Videos to Help You Install BizConnector and Get Started

It has taken some time, but at last, here are some videos that you may find helpful. We’ll be adding videos to the list, so check back in when you need some help or inspiration.

 

 

Installing BizConnector
Getting Started with BizConnector
Building Your First BizConnector Rule (to Nurture Leads)
Testing a BizConnector Rule

How BizConnector Helps You Keep Your Emails Relevant

The relevancy of your emails is a deep topic, and is surely something of interest to businesses and organizations who wish to maintain the interest of their prospects and customers. You don’t want to annoy people with irrelevant emails!

This is especially true with tools, such as BizConnector, that are interacting with recipients who, for example, have already registered for an event or a service and should not receive another email inviting them to do so! This happens all too often with other email marketing tools.

So how does BizConnector do it?

The secret lies in a feature called ‘Check Before Send’. Although this is an option when you create a rule, it is on by default, recommended, and used in most of the rules written by BizConnector customers.

Check before Send Option

 

It works like this:

The second before a scheduled email is sent, BizConnector checks that the rule conditions (which caused the email to be scheduled in the first place) still apply. If not, the email is suppressed.

Simple as that!

So, for example, if the rule has conditions like:

rule conditions tested by Check Before Send

 

and if Lead.Status is changed to ‘Working – Contacted’ (see note below)

then the rule conditions no longer apply, and the next email scheduled to go will not be sent. Relevancy of your email communication is thereby maintained!

Note:
There are a number of ways that Lead.Status can be changed. This can be done by a member of your staff – manually. And it could also, in BizConnector, be updated by another rule – say, for example, when the recipient opens an email, clicks on a link, or responds in other ways.

If you would like more information on this feature, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Triggering Messages Based on Anniversaries

BizConnector makes it very easy to trigger emails, SMS messages, and other actions based on the anniversary of any date in your Lead, Contact, Account, or Opportunity records.

This could, for example, be a birthday, an appointment date, or a contract start or expiration date.

As usual in BizConnector, this is done by setting up a rule. In the Rule Editor, you will find ‘pseudo’ fields that are related to date fields in your records. These ‘pseudo’ fields are not real fields, but they are inserted in the field list to make it easy to create a condition.

For example, let’s say we want to send a message on the anniversary of an appointment:

The above condition reads ‘Five days before the appointment anniversary’. That’s all it takes to make the rule fire. This example makes the assumption that you want to send a message five days before the date. Once it fires, you can set any action – for example send an email or sequence of emails, send an SMS message, etc.

Do you have any need to automate messages on the anniversary of a date? If you would like more information about this and other features of BizConnector, please contact us.

Happy messaging!

 

Using Rules To Automate Appointment Reminders

Here’s an innovative use of rules that was recently launched by one of our customers: Automatically texting reminders to the broker and buyer, or the broker and seller, just before an appointment.

This customer happens to be in the real-estate industry, but this idea can be used in other industries as well.

Based on a BizConnector feature that fires a rule a certain number of minutes before the date/time value in a specified field, the customer defined the rule to fire 90 minutes before the appointment.

This uses a ‘pseudo field’ ‘Minutes To Appointment Date/Time’, which is not found in the original object definition, but is derived from the fact that Appointment Date/Time is a datetime field.

The rule action was then set as:


The template ‘Text Notify New Appt Set for Agent’ – sent to the Real Estate Agent – has the contents:

‘You have a new {!Lead_AppointmentType} appointment on {!Lead_AppointmentDateTime}. Please contact {!Lead_FullName} ({!Lead_MobilePhone}) to confirm’

where {!Lead_AppointmentType} can be ‘seller’ or ‘buyer’ when it is actually sent out.

When sent, the message would be something like ‘You have a new buyer appointment on October 23, 2:30pm. Please contact John Smith (917-555-1212) to confirm’.

How does this work? This rule, based on ‘Leads’, is watching the Leads database, and fires when a new record is added (or a record is updated) which matches the rule condition. As soon as it fires, it sends out the SMS message.

Of course, emails can be used instead of, or together with SMS. And you can use ‘Days To’ instead of ‘Minutes To’ for the lead time.

That’s all there is to it!

For more information about this, or to attend an online demo, please contact us.

