Interview: How Marketers Can Leverage Technology for Data

In this video, Jessica Shaanan interviews Christi Keating Williams about the software and tools that marketing uses, and how marketers use that technology to drive data-backed decisions.

What software couldn't you live without?

HubSpot. You want to look at statistics to see where leads are coming from, and HubSpot makes it very easy to track leads and deals. Did the leads come from an event and what event? Did they search on Google? At the end of the year, I can look at my prebuilt dashboards to see where our revenue came from. How much revenue came from this event or this SEO initiative? This allows me to make better decisions. If something didn't work or generate any revenue, I can say let's not do that again. Alternatively, you can see what got so much revenue from this so let's reinvest in that particular area. It can be really telling on what's working and what's not. Additionally, you can look at the sales activity and attribution reports to see how much it takes from creating brand awareness to becoming a customer.

This allows me to make better decisions. If something didn't work or generate any revenue, I can say let's not do that again. Alternatively, you can see what got so much revenue from this so let's reinvest in that particular area.

This goes back to 'data is gold' because you're making decisions based on all the data in HubSpot.

Yes, marketing is so much testing and figuring out what works, but if you don't have data to make those decisions, it's a shot in the dark. You need some sort of data to say we're going to test this because that data shows this. As you continue to test, you can use that data to make really good decisions and as a result, you'll see that ROI continues to grow. And I make sure that the team is filling in the right information so that the data is accurate. We're one department in sales and marketing and so I feel confident in relying on the data so I can get them the leads they want.

You said 'I can rely on the team to put the data in.' How do you know that the data is accurate?

Garbage in, garbage out, so you have to make sure the reports are telling the true story. The only way that can be done is if the data is accurate. We have daily sync with the team talking about new leads, open opportunities, where things are going next with particular contacts or opportunities, and I'm so much more in the know, which is so important as a marketing leader. This allows me to make sure we're delivering the right messaging to the right people. It's a communication factor and I can easily go into HubSpot and look at the activity in there to fill in data. HubSpot also has workflows to automate some of this. I have my checks and balances, but at the end of the day tracking their data is going to help them do their jobs better.

Even in this environment of working remotely, has your comfort level changed at all with regards to the accuracy of the data?

Honestly no, our team particularly - Managed Solution had a flexible work remote policy pre-COVID so I was going into the office a few days a week only and the sales team is typically out in the field. We have Microsoft Teams to leverage for video and I get to see their faces every morning so it's nice to connect that way and using Teams to communicate a lot of the data I'm talking about. My HubSpot reports are live links that live in Teams. Anyone from anywhere, can go in and look at the data if you're part of that Team to get the information they need. For example, the Director of Sales looking at how marketing is contributing to pipeline or the leadership reviewing initiatives to provide feedback. Having a transparent view really helps keep us aligned.

How do you find the integration with HubSpot and Microsoft?

HubSpot has an open API so you can build really anything you want, and through Zapier there are options, but it also has native integrations. It integrates with Outlook so now sales has that connected and no longer has to manually log emails or calls, it will automatically put the information into HubSpot. You can filter your reports and the link to those reports won't change, even if you change the reports so that live link can live somewhere without changing. You can also automate the delivery of these reports and send out a weekly or monthly email report to whoever needs it. This gives a nice pulse check of where we're at with goals.

It's important to trust the people behind the technology, I'm sure you have ideas for how our business intelligence can look in the future.

It goes back to the 4 T's - Trust, Transparency, Technology, and the right Team. You have all those things and you have this well oiled machine. In sales and marketing you hear a lot about the funnel and leads come in the top, you qualify them and they become a customer. HubSpot has since remodeled that to the flywheel, and it's all about sales, marketing and customer service working together so there's no friction. This allows you to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. That again goes back to data, being able to look at - what webpages a prospect is looking at - the data that's automatically collected versus the data that's put in by the team, it can really make our jobs easier. You can be more strategic, you're more intentional with your time and outreach.

What piece of advice would you give to business leaders in regards to marketing, technology, people?

Don't silo marketing, make sure they're aligned with the sales team because at the end of the day your goals are the same - to drive revenue and satisfy customers.

It's important that, similar to IT, marketing used to be its own silo-ed department, and I always joke about companies using billboards and how can they determine ROI on those types of traditional marketing without the technology and data we have today.

My first piece of advice is set up the reporting and your processes of how you're tracking your activities so that it serves that reporting. Marketing can play such an important role throughout the organization - not just serving sales by generating leads, but with culture - I work with HR to create fun events or games for the company. Also working with the customer service team - what are our customers saying, what do they like, what don't the like, what's missing. This way marketing can play a role in delivering information to them, additional resources that might be helpful to them.

