TechBytes with Suvish Viswanathan, Head of European Marketing at Zoho

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TechBytes with Suvish Viswanathan, Head of European Marketing at Zoho

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Zoho.

I’m part of the European regional team and am responsible for looking after our marketing efforts in the continent. We have had a physical presence in Europe for around a year since opening our European HQ in Utrecht, The Netherlands and have since added further team members in other European countries.  While we had previously seen mostly organic growth in Europe, we have been driving proactive campaigns to engage prospective customers and to strengthen relationships with our European partner network to ensure they can deliver optimum value for us and our end-users. As I respond to your questions, we are on a six-country annual user conference series in major European countries, known as Zoholics.

Europe is a key region for us; it is our second largest market, after the US. I handle a team incorporating marketing and PR colleagues and along with them handle a variety of agencies to help us meet our goals. As the operating system for business, we use our own technology to run Zoho, including marketing activities for our 45 enterprise apps.

How much has the Marketing Automation landscape evolved in the last two years?

The marketing automation landscape has evolved significantly over the past two years as a result of changing consumer engagement channels and trends. It has also been impacted by the introduction of new technologies which are introducing rapid innovation and sophistication to marketers.

The Martech segment is particularly fast growing. Scott Brinker’s Martech landscape chart of 2019 included close to 7,000 products and it seems to be an evergrowing landscape. While apps continue to emerge in the market, we are also seeing consolidation. Marketers often require a single view to navigate their various campaigns and plans.

When selecting a marketing automation tool, it’s therefore imperative that it is extensible to other solutions in use within a business. Automation is the master orchestrator so if you’re not able to connect workflows and teams you cannot automate effectively and be able to draw deeper analysis.

With data now spread across multiple tools that go beyond the realms of a well-staffed marketing team, it is hugely important to have more powerful analytics, directly accessible by line of business (LoB) to reach and draw insights, enabling real-time, on demand measurement. If marketers are relying on requests sent to IT to develop dashboards, they will miss the opportunity to continually evaluate results and make any decisions based on up-to-the-minute business data to optimise the performance of marketing campaigns.

Marketing automation tools have historically been complex to use. Over the last few years there has been significant emphasis on improving simplicity and ease of use as well as making the tools more intuitive, adding functionalities and enabling integrations to be added quickly. Marketers must ensure they make the right choice to help them meet the needs of consumers in the most simple, fast and easy to manage way, and select a tool that can continue to diversify as new trends arise.

How does Zoho enable Marketing Teams to orchestrate campaigns across channels and platforms?

We recently announced Zoho MarketingHub, a new marketing automation platform that executes marketing campaigns across multiple channels while coordinating their orchestration centrally, against outcomes, plans, and budgets. Designed to help businesses of all sizes coordinate marketing, closely aligned with sales, the platform is integrated with Zoho CRM and a number of other third party applications.

All marketing teams will start with a plan, which is why we have made the ‘Marketing Planner’ core to the solution. With this feature, teams can plan their marketing calendar and view data for each campaign from across channels. It also allows marketers to create personalised journeys for prospects based on their different intermediate responses to the campaigns that engage them. By designing and automating these personal journeys, personalised marketing can be executed on a vast scale. Meanwhile, ‘Journeys’ maps the user experiences across multiple channels that include web, social, email, mobile, and event marketing.

Zoho MarketingHub integrates with a number of Zoho apps, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Sites, Zoho Survey, Zoho Backstage, and Zoho Social. Furthermore, it also integrates with widely used CRM, finance, document storage and customer engagement applications. Our goal is to keep growing the ecosystem so that our customers can enjoy the power of automation without worrying about evolving engagement channels. And it doesn’t just end there; vendors with SaaS solutions can use MarketingHub to create personalised on-boarding experiences that can directly impact conversion rates, churn and life time value. The role of a modern marketing team is beyond lead generation. Today a marketing team is a partner to customer success and revenue acceleration. When developing MarketingHub, we asked  ourselves – why should marketers use tools that restrict their thinking?

Tell us more about your integration with CRM, Social, and Survey. How do they call come together to create better personalization and relevant customer experience?

Zoho CRM is well integrated with MarketingHub, though this level of integration will continue to deepen as we develop further product editions. We have made sure that in our launch edition, our customers benefit from integration capabilities which will enable them to glean cleaner data in CRM, with any junk filtered out. Sales teams should have all the information in place on their CRM dashboard to hold contextual conversations with potential customers. MarketingHub lets users automatically score their leads and make it part of the ‘Journeys’. The ‘Journey Path’ captures all necessary touchpoint information potential customers have gone through and feeds them into the CRM system.

We offer similar integration with Zoho Survey as well. Marketing teams can create surveys and analyse results from the automation tool itself. Since the lead database is in the tool, marketers don’t have to go to another survey tool to create a survey campaign, prepare data, analyse the results and feed it back into the system. These are all nodes for productivity loss. In addition, users can create events using Zoho Backstage.

Could you tell us about the critical nature of data and data segmentation in Marketing Automation using Zoho?

