This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of CUSTOMER
The shotgun approach to customer targeting is so passé. Businesses today increasingly want to use tools and technologies that enable them to identify and focus as much as possible on their particular interest groups, and to cater to their unique needs. Among the tools and services that are enabling companies to do that are lifecycle maps, mobile messaging, on-demand mobile ad buying and analytics solutions, and new CRM offerings.
Mapping the Customer Lifecycle
The idea of using tools to get a better handle on where customers are in the lifecycle process with a company so that company has more information as to how to most effectively work with those customers seems to be gaining tractino.
For example, Infusionsoft, which sells a web-based system that combines intelligent automation with CRM, e-mail marketing, e-commerce and social media tools, has created a guide to help small businesses assess and respond to the customer lifecycle. Called the Perfect Customer Lifecycle, it’s a paper that presents seven strategies for capturing, nurturing and converting leads; increasing conversions with highly-targeted communications; saving time and money with marketing automation; creating lifelong fans that advocate for your brand; and more.
Right On Interactive also talks about the customer lifecycle. The company is a marketing automation that delivers SaaS (News - Alert)-based tools to help organizations win new customers, onboard those customers, and grow those customers into brand advocates, says Andy Clark, vice president of business development. About 300 businesses, including Elsevier, Delta Faucets, and Wild Birds Unlimited, are Right On Interactive customers.
Marketing and sales organizations are trying to get a single view of customers and prospects and get a better idea of who is and who is not engaging with the company and how, says Clark. To help them get a better handle on all that, Right On Interactive does 3D scoring and creates lifecycle maps that depict where customers are in terms of their familiarity with a company. That allows companies to up-sell and turn into brand advocates those customers who know them, and to educate those that aren’t familiar but would be good prospects, he says. It also includes determining how best to interact with customers and prospects, whether that includes e-mail, events, or other forums or channels.
The Mobile Push
Of course, the mobile device is a growing channel through which businesses are connecting with customers and prospects, and mobile push messaging can be a great way to target prospects and engage with customers, while building a mobile database.
Push technology enables publishers to target content to specific users, enabling them to drive traffic and increase user retention by delivering content that users want – when and where they want, as noted by AlertRocket.
“When we were designing our product, we knew intrinsically that we needed to increase engagement for our customers through new avenues that were also cost effective,” says Burton Miller, CEO of Notice Software. “With AlertRocket we’ve designed a product which allows web users to register for push notifications to be sent to their phones in an easy, accessible manner. Given the ease and proficiency of our product, we have seen that AlertRocket increases mobile user engagement between 100 percent and 300 percent.”
Primary Wave Media is another company powering mobile push messaging efforts. Its solution, called Intelligent Number, marries IVR with short code text messaging, and expands on the company’s traditional business of vanity business phone numbers.
Intelligent Number, explains Gregg Hamerschlag, CEO of Primary Wave Media, takes the vanity number and makes it relevant again. It does that by enabling both mobile and wireline customers to call into an 800 number and get coupons, request links be sent to their phones, and opt in to other company notices and opportunities. The service involves an up-front fee for the toll-free phone number and a package including 500 text messages, and the ability to buy additional text messages individually for 3 cents each or in bulk.
In addition to the digital marketing companies that use Intelligent Number to create solutions for their clients, Primary Wave Media is building its own brands based on Intelligent Number, Hamerschlag says. That includes 1-877-APPLIANCE, 1-800-NESTEGG, 1-855-NFL-MOBILE, 1-800-Prepare.com, 1-800-QUALITY, 1-855-ROMNEY-12 and 1-800-Wireless.
“By leveraging an Intelligent Number with existing voice services, organizations are able to provide prospective and potential customers with multiple options to ‘hand raise’ and receive customized marketing messages,” says Hamerschlag. “The information is delivered directly to customers’ handheld device via SMS, MMS, web or voicemail while the brand is able to seamlessly build a database of potential customers.”
But Shlomi Ron, head of Global Social & Mobile Media at IBM (News - Alert), says that companies need to make sure to get permission from customers or prospects before sending messages to their mobiles, adding that there’s a certain level of intimacy a business should have with its customers before going that route. “SMS is like you’re already dating,” he says.
Targeting Your Online Ad Buy
Of course, running online advertising has become a common way for businesses to target their customers and prospects. But often online advertisers are running blind.
Now, however, a bevy of companies are delivering platforms that enable advertisers and their agencies to bid for online ad space, and to do so armed with more information on where their advertisement will land.
For example, a company called Acquisio sells software to optimize online ads for advertisers and agencies. About 10,000 brands, many of which come to the solution through their ad agencies, leverage the Acquisio platform to get data on the best place to place their ads based on keyword matches, past ad performance, cost for conversion, client budgets and other statistics. They can then use the platform to bid for online ad placement opportunities.
Marc Poirier, co-founder and CMO, says that the Acquisio platform automatically improves users’ online advertising results. Agency clients using this solution include such large agencies as WPP, Omnicom (News - Alert), IPG and Publicis. Brands using it include Bertelsmann, Cossette, DAC Group, Guava, iProspect, Isobar, Media Experts, NetBooster, PhD, and Yellow Pages Group.
A company called Human Demand, meanwhile, has a platform to help companies buy and assess mobile ads.
Howie Schwartz, Human Demand CEO and founder, tells CUSTOMER magazine that the company helps support performance-based campaigns. The Human Demand platform, he explains, provides transparency for company advertisers so they can run a campaign and see what games or apps on which they’re advertising, so they then can make decisions and bids based on what apps are available.
While ad agencies, or any advertiser targeting mobile users, can use the self-service Human Demand platform, Schwartz says this solution is really focus on app developers that have created mobile games and want to get users to install their mobile game apps. That said, this solution not only provides transparency and more pricing control for the app developer, it also acts as an app discovery tool for those entities, he says.
“Independent app developers in present day are lost in a sea of apps,” says Schwartz. “Acquiring users is the No. 1 priority and the traditional ad platforms and tools available previously were not built for the performance-focused developer. Developers are plagued by a lack of transparency and absence of optimization tools on the current mobile ad platforms and are overlooked by agencies demanding huge minimum budgets to launch. There is just nowhere for independent app developers to run non-incentivized user acquisition campaigns – it's the reason we are here.”
CRM for All
Of course, good old CRM systems are also key tools to help companies manage their customers and prospects. And while Salesforce is always the first name that pops up when you talk about CRM, there are many other CRM providers out there, many of which are targeting the SMB set.
Rick Faulk, general manager of CampaignerCRM, a solution from j2 Global (News - Alert) Inc., a $400-million company best known for its e-fax solutions, is among that group. Faulk says that while Salesforce is for the most part going up market, CampaignerCRM is targeting small businesses with its easy-to-use, $29.99 per month per seat solution. An equivalent solution from Salesforce would be more than $100 per month per seat, he says.
“We have the simplest, most effective CRM tool to sell more products and services,” says Faulk, adding that users can access it from their PCs or via smartphone or tablet dashboards.
CampaignerCRM helps organizations manage customer contacts, call backs, and opportunities. The company also offers integrated modules that make it easy for small businesses to run e-mail marketing campaigns within the product, says Faulk, adding that that’s a separate solution if you’re using Salesforce. The CampaignerCRM also enables what Faulk calls social CRM, which can grab data from LinkedIn or Twitter (News - Alert) and populate the CRM.
Edited by Brooke Neuman