I had a customer email me the other day with some questions about Teams and I answered her questions and also sent her a Getting Started with Teams Guide and she loved it. Those touchpoints are so critical and not every business leader realizes how much marketing can play in generating leads and delighting customers. Don't silo marketing, make sure they're aligned with the sales team because at the end of the day your goals are the same - to drive revenue and satisfy customers.

Microsoft launches new email marketing and invoicing tools for small businesses

[vc_row][vc_column][grve_single_image image="17396"][vc_column_text]As written by Frederic Lardinois on techcrunch.com

In the shadow of its Inspire partner conference, Microsoft today launched in preview three new tools for small businesses: Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings and Microsoft Invoicing. These join the company’s existing stable of small business tools like Microsoft Bookings and the Outlook Customer Manager.

Microsoft Connections allows its users to create Mailchimp-like email marketing campaigns. The new service, which is available on the web, Android and iOS, will offer the usual trappings of an email marketing campaign tool, including the ability to manage subscribers, monitor campaign performance (open rates, clicks, new customers, redemptions, etc.) and, of course, create the actual campaigns. While the details about how exactly the service works remain sparse, Microsoft says it will offer users a number of pre-designed templates for their newsletters and “simple ways for people to join your mailing list or unsubscribe.” A company spokesperson also told us that the new tools will be available at no extra cost.[/vc_column_text][grve_single_image image="17398"][vc_column_text]The idea here is obviously to tie users deeper into the Office 365 ecosystem and give them an alternative to the likes of MailChimp. Microsoft argues that getting started with email marketing “can be overwhelming.” While its competitors will surely disagree, there can’t be any doubt that those small businesses that already use Office 365 as their productivity suite of choice will appreciate the addition of this new tool.

Also new is Microsoft Invoicing, a new tool for — you guessed it — creating invoices and estimates. From what we can see, it’s a pretty straightforward service and the standout feature for many businesses is likely that it can be integrated with PayPal so small businesses can easily accept credit card payments. There also is a QuickBooks connector that lets you connect your accounting software (and your accountant) with this new invoicing tool.[/vc_column_text][grve_single_image image="17399"][vc_column_text]The third new tool is Microsoft Listings, which allows you to manage your business listings on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp and monitor online views and reviews. It obviously competes with a number of similar tools that do the same, but just like with the other new offerings, it’s a way for Microsoft to keep its users inside its own ecosystem.

The new applications are now available through Microsoft’s Office 365 First Release program.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Managed Solution has been announced the Microsoft 2016 US SMB Champions Club SMB Marketer of the Year

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Managed Solution has been announced the Microsoft 2016 US SMB Champions Club SMB Marketer of the Year

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SAN DIEGO, CA - July 11, 2016 - Microsoft Corp. recognized award winners and finalists from around the world today at the 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference taking place in Toronto, Canada. Managed Solution, a highly honored and tenured managed services company and pioneer in managed, utility-based cloud computing, has been announced the Microsoft 2016 US SMB Champions Club SMB Marketer of the Year, selected from more than 2,500 nominations collected from 119 different countries worldwide based on their commitment to customers, their solution’s impact on the market and exemplary use of Microsoft technologies.
"We are extremely honored to be recognized for our originality and success not only in marketing but also the ability of our sales team to take the ball and run with it, resulting in some great numbers this year for Managed Solution", says Jackie Wiener, Vice President of Marketing at Managed Solution.
“The 2016 Partner of the Year Award winners and finalists represent the most innovative and transformative work being done across our partner community,” said Gavriella Schuster, general manager, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft. “It is important to recognize and celebrate the value and opportunity these solutions create for our mutual customers. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists on this tremendous achievement.”
The Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards recognize Microsoft partners that have developed and delivered exceptional Microsoft-based solutions during the past year.

About Managed Solution

Managed Solution is the premier provider of outsourced IT support and managed services for small to large size businesses. Founded in 2002, the company quickly grew into a market leader and is recognized as one of the fastest growing IT Companies in Southern California. Managed Solution continues to deliver award-winning services paired with leading business technologies to assist clients in running their business efficiently.