Data segmentation is key to personalisation and building experiences for your audience at various touchpoints within their journey. MarketingHub enables teams to build various segmentation of data, or lists, as we commonly refer to  it. These lists can be associated with various touchpoints within the engagement channels that are configured. Teams can create three kinds of lists:

  • Static lists that are used for one-off campaigns or building personas.
  • Semi-dynamic lists where contacts / leads keep flowing in through the funnel.
  • Dynamic lists which involves maintaining the most current data set.

To make data segmentation easier for marketers, MarketingHub ensures that these lists can be built using the ‘Journeys’ canvas builder. It’s just a matter of creating the right workflow and dragging and dropping the right elements.

Data segmentation also plays a crucial role in ensuring the privacy preferences of the audience is well respected. MarketingHub help teams build consent campaigns which can be directly linked to lists. Put simply, it’s privacy by design!

How does your recent announcement to Zoho MarketingHub unlock opportunities in Marketing and Sales growth?

Zoho MarketingHub is designed to help businesses of all sizes coordinate marketing tightly with sales. When you look at marketing automation we are not just offering this tool for marketing purposes, but also from a customer experience standpoint.

Business users can engage with leads at different stages during the sales process. The strength of the automation tool enables a business to provide the right information at the right time to the right person. The level of detail accumulated and held in individual records can enable a depth of personalisation offered to prospects or indeed to existing customers if cross-selling. We call this a contextual customer profile and it builds a level of sophistication in our communication and engagement with prospects and customers.

In addition, well planned marketing campaigns are more likely to drive quality leads which sales teams can work with, along with all contextual information to increase the likelihood of sales wins. This tool ensures that performance is continually evaluated.

The advanced analytics providing this visibility can also help marketers plan more effectively and continually improve their campaign’s impact on sales.

What are the major trends and predictions do you see in the AI and B2B Data ecosystem?

B2B data will continue to grow as the proliferation of digital data available through many devices and means of collection becomes more prevalent and sophisticated.

AI will continue to grow in the part it plays in helping businesses process data and draw out key insights or predictions in order to help them drive the right decisions with contextual data. We see variations of AI being introduced in different segments of B2B applications. In the B2B space, we are still at a very early stage. We believe we will eventually see AI being used in drawing insights and making informed decisions in CRM, help desk, finance and analytics solutions.

Zoho already has its own AI initiative, branded Zia. This project was started two years ago and today Zia is an integral part of many of our business applications. For example, while Zia in Zoho CRM can predict the health of a sales pipeline and help sales representatives to process information, Zia in Zoho Desk understands the sentiment behind a customer support email and assigns it to the right support desk employee/team. Zoho Analytics incorporates some AI too, with Zia bringing the power of natural language processing (NLP) to ask questions of data in a similar way that a business would ask its IT teams to build a dashboard. As an example, users can simply ask Zia on Zoho Analytics, “What’s the new sales this month from AdWords?”, and the tool would build a dashboard, while a powerful data crunching algorithm would seamlessly blend the data from CRM and marketing to generate the results.

Digital tools such as Zoho Analytics will continue to power ‘citizen data analysts’. We see the future of analytics as the point at which this data can be made simply accessible to all LOBs, no matter the technical ability of the individual using this. Analytics will soon flow more into sales and marketing teams too. LOBs within organisations are often short of resources to prepare dashboards manually. AI will help in identifying many data sets that are there in terms of cleaning and preparing the data and matching it with the right context in order to provide the right information for decision making.

What does your product roadmap look like for 2019-2020?

We will continue to inject further innovation into all of our products, including those apps which are incorporated with MarketingHub. We will continue to tighten integration between all of our products and build a larger ecosystem for marketing teams to select from. The goal is to go deeper within each and integrate tighter with external and internal apps.

How do you see AI and Location Data further disrupting the era of Mobile Commerce growth?

Location data is fuelling a lot of personalised and instant campaigns that is helping a growing tribe of tech-savvy buyers. Mobile is facilitating this growth. We already see social media platforms using user location data to serve personalised ad content. Today, almost every smartphone comes with multiple sensors that tracks a user’s location. As the user starts interacting on different apps, profiles are created in the background detailing preferences and channels, to help form very powerful sets of information which deliver a very personalised commerce experience to buyers and retain them for a longer period. AI and machine learning can help in blending these large sets of data into meaningful dashboards that can help users execute smarter and more effective campaigns. The beauty of these algorithms is that it gets better as further data is gathered. And, we see more and more people and devices becoming part of this ecosystem.

Suvish is exploring ways to find the next growth phase for Zoho Corporation in a highly diverse European continent. Zoho brings an unique opportunity to its customers to transform their entire business (Finance, Sales, Marketing, Client Support, HR and IT) on the cloud.

zoho logo

Zoho is the operating system for business—a single online platform capable of running an entire business. With 40+ apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho is one of the world’s most prolific software companies.

Zoho respects user privacy and does not have an ad-revenue model in any part of its business, including its free products. More than 45 million users around the world, across hundreds of thousands of companies, rely on Zoho every day to run their businesses, including Zoho itself.

Zoho Corporation is privately held and profitable with more than 7,000 employees. Zoho is headquartered in Pleasanton, California, with international headquarters in Chennai, India. Additional offices are in Austin, Texas (U.S.); Renigunta, India; Tenkasi, India; Yokohama, Japan; Beijing, China; Singapore; Queretaro, Mexico; Byron Bay, Australia; Utrecht, Netherlands; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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