Monday, February 16, 2009

Email, web analytics and integration with CRM

All the data in the world can't help you make sales, if you have no idea who is doing what with your emails or on your website. Sure, you can get high-level information, you can find out what kind of results your emails are getting, you can even learn how to increase the effectiveness of your emails.

However, if you don't feed that information, on an individual level, into your CRM, it's worthless. This is especially true if you're a company selling high-dollar items with a long sales cycle. How much more powerful would your sales team find their lead information if you could tell them exactly who clicked-through on an email, which links they clicked, where they went in your website and what whitepapers/webinars/sales collateral they viewed? How many more sales would occur by your sales staff knowing exactly what the lead wanted before you even talked to them?

If you integrate your email delivery tool and your web analytics package with your CRM, you can take action on those individuals who have reached out to you with greater efficiency than ever before.

Next time you send an email campaign, think about this. Think about being able to track an individual from email open to click-through to your website to pages within your website all the way through to your shopping cart or conversion goal, and have all of that information fed directly to your sales staff with little to no effort on your end. Best part about it? Your sales staff never has to know how easy it can be for you.

Email Integration

You are targeting your message, segmenting your lists and gathering leads from click-throughs to your website. However, are you feeding those leads directly to your sales staff? Many email delivery systems have some type of API or other integration with various CRM tools. Most of those integrations include campaign-level metrics as well as individual opens and clicks. However, that information is not always intelligible. Is your sales staff prepared to translate a unique id code into a specific link to your website?

If your tool doesn't offer individual-level integration with notifications of exactly which links the lead clicked-through and changes the lead rating from cold to warm or hot, then take the time to manually do it. Download a report of individuals who clicked-through, which links they clicked on, and enter that information into the lead in your CRM. If you have API developers or want to pay someone to write code for you to do that automatically, great. If you don't, the time/money spent is well worth it.

By entering the activities taken on your email campaigns and building the lead profile, you can automate follow-up campaigns, phone calls from sales staff, event invites and offer incentives centered around their profile and past activities. If you know someone is interested in products A, B and C, you can send them targeted information and offers for those products, not wasting their time with cross-sell offers until after they become a customer, thereby improving your reputation with the customer.

This automation can save you time that you spent to enter the information by cutting down the manual follow-up procedures.

Your sales staff will thank you for the notices when their leads start coming in and they can easily tell why this lead is a hot versus a warm versus a cold. They love you when you can send them into that follow-up call with the ammunition to move that lead through the pipeline. Remember, without sales, your ROI goes into the tank. Sales people are your friends. They need your leads and your information to close the deal and you need them to close the deal so your campaigns are successful.

Web Analytics Integration

Most companies spend a much larger budget on designing, building and maintaining their website than they do on their analytics package. Frankly, I'm not certain that is the best use of budget. What good is having a flashy website that generates thousands of hits a week, if you don't know who those people are is and what they want from you? You're wasting thousands of sales opportunity every single week. In this economy, can you afford to let those leads go by, untouched?

Sure, they may have to fill in a form, and you're going to have a high percentage of bounces, or people who refuse to fill in the form. However, they're already on your site. They found you for a reason, provide them with an incentive to complete that form. Once they do, you'll know exactly who they are, what they want and when to contact them.

Big budget option

If money is no object to you, chances are good you have a great analytics package installed already. Now, how are you making those analytics actionable? Are you integrated with your CRM? If you're using a product like Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends or Coremetrics, do you have it hooked up with an API or's AppExchange?

With these products, you can know exactly who is on your site, when they are on your site, what they are looking at, which offers they are downloading and how they travel through your funnel to your conversion goals. If they are spending time on your site, but not converting, why not? Where's the breakdown? Are they filling out a shopping cart, but not buying? With integration into your CRM, you can automate a process where you send off a free shipping coupon, or guide them to a page further into your funnel and closer to the conversion goal.

You can automate your processes to notify your sales team as to the activities individuals take on your website, change their lead rating and set tasks for them to contact the lead.Your sales team can get an email notification as soon as a lead is on your website. Think about how powerful that can be for your sales staff.

Not only is this automation powerful, but the reporting available is insane. These big buck platforms offer the ability to write reports centered around your business model, your sales structure, sales cycle and marketing needs. After all, you get what you pay for.

Moderate Budget Option

A product like HubSpot also allows you to integrate your web analytics with your CRM. It allows you to also track your keywords, the keywords of your competitors, how your pages stack up in an SEO frame of mind, how well you're linking across pages in addition to external links coming into and going out of your site. In addition to these analytics and SEO reports, it allows you to begin to track your social media footprint. Frankly, for $500/month, it's an exceptionally powerful tool.

Just like with the big budget options, HubSpot provides your sales staff up to the second information once someone is on your website. Every click they make on your site can be tracked. Notices can be automated and sent to sales based upon these actions. Follow-up campaigns can be automated. You can be one step ahead and prove your worth to sales and to the C-levels in your company.

Zero Budget Option

If you have literally no money for analytics at all, Google Analytics is better than nothing. It allows you to get high-level site reporting, track your PPC campaigns, track your keywords and your conversion goals. However, it provides no individual-level reporting. Unless everyone fills out a form on your site indicating every page they visited and you entered all that information into your CRM, you are losing thousands of leads every single week. Go to your CMO, CFO or CEO and tell them that. Tell them that without the right analytics you are losing thousands of sales opportunities every week. Chances are that they'll find room in the budget for something.

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