundation. We are doing episodic series, a video series. How do you use AI? What is AI? How do I decode it? We’re doing a series now called 360 Perspectives and we are talking to amazing companies like Lamborghini. How are they using blockchain to make their user experience more secure? How are they using AI? How are they personalizing the offerings digitally for their customers?

Hayley Nelson (44:19):

We have a whole series of conversations with amazing companies talking about how they’re using technology in a smart way to deliver personalized customer experiences. That’s a blog series, but it has video components. It goes out on social. That’s a cool set up where we’ve done a lot of foundational work with that. Now we need to see what other streams we want to take it to, how else do we extend it.

Nick Gernert (44:46):

Yeah. There’s a related thing here that’s [inaudible 00:44:49] around, like just categorizing and diversifying the content relative to just such a massive customer base. You’ve just got a huge customer base. You mentioned AI or personalization and things like this. How do you think about like what are those core themes that you want to try to take the content and tie back to some broader thematic elements so it doesn’t just feel like 50,000 pieces of disparate content?

Hayley Nelson (45:14):

Yeah. That’s a great question. Even before I arrived, the team had done some great work really mapping what are our core strengths and core messages? How does that dovetail with what people are searching for online? And so, customer experience is always going to be the top thing we want to talk about because that’s what our platform does for people, customer relationships, customer experience.

Hayley Nelson (45:40):

It’s very important to help explain digital transformation. Now we’re blending those two concepts to really think about customer transformations. How do you really orient all of your efforts around your customer?

Hayley Nelson (45:53):

Then the company is passionate about using business as a platform for change, so how are companies meeting with their values and really being active in communities and influencing policies that are important to them? So that’s something we talk about. We also care deeply about the future of work and upskilling folks with our Trailhead platform and what the future work will look like and how Salesforce plays a role in that.

Hayley Nelson (46:20):

Those are five of the core themes. Then, of course, AI and blockchain and some of the elements that are really the secret sauce of Salesforce, crucial to explain, too. So those are five general buckets. There’s a lot of subnarratives in that.

Nick Gernert (46:36):


Hayley Nelson (46:38):

And so, it’s actually awesome to see, because I don’t really see this being so easily done in other companies. But we’ve put five teams out there and we basically said, “Don’t talk about other stuff. Plug in what you do into this framework,” because that’s the only way we’re going to get any consistency around here. So frame up whatever you have to say about marketing cloud, but make sure it falls into one of these buckets. And the buckets are broad. So I’m excited about it. It remains to be seen how it goes.

Nick Gernert (47:11):

How’s it being received, though? That’s fascinating to say. I mean how is that being received?

Hayley Nelson (47:15):

I think people are just grateful for the structure. It’s like, “Great. Okay, cool. I’ll plug in my program to that.” So I think the awesome thing is there’s not resistance here to any of this change. Everyone’s like, “I’m psyched about this change. How do I embrace it? Plug me into it and let’s go.”

Nick Gernert (47:36):

Why do you think that is? Why do you think there’s such little resistance?

Hayley Nelson (47:41):

I’m not saying that change isn’t hard and that there’s not resistance. I think people are just on board with the vision and I think people understand, especially when it comes to the voice and tone and the new way of engaging with folks, that that’s where we need to be and that you need a diverse portfolio. You can’t do all-in-one marketing.

Hayley Nelson (48:03):

So it’s cool that there’s buy-in and it’s a great team effort, and people are excited to see what we can do. I think there is a very cool openness to innovation at this company. I think that’s key to the DNA. It’s one of the core values, and it feels very real to me. People want to innovate. So they’re excited for the systems and the planning of the processes that we’ve got cooking up to plug into it.

Nick Gernert (48:33):

I guess my question is still then they’re excited about it, but in my mind I’m like because something was not great before this. So now they’re like, “Yes, you’re here. Thank you. You’re making this better for me.” But maybe it really is just about the innovation side of this and really just supporting the new initiative.

Hayley Nelson (48:48):

So much of it is here. I’m really just a change agent that’s helping make the change. There’s incredible talent, and I’m impressed every day. My colleagues are incredibly smart, and the ability to execute here is phenomenal. It’s mind-boggling some days.

Nick Gernert (49:08):

Thank you so much for joining us, Hayley, for joining us today. It’s really appreciated. It’s fascinating. It’s awesome to see what you’re building there. So thank you so much.

Hayley Nelson (49:18):

Well, thanks.

Nick Gernert (49:18):


Hayley Nelson (49:18):

Excited to keep talking.

Nick Gernert (49:19):

All right.

Hayley Nelson (49:19):


Nick Gernert (49:20):


Tess Needham (49:22):

I mean if you have another burning question, you can get in touch with Hayley. This is her handle here that’s on the screen now. Also visit us at and get in touch that way. She mentions of the Blazing Trails Podcast. So head over to That’s a podcast that we’re partnering with with Salesforce.

Tess Needham (49:45):

Thank you so much for joining us for today’s conversation. We’ll send out an email soon with a recording of the webinar. At WordPress VIP, we help you to deliver modern customer experiences at scale, and with content that they send, just like Hayley has been talking about today. So if you have any questions for us, please get in touch. Thank you so much, Nick. Thank you, everybody.

Nick Gernert (50:06):

No. Thank you, Tess. Thank you, everyone, for bearing with our maybe less than traditional format today. But that was great. I think because we have so many questions, we’ll put our heads together on our side around what to do to help [crosstalk 00:50:20] some content.

Tess Needham (50:20):

For sure. We want to make sure that we get all your questions answered.

Nick Gernert (50:23):

That’s it. Yeah, really appreciate everyone’s time and attention and feedback as well. So have a wonderful rest of your day. Thank you.

Tess Needham (50:30):

Thanks, everybody.

Nick Gernert (50:31):

Thanks, Tess. All right.

Tess Needham (50:31):