Connected Marketing: E-Nurturing the Sales Process

Today's websites are marketing tools that forward-looking enterprises use to streamline their sales processes. This learning guide surveys the spectrum of tools for "e-nurturing" prospects, all the way from initial research to closing the deal and collecting payment.

Although the term "connected marketing" in the past has been used to describe the use of customer communities and viral marketing to engage prospects and drive sales, it's equally important to link those activities into website automation and contact management technologies to ensure they're acted upon promptly and appropriately.

Web technologies play a vital part in ensuring a timely and accurate response to the needs of prospects and customers, many of whom prefer to research and find answers to questions on the supplier's website (or at a "neutral" third-party site) rather than go to the trouble of contacting someone directly. When they do get in contact, they expect the sales person or customer service contact to be able to deal with their questions promptly.

None of this is possible without the right technologies in place. Connected marketing is all about making sure those technologies are deployed as an integrated infrastructure and then used effectively by your sales, marketing and customer service staff, so that the prospect moves from initial interest all the way to repeat buyer without any hiccups in the customer experience.

Internet marketing (wikipedia)
According to Wikipedia, Internet marketing "refers to the placement of media along different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, email marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies." In addition, it "includes management of digital customer data and electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) systems."

Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution (book)
A book first published in 2006 that set out principles and experiences in connected marketing, defined as "an umbrella term for any kind of marketing; product research and development, through production, to promotion by any means, including traditional advertising; that creates target market conversations that add measurable value to a business."

Principles of connected marketing

Permission Marketing (book)
Seth Godin's influential book that set out the principles and best practice of permission-based email marketing.

Marketing 2.0; PR 2.0 (slideshare)
An informative and involving slideshow presentation that outlines how the Web has changed the way companies and brands get the word out and interact with their customers and influencers.

How to Sell in the Web Era (ebizQ)
There's no reason for any B2B sales person to go cold-calling now that most buyers are using the Web as the first port of call when they go shopping for new suppliers or requirements. Businesses have to be competent at using the Web as a marketing tool that lets prospects identify themselves, and then know how to intelligently handle those prospects so that the ones who are ready to buy become customers.

Making Your Website Part of the B2B Sales Process (ebizQ)
This excerpt from the book ProSultative Selling by Mike Pilcher tells you how to design your website to automate up to eighty percent of the interaction that used to take place at face-to-face meetings between customers and your sales people.

Getting the Best Out of Digital Marketing (ebizQ)
Effective email marketing uses data analysis to tailor marketing messages to the interests of individual customers and ensure they are delivered at a timely moment. In this podcast interview with Scott Dorsey, CEO of ExactTarget, learn what organizations are doing to make sure their digital marketing reaches subscribers in the most effective way.

Enhancing CRM with Content as a Service (ebizQ)
Web technology can help sales people spend their time on the right prospects just when they're most likely to buy. This podcast interview with Rand Schulman, chief marketing officer of sales intelligence provider InsideView, explains how intelligent filtering of content, provided as a service and mashed up with existing CRM applications, contributes to sales efficiency.

Social media and the customer

Twelve best practices for online customer communities (ZDNet)
Enterprise 2.0 expert Dion Hinchcliffe provides useful advice on how to succeed with online communities to connect with customers and prospects.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff (book)
Facebook site for the book by executive Clara Shih, which maps out how enterprises are using social networks for product development, marketing, sales and customer service.

Tapping Social Networks for Viral Marketing (ebizQ)
Enterprises can automate and manage viral marketing by tapping into the social networks of employees, associates and other contacts. In this podcast interview, Ryan Nichols, VP of product management and marketing at on-demand applications integrator Appirio, explains how it helps manage word-of-mouth referrals by linking the Facebook social network into

Helping Brands Engage with Social Media (ebizQ)
Sharing best practices can help businesses understand how best to engage with online communities. In this podcast interview with David Vap, VP of products at RightNow Technologies, learn how automated filtering technology helps organizations monitor social media streams to rapidly identify both complaints and praise.

