Siebel Speaker Series: Surviving marketing's dark days

Most marketers were more than happy to usher in the New Year. After all, in 2003, they struggled with corporate belt-tightening and legal crackdowns. In 2004, Siebel Systems Inc. will try to improve things with the second-quarter release of Siebel 7.7. On the marketing front, the product will feature campaign management, segmentation and targeting enhancements, as well as a new customer loyalty program management system. Kevin Colosimo, group director of product marketing for Siebel's marketing and analytics applications, says that savvy marketers can rise above the tough times.

Two years ago, Siebel acquired analytics software maker nQuire. How have Siebel's marketing applications changed as a result of that buy?
First is in this area of executive demand for accountability. NQuire has given us a better way to measure the effectiveness of ... marketing spending -- not just from an after-the-fact basis, but to embed process-driven analytics. NQuire also allowed us to provide easier-to-use analytics to users, to enable organizations to deal with the reality of data dispersed in multiple systems. NQuire technology allows an organization to map to these different data stores and pull it together into the right context for their users. In addition, we've introduced data mining and predictive modeling, and also embedded analytics in operational CRM. At the point of contact with the customers -- say, in the call center -- you can apply analytics and predictive modeling to determine the next-best offer or give guidance to the agent.

This is the first installment in SearchCRM.com's Siebel Speaker Series, a series of monthly conversations with executives at the San Mateo, Calif., CRM firm.

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What impact have these new regulations had on the way in which Siebel develops marketing applications, and on the way it explores partnerships and acquisitions in the space?
One of the things Siebel has done for a while is focus on developing this centralized customer repository at a global customer level, allowing a customer to manage consumer preferences. What's changing over the last year is we're enhancing the product to allow organizations to manage customer preferences on a more granular level. It's empowering an organization to allow consumers to manage their own preferences, being able to have a Web page to define what communication channels they're interested in, and also going to next level and saying what type of topics is it OK to send them. In turn, [companies can] use those preferences in their targeting, segmentation and dynamic content generation for e-mail.

From an acquisitions standpoint, last year we acquired BoldFish, which had some permission e-mail marketing technology to give more flexible options to customers and more intelligence bounce handling. From a partnering standpoint, we've spent time talking with more boutique firms that are specialized in privacy. One of our sessions at User Week was a joint presentation talking about the impact of 'do not call' -- how you have to comply, and what the impact is on strategy. We've also developed a workshop with Siebel Professional Services, where we can go in and educate customers on regulation, do an audit on where they are with compliance, and look at their current implementation of Siebel to see what changes they may need to make. Does the federal 'do not call' law sound the death knell for telemarketing? After all, even if loopholes in the law exist, consumers have sent telemarketers a pretty clear message.
I think [consumers] have sent a clear message, and the message is, 'If I tell you don't call me, don't call me.' I think you're going to continue to see some telemarketing, but it's really going to change its flavor. Companies have to be much more sensitive. They have to make sure they stay on top with who has registered with the 'do not call' list and ensure that they have systems and processes in place to update that immediately. I don't think [regulation] is going to eliminate telemarketing totally, but what's happening is you are seeing marketers shift their focus to other types of channels -- inbound marketing and more cross-sell and up-sell as customers call in. Let's talk in specifics about the new regulations. In these days of 'do not spam,' what are your recommendations for launching effective e-mail campaigns?
You have to ensure [that] your organization is delivering relevant communications to customers, and you have clear opt-in and opt-out policies. Just doing blasts is not what we think is the right approach. You have to start formalizing your communications preferences, policies and management to deliver much more targeted, relevant communications for your customers.

The other thing we're advocating is that managing opt-in and opt-out is not just about e-mail. You should look at managing preferences across all channels. I think this is one of the reasons why organizations want to consolidate their customer information across business units and product lines. In this era of increased regulation, the last thing you want is customers telling an organization 'do not e-mail me,' and have that managed by one business unit when a separate database is used in a different unit -- and the customer is e-mailed. From the customer standpoint, they're the same company. The last few months have been pretty rough on marketers. How have you seen the climate changing?
First are the economic pressures. [Marketers] are being asked to do more with less. The days of 'don't ask, don't tell' marketing are over. In the past, marketers would go through their planning process, the execs would say, 'Here's your allocation,' and marketers would come back and demonstrate their results. Now it's flipped. They have to justify spending at a program level.

The impact of legislation is causing marketing organizations to take a new approach to how they deal with consumer preferences and [to] ensure they deliver more relevant content. There's greater focus on organizations' developing privacy and preference-management policies [and] looking at contact frequency policies and how to enforce that across the organization. They're also asking, 'How do you employ technology to enforce that?'

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