 

Using Rules To Automate Contract Expiration Notices

One popular need for BizConnector users is to automate the production of contract expiration notices.

This is a fairly straightforward use case, but one that is not easily handled by other tools. BizConnector comes to the rescue with two ‘pseudo fields’:

  • Minutes To
  • Days To

that make this easy to implement. These fields are not to be found in the original object definitions, but are derived from date or datetime fields.

For example:
Say you have an Opportunity date field ‘Contract Expiration’. [This is an appropriate field for an Opportunity record].

The objective is to send one or more emails to your customer contact, starting 60 days before the contract is due to expire. To do this, you would create a rule expressly for this purpose. Let’s call the rule ‘Contract Expiration Notices’.

In the rule editor, after naming the rule, you would create the rule condition:


The second (and last) step is to set up the email sequence:

Note that the delay ‘None’ means that Expiration Notice #1 will be sent when the rule fires – 60 days before the expiration date, and Expiration Notice #2 will be sent 30 days later – 30 days before the expiration date.

Note also that the above rule will fire based on information in the Opportunity record, but send emails to the Contact(s) related to that Opportunity. This is a feature of BizConnector, which is deeply integrated with Salesforce and knows the Salesforce model.

That’s all there is to it!

For more information about this, or to attend an online demo, please contact us.

 

 

 

Rules vs Campaigns – The BizConnector Approach

Campaigns as incorporated in Salesforce and other applications implement the traditional model, in which leads and contacts are explicitly added to a named campaign.

This enables these leads and contacts – called members in Salesforce – to be tracked and sent emails according to the strategy and objectives of a specific campaign.

So members have to be explicitly added to a campaign in order to be part of that campaign. And if there is more than one campaign, this has to be done separately for each campaign.

The BizConnector model is very different. Instead of incorporating the notion of campaigns in which you have to specifically add members to campaigns, BizConnector has rules which ‘discover’ leads naturally and automatically when they match rule conditions.

There is a natural conflict in Campaigns vs Rules. Without BizConnector, the campaign drives how you decide what to do about a lead. In BizConnector, rules take over this role, and rules are much more dynamic in nature.

So, simply by the match of rule conditions with the field values in a lead or contact, a rule can ‘fire’ on that lead or contact. In this way a relationship is created between the rule and a lead or contact – individually. This relationship is dynamic – it starts when the match is recognized and the rule fires, and it stops when the rule conditions no longer apply to the lead or contact or when the rule actions have run their course.

This dynamic behavior is much more in tune with the needs of the market today. Market conditions change daily, if not hourly or by the minute. This is surely true for your industry. BizConnector rules are sensitive to change – in (near) real time – record by individual record. It is this flexibility and dynamism that makes BizConnector rules achieve your marketing, lead nurturing, and workflow objectives.

 

 

Are Your Drip Marketing Emails Too Long?

Drip Marketing has been around for some time now – long enough for people to understand that it is a way of keeping your company, product, or service ‘on top of mind’ over a period of time. It has been found to be a successful strategy, and is being used by a growing number of small businesses who realize that its benefits are not only the province of large companies.

There seem to be two different types of drip marketing campaigns – at least that I have observed. As far as I can tell, they produce very different results.

The first type is similar to mass emailing – only that mass emails are executed as drips. ie. Don’t only send one mass email; send a number of them, with perhaps some changes from one to the next.

The second type employs some level of interaction, and uses this interaction to determine what to do next.

The first type falls under the category of one-way communication (“Hello there! I have something to tell you!”), while the second uses, and relies on two-way communication to succeed.

The first type usually results in emails that are too long. There can be a number of reasons for this, but typically, senders are trying to get as much information as they can into each message. Result: recipients’ eyes gloss over, or the message gets deleted or ignored.

A number of articles have been written about why your emails are too long (Why your emails are too long — and how to improve, 10 Reasons Your Emails Are Too Long), and they get near, but don’t get the cigar. The real reason is relevance to the recipient’s question. This is the point. If you are employing one-way communication, you don’t have interactivity. Without interactivity, how do you know what the recipient is asking? And if you don’t know the question, how do you know that your message is relevant?

If you are the sender of interactive emails, your messages can be short, and to the point. Result: they are much more likely to be read – and responded to.

