Scott Anderson, Sun Microsystems' eMarketing Director, has developed a number of ways to talk to customers on a person-to- person level for Sun’s financial services division, which he now plans to take company-wide.
"When a customer is ready to buy something, we’re top-of-the-mind because we’ve had an ongoing dialogue, and we’re relevant to them because we remember what they’ve told us," Anderson says.
We talked with Anderson about the basics in using a multi-channel campaign to deepen the customer relationship and drive the buying cycle.
-> Step #1: Focus all campaigns on gathering permission
In everything you do, drive permission to talk to your customers and give them the chance to have an ongoing dialogue with you.
"All of our print advertising has a call to action, to go to a Web site to opt into one of our programs," says Anderson.
As well as placing internal banners for opt-ins throughout www.sun.com, Anderson's team have developed a series of compelling landing pages to promote specific programs. These include: www.sun.com/whynot and www.sun.com/bignews
Anderson's team also place interactive ads elsewhere to gather permission. For example, one successful deal with a wireless company allowed a Sun Web event to become part of the calendar on PDAs.
The programs often go beyond the simple "sign up for our newsletter/white paper" route. For example, one particularly appealing offer to top prospects is an invite to join Sun's 'Executive Boardroom' where they will get 'Members-Only" access to online and in-person discussions with top Sun executives.
-> Step #2: Offer relevant, worthwhile content in exchange for prospect data
Prior to putting together online registration forms, ask yourself: What data do we really need? What data does sales need?
Then think, what can we give in return for the information that will seem worthwhile to the prospect? Getting information should be an even exchange, not a one-way street.
Anderson recommends offering prospects a variety of resources, including email newsletters, Web events, chats, and white papers. Remember, marketing hype is out and useful content is in.
"In this economy, for example, budgets for CIOs are remaining flat, yet demands continue to rise. Therefore, data center consolidation continues to be a good topic as IT managers are seeking to do more with what they already own," he says.
Hit your audience with the most pertinent topic. "Our financial services newsletter talks about the financial industry, and because we’re talking to a business audience we deliver industry news and offer insight into what we’re doing within these industries."
The email newsletters often include surveys, giving Sun the chance to get to know the readers better.
-> Step #3: Coordinate messaging with the sales force
As you learn more about your customers and your marketing messaging gets more targeted, it is important that the sales team is on the same page.
"We don’t have the sales force talking to a customer and then the newsletter lands on [a customer's] desk with a different focus. It must be integrated," Anderson says.
Sun uses a leads distribution and tracking system to make the most of customer contact.
First, they place "contact me" buttons throughout the site where customers are likely to see them and use them. For instance, on a product page. When someone asks to be contacted, Sun follows up to determine if they are looking for help, have a simple question, are requesting literature, etc.
Once that is determined, they are routed to the proper location for their query. For those who qualify as hot leads, their query is distributed to a sales rep who can contact them.
Most of all, remember: when the sale happens, that is not the end of the engagement. "We should focus even more effort on those people," Anderson says. How do you go about doing that? Notice he said "should."
"That’s our next step. The more data we can tie together, the more we understand what the customer needs. We’re still working on that."
While Sun tracks click patterns through its site, the Company does not track which specific article an individual visitor reads. "That would be a trust issue," Anderson says. "Every piece of data we collect is with their permission."
In fact, Sun’s entire approach to gathering info is based on trust, even subliminally.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles of this website are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect in any way the views of MarketingSherpa, its affiliates, or its employees.