Social Dynamics of Help (ebizQ)
This blog posting discusses statistics from vendor Helpstream that show how community-based help encourages users to find solutions to problems themselves. This both reduces the overload on customer service call centers and yet seems to improve customer satisfaction.

Customer Communities that Drive Business Results (ebizQ)
By engaging with customer communities, businesses can improve their marketing and sales success rates, glean new product ideas, and reduce support costs and drive up customer retention rates by encouraging customers to help each other in how they use your products. In this podcast interview, Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer of Lithium Technologies, discusses best practice for retailers, technology companies and other brand owners to foster a thriving community that helps them interact with their customers.

Bringing Web 2.0 into the Enterprise (ebizQ)
Web 2.0 tools from the consumer Web such as Facebook, iGoogle and Pageflakes can help enterprises connect with customers and get more productivity from employees, especially those from the up-and-coming Gen-Y set. This podcast interview with Shahar Kaminitz, founder and CEO of Worklight, discusses some of the business results achieved, and how to avoid security risks.

On-demand billing and payment

How Much Does that Mashup in the Cloud Cost You? (ebizQ)
More and more enterprises are connecting with cloud services, either as a consumer of third-party services or as a provider of their own services to customers and partners. This takes them out of the familiar software licensing model with its one-time payment and annual maintenance fees. Instead, they have to quickly get up to speed with monitoring and administering usage-based billing, flat-rate billing and subscriptions. This podcast interview with Ed Sullivan, CEO of online billing platform provider Aria Systems, discusses the task of accounting and billing for service usage in the era of cloud platforms and services.

For Better SaaS Sales, Price Your Software Like a Mobile Phone Plan (ebizQ)
Most SaaS companies sell their software as yearly or multi-year subscriptions, and often they want all the cash upfront. This is not how their prospective customers will want to buy in a cash-strapped economy, or perhaps ever. This article examines some of the successful pricing and product bundling strategies that software vendors should learn from mobile telecoms providers.

The future of SaaS billing (ZDNet)
An overview of on-demand billing and payment solutions available for SaaS vendors and other providers of pay-as-you-go and subscription services.

More resources

Sales 2.0 Conference
The use of website automation to help salespeople engage more fruitfully with customers is often known as Sales 2.0. This site is the home of an annual conference for Sales 2.0 practitioners.

Quick Guide: What is Enterprise 2.0? (ebizQ)
An ebizQ quick guide to resources on enterprise 2.0 and how to build the underlying infrastructure.

Emerging Threats in the Social Web (ebizQ)
Understand the security implications of connecting your business infrastructure to social media websites and other Web 2.0 resources.

Building The Instantly Responsive Enterprise (ebizQ)
Building complex event processing (CEP) into the enterprise infrastructure provides real-time information that can inform more responsive business process management (BPM). This article looks at some of the advanced technology options for enabling more joined-up marketing, sales and customer services.

About the Author

Phil Wainewright - A preeminent authority on emerging trends in business automation, Phil Wainewright is ebizQ's Community Manager for Leveraging the Connected Web. This community covers Enterprise 2.0, Mashups, Cloud, SaaS, Web Content and Social Networking, among other topics.

As Community Manager, Wainewright will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on the latest news and breakthroughs relevant to the Connected Web. Wainewright will also pen feature articles, attend briefings, select press releases and source content from other analysts, industry associations and vendors for publication on ebizQ. Each week, he'll compile the most important news and views in an e-mail newsletter for ebizQ's ever-growing Connected Web community.

Wainewright is ideally suited to the job having spent more than a decade tracking the emergence of the Web as a platform for business automation. He has built a worldwide reputation as an insightful commentator and strategist, with a track record of spotting key trends at an early stage.

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services (SaaS, PaaS and cloud), Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 and services architectures (SOA). He has closely observed the evolution of SaaS for more than a decade since founding the ASPnews [provide link] website in 1998. He now writes the influential ZDNet Software as Services blog and, as CEO of strategic consulting firm Procullux Ventures, advises ISVs and other industry participants on SaaS success strategies. He also founded the Loosely Coupled blog to track enterprise adoption of web services and is a member of the Enterprise Irregulars network.

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