Google takes hosted site search worldwide - Nov 22 2007 - iTnews

Google has announced the international availability of its Custom Search platform allowing companies to add Google's search technology to their websites.

Aimed primarily at small businesses, Google reckons that it takes only three steps and few minutes to sign up and deploy the service.

The platform allows users to integrate search into personal and community sites and blogs, and developers can use the Google Custom Search APIs to allow searching from within their applications.

"For many organisations, a website is their window to the world and significant investment goes into attracting customers to the site," said Robert Whiteside, UK and Ireland enterprise manager at Google Enterprise.

"Keeping visitors on a site once they arrive, however, is a challenge and the absence of a search facility can be a major cause of a lack of website 'stickiness'.

"By improving the ease, speed and accuracy with which users can find what they need, businesses can ensure that their website justifies the investment."

Google has released two versions of the platform. Custom Search is a free ad-supported engine, and Business Edition is a paid-for service which offers more customisation and support.

Both versions provide site search hosted by Google, eliminating the need for a business to install and maintain its own technology, and reporting features provide insights into visitor behaviour.

The Business Edition also caters for full customisation of search results, email and phone support and a choice about whether to include ads or not.Google Custom Search Business Edition starts at around £50 per year for searching up to 5,000 pages, and extends to approximately £1,125 per year for up to 300,000 pages.

Larger volumes of pages are supported through Google's enterprise sales group.


Market Focus: Technology -- The Simple Truth about Complex Manufacturing

Tech firms need CRM as much as any other company--and sometimes even more.

by Marshall Lager

There's a long-standing (and wrong-headed) belief that CRM technology can be a cure-all for a company's operational woes. There's an equally long-standing (and equally wrong-headed) perception that high-tech manufacturers and vendors don't need CRM. Not only is the 360-degree view of customers, partners, and processes important in the technology vertical; it's made tricky by the complexity of the business models and by the roots of those misperceptions.

In the first place, every business needs CRM, even if only to manage customers' account histories and communications -- CRM grew from contact management, after all. Why, then, the idea that tech businesses don't need it? "It's not as much a process vertical [as] financial services," says Tim Hickernell, senior research analyst, applications, Info-Tech Research Group. The focus is on the products themselves -- and since tech salespeople are often former engineers, they're less likely to be relationship-driven.

This is a dangerous reduction of the situation. Even in the tech world, says Diane Albano, vice president of Americas operations at Progress Software, "People are still selling to people, trying to solve a problem." Progress promotes sales effectiveness of businesses across many verticals, and Albano says the key is communicating. "If you can get that message across to your team, you'll have happier customers and more motivated workers."

Using and contributing to the CRM system, remembering that business is about the customer and not the product, are basic elements that haven't become as ingrained among tech firms as they have elsewhere. Fortunately, fixing issues around adoption and technique among techies requires largely the same effort as it does in other verticals. "You must make it mandatory -- it's not up for debate. But do it in a gentle, prodding way, not with yelling," Albano says. "Show how you're enabling salespeople in order to make them understand why it's necessary."

Beyond adoption, Hickernell notes where tech companies are different from others in terms of CRM. "Selecting the right CRM components is more important," he says. "Channel management and knowledge management are important considerations. There's a very complex value chain -- relationships are at least B2B2C," he says, and often reflexive, where two manufacturers sell each other their products. "Work is spread across the value chain, involving original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, and even different divisions of a single company selling to itself as an internal customer." This means careful tracking of channels, and a firm grasp on information at all stages with knowledge management.

This becomes apparent in engineering-to-order processes. "We maintain virtually no finished goods in stock. Almost all orders we take require engineers to be involved before production begins," says Phil Shields, senior analyst at K&L Microwave, a manufacturer that uses CRM software from IFS. "They may be involved in the quoting process, determining if we can even build a product to the customer's specs, providing technical data or preliminary drawings. After we receive an order, engineers will design the new product; even for repeat orders, engineers many times need to check the documentation provided by the customer to make sure there are no changes since the last time."

Prior to implementing sales-and-marketing functionality, K&L was generating quotes with the IFS ERP system. "This required us to create a customer, sales part, and inventory part just to create a quote," Shields says. "Integration with our ERP system was one of the big reasons we selected IFS's CRM system." Requiring zero programming or customization, all customers, sales parts, customer orders, and invoices are now available within the CRM system. "The IFS CRM system has given us one place to put information, both customer-furnished and K&L documents, so that everyone in the company can access it," Shields says.

Knowledge management and dissemination also comes into its own in high technology. "The expectation for self-service, especially Web self-service, is much higher in this vertical," Hickernell says. "The customer is much more savvy, and more is expected of the vendor. If an error message is programmed into a piece of technology, the customer expects there to be a knowledgebase article for dealing with it."

