Zoho Marketing Plus officially launches on May 9, 2022 - but what does that mean for customers? Here's a good marketing idea: line me up with a customer directly to find out.
In the Zoho Marketing Plus announcement, Zoho makes its case, describing Marketing Plus as:
A new unified platform that brings together marketing activities across campaign ideation, creation, execution, management, and measurement, providing stakeholders across the entire marketing organization with a single, shared view of critical information for improved collaboration and results. The new marketing platform increases the effectiveness of digital marketing strategies by giving marketing leaders a deeper understanding of customer preferences.
But how would a customer look at it? Sundeep MV, CMO of Techademy, is quoted next:
Our previous marketing solution required time-consuming and costly customization and engineering support just to provide experiences for our customers that didn't scale or produce meaningful insights.
An all-too-common story, especially with the absurd amount of tools marketers contend with. MV adds:
We embraced Zoho Marketing Plus, integrated Zoho CRM, and now we have a full-stack, unified sales and marketing solution wherein every relevant stakeholder in the organization is armed with the data and tools to increase engagement and drive customer experience.
"We must meaningfully engage all our stakeholders"
Sounds promising - but every project has an unspoken challenge or two. During a video chat with MV, he made those challenges clear. Techademy provides a range of enterprise learning management options. But that means MV's marketing team must grapple with multiple stakeholders as they craft their message - and figure out the best ways to partner with their sales team. As MV put it:
We work with a lot of audiences. We work with institutions; we work with individuals, and we work with the organizations as well... The person who buys, the person who influences, and the person who uses will not be the same in most use cases.
Techademy's marketing stack must "meaningfully engage" all those stakeholders, with appropriate content, offers, and messaging. MV continues:
Eventually, it has to lead to sales at the end of the day. How do we have one platform, where we probably start off with outreach, have some sort of an engagement, also bring in a lead generation mechanism, lead them to a sale where the lead gets nurtured, ensure that the sale happens, where everybody across the organization at various levels has the individual view, and the people who are the management level probably have an entire view of the organization?
MV's team assessed their options:
Looking forward, we needed a platform where we could automate those views. As far as the marketing stack is concerned, our audiences could be offline today; they could be online today. What are those integrated experiences that really make sense?
Why Zoho Marketing Plus?
For Techademy, getting marketing right means getting events right. MV:
We happen to be an event management company. The marketing team is constantly looking at what events are making sense on which platforms, and hence you're able to interact, you're able to engage, you're able to evangelize in cases. So from that perspective, whether it's your on-site engagement, or it could be your off-site engagement. It could be on your handles on social media [We needed] one platform where you could have all these integrated experiences, as well as everybody working on these initiatives could be on one single platform.
And, as MV said earlier, "no more time consuming and costly customization." Zoho Marketing Plus checked these boxes - and MV's team went live. They've now been on Zoho Marketing Plus for five months. This is not Techademy's only Zoho product - they also run other solutions, such as Zoho Projects and Zoho People. That past experience was vital for MV, who had a chance to interact with a few of Zoho's products prior to Marketing Plus. For the Marketing Plus project, there are useful integrations with Zoho CRM. And now? "We're on Marketing Plus, and it seems to be working very well for us."
But even if your new solution checks the boxes, that doesn't mean users will embrace it on day one. I asked MV: how is user adoption going?
I think it's like making a shift. If you're using an Android phone, you move to iOS, or you have an iOS and move to Android. Apart from that initial resistance, which obviously happens to be a part of the change, I think that we've handled it quite well.
How has the life of Techademy's marketers changed? MV says the first thing is they wanted to move their marketers out of Excel, and into the Zoho Marketing Plus system of record. So how do you pull that off? For MV's team, it was about heaving sandboxing. By the time Zoho Marketing Plus went live, the team was already well-versed: they went live in about four days.
Today's marketing solutions won't pan out if there isn't an effective link to what the sales team needs. MV told me the Zoho CRM integrations provide the teams a baseline to build on:
Since we have Zoho CRM, we have been able to have the bridge, because of the integration. For example, I'm able to show the sales folks that out of the four active leads, with the contacts you have in your space, in terms of the number of emails opened, I see that these four clients are very active in this space. We would probably send them an email on how to increase their engagement [with these prospects].
Another example: Marketing Plus might indicate that challenge is getting the leads to open the engagement mailer. So, MV's team might recommend another channel:
Would you like to speak to them on LinkedIn, and act upon it... So I think what's happening right now is the information flows is very seamless. Now, everybody knows where who's reacting. So in terms of increasing engagement, we probably have the channels and the tools to get there.
For MV, this coordination is critical, because a channel like LinkedIn calls for "intelligent conversations," rather than just pushing offers - which isn't going to fly. "Our business doesn't work like that," he says.
The wrap - building automation from actionable insights
Tools change; businesses must adapt also. MV told me Techademy is in the process of launching a new inside sales team. This team will be in the best position to act on the leads generated via Zoho Marketing Plus; it will be core to how they sell, and who they contact.
This is a promising start, but MV thinks this can go further - from insights to automation. He hopes to collaborate with Zoho on how this automation can happen:
It's awesome to have insights, which gives you a lot of inputs on where you need to go, or how you need to go, in terms of how much you need to invest - that could be in terms of your ad spend, etc.
But I think now, 'How can we automate a few of these things based on the actionable insights that we have received?' One part is the insights. One is moving that to actionable insights. Next is: would you be able to automate upon this, where you will be able to build some sort of marketing automation upon these actionable insights?
That's precisely where MV hopes Zoho Marketing Plus goes next. Meantime, his team has a new way of working:
I think what Zoho has given us - it has probably put the control back in the hands of the team working on marketing, which I think has gone very well.