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Marketo's Show
April 16, 2014
Marketo put on an interesting show last week at Moscone West in San Francisco. Still basking in last year's IPO, the company attracted a large and diverse audience of marketers who wanted to learn about modern marketing automation, and it was a good opportunity to take stock of where marketing has been and where it is going. The impression I got was that modern marketing is in its early phase.
Small Biz CRM Secrets Any Business Can Use
April 10, 2014
The rise of Internet commerce sounded a death knell for small businesses. Large e-tailers could wield massive buying power, had less overhead than brick-and-mortar stores, and could appeal to customers in new ways. They could collect customer data in the course of doing business, and turn around and use that data to better market to their customers. How could a small retailer compete?
Setting Goals and Rewards
April 09, 2014
You should check out The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. It's a thoughtful analysis of the technology progression handed to us by Moore's Law and its effect on every aspect of our lives. Their thesis is simple yet powerful. Over the last 10 years or so, the pace of innovation has accelerated. Processes that were only imaginable before are becoming easy.
3 Ways to Source Ideas From Your Customers
April 03, 2014
The era of inbound marketing is upon us, but a great many businesses are fearful of it. Having worked as a magazine editor and a content marketer, I find the conversations very familiar: People who haven't written or who hate to write often fall back on the excuse, "I don't know what to write." A variation on that theme is people saying they don't know what their content should be about.
Transaction or Process?
April 02, 2014
After many years, I think I can boil down CRM to this: Vendors prepare for transactions but customers expect process. Of course, this demands elaboration and neither of these ideas is stationary. The desire for better processes evolves as customers and markets do, and transactions become more sophisticated as vendors play catch-up with their markets.
Telecom Customer Service: The Wrong Things Stay the Same
March 27, 2014
I started writing about service as a magazine editor back in the last century -- well, 1996, if you want to be specific -- but it might as well have been in the days of hula hoops and big fins on Fords. Service practices for telephone companies -- and for all utilities -- were still rudimentary, and they weren't getting any better. The telecom act of 1996 opened up competition.
Getting Mobile App Devs to Jump on Your Bandwagon
March 24, 2014
Earlier this year, during the Mobile World Congress, Jon Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation, made a compelling argument for the use of bitcoin in mobile payment applications. Mobile payments have not made the traction many expected they would -- but bitcoin could neatly circumvents all of the obstacles that have held them back, Matonis explained.
Developing Customer IP
March 19, 2014
Sales people have been demanding better leads for a long time, and marketing today is in a position to provide them. At the same time, marketers have discovered that the kind of data they collect is as important as its volume. Marketers need to provide rich prospect profiles that answer many of sales people's most important questions: Is there a need? a budget? an executive sponsor?
4 Sharp Tools for Honing Reseller Loyalty
March 17, 2014
As tricky as CRM seems, it's nothing compared to managing relationships with indirect channel partners. I often joke that it's CRM to the second power: You must not only manage the CRM tasks you always needed to do to create a relationship with end customers, but also enable partners to sell, service and support on your behalf. When it comes to selling, reseller partners are motivated.
The Fine Art of Belly Scratching
March 12, 2014
I was at a dinner at a working cattle ranch outside of Denver not long ago, but it was a ranch with a difference. Rather than raising cattle for the table, the business raised breeding stock and sent animals and other products, like embryos, all over the world. Every animal on the ranch had its genetic makeup tracked in a database and a unique ear tag that told something about it.
Adding Channels Won't Fix Broken Customer Service
March 07, 2014
Technology allows businesses to take care of customers in new and different ways. Think of the multiple options we have for customer service with many businesses today: phone, chat, text, email and sometimes social media channels. They all have their own nuances, and they all place specific demands on your staff. The problem is that a new channel won't fix what's causing other channels to fail.
The Order to Cash Subscription Process
March 05, 2014
Subscription companies face many of the same challenges that more conventional companies face, but the nature of these businesses puts an entirely different spin on the challenges. All companies have to acquire new customers, make products and price them attractively without leaving money on the table. Once a product is purchased, a company needs to get the cash in house as quickly as possible.
