Understanding online customers

SAS® Customer Intelligence gives SAS a 10 percent jump in conversion rates

The explosion of digital technology has not only changed the way we communicate with our friends, families and bosses, it has practically redefined the relationship between vendor and customer. And with so much product and vendor information just a click or a tap away, the customer is more informed than ever. And empowered.

Buyers have instant access to every piece of marketing material about you – and your competitors. They can solicit and receive real-time opinions about you from their peers and colleagues – and complete strangers – across the company, across the industry and across the world.

"Online is where prospective buyers will indicate that there is a sales opportunity and tell you what their distinct business issues are – and, often, it's the first time they engage with a vendor," explains Matthew Fulk, Senior Manager of Database Marketing at SAS. "Buyers expect marketers to listen and, in return, deliver relevant content."

Buyers expect marketers to listen and, in return, deliver relevant content.
SAS Matthew Fulk

Matthew Fulk
Senior Manager, Database Marketing

Game-changing results

To engage prospects in meaningful two-way conversations online, Fulk's team uses SAS® Customer Intelligence, including SAS® Marketing Automation for effective, efficient campaigns and SAS® Digital Marketing for relevant e-mail messaging.

"We implemented a lead-nurturing strategy that tracks and acts upon online behavior, automates communications to prospects, scores Web leads on their likelihood to respond favorably and improves lead-to-open-sales conversion rates," Fulk says. "We use predictive analytics to evaluate a customer's propensity to buy, to create analytical segmentation and to provide cross-channel optimization. All of these technologies enable sophisticated, game-changing capabilities in the world of B2B digital marketing."

Using SAS to manage lead processes, Fulk's team saw a 10 percent jump in conversion rates. Click-through rates soared more than four-fold and campaign response rates improved more than 100 percent.

Using SAS® Marketing Optimization, the team slashed targeted blast lists by an average of 48 percent, thus lowering opt-out rates by 43.75 percent and increasing click-through rates by 15.56 percent.

100 data elements, three silos

Results like those require you to know every single customer and prospect, individually and uniquely, across all channels. When implementing a lead-nurturing strategy, your first challenge is to identify all your data sources.

"At SAS, we developed a set of business requirements around disparate data and built a centralized data mart that holds key information about customer and prospect behavior," Fulk says. "We identified three distinct data sources: web database, sales database and marketing interaction database – and we needed 100 data elements from these sources to address our business requirements."

The project's fundamental business requirements included:

  • Contact-level information – track and score individual downloads and behavioral data; track, automate and report all e-mail communication to individual contacts.
  • Account-level information – score information about the enterprise, including company size and industry.
  • Sales-related information – automate the lead-passing process; score information about current and previous sales; and track and report the lead lifecycle.

Know who's ready to buy

A sound scoring method helps separate casual browsers from active buyers. "It is important to collaborate with the sales organization to agree upon a sales-ready score," Fulk explains. "This is the agreed-upon score between sales and marketing at which leads will be passed." Assign points to job title, job function, industry, and company size. And assign points to individual downloads for materials like white papers, demos, and webinars. Define which actions your scoring model should prompt – "hold," "nurture," "pass to sales" – and assign a point range to each. "SAS implemented a process called Automated Lead Management, which is critical to the nurturing project," Fulk says. "Once a lead scores high enough to be 'sales-ready,' the program immediately passes it to the right sales rep for prompt follow-up. No leads are left on the table."

Technologies in tandem

For web visitors who fall into "nurture" category, Fulk relies on SAS to track their online behavior and to automate e-mail communications according to next-best-offer in the nurturing cycle. "When visitors are on the SAS website and downloading content about a specific topic, this triggers the next best e-mail communication within that same topic area," he says. "SAS Marketing Automation created and automates the nurturing campaign logic, and SAS Digital Marketing automates e-mail communications. They work together to handle campaign automation and e-mail marketing all from one interface."

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Implement a lead-nurturing strategy that engages prospects in relevant, meaningful two-way conversations via online channels


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  • Reduced targeted blast lists by an average of 48%, thus lowering opt-out rates by 43.75% and increasing click-through rates by 15.56%.
  • Double-digit increase in lead-to-sales-opportunity conversion rates, four-fold jump in click-through rates, 100% increase in campaign response rates
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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