Archive for the ‘Data capture’ Category

Engagement Marketing And Lead Management

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Spent a very interesting morning at the Silverpop B2B Masterclass in London yesterday. Hitting just the right balance of education and solution selling, there were some interesting presentations and good ideas. I thought it would be worth picking out a few in particular from the opening presentation by  Silverpop VP Will Schnabel. You can view the complete slideset on Slideshare, but here are some highlights.

  • Marketing extends further into the pipeline – in the past, potential customers would pick up the phone and ask for a sales rep to come round to explain your products. Now, the savvy purchaser reviews your products online, reads whitepapers and case studies, seeks references and gains an understanding of your product sector. These are all areas where Marketing is now required to deliver, so that by the time Sales are called in, the prospect is in a much more advanced stage of the purchase cycle. As such, Marketing must rise to this challenge and fulfill an education and sales preparation role, ahead of an actual buying conversation. Crucially, this also means “plugging the leaky funnel”, where prospects fall out before they get to the point of Sales engagement due to poor materials and general lead management.
  • Data capture – take web visitors through a sequence of data gathering steps rather than a one-off capture of everything you can think to ask. Responders will be turned off by very long forms with lots of questions, so ask for additional information at every interaction to build up a picture. It was suggested in the session that there probably isn’t a magic number of fields or forms to optimise this process – it may be unique to your business – so some experimentation may be required. And on the subject of data capture, don’t allow yourself to be locked into backend data processing requirements (such as field layouts), if it doesn’t suit the information you actually need. Also, consider utilising data capture techniques, the likes of which I’ve written about previously.
  • Lead scoring – this is a key element of lead qualification, using various criteria to determine the value of a lead and the appropriate next steps. These criteria can be grouped into three areas: demographic (contact role, type of organisation etc), “BANT” or the actual position of a prospect to buy, and activity (website downloads, event attendees, information requests). These techniques should be built into an overall lead scoring mechanism appropriate for your business to judge what is passed to Sales, and what remains within Marketing for ongoing nurturing.
  • Lead maturity model – a useful way to assess your own lead management sophistication, this four stage model suggests the areas that should be addressed for best practice lead management. Incorporating both demand generation activity itself, together with lead handling, it’s a valuable benchmark for your own activities. (Take a look at the slides for more details.)

In all, a worthwhile morning aimed at helping marketing secure one outcome in particular – “revenue velocity”, or increasing the rate at which an initial lead is converted to a sale, which must rank as a top priority for all marketers.

On good form

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I wanted to briefly mention a great new resource for anyone involved in online data collection, brought to us by international data quality and addressing guru, Graham Rhind. “Better data quality from your web form” is a free download ebook in pdf format that is designed to help achieve effective international name and address Internet data collection. In the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that Graham asked me to take a look at the book before he published it and as such I can say it’s an invaluable source of information.

Exhibiting Graham’s customary thorough and comprehensive coverage of the topic, the book includes guidance on name and address capture, use of pick-lists and other form elements, usability and data validation. Longe-standing readers of my blog will know that web forms are something of a hot topic for me and I hope this book will help curb some of the worst examples of bad practice out there!

The book is available for download from Graham’s site, and whilst you’re there you should take a look at the wealth of additional information he makes available.

10 tips for collecting email addresses

Friday, April 25th, 2008

A nice little piece on collecting email addresses featured recently in Netherlands-based data provider Computer Profile’s email newsletter. Some of the suggestions are fairly obvious or easier said than done, but I liked the point on making sure that registration/sign-up forms are as simple as possible. The point they make, that you can always learn more about contacts in the future, is entirely true, and it’s something I’m hoping we’re going to start doing soon. In addition, form auto-completion techniques, as we recently implemented (see previous post Address to impress – smart web form data collection), also help speed up the form completion experience, together with data quality improvements.

Address to impress – smart web form data collection

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I’ve written previously about the importance of address management (see International address management) in maintaining data quality, and I mentioned that we planned to implement a new set of web enquiry forms with an address auto-completion feature (see Using web visits to build contact profiles). Well, I’m pleased to say the forms are online and working very nicely, improving not only the quality of address capture but also the user experience as well. Reducing the keystrokes required to complete a form, I believe, leaves more goodwill with the enquirer to answer a few more profile building questions.

The easiest way to see how the forms work is to try them for yourself, so take a look at the UK form and try filling it in. Once you’ve completed the postal code, the system looks up the address in the background, and as you start typing the first few characters of the street address, it presents options as to what the address should be. Once you type enough for a definitive selection, the address is completed (or you can pick from the list). In the UK, many business postal codes are sufficiently specific that the address is completed without typing any further, except perhaps for a street number.

The forms work across nearly all of our local EMEA sites and are localised for each one. In fact, on the UK form linked above, if you change the country and language options, the address field labels change to match. Unfortunately we’re not quite slick enough to change the entire form, but if you link via the relevant local site the page is fully localised, with the address elements driven by the addressing solution.

The address look-up solution is powered by UK specialists Postcode Anywhere who support the system via a simple AJAX based web service. The service is charged on a per click basis and is remarkably inexpensive, with credit packs covering several thousand look-ups available for just a few hundred pounds. Due to technical resource constraints, the forms themselves are actually hosted by my old friends at CRM Technologies but we’ve tried to make the overall experience as seamless as possible.

A number of potential enhancements have already presented themselves, in particular the ability to perform an organisation look-up on the fly and pre-populate profile fields such as revenue, number of employees and industry, based on Dun & Bradstreet data. This will even include DUNS number, adding to the reliability with which we can match web data capture back into the marketing database. I hope to update on progress soon!