People no longer have time for wordy emails – especially when the communication is one-way. Email is not dead, and email campaigns will be around for a long time to come. The success of services like Twitter have shown that messages don’t have to be long to be understood. And this is especially true when interaction provides the context by which we communicate. So be brief!

As Baltasar Gracian (Spanish Philosopher) said: “Good things, when short, are twice as good.”

BizConnector employs two features which enable relevant interactivity in drip marketing campaigns:

  • It is based on rules, which only fire when their conditions are satisfied. Rule conditions are allied with relevance.
  • The Instant Feedback feature updates records in real-time when recipients respond to questions in the body of emails.

Isn’t it time you made your campaigns interactive?

 

Your First Marketing Automation Project – Learn From Other People’s Mistakes

Your first marketing automation project can be overwhelming – where do you start?

One way to look at this is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Knowing what not to do can often give you the insights you need to start off ‘on the right foot’, and the confidence to spend time and effort on the important things, and avoid the pitfalls. Basically, you get the benefit of someone else’s experience without having to make those same mistakes yourself – and waste time and money doing so.

The aim here is not to look down on others for their failures, but instead to applaud them for their courage in writing about them and giving us the opportunity to learn from them. The main points in the post were inspired by an article about a failed project [Marketing Automation – A Failure] – our thanks to the author who gave permission for this post.

Six ‘failure statements’ summarize the article – they are presented here.

1: “Our objectives for using a marketing automation product weren’t clear, and weren’t fully thought-through

As mentioned in a previous post, there’s a delicate balance between planning and execution that is pivotal in driving success or failure of this – or any other kind of – project. Sometimes described as top-down vs bottom-up, it goes something like this: The overarching strategy needs to be articulated before anything else – otherwise you find that you don’t know where you are going. So think through your objectives fully and clearly. But if you spend too much time at the strategic level before thinking about how you will execute your strategy, you lay yourself open to paralysis – ie. nothing gets done because your strategic thinking is not (ie. ‘never’) ‘complete’.

A healthy design process includes a ‘flexible dynamic’ between strategy and execution, where each provides feedback to the other. This is akin to ‘agile’ processes as practiced in software development – and other – industries.

2: “We didn’t have a marketing process to automate

The need to standardize and document the marketing process is not felt as strongly in smaller companies, where decision-making may be manifested in one or a few people.  But this does not mean that there is no business process in the marketing department – only that it is in peoples’ heads. This includes not only things like steps in the process, but also things like the status of a customer or prospect. ie. Lead from company x is rated ‘warm’ or is regarded as ‘not qualified’.

The design of a well-functioning business process – such as a marketing process – is not a trivial task. It takes time and skill to perfect. Trial and error are ever-present factors. This is truer for larger companies than for smaller companies.

So smaller companies should take heart. If your marketing process has not yet been documented, this is not a recipe for failure – only a motivation to start. Apply the same principle as above – ie. take baby steps.

3: “We didn’t have enough leads to nurture

This is a common lament for small companies. The best advice I can give for starting a marketing automation project is: Don’t, if you can already cope with the volume of leads that you have.

4: “We didn’t have the right content

Sending people relevant content – at the right time – is one of the most important areas that you should focus on in your marketing automation efforts. This goes by many names, the latest being ‘content marketing’ – something you can spend a lot of time searching on and reading. Depending on your budget, you may want to outsource this if you don’t have the in-house resources. Watch this space for guidance on how to plan and produce your message content.

5: “We never really thought about harnessing the tool to communicate with existing customers

Overheard at the water fountain: ‘There are no customers – only prospects’.

Well, this is not entirely true, and unless yours is a startup company, you most likely have a good sense of who your customers are.

The point is, however, that prospects have increasingly more ability to find out about your company, your products, and your services – with or without your help. And this goes for your customers too.

And given that you already have (some kind of) relationship with each one of your customers – whether weak or strong – it makes sense to take advantage of a marketing automation tool to reach them. You probably have more opportunities to connect with customers, as compared with prospects, because you can take advantage of existing touchpoints – especially if you use a marketing automation tool that employs triggered messaging, and is sensitive to changes in individual state. And you would naturally strengthen your relationships with your customers, which, as the lesson goes, would reduce your costs even further.

