Marketing

Why businesses that pass on data-driven marketing & sales tools might get left behind

Above: Amanda O'Brien, right, e-marketing manager at Jiffy Lube, speaks alongside Sq1's Jim Badum at VentureBeat's GrowthBeat conference in San Francisco on Aug. 7.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — Salespeople and marketers at a few companies have been testing out marketing startups’ data-powered tools, and some have found impressive results. These companies’ competitors might want to get in on this whole notion of data-driven sales, just to keep up.

This means that these startups’ technologies could get a lot more popular — if, that is, they can get the word out and keep delivering helpful products at a reasonable price.

At least, that’s the way things looked by the end of VentureBeat’s GrowthBeat 2014 conference this week. Big names like Jiffy Lube, American Express, Hard Rock Cafe, and Hewlett-Packard came onstage to speak the praises of software that they’ve used to improve their sales or marketing results.

Jiffy Lube has watched its conversion rates go up after working with digital advertising company Sq1 to localize offers, said the car-maintenance company’s e-marketing manager, Amanda O’Brien.

“We were looking at things like click-through rate and seeing an average of 3 percent,” O’Brien said. “Now we’re looking at upward of 7 percent.” And conversion rates jumped from 29 percent to 50-60 percent.

“Those increases are turning into cars at the service centers in a resounding way.”

When Jiffy Lube’s competitors get word of that, they might want to find ways to deliver more tailor-made ads, with Sq1 or other programmatic marketing companies like Rocket Fuel or Perfect Market. Same deal with users of some other technologies people talked about at GrowthBeat. And that might lead to founders coming up with sales and marketing tools that use machine learning and other data processes that lead to better results, which in turn will keep plenty of investors busy.

Sales software provider InsideSales, which recently raised a $100 million round, had customer DoubleDutch testify about sales increasing 300 percent. (InsideSales competitors include Five9 and Lead360.)

Engagement increased by a factor of seven at Apartment List after it started using mobile marketing-automation provider Kahuna, the apartment-finding service’s Chris Erickson said. (Others in mobile marketing automation include 5rocks and Urban Airship.)

ZenPayroll marketing head Erin Colbert was impressed with how easy it was to get value out of Radius, which offers data-driven suggestions on which potential leads to contact.

“Literally in five minutes, I was up and connected to Salesforce and was able to see actionable insights,” Colbert said. She could see where ZenPayroll was and wasn’t doing well and which industries deserved attention, she said. Such tips from Radius or other startups, like Infer, could save salespeople a lot of time.

TripIt’s use of Salesforce software during a promotion resulted in a 900 percent bump in adoption of the company’s premium trip-planning service, all because the software tracked customers’ one-year anniversaries. (Lots of companies compete with Salesforce in the customer-relationship management and <a href=”http://venturebeat.com/2014/08/07/marketing-clouds/”marketing-cloud businesses.)

And Xactly has gotten a lot of value out of 6Sense, a startup that claims to be able to predict sales of specific products. Xactly was able to correlate 74 percent of the people 6Sense was saying would buy with the ones Xactly thought was in the sales cycle, Xactly chief marketing officer and senior vice president Scott Broomfield said.

6Sense has received a good bit of interest since coming out of stealth in May with $12 million in funding. (Other predictive-sales companies, including Clari, have also garnered attention.)

“Things are going great,” Amanda Kahlow, 6Sense’s chief executive and a co-founder, wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “Our pipeline is very full, and we have three new six-figure deals in procurement as we speak. All three companies are in the Fortune 1000. … I’d estimate 90 percent of the opportunities we call on we get a meeting, and 75 percent or more are moving forward with us. I almost don’t believe how receptive the market is. The market is hot and incredibly receptive to using predictive [technology] to drive their business forward.”

And, Kahlow added, the whole data-driven sales thing is still relatively new. Give it time.

“It’s worth noting that many companies are still being educated about what’s possible,” she wrote. “Only seven years ago did they start using marketing automation at all. We are focusing our own marketing on education about predictive intelligence (versus just lead scoring) and what it can do for businesses.”

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