I love to see marketing automation used well. Even when I’m the unsuspecting victim.
This morning I was treated to an invitation to partake in a survey via the fine folks at Box. If you’re not familiar with Box (until recently, known as Box.net), they’re an “online file sharing and cloud content management service for enterprise companies” (Wikipedia).
On a personal level, I love Box’s approach to their own branding and personality. So much simplicity in design, good use of white space, color and imagery evoke “cloud” throughout. Aaron Levie, their co-Founder and CEO, while still being young guy, talks about making enterprise software sexy.
As a guy who in my early 20’s, while working the phones in a B2B call center, fell in love with companies like OpenText and Cognos, it’s hard for me not to relate to Levie and get genuinely excited about what is happening at Box. From a product perspective, I love the idea. I think it has insane potential in the enterprise space, but still find that I need to force myself to leverage it more. [the old habit of emailing myself stuff is turning out to be a hard habit to break.]
With that said, I’m a Box user. I have my personal account with my apps installed on my mobile and desk-bound devices. And alas, my seldom-used account still only has single-digit % utilization thus far.
Despite my fledgling usage, this morning I was surprised to be greeted with a short, engaging invite to a survey in my inbox. The email was personable, with extra emphasis on how short the survey would be. While I enjoyed my morning coffee, it seemed a reasonable use of two minutes of my time. The survey was brief, as promised. Kudos to the fine marketing folks for being true to their word - that was a pleasant surprise in itself… and not the only one.
After survey completion, I was directed to a shared document - a Forrester study on the ROI of Cloud Apps. There was no mention or indication of a reward - of any kind - upon completion of the survey, so seeing this valuable content offered as a thank you, rather unexpectedly, was a genuine treat.
All-around, the survey was an enjoyable experience. From invitation to completion to thank you, it was all very well executed. Even better than I realized.
Qualification In Disguise
The survey itself was simple. Name, company, role. If using Box for business, is it just me, my department, or org-wide. What if any other content management technologies did I use or would be considering. Pretty basic classification stuff. But important classification stuff.
Then the rest of the meat of the survey was around my thoughts on Box features I’d be interested in. The UI was clean and noticeably easy to interact with on a mobile device, just sliding from Not Interested to Interested or Very Interested. The meaty questions presented themselves as what features I’d be interested in, leaving me initially with the impression that these may be future features, and the feedback may in some way help guide a product roadmap. Then, as I read the individual features, I recognized them as existing Box Business and Enterprise features, that as a Personal user I don’t have access to. Some of them jumped out at me, as I had remembered looking at the product comparison pages yesterday when I was on their website… And then 2 and 2 became 4.
The invitation to the survey must have been tied to my recent activity online. When I was logged into my Box account yesterday, I had clicked over on the Upgrade button to poke around to see what features and storage limits came with the paid editions of the product. I looked back at the survey invitation and saw the unsubscribe link pointed to a “app.en25.com” address. A quick a-Googling of that url and a Ghostery-assisted view their website later, I see they’re currently leveraging Eloqua - ”a marketing automation SaaS company which develops automated marketing and demand generation software and services for business-to-business marketers.” (Wikipedia) And it all makes sense.
Something about my engagement with the website must have triggered this (very timely) survey request. The feedback gathered from me in the survey was rather cursory, it seems. It appears this to be more of a qualification exercise. I’m not sure if they’re trying to score my level or areas of interest pursuant to my activity on the “upgrade” button, or if in a more general sense measuring feature interests based on demographics or other classifications. Or both. Or any number of things that could be tracked, measured and optimized this way.
Whatever the measure, it is genius. The messaging was playful and engaging. The message was timely, sent at a perfect time of day for the playful message to hit home, and for me to be willing to spend a few minutes. The message was recent enough, but not-too-recent in relation to my website inquiry. The execution of the survey was honest and clear, and they even went the extra mile with a modest thank you. Even having acknowledged that the survey had little at all to do with my feedback and everything to do with sizing me up as a potential paying subscriber… somehow it still doesn’t at all feel invasive.
I find it admirable. In an age when so much email marketing and content marketing flies about, and our inboxes fill with spam, it’s great to see a company like Box doing it right. As a fan of lead generation and nurturing, I for one would love to see a snapshot of which of my activities pushed me over the edge in this case to trigger the survey request, how the timing of the survey request was determined, and what the next steps in their nurturing efforts would be for having now completed the survey.
I’m actually excited to see what communications follow, or if I’ve managed to disqualify myself from their pool of qualified leads. Now, back to warming up that Box account.