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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Are you ready for marketing automation?

As marketing automation is gaining ground and is being considered by small businesses in efforts to compete, this question presents a challenge that you may be facing at this moment. So how do you fare?

Here are some questions that will help you decide:

  • Can you identify a target market, that you interact with currently or in the future, where the volume of interactions, by email, phone, or other channel, is more than your company can handle without automation?
  • What is the likely outcome if you fail to interact (eg. follow up) with this audience?
  • Are you losing sales to your competitors because they are using this technology and you are not?

Hopefully these questions will spur you to consider marketing automation as a possible solution for your business.

A General Approach:

Given that you are motivated, where do you start? I usually suggest these first steps to my clients and prospects.

1) Define strategy first

If the overall strategy relating to the area of need (marketing, sales, service/support, other…) has not been articulated, this should be done before anything else. This typically has the effect of forcing you to  more clearly define where marketing automation should be addressed, and to prioritize these needs if there is more than one.

However, we need to be careful here. I do not wish to imply that this be a top-heavy exercise. Rather, it should be the opposite – I typically encourage people to take ‘baby steps’, and not try to solve the whole requirement in one fell swoop. I regard this as one of the most important aspects of this process, and I have seen more than one case where a (pure) top-down approach where everything has to be defined before the start (usually felt necessary by perfectionists) leads to failure.

So I would say ‘the light touch’ is important here.

2) Align implementation with strategy

Easier said than done!

It turns out that BizConnector makes this easier for you. Because BizConnector is rule-based – with rules defined by the client, it has a built-in advantage. And that is, that if you have articulated your strategy clearly, then there is a very good chance of having a one-to-one alignment between an expression of strategy and a rule.

ie. the (piece of) strategy can be expressed as a rule.

3) Other factors

In pursuit of the above, there are many things that need attention, not least of which is the design of content, feedback mechanisms, as well as training, effecting culture change, etc.

4) Test, and test again

This point cannot be over-emphasized. It’s too easy to fall on your face because the wrong messages were sent out to live people (at the wrong time).

5) Refine and expand

Basing the implementation on a non-top-down approach, it is easier for clients to increase their level of marketing automation sophistication with the confidence that arises from successful first steps.

I hope this gives you a good place to start.

I welcome inquiries from anyone who would like to know more.