Salesforce.com, Jigsaw and marketing automation

Innovative ways to source customer data.

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Marketing automation is a distinct category of products, even though highly related to sales force automation and CRM. And the marketing automation arena is evolving furiously, particularly as social media and crowdsourcing techniques come into vogue.

Jigsaw is one such innovator, focusing on the assembly and maintenance of high quality data about prospects in a cross-customer way. By leveraging what each of its customers knows about a given lead, Jigsaw becomes the "high water mark" source for information from all of its customers. Classic crowdsourcing, applied to the very difficult problem of lead data enrichment.

This has been such a sore spot for marketers because most leads don't want vendors to know a lot about them. They create multiple avatars to evade the intelligence gathering that's part of any good marketing automation system. Jigsaw managed to counteract this "keep me anonymous" phenomenon with a set of incentives for members and participants, and garnered a good reputation for lead quality with sales managers.

Think Plaxo meets Wikipedia. And now, that meets Salesforce.com.

So why does it matter? A CRM system, by itself, is not particularly powerful. Even if usage is mandated, if the system doesn't have good data in it, users will resist. Of course, the fewer the users, the less interesting and representative the data in the system will be. The virtuous cycle of quality data--> more usage--> more data has to start with data, because that's what you can most directly change. And what's the most notorious area for bad data quality, both in the technical sense and in the meaning/relevance of the information? If you've been reading my articles, you know it's leads.

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