Handling the Long Tail – Rules Working Together

BizConnector rules are autonomous. Ostensibly, they are not aware of each other.

But through rule actions that update fields, they can be made to work together in a seamless symbiosis!

Handling ‘the long tail’ is one example of how this can be implemented effortlessly in BizConnector. Let’s take a simple example:

  • Let’s say you have a web form on your site inviting people to learn more about a specific product or service.
  • And you have a rating system for leads – say hot, warm, and cool.
  • When anyone indicates their interest by submitting name and email address, you want to send a sequence of seven weekly emails.
  • You think the weekly frequency is appropriate for people who are interested in what you have to say.
  • You set up systems for those who respond quickly.
  • But what about those who don’t respond in the seven weeks?

 

Here’s the BizConnector solution:

  • In addition to the email content for the seven weekly emails, decide on email content that will be sent at a slower pace – for those leads who are not quick to respond.
  • Let’s say you will re-use some email templates, and create a few new ones as well.
  • The solution involves two rules – one for warm leads and one for cool leads. (Hot leads are those that responded within the first seven weeks.)
  • The warm rule will send seven weekly emails, and in the eighth week will update the Rating field to ‘cool’.
  • The cool rule will fire, and send ten monthly emails (note the slower pace…)
  • That’s all you need to do!

The effect of this is:

  • Everyone will start receiving the seven weekly emails.
  • But those who respond will only receive the weekly emails up to the point that they respond. They are not sent ‘irrelevant’ emails because of the ‘Check Before Send’ feature basic to the tool.
  • After the seventh week, those still on the drip will have their Rating field changed to ‘cool’.
  • This kicks off the cool rule, which starts sending the monthly emails.
  • You remain ‘top of mind’ for these non-responders.
  • Think of this as the ‘long tail’, about which plenty has been written – on the internet and elsewhere.

Now that was easy, wasn’t it?

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.