We have all had a “I never knew this thing does that” moment. Maybe you didn’t know that the space bar on your laptop pauses and plays videos or that the tiny picture of a gas pump on your fuel gauge shows you which side your car’s gas tank is on. These realizations are usually accompanied by a “whoa.” Some people call them “life hacks,” but they are really just being aware of a thing’s maximum potential.
Usually, the “whoa” moment comes because the thing in question — laptop, car, vacuum cleaner — is something we use frequently. We thought we knew everything it could do until someone comes along and shatters the illusion. Marketers use Salesforce every day, and they likely use Interaction Studio almost as much. But catalog objects may have a few “whoas” built in.
An object — within the context of Salesforce Interaction Studio (currently known as MC Personalization) — best thought of as a table in which to store data. There are two types of objects: catalog and profile. Both types are designed to capture information, so they are basically opposite sides of a coin.
Profile objects relate to the customer. They organize information about them such as their vehicle registration or their pets. Conversely, catalog objects are the things about your company with which your customers interact, things like blogs or articles, promotions or products.
Objects are a feature of Interaction Studio, which we already know is a powerful tool to hone in on personalization, but making the most out of the catalog object feature is essential.
Catalog objects are what businesses track customer behavior against. Without using catalog objects, businesses can see when customers come in but are unaware of what products, blogs, what-have-you with which they have interacted. The business would have little idea what a customer likes, so it would be unable to personalize or customize the interaction.
Salesforce Interaction Studio used to break down catalog objects into two categories: items and dimensions, with items being the products (e.g., a router, a laptop) and dimensions a classification of those products (e.g., color, size).
While this is useful in building affinity with customers to entice them to purchase things you know they like, Salesforce has since eliminated these distinctions. Doing so has enabled businesses to build customer affinity without sacrificing versatility.
Now, there are simply different types of catalog objects. Whether they are broken down by brand, company or product, they are delineated by category. Not restricting objects to two buckets allows for greater flexibility and avoids hemming in certain objects that lack enough sophistication to justify a second descriptor.
For instance, articles or blogs would have to be an item, but you can’t really customize them to have specific information. They would just be one generic type, and delineating between those types of information without having a more detailed view would prove difficult. If a business has a customer who has purchased a product, without building relationships between various catalog objects, that business would be unable to recommend other, related, products.
If a business just sells one product, it may be easy to assume that it only deals with one catalog object. In this case, such a business would likely be underusing catalog objects because they fail to understand that even a single product can work synergistically by having other catalog objects that the product cross-references for customization. Maybe the company only sells clothes, but within that set, preferences by color, brand, style or material could also be ascertained.
The first thing businesses need to consider when setting up a catalog object is how it is structured, i.e., what kind of data it is storing. What type of object it is determines what kind of data is relevant to it. Typically, catalog objects live on a website in some fashion, so the next consideration is how to get the data into Interaction Studio. This way the data can be used for cross-channel personalization. Catalog objects are a key component in creating Einstein Recipes that allow for greater segmentation of customers. They are a key feature that sets Salesforce Interaction Studio apart from other personalization products.
Establishing these parameters is where a partner is most useful. Having guidance on the best data schema that takes advantage of the catalog and profile objects is the starting point. A good Salesforce partner can help you determine what the data schema should look like. Understanding what, so to speak, the columns that sit atop the table are and which funnels are most effective in transporting external data — i.e., data not stored in Salesforce — to usable information is key.
Make the most of Interaction Studio by ensuring that catalog objects allow it to live up to its full potential. Have a “whoa” moment.