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Marketing agency improves technology, saves $87,000 with cloud-based telephony

Marketing agency improves technology, saves $87,000 with cloud-based telephony

For BDSmktg, its field staff is the core of its business, with only a small percentage of employees at headquarters. BDSmktg is using Skype for Business Online in Microsoft Office 365 to knit these two groups more closely together, accelerate business, and save bundles of money. With Skype for Business Online, BDSmktg will save US$87,000 annually in personal phone charge reimbursements, audio conferencing fees, and PBX maintenance, and avoid the need to spend $250,000 on a new PBX system.

Flustered by phones

James Metcalfe never imagined that the most troublesome technology in his company would be the most mundane: phones.
James Metcalfe is Director of IT Network Infrastructure for BDSmktg, an agency that provides retail marketing services for world-class brands by representing their products and services in stores. The Irvine, California¬–based agency provides thousands of representatives each year to some of the biggest names in retail.
James Metcalfe had already outfitted several hundred of the agency’s full-time employees with Microsoft Office 365 to give them anytime, anywhere, any-device access to email, document storage, document sharing, and web conferencing. Employees used the latest PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
But old-fashioned phone communications posed a growing problem. Only a small percentage of BDSmktg employees work at the Irvine headquarters, while thousands work in the field—from home or on the road—because their jobs require that they be near the stores they service.
A significant portion of the company’s large recruiting team and extensive field staff used their personal phones to conduct business, and BDSmktg reimbursed them for the charges. But this was expensive and problematic. When job candidates returned calls to recruiters, they could end up talking to a recruiter’s family member. Or, if recruiters or field operations managers left BDSmktg and went to work for a competitor, they took job candidates’ phone numbers with them.
“There were delays in tracking down phone numbers to reach colleagues, which slowed down the business,” Metcalfe says.
In the Irvine office, the company’s private branch exchange (PBX) system was old, out of date, and hemorrhaging money. “Every time we had budget talks, the PBX system came up, but sticker shock ended the discussion,” Metcalfe says. “The timing was never right to make the large investment to replace or upgrade it.”

One way to connect everyone

In late 2015, BDSmktg asked to be part of a Microsoft early adopter program for a new version of Skype for Business Online (part of Microsoft Office 365) that included significant telephony enhancements. Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling provide software-based PBX functionality with a bank of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers. PSTN Conferencing allows people invited to a Skype for Business Online meeting to join by dialing in over a landline or mobile phone (rather than the Internet).
BDSmktg gave Skype for Business Online to about 300 of its employees, and adoption was instant and enthusiastic. “We’ve been using Lync Online for years, so our staff already had experience with chat, screen share, and video and web conferencing,” Metcalfe says. “Adding PSTN Conferencing and PSTN Calling just makes communications even simpler. With Skype for Business Online, we have one way to connect everyone, wherever they are, whatever device they’re using, and whether they’re connected to the Internet or not.”

More professional, more accountable

Today, BDSmktg employees who work from home have an assigned Skype for Business Online phone number that they use for work calls; no more giving out personal phone numbers. When an employee leaves BDSmktg, there’s no longer the worry that a personal phone number is a contact’s only link to the company. BDSmktg simply reassigns the Skype for Business Online phone number to a new employee, maintaining continuity with client and job candidate communications.
“With PSTN Calling, we can track every inbound and outbound call, see the number called, and the duration of the call,” Metcalfe says. “We have much better accountability around a critical part of our business.”

Work effectively from anywhere

Employees working from home now feel better connected to the company because they can connect quickly with colleagues. “We’re able to provide more seamless communication for our employees who work from home,” Metcalfe says. “People are blown away by the quality of the HD Voice in Skype for Business Online. They don’t want to go back to regular phones.”
BDSmktg management likes the flexibility that the new features provide. “With Skype for Business Online, we have more freedom to place people wherever the business needs them to be, rather than having technology limitation determine employee access,” says Ken Kress, President of BDSmktg.

Huge savings

Management also likes the savings. By using Skype for Business Online for field staff telephony, BDSmktg eliminates the need to reimburse employees for calls made from personal devices—a US$12,000 annual savings.
By replacing the $8,000-a-month licenses from its current conferencing provider with a $1,700-a-month Skype for Business Online subscription, BDSmktg will save $75,000 annually.
And by replacing its physical PBX with Cloud PBX, BDSmktg will avoid a $250,000 replacement cost and ongoing maintenance costs of $35,000 a year.
Last but not least is the real estate cost avoidance that BDSmktg could realize by using Skype for Business Online. “We’ll avoid significant costs to expand our office as our company grows as we enable more people and roles to work from home,” Metcalfe says.

Easy to manage

From Metcalfe’s perspective, having telephony functionality bundled with Office 365 makes his life easier. He eliminates the work and expense of a physical phone infrastructure. It’s far easier to move employees around the office and to move them from office to home. “Scaling up and creating additional phone numbers with PSTN Calling is very straightforward,” Metcalfe says.
There are fewer vendors and bills to manage. More services on user desktops are connected and interoperable, making support easier. “Giving employees new capabilities and saving money is what a successful IT department strives for,” Metcalfe says. “I’ve been championing a new phone system for three years, and to finally find a solution that is affordable, easy to implement, and easy to use is a game changer.”

Next, extend to every field employee

Metcalfe’s vision is for all the company’s thousands of field staff representatives to have access to Skype for Business Online and other Office 365 services. The above-mentioned savings could well make this possible.
“It would be ideal for our field operations managers to easily and instantly connect with the representatives that they manage,” Metcalfe says. “Everyone would have the Skype for Business Online mobile app on their smartphones. As our field programs ramp up and down, we adjust our Office 365 subscriptions as required using a central admin portal. It would make us more nimble, more responsive, and more competitive than ever.”

Case Study: Heineken Uses the Cloud to Reach 10.5 Million Consumers in Global Marketing

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Heineken Uses the Cloud to Reach 10.5 Million Consumers in Global Marketing Campaign

As written on customers.microsoft.com
“Nobody does it better” than secret agent James Bond. So it was natural that when world-class brewer HEINEKEN launched a global marketing campaign, it would partner with the Bond franchise. And when that campaign needed an equally first-class cloud platform, HEINEKEN turned to Microsoft Azure. HEINEKEN then used Azure for promotions that were even more technically demanding, including one with the UEFA Champions League. Azure “put our stakeholders at ease,” says an executive.

Business Needs

When James Bond is on the scene, the fate of the world often lies in the balance. When HEINEKEN decided to launch a global marketing campaign based on the latest Bond movie, the stakes were also high.
HEINEKEN, which sells its flagship premium beer in 178 countries, has long run innovative marketing campaigns around the world. Along with great beer, it’s part of what makes Heineken one of the world’s best-known brands. But the 2012 campaign, based on the Bond movie Skyfall, was different than what HEINEKEN had done before. Traditionally, its marketing operation had been fairly decentralized. The campaigns might have been global, but how they were implemented was not. Those decisions had been largely left to the company’s scores of national and regional marketing divisions. Rollout dates, for example, were left to the divisions and, consequently, global campaigns could be launched gradually over a period of months.
But HEINEKEN had been centralizing its marketing functions for several years. For the Bond promotion, it planned to launch the campaign at the same time everywhere on the planet. That created unprecedented challenges for HEINEKEN—nowhere more so than in its technology operation. The primary digital content for the campaign was a 100-megabyte movie that had to play flawlessly for millions of viewers worldwide. After all, Bond never fails. No one was going to tolerate a technology failure that might bruise his brand.
Previously, HEINEKEN had supported digital media at its outsourced datacenter. But that datacenter lacked the computing resources HEINEKEN needed, and building them—especially to support peak traffic that would total millions of simultaneous hits—would have been both time-consuming and expensive. Nor would it have provided the geographic reach that HEINEKEN needed to minimize latency worldwide.

Solution

The cloud was the way to go—but which cloud? HEINEKEN looked at Amazon Web Services—and chose Microsoft Azure. “With Azure, we didn’t have to invest in managing servers, so we could focus on delivering the most successful campaign,” says Ewout Barendregt, Global Center of Excellence Manager at HEINEKEN. To help deliver that successful campaign, the company used the Azure Content Delivery Network to make the digital content available quickly, reliably, and globally to 10.5 million consumers.
The next year, HEINEKEN faced a digital marketing challenge that was in some ways even greater. This time, HEINEKEN based a global campaign on UEFA Champions League (UCL) soccer games. The campaign would launch simultaneously in more than 70 markets and 30 languages. But although the Skyfall campaign had “merely” required the company to host a giant website to serve content, the UCL campaign would require real-time computing on a global scale.
That’s because the centerpiece of the UCL campaign was a pinball game for consumers to play live against players anywhere in the world. The solution would also have to support multiple leaderboards for each player, based on the number of friends and family that an individual played with. It would require real-time updating of the leaderboards as play was underway. HEINEKEN wanted the technology to support 1 million simultaneous users. And, in the words of Lennart Boorsma, Digital Marketing Manager at HEINEKEN, “It couldn’t fail.”
To meet these requirements, HEINEKEN expanded its use of Azure from one datacenter to four—one each in Europe and Asia, and two in the US—gaining geo-redundancy and low latency. Data was stored in Azure Table Storage for asynchronous updates. The storage was structured with 10,000 partitions—up from 10 initially—for the requisite scalability. HEINEKEN developed the solution using Microsoft Visual Studio 2013. The architecture was tested with a Visual Studio load-testing cluster to generate the load and test the application without testing the Internet. Microsoft Services consultants helped develop and load-test the solution, and resolve performance issues.
The results of this solution (see below) led HEINEKEN to use Azure again, in yet another way, for its Open Your City campaign. In this campaign, consumers interact with HEINEKEN through Twitter and other social media to get suggestions on “socially hot” clubs and bars located near them at any given moment.
“Given the success of these campaigns, we now use Microsoft cloud services beyond marketing,” says Boorsma, citing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for customer relationship management and Office 365 for increased employee productivity.

