Startups Bringing Sales, Marketing, Customer Experience Into Closer Alignment

By | Small Business

Marketers take note: sometimes the solutions to your biggest challenges start with small but hungry innovators.

Digital marketing remains one of the most vibrant spaces for new innovation as marketers scramble to connect multiple channels and touchpoints into a unified and measurable process. While a lot of industry attention is focused on the efforts of big companies developing marketing clouds and traditional CRM, social and multi-channel solutions, startups are filling important gaps in the process with a wide variety of tools, platforms and apps targeted at specific industries.

Three companies from the most recent group of startups in the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program in Seattle offer unique solutions that marketers gain greater visibility into processes and provide better experiences for customers.

AdHusky is a marketing automation platform that makes it easier for small and mid-sized businesses to use Facebook for promotional purposes. While this has a lot of potential throughout the B2B space, the company is targeting retail banks as the gateway to local business communities. Understanding that banks are facing greater competition for small business customers from low-cost payment solutions, AdHusky seeks to deliver a new value that banks can offer to improve customer acquisition and retention and also make better use of data.

AdHusky is rolling out a solution that enables banks to offer Facebook ads to business customers at promotional rates as a way to gain loyalty, then allows the banks to broker the data from those transactions to help vendors reach business customers with greater precision.

“Banks are the integration point between small business financial data and the ecosystem of companies that can do business with them,” says founder Taek Chung. “They are looking for ways to monetize that data in ways that are secure, compliant and confidential. We can offer them that.”

Outleads helps companies address three of the biggest challenges faced by marketing executives today: connecting marketing and sales, bridging the gap between digital and traditional marketing, and using data to capture a more complete view of the customer. Outleads has created a simple form-based service that captures offline, in-person interactions with customers and makes them available as data that can be used for ongoing digital marketing efforts, just as if the customer were doing business entirely online.

Outleads’ goal is to bring the kind of powerful analytics capabilities made possible by ecommerce to CRM systems to dramatically increase the power of lead generation. “With lead gen, you don’t have a full view of the funnel because of the disconnect between offline and online,” says founder Dorin Rosenshine. “Data in CRM doesn’t connect with the ad network. Now, with Outleads, it can.”

Tired of waiting in checkout lines? GoSkip offers a mobile checkout solution for retail that combines the convenience of scan-and-go with robust security and location data. The company’s app allows shoppers to scan items from the shelf directly into their cart, providing product information and pricing that accounts for all active discounts, offers and loyalty programs.

The simplicity of this customer experience is made possible by very sophisticated back-end data handling. Beacons throughout the retail shop floor track where customers go and correlate that location data with products that customers scan into their carts. The system knows what kinds of products are most susceptible to “inventory shrinkage” and learns to identify very specific types of irregular behavior, then communicates that to the security checker so they know exactly what to look for in each customer interaction as customers are leaving the store.

“We’ve seen research showing that customers spend nearly 10 minutes in a checkout line after they’ve completed their shopping,” says GoSkip co-founder David Tolioupov. “We want to give people back that time, while adding value and saving money for the retailer.”

Accelerating success. Each of these companies is working with Microsoft to bring its promising technology to market faster, refine its approach, and capitalize on the resources of a proven leader in cloud, IT and software innovation. Along with the 11 other companies in the current Digital Work accelerator program, these three startups are finding new ways to help businesses use data to be more productive and do more for their customers.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Startups Bringing Sales, Marketing, Customer Experience Into Closer Alignment

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