6: “We didn’t recycle leads

Just because leads/prospects don’t respond quickly to your initial outreach efforts does not mean that they are ‘dead’. Far from it! The lesson of the long tail has application here, and you may want to read this post. This is an area where flexibility of your marketing automation tool makes a big difference, because what you do need is an easy ability to communicate, perhaps in a modified (slower) way, with leads who may still be interested in your product or service – when they are ready. Don’t give up on them!

Do you have a failed marketing automation project to report? Please let us know if you do.

 

Raising Your Automation-Interaction Intelligence

Much has been written about the diminishing success of mass emails and how to develop new strategies that engage your prospects and customers. If you are up-to-date on this then you have probably recognized that it is no small task, not without its own challenges and pitfalls.

From its inception, BizConnector / Lead Follow-Up was built with bi-directional communication in mind. It incorporates the notion that communication is a series of ongoing ‘conversations’ with prospects and customers, and that each conversation is potentially different, just as much as each prospect or customer is potentially different. This is antithetical to the ‘one size fits all’ approach fundamental to the mass emailing model.

A conversation is an interaction between two parties. The term ‘interaction intelligence’ includes, among other things, how relevant one party’s messages are to the other. The more relevant a message, the more likely it will be taken into account by the other party.

Now bring automation into the picture. Automation-interaction intelligence measures how well you do all this automatically.

To be able to send relevant messages using an automated application requires that the application is sensitive not only to differences between its stored prospect and customer profiles, but that it is also sensitive to changes – in real time – in these profiles, and can react accordingly.

Not too many products do this successfully, and the reason for this may lie in their core architecture.

BizConnector / Lead Follow-Up does do this successfully. The main reason for this stems from its core architecture – manifested by (near) real time business rules (see What Is A Business Rule). The other is the Instant Feedback feature (see Getting Instant Feedback) that updates recipient responses in real-time.

These two mechanisms work symbiotically to respond sensitively to the profiles and stated needs of the target population, effectively raising its interaction intelligence through automation.

An Example:

If all this sounds too theoretical, then the following simple example may help to illustrate.

Let’s assume prospect records contain a field called ‘Product Interest’. This (required) field is populated initially by a prospect submitting a form on your website. Let’s say that for one prospect the field value starts off as ‘Product A’.

Let’s say you have two rules; Rule A firing and sending relevant emails over a period for ‘Product A’ prospects and another, Rule B, sending relevant emails over a period for ‘Product B’ prospects.

The above describes an ongoing ‘triggered email’ marketing environment in which prospects are receiving information (drip emails) relevant to their stated needs.

But in one or more of these emails you have an embedded ‘Instant Feedback’ question, and a prospect who initially requested ‘Product A’ information has changed her mind – now she wants ‘Product B’ information. She clicks ‘Tell me about Product B’ in the email.

Rule A immediately stops, and Rule B starts, for this prospect. The effect of this is that emails describing Product A are suppressed, and emails describing Product B start arriving in the recipient’s inbox.

Now wouldn’t you call that automated-interaction intelligence?

 

 

 

 

Workflow Automation for Small Business

In addition to its use as a drip marketing and lead nurturing tool, BizConnector enables workflow automation applications through the use of business rules.

As you may know, if you have watched the video or visited this site before, BizConnector is driven by business rules that the user defines. Business rules fire and execute one or more actions when the specified conditions are true.

A recent project implemented a workflow application for a customer. The business process flowed something like this:

  • Following requests from a prospect for services to be rendered (it’s an equipment rental business), a proposal document is generated and emailed to the prospect, with provision to be signed electronically (via Docusign – another Salesforce app)
  • The proposal is followed by reminder emails, at regular intervals
  • When the proposal document is signed, three things happen:
  •  1. Any remaining reminders are suppressed
  •  2. A contract document is immediately emailed, also to be electronically signed
  •  3. Reminders are emailed, and automatically suppressed when the contract document is signed
  • The automation for this second document is similar to the first
  • A payment document can accompany the contract document, or be sent afterwards…

The workflow automation was accomplished with a ‘rule condition data connector’ built to sense when Docusign documents are signed. Using data connectors like this is a powerful way to extend the reach of business rules.

The success of this project demonstrates that workflow applications are no longer the province of large enterprises. Small businesses can implement them too, using intelligent tools like BizConnector.