So when the credit-services arm of the lawn, agriculture and construction equipment manufacturer went looking for a marketing automation tool, it needed something that allowed the department to collaborate while being flexible enough to adapt to John Deere processes.
"Process is integral to how we do business," Steve Brubaker, eBusiness manager of John Deere Credit, said. "When we go out to look for a CRM tool that has a campaign management tool, we've found generally that the software company says 'Here's our tool' and we'd have to retrofit our processes to fit their tool."
The company finally found a solution with its email marketing provider. Redwood City, Calif.-based Responsys Inc. this week released Interact Team, a tool to streamline marketing processes and collaboration. For John Deere Credit, a customer of Responsys for the past six years and a member of its customer advisory council, that meant the opportunity to act as a beta tester of the product and help to shape its development.
"We've had some input into the interface," Brubaker said. "We have master process pros and process pros that sit within marketing that are dedicated Six Sigma people. It's easy to take the processes we've mapped out somewhere else and drop them into the tool."
John Deere has been testing the application since June with a small deployment that it is rolling out to the broader marketing department and eventually hopes to extend to partners. Previously, the company had been working with a homegrown campaign management tool that was cumbersome, difficult to use on the Web, and relied heavily on email, Brubaker said.
"Whenever we were doing a campaign that involved email or other marketing communications, it involved lots of emailing of documents," he said. "Interact Team allows us to store those documents within the common interface."
It's a major issue for John Deere Credit, which deals more with the end customer than the corporate arm that typically finds itself working with dealers. Also, Credit, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa, has to keep in contact with the agricultural business in Kansas, the construction business at John Deere headquarters in Moline, Ill., and outside credit service businesses. Finally, keeping all documents up to date and consistent is vital in the credit process, which needs to pay special attention to legal issues, Brubaker added.
"Frequently, where we stubbed our toe was with email," he said. "Sometimes we found double work with an agency, because we thought they were working with the most current version, but they weren't. Now everything is in one place and we like that."
Managing a marketing campaign via email is nothing new. It's something marketing departments have been struggling with for years.
"We've been talking for a long time about the fact that marketers are trying to manage more campaigns than they have ever had to manage before," said Elana Anderson, an independent consultant with Nahant, Mass.-based NxtERA Marketing. "We were looking for the ability to support team communication and the steps to create, define and bring a campaign to market. Those are now the requirements of any marketing automation solution. There's no such thing as standalone campaign management anymore."
Interact Team includes visual workflow and diagramming management, a best practices repository, digital asset management, task assignment, and online reviews and approvals. While the tool doesn't have the comprehensive functionality such as financial management or invoice management companies might find in a marketing suite from Aprimo, it's an important first step, Anderson said.
"If you don't have functions like this, you're stuck," she said. "I think it's unique that Responsys is coming out of the email space in adding this functionality. It's something their contemporaries don't have."