Gain sales with technology Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2008

Microsegmentation, nano-segmentation and micromarketing are all buzzwords today. Each one relies

on the ability to integrate disparate databases and systems into an enterprise application to create Customer Data Integration (CDI). Data stored in these applications can provide insight into a company’s customers and prospects, but often companies do not properly utilize this data to effectively reach their market.

“The challenge with data is that its quality quickly deteriorates over time,” says Mary Rodino, Chief Marketing Officer at CIMCO Communications. “Two percent of records in any given database become obsolete in a month. Managing the data and using it for effective marketing and sales is a science that relies heavily on technology.”

Smart Business asked Rodino about using data technology effectively to increase sales.

How does CDI technology play a role in sales and marketing today?

It’s important to understand that information about your leads and customers from a variety of technology channels needs to be integrated for a complete picture. The days of manually manipulating data for lead generation and tracking are in the past. To do CDI right, full technological integration of online and offline marketing is necessary to reach perfect prospects at the perfect time, please them and still protect their privacy.

First, a data warehouse stores historical information from disparate sources in one place, such as basic contact information, service and purchasing records, demographics, customer behaviors, touchpoints, and more. Next, you can layer on top of that an intelligent application to extract the information for different user groups from the data warehouse. Then, add a predictive analytics application to fine-tune the segmentation of your customer database. In marketing, this includes looking at all the actions a customer takes — registering for a white paper or podcast on your Web site, responding to a telemarketer, a sales inquiry — it could be anything. When information is integrated by CDI technology and then extracted according to predetermined business goals, you can market more successfully to those finely tuned segments.

What are the challenges?

There are five constant themes that are considered critical success factors:

 

  • Data integrity: All of your marketing efforts can be rendered useless if you are using inaccurate data to target campaigns.

     

     

  • Timing: Valuable data needs to be acted upon in a timely manner before it becomes out of date.

     

     

  • Incomplete data: Without complete data, it is very hard to make sound business decisions that will impact sales goals.

     

     

  • Managing data: It’s an enormous effort to manage data on a daily basis, not to mention the processes and systems that support the data.

     

     

  • Ownership: The more disparate data-source owners, the more silos of data, the more difficult it will be to solve problems.

     

How is CDI different than database marketing?

It’s much more complex than database marketing. CDI allows you to create market segments beyond the traditional demographics, geographics and industry sectors. The technology allows a better view of customer needs by monitoring how a person responds to various mechanisms, which can lead to more effective marketing and sales tools.

How does marketing technology help sales?

This technology allows a business to better prequalify leads by gathering more and different information about the customer or prospect. When the lead is handed off, the sales rep has a better idea of the customer’s interests and can better direct the conversation. Once the lead is in the sales pipeline, then technology allows a business to track the customer from all touchpoints.

For example, in the first contact by the salesperson it is recorded that the customer is not ready to make a decision. Meanwhile, all information about the customer or prospect is fed into a single place that allows everyone in the company to track information in real time. The customer continues to receive an e-newsletter, visits a trade show, inquires for more information and so on. The predictive analytics application captures the customer or prospect in real time and allows sales to track each person on a case-by-case basis.

How can a small or midsized business afford something like this?

First, invest in experts to help you outline business requirements and create a road map to where you want to go. What I’ve learned is that finding the right applications that work for both marketing and sales is an important first start. Many CRM applications and sales force automation databases aren’t easily integrated with marketing tools, and ultimately, it all has to be integrated with your Web site. This is your foundation to begin executing marketing programs in new media channels of today and ones rapidly coming on stream in the near future.

MARY RODINO is Chief Marketing Officer of CIMCO Communications, based in the Chicago, Ill., metropolitan area. Reach her at (630) 691-8080 or maryrodino@cimco.net.