Closing the loop on outbound data

“Everybody’s seeking the gold, but you need the picks and shovels.” Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, wasn’t sure if that metaphor worked: it worked fine for me. The gold, in this case, is customer acquisition; the picks and shovels are the tools Integrate deploys to boost ROI on outbound marketing spend. 

The Arizona-based business was founded in 2010 by a group of demand and performance marketers who identified what Vaughan called “a pretty big missing piece” of the customer acquisiton puzzle. Namely, the need to automate the aggregation and analysis of customer data generated anywhere other than your own website. The “inbound revolution,” Vaughan told me–businesses being found by customers through online search–has been important. But it remains the reality that businesses still go to where their customers are–and spend a lot of money doing so.

Data from activity on non-proprietary websites, including social media; from offline activity–especially events; and even from telemarketing can be acquired, usually in the form of a file or spreadsheet. The challenge is to integrate this data with direct digital insights from proprietary webpages and mobile apps (“integrate”–yes, hence the name). The aim, Vaughan said, is to make acquisition and interpretation of outbound data “as integrated and seamless as the inbound experience,” generating “good, timely, accurate data” to support the nurturing process.

Timely is key here. Data served up on spreadsheets, or in files attached to emails, has required loading into marketing automation systems, obliterating any thought of real-time responsiveness. Integrate’s software streams data from all outbound channels and partners into a simple dashboard. But it doesn’t just serve as a single API for that data, Vaughan said. “Some really powerful things happen to the data. It’s validated and verified–and formatted. Speed is crucial. You don’t want ten days or two weeks go by before you can use it. We haven’t had that execution layer before: it’s been a manual task.”

One consequence is that “you can pull that data back and look at what’s performing to optimize the spend.” This is what Vaughan calls “closing the loop.” What’s more, Integrate can take data at the top of the funnel and push it into the tools marketers are already using–Marketo, Eloqua, and so on. In effect, it feels and behaves like inbound data. And once it’s mapped onto a marketing automation tool, it can be synced with CRM, promoting the valued single view of the customer.

“We’re pretty prescriptive,” Vaughan said. “We’ve literally targeted people using marketing automation databases, because without us you’ve got this beautiful car sitting there without any fuel.” With a name like Integrate, he agreed, it’s important to be an open platform.  By design, the software integrates with the range of marketing automation options out there, working not only with Marketo and Eloqua, but with the relevant offerings from Oracle and Salesforce.

The market for Integrate’s services comprises B2B in the midmarket to enterprise layer, but–said Vaughan–“there’s a big asterisk to that.” Integrate also works with high growth companies: the type of start-ups which, entering year two, need to generate rapid growth, typically in a SaaS/cloud environment.

I asked Vaughan about coming opportunities in the space. “We’ve validate the data,” he said, “so what comes next? The next evolution is making sure the data is rich and actionable. That means we’re trying to get predictive.” Vaughan forecasts account-based targeting with more outbound and predictive data flowing through the model simultaneously. An execution layer like Integrate will be needed to make that happen, he said, “but it’s still in the early stages.”

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