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Mar 19, 2003
How To

Four Steps Sun Microsystems Uses to Gather Prospects' Emails and Raise Sales

SUMMARY: No summary available.
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."

-> Step #4: Maintain a strict privacy policy

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.

Case in point: On the Executive Boardroom offer landing page, the
privacy policy is right there at the top rather than hidden at
the bottom or even a few clicks away. It gives the impression
that privacy is a top issue and (along with the photo of the CEO
looking casually confident) it all but shouts, "Trust us. We know
what we’re doing."
See Also:

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