Customer Data


It’s Raining Real-Time Customer Intelligence

FirstRain, an analytics software company that provides personalized, real-time customer intelligence to sales and marketing professionals, has announced the launch of the first Enterprise Customer Intelligence System.


The system delivers targeted customer, prospect and industry intelligence directly into enterprise-deployed iPads, CRM systems, collaboration portals, mobile devices and other enterprise workflow platforms.

The FirstRain Enterprise Customer Intelligence System is an extension of FirstRain’s Business Monitoring Engine. It uses advanced semantic analytics and a range of proprietary algorithms to find and deliver only business-related analysis and content, the company said, which is organized into the highly specific business lines and topics of its Business Web Graph and prioritized by significance.

With this new system, enterprise executives and managers can accomplish the following:

  • automatically deliver information and analysis based on each user’s very specific customer intelligence needs, including client business expansions, customer industry trends or relevant management changes;
  • easily manage an entire enterprise intelligence system that spans both centrally curated and highly personalized intelligence; and
  • access personalized content in real-time, wherever and however they need it, including their iPad, iPhone, Android phone, email or directly into an enterprise collaboration portal or CRM system such as, Microsoft SharePoint, Jive or Cisco Quad.

“There is a massive change taking place in the way sales interact with CRM systems,” FirstRain CEO Penny Herscher told CRM Buyer. “For example, ZDNet reports that 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now deploying or testing iPads.”

At the same time, the CRM business has matured beyond simply gathering contact data to a more sophisticated approach to understanding customer needs, business issues, opportunities and competitive threats, she added. “What is happening in your customers’ ecosystems could affect your strategy in selling to them.”

Typical aggregation services are “too noisy,” Herscher added, making it difficult to get the precision and relevancy salespersons need. Classic sales intelligence tools focus on company or customer contact data but offer limited customer intelligence.

“A customer intelligence system can make the majority of your sales team intelligent and well-informed, because it provides relevant information about your customers [and the] industry and market forces that are affecting them,” she said.

Marketing Automation the Paint-By-Numbers Way

Pardot has announced new features as part of its Winter 2012 product release. These include an enhanced visual editor and form builder, which enables marketers to more easily create high-impact lead management campaigns.

A key component is the new visual editor, which allows marketers to edit specific sections of their emails (header, paragraph, sidebar, etc.) and customize them with a few simple clicks.

Pardot has also added 36 new, “out-of-the-box” layout templates to help marketers personalize email campaigns and reinforce corporate branding, as well as a new form builder that allows marketers to more easily set individual form fields during the creation process.

“One way to think of this enhancement is that you could give a person a sheet a paper and tell them to draw a picture of scenery. But if you give them a sheet with paint-by-number instructions of that scenery, the time to a result would be much quicker,” Pardot CEO David Cummings told CRM Buyer.

“We’re giving marketers the tools to do their job more efficiently in a shorter period of time by taking a blank canvas and adding the ‘paint-by-number’ option,” he said.

Companies have been using templates from other B2C systems, noted Cummings, “but with the nature of email and the rise of different clients — social media, iPhones and iPads — these templates don’t always work. We’re offering an easy mechanism to deliver consistent professional-looking messages.”

The company has also launched the Pardot Now training program to help customers enrich their marketing programs. These twice-weekly sessions focus on specific features, giving users in-depth knowledge and actionable tips that can instantly improve their effectiveness.

Social Media BI From Customer Relationship Metrics

Customer Relationship Metrics has launched Social Media BI, a solution for building effective social media strategies to improve relationships with customers and identify operational improvements.

With Social Media BI, customer-centric organizations can gain greater control of what customers are saying about their brand by identifying the issues that are most impacting customers. Based on this analysis, they can take specific actions that will spread positive sentiment, while fixing those problems that damage their brand, the company said.

Social Media BI starts with identification of those issues that lead to the greatest number of customer complaints. That data is then cross-referenced with online sentiment and chatter to correlate the issues that negatively impact customer relationships and corporate reputation. Armed with this information, Customer Relationship Metrics then creates a social media road map to help the client execute a cohesive and proactive social media strategy.

The service also includes analysis of the company’s current social media strategies and suggests targeted new approaches designed to enable the it to quickly respond to online detractors, while filtering social media data points to identify best practices and areas of concern.

Denise J. Deveau is a seasoned freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario. She has more than two decades of experience in business- and technology-related subjects.

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