CRM Remains a Fertile Market

New research points to explosive growth in CRM adoption across every segment -- especially on-demand CRM.

by Demir Barlas

Forty-two percent of U.S. companies are using CRM, according to new market research from the consulting firm KensingtonHouse, and the percentage just keeps on growing. Even more notable, in terms of current and future growth, is the fact that CRM's "market fertility" -- the percentage of companies deploying, upgrading, or actively considering a CRM purchase -- stands at 38 percent, according to the report.

The market-fertility figure is the metric KensingtonHouse chose to highlight, as it reveals a record number of companies deploying or planning to deploy CRM. "This is significantly above what I've seen historically, which has been 18 to 25 percent fertility," says Thomas Moriarty, the consultancy's president.

According to the survey, the main reason for the current wave of CRM popularity is the maturity of the on-demand delivery model and functionality set. Fifty-five percent of respondents expressed a preference for on-demand, with a mere 14 percent nominating on-premise and 31 percent undecided. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents were either small or midsize businesses (SMBs), but Moriarty says that the preference for on demand extended to the enterprise segment as well. The research, sponsored by Microsoft CRM partner T.H.G. Sales Automation, canvassed 437 respondents representing a population of 20,000 companies with a degree of accuracy of plus or minus 5 percent.

On demand is succeeding because of both its low cost and its simplicity, Moriarty says, adding that KensingtonHouse estimates the model can lower the cost of a CRM deployment by as much as 60 percent while also offering an increasingly user-friendly experience. "Customization is so easy now that you don't have to be a bits-and-bytes guy to go in and create all kinds of different fields, reports, and dashboards," he says.

While on-demand initiatives may be easier to implement than on-premise ones, adopters of either variety should still be aware of the significant risks of project failure. Gartner recently predicted that, by the end of 2008, "25 percent of CRM projects will be postponed or canceled because of the CRM skill shortage in consultants and systems integrators." While this sounds like an inordinately high number to industry outsiders, Moriarty emphasizes that it has to be taken in context. "Three years ago, that number would have been 75 percent," he claims.

The good news is not only that the ecosystem of CRM consultants and systems integrators has matured through continued CRM implementation success, but also that CRM adopters can control their own fates by making CRM an institutional priority. The recent Management Tools and Trends 2007 report from management consultancy Bain & Co. revealed that companies that put more effort into CRM up front (including long-term planning, unwavering executive sponsorship, and diligent change management) get more out of the technology. In the Bain survey, those companies who put a "major effort" into CRM reported a 4.17 satisfaction score on a five-point scale, while those putting in a "limited effort" were only able to achieve a 3.53 score.

That data point alone should convince any CRM adopter aiming to maximize return on investment to enter into the implementation prepared and willing to put in some heavy lifting. "You have to maintain the quality of data and make sure to load a good set of business rules that specify how the system is going to be used," Moriarty counsels. "You have to do the work."


Best Practices in Campaign Management: Tips & Tricks

by Salesforce.com Marketing Blog
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how campaign management works in Salesforce how do you get the most bang for your buck? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Naming Conventions.
A must-have for any organization running a lot of campaigns. The campaign name is what appears in search so you want it to be unique and easy to identify. Campaign names should be structured in a consistent manner so they are easy to decipher by people outside of marketing. For example: Program - Tactic - Audience - Quarter

Add custom fields to campaigns that align to key metrics.
You may want to know how your programs perform by offer or by tactic (email, web promo, etc). Add these as custom fields to your campaign so you can report on them later. If these metrics are key to decision making in your organization be sure to make them required fields.

Use the active flag on campaigns with purpose.
There are 2 reasons why campaigns need to be active. The first reason, is so you can run the super secret “Campaign Call Down” report. The second reason is so your sales team can find the campaign name from the lookup on leads and contacts and manually add the campaign to the campaign history. If you have thousands of active campaigns, this look-up view for your sales reps gets pretty muddy and decreases the likely hood they will use it, so try and keep your active flags up to date. (Tip: In the Winter ‘08 release you will be able to run the campaign call down report on both active and inactive campaigns removing the necessity to have campaigns active for reporting purposes only)

Create a section on your campaigns for follow up.
This is a great way to communicate to your sales reps or inside sales teams what the appropriate follow up is for each particular campaign. This section could contain key messages, any email templates that should be used for follow up, etc. This way an inside sales person can simply click in to the campaign, and easily identify what their next steps should be.

Standardize your member status values.
Reporting across campaign membership can be difficult without consistency. Maintaining standard values will allow you to compare the performance of your programs against each other. Some example status values are:
  • For web promotions set the default value to “Responded”
  • For events and webinars set the default value to “Registered” with additional values for “Registered – attended” and “Cancelled”.
  • For email marketing set the default value to “Responded”

If you don’t have it already, install the “Campaign Membership” web link from AppExchange. This web-integration link on the campaign detail page pulls up the “Campaign Call Down report I referred to earlier and allows you to see all of the campaign members (both leads and contacts) in one report. If you don’t have this already, install the link off the AppExchange here: