4 min read
Jun 13, 2019

What Salesforce's Acquisition of Tableau Means for Marketers

Salesforce's choice to buy data visualization tool Tableau marks its most costly acquisition yet. Here's what it means for marketers—and why it's an astute move for Salesforce

Lauren MaffeoContent Analyst

Salesforce didn’t just jump on the big data bandwagon this week: It hitched its own horse to the front. On June 10, Co-Chief Executive Officers Marc Benioff and Keith Block announced an all-stock deal to acquire Tableau-a cloud-based data visualization tool-for $15.3 billion. This marks Salesforce’s most expensive acquisition to date, which says something since it has purchased 60 companies over the last 20 years.

At its core, Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and the art of CRM looks nothing like it did in 1999, when Benioff co-founded it. 20 years later, 60% of buyers want to speak with sales reps in the consideration stage, after they’ve done their own research and written a shortlist of products that suits their needs.

What do software shoppers include on their shortlists? When GetApp surveyed B2B software buyers on our own site, 29% said their biggest challenge is ensuring integrations with their existing tools. This confirms the rapid growth of cloud products-and the increasingly diverse needs of their end users.

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Marketers must multitask

Any business that works with customers would benefit from CRM software. But for marketing teams, a CRM is the core of their app stacks. It helps marketers manage campaigns, highlight their best customers, and earmark leads that they can pass on to Sales.

As if the marketer’s role isn’t extensive enough, they’re increasingly expected to do data science as well. Gartner research (available for clients) cites real-time marketing and journey personalization as two data-based responsibilities.

Gartner’s 2018-2019 CMO Spend Survey found that analytics receives the third greatest share of the marketing budget (8.3%). But when it comes to ranking their current performance, most marketing leaders fall flat. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most mature, Gartner surveys show 66% of organizations still rank themselves at a 3 or below (i.e. intermediate or below).

The right software won’t compensate for a nonexistent strategy, but it will serve as a tool to execute a strong one. Today’s marketing leaders have a stronger sense of what they need to excel at work and they’re not shy about saying so.

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How Tableau will enhance your marketing

Earlier this year, GetApp surveyed nearly 500 leaders in US-based businesses with 500 or less employees. We wanted to learn how they use data to make decisions, and what they need from business intelligence (BI) software.

Respondents working in sales and marketing both said they need the most collaboration features. And 45% of the marketers we surveyed need data visualization-which is Tableau’s specialty.

With an average 4.5 star rating on GetApp as of press time, 95% of Tableau’s reviews are positive. Several reviews mention using it to find marketing campaign insights, create visual graphs, and make image maps.

Salesforce’s choice to acquire Tableau shows astute knowledge of its users’ needs for stronger, deeper data and analytics features. Benioff knows that today’s marketers need data to prove their work’s ROI-and he wants Salesforce to be their savior.

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