Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SetLogik Offers B2B Marketers a Real Marketing Database

I’ve now done more detailed research into the SetLogik B2B data management system I mentioned in my Dreamforce post.  If anything, I’m even more impressed.

I originally saw SetLogik as a tool to associate marketing leads with sales opportunities, even when they are not connected directly within Salesforce.com. That’s important in itself, since those missing links are the greatest obstacle to showing the value of B2B marketing efforts through revenue attribution.

But the bigger story, which SetLogik itself recognizes clearly, is that they’re creating a real marketing database. This has been sadly lacking in most B2B marketing automation systems, which supplement the Salesforce.com database with barely-extensible lead profiles and contact histories. In fact, I’ve recently taken to citing the B2B systems' fixed, built-in database as the fundamental difference distinguishing them from B2C systems, which connect to externally-managed databases with any structure.

SetLogik doesn’t replace the database built into the B2B systems.  Rather, it creates a separate database that merges data from marketing automation, Salesforce.com (or, potentially, any other CRM system), and whatever other sources a company has available. The matching capabilities that initially caught my eye are just one part of a larger suite of functions to load, clean, standardize,  merge, and enhance B2B data, ultimately storing it within a database where it can be used with SetLogik tools for segmentation, selection, reporting (including attribution), and predictive model-based lead scoring. Cleansed data and results such as lead scores can be fed back into CRM and marketing automation systems for direct access by their users. SetLogik’s own diagram expresses this separation reasonably well, although I would have suggested they clarify that there’s an independent, persistent database within their cloud.
 



As consumer marketers learned long ago, building a serious marketing database is a big project. The challenge is even greater in B2B, which manages two data levels, companies and contacts, instead of just one level of consumers.  It’s no wonder that B2B marketing automation vendors avoided the issue by piggybacking on the Salesforce.com structure: otherwise, the cost and complexity of building a separate database would have severely limited their growth.

SetLogik’s addresses the problem directly, by creating a nearly-automated system to build the database. The company promises to deliver a completely functional database within 60 days, and to deliver the database plus predictive lead scoring models in 90 days. Compared with the many months or years needed to deploy a traditional marketing database, this is lightning quick.

I call the system “nearly-automated” because a SetLogik analyst works with each client to set up the data preparation steps, tweaking the standard rules and processes as necessary, and because the predictive models are also built by human analysts. These are advantages, not flaws, since a skilled user adds substantial value to both processes. The system still does most of the work, so the initial data quality set-up takes just a few hours of labor – although the full process typically takes several days because clients need time to make decisions. Similarly, modeling takes about two weeks – again, more wait time than work time.  In fact, the model building is so efficient that the company includes it for free in its Enterprise edition, which starts at $1,400 per month for up to 25,000 records.

None of this would matter if the quality of SetLogik’s results were poor. But, while I haven’t run a test, the company certainly describes the features I'd want. Standard inputs include leads, contacts, campaign members, accounts, and opportunities from Salesforce.com, plus leads and activities from marketing automation. Data preparation includes standardization and verification of addresses in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia; phone numbers verification for North America; email format verification (but not sending test emails); table-based transformations and coding for elements like titles and sales territories; and enhancement with client-licensed external data such as D&B listings.

The matching engine uses multiple rule sets, supports both similar and exact matches, and can compare data across several fields (such as mobile vs. home vs office phone number). The system will match at individual and company levels and can link individuals to companies. It will choose the best value for each field and return a consistent best record to all source systems. Predictive modeling can include derived variables, such as number of emails received, as well as raw inputs. The system’s database stores snapshots of old data values so it can track changes and trends. New and changed records run through the system at user-determined intervals that can be frequent as hourly.

The system doesn’t provide an interface for end-users to set their own data processing rules, although one is planned. As SetLogik correctly argues, very few B2B marketers have the interest or skills to do this. In fact, the company’s larger problem is that so few marketers even recognize they need better data cleansing, let alone a separate marketing database. This will likely limit SetLogik's initial clients to the upper tier of sophisticated marketers who do see the problem.  We can hope that the importance of a serious marketing database will eventually become clear to everyone.

SetLogik is a Software-as-a-Service application, available directly from the company or through the Salesforce.com AppExchange. The system has an Eloqua connector today and a Marketo connector in the works. The company promises basic implementation in 60 days, although it is usually much less, and full implementation including predictive modeling in 90 days.

Pricing is based on the system edition and number of records (unique individuals and companies). The Express Edition, starting at $500 per month for 25,000 records, builds the database and feeds the cleansed, enhanced records back to Salesforce.com and marketing automation. Professional Edition, starting at $1,000 per month, adds segmentation, list building, attribution, and other reporting. Enterprise Edition, starting at $1,400 per month, offers all the other features plus predictive lead scores. The price tag gets more serious for large systems – Enterprise costs about $11,000 per month for one million-records – but is still much less than a conventional marketing database. In fact, SetLogik points out that some services built into the price, such as address and phone verification or access to lead profiles within Salesforce.com, would ordinarily cost nearly as much as the entire SetLogik fee if purchased separately.

SetLogik officially released its system in October 2011 and now has several large enterprise clients.

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