Welcome to part 3 of a 6-part article series on knowledge, the Buyer Journey, marketing/sales synergy and better sales results. Our last article Essential customer knowledge to gather along the buyer journey looked at what kinds of knowledge you have to gather along the way in order to optimize the buyer journey and maintain engagement throughout. Now we tackle the actual data sources.
Let’s assume that you need customer knowledge in order to feed a marketing automation system intelligently. There are many sources…which do you go to first? The first and most obvious source of knowledge to connect to for most companies is the CRM system.
There are two reasons for this:
- Great data, great segmentation. You have lots of data: different account types, locations, numbers of people employed and all kinds of useful details
- If the CRM is connected to your Marketing Automation application, marketing can happen automatically once pre-set thresholds are reached
When you’re setting up an automated marketing program, think of your marketing automation system (we use Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Pardot) as your hub. It can pull data from web form registrations, from your CRM…from lots of places. Connecting your CRM to your website can be tricky, but it’s simple when you use a robust marketing automation system as an intermediary. These are applications built with the connection in mind.
Integration is not the issue
Ten years ago when you said ‘integration’ to a manager in a big company, their thoughts went straight to what might go wrong. That’s a thing of the past, especially with marketing automation systems. Most integrations are trivial from a technical point of view. They are not only great for automating marketing processes, but also as middleware. Leading marketing automation systems like Oracle Eloqua can integrate with the latest versions of more than 300 applications. So when you have a webinar, for example, your marketing automation system can integrate with your broadcast platform and send out messages to participants at the right time – ‘don’t forget’, ‘thanks for participating’, ‘here’s a questionnaire, how was it?’
SMS messaging is another great communication medium to integrate into your marketing automation system. Maybe Sarah didn’t open her email, but we can send her an SMS – ‘we haven’t heard from you…act now and get free parking’. When you capture responses as well, SMS becomes an important source of customer knowledge…because it’s coming straight from the customer! People tend to pay more attention to SMS. Some people hate SMS. Some prefer it over email. Younger audiences may like push messaging. (Here I’m thinking of The Guardian’s app, but there are hundreds.) For those who like it, sending alerts and messages is a nice way to communicate.
Integrate to enrich
The most valuable knowledge is that which you produce using marketing automation. The more data sources you integrate, the richer and the more valuable the knowledge. Integrating data sources into your marketing automation system is also a lean way of doing things (as in, Lean Manufacturing). Feed the data into one application, then manipulate it rather than crunching data half a dozen times.
The more data sources that you feed into your marketing automation system, the richer the resulting knowledge. You’ll know, for instance, that James has worked for a mid-sized manufacturer for at least three years; prefers email over text; opens 52% of emails for an average of 34 seconds; engages with LinkedIn but not Facebook; and has downloaded three pieces of content, two on topic X and one on topic Y. You know exactly where he is in the sales funnel and therefore how best to engage with him. Taken on an aggregate basis, this is powerful stuff. Marketing automation systems can quickly gather millions of rows of actionable data, giving us the basis for intimate prospect/customer knowledge.
Knowledge in action: F-Secure
Let’s look at an actual case that Luxid had a hand in.
F-Secure, a global provider of information security services for consumers and businesses, offers 30-day trial downloads of their small business security software at www.F-secure.com. You get instructions by email, passwords by SMS, then your contact details are sent to F-Secure’s CRM, Salesforce, for contact or nurturing. But before F-Secure receives your details, automated lookups in commercial databases detect that you work for a manufacturer based in Berlin with 3,000 employees.
Salesforce flags this anomaly for F-Secure salespeople. The download might be for your cousin’s wife’s company or your side hustle, but it could also be that you chose the wrong product for your own enterprise. For F-Secure, time is of the essence and you get a call the next day.
Another F-Secure salesperson might have simply clicked the box in Salesforce marked ‘sale’ and put you into a small business customer nurturing program. Still another might have put you into a similar program for enterprise. The more information available, the more informed the action.
Best information sources
The real value of the knowledge you gather comes from contextualisation. What is the person’s industry and role? Do they fit one of your buyer personas, whose behaviour you know and can predict? And go from there. There are different knowledge sources for different categories of company. Initial contact may be more likely to come through social media apps like LinkedIn forms, for example. Or through webinars.
Social media—LinkedIn, Facebook and others—is very nice because it’s becoming the de facto standard in integration. While email is still the gold standard in business communication, social media is less avoidable than email. You didn’t open your email, but you can see the same messaging on your Facebook wall. It’s efficient, too, because forms can be placed on Facebook or LinkedIn, and filled-in forms fly straight into the marketing automation system.
Social media profiles are rich information sources, to begin with. They telegraph preferences clearly. For marketers, targeting on social media is getting quite sophisticated. And if you respond well to a marketer’s first social media campaign, you can be included in the next or act as a seed for a lookalike audience—when your preferences on, say, Facebook are used as building blocks to build a bigger audience.
This works well integrated with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but it also works with an Excel sheet.
Back to ‘it’s all about the content’
You rarely have the opportunity to sit someone down and talk to them for 2 hours. So you had better have a good way to capture their attention quickly, and to keep it for long enough to get them to take the next step along the funnel. The data that we collect about the customer’s journey helps us to improve content as we go. It’s simple: create good content, then refine. When we have enough data, we can get our data scientist to sort it and clean it, then put all the variables together and use machine learning algorithms to figure out the trends. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s a topic for the next article in the series.