4 Ways to Waste Great Marketing Opportunities
February 28, 2014
CRM has always purported to be about relationships, but it's often used primarily for sales. That's kind of a good news, bad news situation. The bad news first: CRM got a bad rap when it didn't become a sales panacea (mostly for adoption issues). The good news: It exposed a void in the mix that marketing automation rushed to fill. The key to successful relationships is communication.
Big Data and the Process Revolution
February 26, 2014
A wave of change is now making its way through the front office with uneven results. CRM is moving from a data capture and retrieval solution to something that supports end-to-end processes -- and as with ERP, data analysis is helping to improve what once were purely manual processes. The trick is in producing knowledge from data. Alone, data is useless.
The Customer Experience Jury Is In
February 21, 2014
There are lots of purchases we make because we're forced to make them -- something we need breaks, or an outside entity requires us to buy something. We're not buying because we want to, or even because the purchase will make our business run better -- we have to buy. A lot of providers of these absolute must-have products and services don't emphasize the experience aspect of what they do.
Transition State
February 20, 2014
The CRM market appears to be experiencing a transition state -- something betwixt and between, a time of high energy and great possibility, above all a time of change. A ball bouncing around a spinning roulette wheel is in a transition state; chemical reactions go through transition states as reactants become products. The key concept is indeterminacy.
Completeness Is the New Black
February 12, 2014
Are we collecting enough data? It seems like a weird question given the glut of it at most companies, and perhaps it is. Perhaps a better question is, are we collecting the right data? We could get into a long philosophical discussion of just what the right data is, but that would only happen if we made the mistake of thinking all data was the same.
'Nontraditional' Is the Name of the New CRM Game
February 10, 2014
Fueled by its recent infusion of $40 million by Goldman Sachs to invest in sales and marketing, SugarCRM plans to focus on "the nontraditional use of CRM," said VP of Marketing Jennifer Stagnaro. "That is, we plan to go beyond the traditional uses of sales force automation and customer service and marketing automation," she said, noting that nontraditional uses of CRM are on the rise.
Looking for Customer Love in All the Right Places
February 07, 2014
If you're a vendor, the idea of providing visibility is a winning notion. It's what's driven social CRM-related software tools and analytics to their current prominence within the market, and it's why the "Internet of Things" is so alluring. The problem that these technologies purportedly solve is a lack of visibility -- that is, the inability to understand what's going on with customers.
Google Glass Could Bring CRM Into Focus
February 06, 2014
Google last week debuted several trendy eyeglass frames for Glass, shedding its dorky look while accommodating prescription lenses. The more natural look means consumers likely will be more accepting of Glass once it becomes generally available -- assuming the price is right. The new Glass frames and support for corrective lenses are also a boon for CRM.
Oracle Calls Out Amazon, Salesforce
February 03, 2014
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said last week that IBM and SAP were no longer in his gun sights. Instead, Oracle is focusing on cloud infrastructure companies such as Amazon and SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com. However, Oracle is "kidding itself" if it thinks it can crack the IaaS/PaaS market any time soon, said Synergy Research Group's John Dinsdale.
Give Customers a Buying Experience They Can't Resist
January 31, 2014
When people talk about the customer experience, the thinking gets lofty quickly. The word "delight" is dropped a lot, people cite things like the American Girl Store or Nordstrom -- and soon over-the-top seems like what the norm should be. The experiences provided by the very best at creating experiences are great because they fit their product, their customers, and the objectives of both groups.
Mobile CRM's Great Big Internet of Things Challenge
January 30, 2014
Shortly after Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest was announced, Nest CEO Tony Fadell felt obliged to clarify something for its users: Any changes to the company's privacy policy would be opt-in. Also, Nest would be transparent about those changes, he said. It's questionable whether Fadell can keep such a promise, though, unless it's written into the deal.
4 Processes for Turning Customer Ire Into Loyalty
January 24, 2014
If you're in business, you're going to face a customer relationship issue that's your fault. It happens. We're human -- and though we may strive for perfection, the best we can do is get close to that goal. When your business errs, the first people who are likely to hear it are your customer service reps. Customer service reps end up apologizing a lot in these situations.

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