8-images.jpgManufacturing often gets a bad rap for being outdated, blue collar, and technologically challenged.  But when you walk through the doors of Balluff, and into their open floor plan with clean lines and white walls, that misconception flies out their large scenic window.  But it's not just the building that bucks that manufacturing stereotype, it's also Balluff's approach to technology.  Balluff was an early adopter of marketing automation technology.  Not just when compared to other manufacturers, but an Eloqua customer since 2007, Balluff was a very early marketing automation adopter compared across all industries.  I had the opportunity to spend the day with them and learn about some of their most successful projects, and greatest lessons learned.  As they explained "We had leads, but we couldn't give them away".  Through the following practices, they've fixed that problem.


1.  Traceability Program:  Balluff manufacturers a myriad of products, but when selling their system level products the sales cycle can extend 14-16 months.  A campaign that extends only 3 months will not provide the educational nurturing required to sustain the sales cycle.  Balluff invested a great deal of planning and resources into developing their traceability program.  This was such a focus of the organization that it was written into the business objectives for last fiscal year.  By leveraging content developed by their internal experts, white papers, and their blog, Balluff developed a campaign that meets the requirements of those customers considering system level purchases.


2.  Personalized Newsletters:  Balluff's sales force was the face of the organization.  Customers and partners were reliant on their reps for information.  Balluff was challenged with capturing the digital body language of their customers, while still allowing the sales reps to own those relationships.  By developing a personalized newsletter, Balluff solved this problem.  Using dynamic images and dynamic content, each rep has the ability to customize a templated newsletter with their picture, messaging, and signature.  And because that newsletter comes directly from the sales rep, when a customer replies to the email, the sales rep receives that response.  Marketing now captures the analytics necessary for nurturing and segmentation, and the sales rep has another opportunity to grow the relationship.


3.  Policy and Internal Governance:  A lesson learned early on for Balluff was the need for written policies and governance.  In the past, Balluff had to battle with individuals wanting to purchase lists or buying their own email distribution subscriptions.  To eradicate this issue, Balluff documented policies and governance around list purchase, data usage, email cadence, and distribution.  By documenting these policies in writing, all employees are aware of the policies, and when an issue arises, they can quickly point to the document.


4.  Code Red Distributor Program:  Like most manufacturers, Balluff relies on their channel for revenue.  In order to support their channel network, and bring them into the marketing fold, they developed their Code Red Distributor Program.  Through the development of channel assets, like microsites and emails, Balluff can manage their channel activities within the same instance as their direct customers, but still segment appropriately.


5.  Opportunity Outside of Traditional Digital Communications:  Balluff utilizes marketing communication channels like trade shows and events, digital and print advertising, and gated content.  But they also recognized the opportunity to leverage another communication source, their technical support team.  Customer support calls are logged into a database.  The marketing team then segments that data and sends a follow-up email with a link to a survey form.  That survey data is captured against the contact record.  By capturing this information, Balluff can further segment and personalize communications to improve the customer experience.


Through continuous testing and analysis, Balluff continues to uncover communication opportunities that enhance the customer experience, align internal departments, and grow revenue.


To learn more about some of the other successes Balluff has had, check their Markie nomination for Extraordinary Email.