Schneider Electric Gets Personal With its Millions of Customers

Forrester and the Business Marketing Association released a survey this week indicating that B2B marketers planned to devote only a 3% sliver of their budgets to IT support and innovation. Yesterday, however, Schneider Electric released details of behaviorally targeted preference center it designed with the help of Merkle, demonstrating that not all large B2B enterprises are out of step with the march of technology.

The global supplier of equipment to the power industry and several other verticals employs 130,000 people to handle millions of customer inquiries each year. Yet, as diverse as its service needs are, it operates but one preference center to handle all customers.

“Schneider had a preference center for managing opt-ins and opt-outs. It met the needs of classifying people and getting them information they wanted, but Schneider wanted to convert the customer experience to be more about relevant content and preferences,” says Mark Engelke, VP of vertical markets at Merkle. “At one meeting during the planning stages, their CMO said they were a house of brands and they wanted to become a branded house.”

Schneider charged Merkle with reinventing its website to provide customers with more personalized content from its vast library of technical information, narrowing down choices based on the visitor’s language, expertise level, and prior relationship with Schneider. The revamped system, launched in December, remains one website for all customers, but gives them wider choice to opt in or out of certain features and to select the channels through which they prefer to receive information. Merkle also added a feature to allow the Schneider sales and marketing organizations to track the effectiveness of customer communications and adjust their methods to drive sales.

“For some business units, we do additional modeling—firmographic data for lead scoring, some response data—and that gets passed along to sales,” Engelke says. “We spend a lot of time on things like title codes and functions, things that try to identify not only that you’re a VP, but also what you do. Whether you’re a general business or a technology decision maker has a big impact on the content and the tone of the content Schneider puts in front of somebody.”

Addressing such details takes time, most likely a factor that daunts B2B marketers. Engelke said that the time span from initial conversations on the project to launch was about 18 months.

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