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.

 

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?

 

How Are Customers Using BizConnector / Lead Follow-Up?

An informal survey of BizConnector customers shows that the tool is being used in a number of different ways by different customers. Here, and in posts that will follow, are brief descriptions of some of them.

The most prevalent use of the tool is for lead nurturing.  Applications implemented in this category range from very simple to sophisticated.

A simple lead nurturing application  is:

  • New leads are added – via Salesforce ‘web2lead’ – when people fill out a form on a website page to express interest about a product or service.
  • A rule matching the profile of the new lead fires and schedules five to ten emails, distributed evenly over a period (usually weekly). The sequence of emails is often referred to under the category ‘drip marketing’.
  • Changes in lead ‘state’ – eg. was the lead contacted? – are usually not taken into account.

So for example, if this applies to one product or service, the effort required is to:

  • Articulate the strategy that drives this rule (the most difficult step)
  • Write the email content for the five to ten emails (hours or days per email, depending on a number of factors)
  • Create the rule (minutes or hours), test it (hours or days), then switch to ‘production mode’.

Even with such a simple application, customers report a huge benefit in that they are relieved from the tedious task of manually following up with new leads. This is a great timesaver with a big impact on the bottom line – lower costs.

To implement a more sophisticated lead nurturing application, additional todo items are:

  • Leads are given an initial rating of ‘warm’ (values can be hot, warm, cool, cold).
  • A rule matching the profile of new warm leads fires and schedules at least seven (*) emails.
  • There are more fields in the rule condition than in simpler applications, to take the ‘state’ and other factors into account, such as whether the lead has been contacted or not.
  • The ‘Check Before Send’ feature suppresses emails if the lead fields no longer match the rule conditions. This maintains relevance, so that leads are not receiving emails about products and services they are no longer interested in.
  • If a lead does not respond with the period of the rule (say, ten weeks), a ‘cool’ rule takes over (because the warm rule updates the lead rating to ‘cool’).
  • The ‘cool’ rule schedules, say, ten emails over a longer period (say ten months). This rule is effectively dealing with the ‘long tail’.

And if you are feeling adventurous, these additional steps make for a powerful application:

  • Create a rule to fire when recipients click on a link in an email
  • Embed a question in one or more emails to get instant feedback

More effort is required here than in the first example, but is still manageable:

  • Articulate the strategy that drives the two rules and the relationship between them.
  • Write the email content for the emails for both rules (hours or days per email)
  • Create the rules (minutes or hours), test them (days), then switch to ‘production mode’.

In addition to the benefits as for simple applications, customers love the ‘intelligent’ responsiveness of:

  • suppressing emails when they are no longer relevant
  • switching over to the ‘cool’ rule for non-responsive leads
  • rules firing when recipient click on links in emails
  • getting responses to the embedded questions directly in the records without having to mess with cumbersome uploads from spreadsheets, etc.

Automated lead nurturing was ‘top of mind’ when Lead Follow-Up was first released on Salesforce AppExchange in 2007. But it is not the only reason why customers use the tool – workflow applications can be implemented too. Come back again to see more posts on this.

 

 

Getting Instant Feedback From Your Emails

One feature that has been available for some time now is Instant Feedback. This is a closed-loop feedback mechanism that works by embedding a question in an email, and updating the recipient’s lead or contact record in real time when he/she responds. It’s a gem that deserves more attention.

Here’s an example:

You would start by creating a custom field in (let’s say) the lead record that will receive the response. In this example the custom field, with name When Expect To Buy, is a picklist created in the Salesforce Setup area under Customize Lead Fields.

With this in place, it’s a simple matter to embed the question in an html email. In the html editor Instant Feedback tab, you would make selections something like this.

Custom field selections

You would then set the insertion point by clicking where in the email body you want the questions to go, and then click Insert. The question would then appear in the email, with a look as follows:

Although they look like radio buttons, they are actually links which, when clicked, update the lead record in real-time.

This is a ‘self-service’ feature, the advantages of which should not be missed.

  • The effort required to make changes in lead records is eliminated – the prospect does this for you
  • It provides an opportunity for interaction, which interested prospects and customers appreciate
  • It can take advantage of the ‘Check Before Send’ feature to move a prospect or customer to another rule more relevant to his/her needs
  • It can be used to automatically segment your database – without you lifting a finger!

This is automation at its best, and it has been used effectively by many users. Is this something you would be interested in?

A Little BizConnector History

At this juncture, with the start of a new year and the relaunch of this website, it may be useful to take a look at the history of BizConnector since its appearance in 2005, to relate it to its offshoot ‘Lead Follow-Up’ on Salesforce.com, and in a future post, to describe its expected evolution and roadmap.

BizConnector started off as ‘a web-based email communication tool that enables ‘contextual interaction’ with recipients, addressing the needs of companies seeking to cultivate their customers and grow their businesses by using the latest web technologies to manage marketing campaigns in an intelligent way’. Essentially, it was a mass-emailer with interactive ability – a trail-blazer in many ways.

The original BizConnector had a place for business rules, but it was the development of Lead Follow-Up – a marketing automation app on Salesforce AppExchange – that featured real-time business rules as its core architectural foundation. As the name implies, Lead Follow-Up was built – with a more restricted vision than the original BizConnector – to address the needs of marketers to nurture leads and prospects. Integrated deeply with Salesforce.com through the API, its basic modus operandi is to use events in Salesforce data to trigger ‘drip marketing’ campaigns and workflows. It was expanded to attach not only to Leads, but to Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, Tasks, Events, and Cases. And it incorporates features such as landing pages and a closed-loop feedback mechanism that makes it a powerful tool, despite its apparent simplicity.

BizConnector can now be described, at its core, as a (Near) Real-Time Business Rules Engine for small business. With the development of ‘channels’ that can be used for business rule triggers and actions, BizConnector now has the ability to connect with external systems and applications, be triggered by events outside Salesforce, and pull content from multiple sources. Channels are open-ended, and can be developed by third parties. And the forthcoming BizConnector API, to be announced, will provide a platform for new and exciting applications.

Please visit here again for more information about the BizConnector roadmap.