Effective marketing automation requires personalizing customer relationships based on data and account-based marketing. Using the data in CRM systems like Saleforce.com to personalize customer relationships is a powerful tool for demand gen, sales, and customer loyalty.

In this video, Mike Rethage, Vice President for Customer Success at Touchtown, explains how he uses Act-On Software with Salesforce for selling.

Act-On Software and Touchtown: Personalization and the Buyer’s Journey

Michael Krigsman: I’m Michael Krigsman, industry analyst and host of CxOTalk. I’m speaking with Mike Rethage, who is the VP of Customer Success at Touchtown. Hey, Mike! Thanks for spending a few minutes with us.

Mike Rethage: Thanks, Michael! It’s great to be here today!

Michael Krigsman: Mike, you’re the VP of Customer Success. What do you do, and tell us briefly about Touchtown.

Mike Rethage: Well, Touchtown is the number one provider of engagement solutions for senior living. We only work in senior living, and we’re trying to solve the three big problems in senior living. Number one, resident engagement and wellness, and really enhancing those programs that are helping in communities; but also, building census at the communities. And of course, employer attention, which is so important because this industry has a 42% turnover rate of their employees.

Michael Krigsman: Now, you are big consumers of digital data. What kind of data are you collecting, and why is it so important for your business?

Mike Rethage: Well, that’s a great question because we’re a roughly 30-person team, but we have 1,200 customers across North America. And, to keep those customers and engage them, we have to take advantage of the digital body language to really make the timeliness of our contact the best it can be. So, we’re giving the right information at the right time for each customer.

Michael Krigsman: I love that phrase, “digital body language.” What does that mean for you?

Mike Rethage: Well, the digital body language, to me, is that customer’s electronic journey through all of our materials, whether it by our support site or our marketing site, to gain more information about what they’re really interested in. And, we like to be very consultative in the sales process to ensure that they don’t just look at us as a sales team, but also as a member of their team helping their community grow. And, that digital body language, again, helps us kind of interpret what they’re doing and ask the right questions, and ultimately find the right solution for them.

Michael Krigsman: So this digital body language is central to your understanding of the customer journey and what the customer cares about, and you're collecting this data using a variety of tools and platforms. So, would you give us an overview of that technology landscape?

Mike Rethage: Sure. Well, we're heavy Salesforce.com users. That's the hub of kind of all of our information; what our people are mostly working in every day. But, it's connected to many other systems. So Act-On, for example, does all of our marketing automation, but also collecting a lot of that digital body language and help us score what people are doing, because that connects our marketing website in the emails that we send out, puts that information into Salesforce at the fingertips of everyone. That connection is so solid. That helps us, again, interpret and work through to provide all those solutions to our customer.

Michael Krigsman: So you’ve got these connected systems that are enabling you to collect this data. How do you interpret that data? What do you do with that data? How do you act on that data? And, how does it relate to your understanding of the customer journey?

Mike Rethage: Well, we believe that if someone’s on our website, and they’re looking at a product page, that is a perfect time to follow up immediately after and ensure that we are answering any questions that we may have. So, if we see someone open up an email, and they are maybe interested in a webinar, we’re following up with them to answer any questions and also just be there; be consultative for them. And that timeliness is so important because we know that if we can give them a presentation or a demo of our software, 50% of those demos turn into sales. So, if we can get them to that point by being consultative, that helps us grow our business.

Michael Krigsman: So, you’re using this data to help support the buyer during, what I’m assuming for them, is a complicated process, and to give you insight into what’s important to them, how they’re thinking, and so on. So, maybe elaborate on that aspect of it.

Mike Rethage: Sure. So, being consultative in that process and selling technology to senior living, we want to make sure that we're providing that right solution so they [...] can use our solutions in a number of different ways whether they're engaging their residents or need a growth census, or need to retain their employees more. So, we want to ask the right questions to give them that personalized journey. And, sometimes, that is just as simple as sending them an email at the right time with a friendly face on it, and providing them links to tools like Calendly to quickly set up a time with us. Being there at the right time often makes that journey easier for the customer and makes them, again, feel like we're a part of their team, not just trying to push something on them.

Michael Krigsman: How has this personalization affected the business of Touchtown?

Mike Rethage: Well, I think the personalization has helped a lot. Not only has it increased our number of demos; because again, it makes a mass email feel more personalized if you include someone's picture and some tailored content based on what they've done; but it also has helped us on the customer success side – obviously, the customer retention. We have a 99% retention rate of our clients, and we do that by also following up using these tools like Act-On to give them information post-sales that are going to help them engage with our software and use the product to its fullest extent. And sometimes, that's just simply sharing new features; and sharing features that … Our software's complicated. They may not know about and be able to take advantage of their community.

Michael Krigsman: So, it’s not just about selling, but it’s really about understanding what that customer needs at every point in their journey, in that buying process or post-purchase, in order to support them, help them, and as you say, be consultative?

Mike Rethage: That's exactly right. We always say that we are number one in this engagement arena. But, we need to be number one at every step of the process from pre-sales to the actual sales process for understanding what they're doing with our proposal, [up] to continuing that through the post-sales process in engaging each customer. Especially with that high turnover rate, [we need to] educate them on what our system can do and make sure that they're using it, again, to its fullest extent. We do that through digital body language, and again, making that timely in giving them the information they need.

Michael Krigsman: I love that concept of "digital body language." What advice do you have for other companies who want to do the kind of things you're doing; to really understand the customer and engage him or her in that journey?

Mike Rethage: Well, I think it starts with connecting your systems and analyzing the data. If you're not looking at the data, but you're collecting it, it's not doing you any good. So, personalizing the data and really understanding what it does with those connected systems if your people have to log into four different places, that's not going to help. That's what we really love about Act-On and some of these other solutions; how they integrate into platforms like Salesforce that we're already using every day. That makes our lives easier, and ultimately, helps us to use the data more every day and every sale and every conversation.

Michael Krigsman: It’s just awesome. Mike Rethage, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!

Mike Rethage: Hey! Thank you so much!