Benefits

HEINEKEN has used Azure in three global campaigns, supporting millions of users, minimizing latency, and laying the foundation for significant cost savings.

Scales to 2 Million Gameplays per Hour

HEINEKEN used Microsoft Azure to achieve 100 percent reliability on a massive scale. The platform exceeded its service-level agreement with perfect performance in the UCL campaign, supporting 2 million gameplays per hour and with capacity for more than 40 million players in all.
“Azure didn’t let us down,” says Boorsma. “More than that, it gave us a way to assure senior management that we could support this massive, global campaign. It put our stakeholders at ease, knowing that we had them covered. When you bring out a global campaign with such bravura, you really do need to make sure that all your homework is done. With Azure, it was. Thank you, Microsoft.”

 

Delivers Latency of 200–300 Milliseconds

HEINEKEN also met its requirements for low latency worldwide with Azure. Latency rates ranged from 7 milliseconds to 535 milliseconds, with typical rates clustering between 200 and 300 milliseconds. That was a tremendous benefit for global, real-time game-playing. As a result, players enjoyed their experiences and continued playing for an average of 4.5 minutes.
“Latency is something that players shouldn’t even have to think about,” says Barendregt. “Thanks to Azure, it wasn’t an issue. That was an important factor keeping people on the site and in the game. When you consider we had 5.2 million players during the run of the campaign, that comes to 55 years of brand engagement—an insane number.”

 

Provides Reliability, Savings, Flexibility

Boorsma expects that HEINEKEN will make more use of Azure, both for marketing campaigns and other purposes. For example, Azure could play a role in the company’s website upgrade.
“We will definitely continue to use Azure,” says Boorsma. “We need the reliability it gives us. We can also envision using Azure to avoid the costs of building and maintaining additional datacenters around the world. We could use Azure as part of a hybrid solution with our existing resources. It gives us tremendous flexibility.”

 

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As one of the biggest, brightest and friendliest IT companies in Southern California we want you to take advantage of our free security assessment or just request a quote for managed services. We can even work on your behalf to get appropriate projects funded by Microsoft. Call Managed Solution at 800-790-1524.

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Wednesdays With Will - Business Resolutions

Business Resolutions

Wednesdays With Will: Business Resolutions

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
I know this greeting is about five days late but…Happy New Year! That’s the challenge of “Wednesdays With Will”, I have to stick to my day (Wednesday) for the blog title to make sense. Regardless, I’m sure most of you participated in the common ritual of making resolutions for self-improvement now that a New Year is upon us. Instead of asking about your personal resolutions, why don’t we discuss your business resolutions for the year? This question isn’t intended to give you anxiety but to get you thinking about how you can take what you did well in 2015 and make it great in 2016. Let’s narrow the focus to 3 areas that are common among most businesses no matter the size or industry…Sales, Marketing, and Customer Services/Support.
If your business is like 99.99% of businesses today, you are looking for ways to improve at least one if not all of these aspects of your organization. As we discussed in previous posts, one of the best ways a business can address all three facets or each individual component would be to leverage a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Is your sales team currently using one to track your interactions with customers, prospects, and opportunities? Is your marketing team using one to manage marketing campaigns (including budgets), gauge effectiveness of individual campaigns, and track social sentiment to better position your organization through messaging? And finally does your customer service or support team have the tools to effectively service your customers so that they become your advocates? These are all tasks that can be easily managed by a CRM.
It’s a New Year so that means you have a fresh start and new opportunity to set your business up for success. Seize the opportunity and have the conversation now. What you do in January will dictate your success for the rest of the year.

 

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.