While cloud computing has been celebrated for its ability to improve a business’s bottom line, the cloud has also been helping businesses increase their top-line revenue.
But many businesses persist in seeing cloud through the tinted glasses of bottom-line growth. They look at cloud primarily as a technology whose adoption brings dynamic scalability to their processes, improves accessibility, enhances document control and boosts collaboration.
Out of the 830 IT leaders who were a part of the TechTarget Fall 2013 Cloud Pulse Survey, 45 percent said they adopted cloud technology for their “business needs.” But the question is: Do these business needs include sales and marketing activities? Do these needs go beyond cost savings and focus on customer engagement? Are businesses using the cloud to develop deeper market insights?
Make no mistake — there are businesses using the immense potential of the cloud to do these very things; but a number of them aren’t. It is these businesses that must encash the cloud’s immense and growing potential to enhance and improve their sales-generation activities.
In order to increase top-line growth with the cloud, you will need to begin by identifying the various revenue generation activities that can boost your net sales. Move forward from there.
Let’s take a look at the contours of a winning cloud-based strategy, seeing it from the perspective of businesses that have used the cloud to experience top-line benefits.
Examples of cloud-based top-line growth
1. Tapping cloud-based Big Data for marketing insights
In 2013, the market for Big Data reached $18.6 billion and by 2017 it is set to hit $50 billion. That’s massive growth. Your business’s marketing team can use insights derived from Big Data to come up with even more relevant and meaningful digital advertising campaigns. The idea is to come up with campaigns that can intersect seamlessly with audience lives, especially when they are most inclined to buy your products and/or services.
A case in point is Avis Budget. The car rental group is using Big Data to micro target its customers by brand, segment and other key factors in order to stand out from the crowd in a saturated market.
2. Cloud for market differentiation
IBM developed a cloud-based solution for Gewandhaus Gruber, a German clothing retailer, to reward existing customers and attract new ones. A cutting-edge fingerprint identification-based loyalty program generated 15 percent of its annual revenue within just six months. The retailer didn’t just improve the customer experience; it owned it because it wasn’t offered by any other retailer. In an environment populated by run-of-the-mill loyalty programs, the retailer started engaging with its customers at a different level. And it worked!
Another example of cloud — and in this case it is the Microsoft Cloud — helping improve customer experience is Dominos. The pizza chain was looking for a solution that ensured its server downtime (a result of increasing online orders and its dependence on proprietary point-of-sale system called Domino’s Pulse) could be kept at the bare minimum. It found this solution in Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with built-in Hyper-V virtualization technology. Result: The improved online ordering process led to better customer experience, which in turn resulted in improved revenue generation.
3. Customer engagement
Avalara is a cloud-based sales tax and compliance automation service. So it makes perfect sense that it decided to use a cloud-based service to improve customer engagement. It chose the Oracle Marketing Cloud for this purpose. With it, Avalara was able to improve the ROI of its monthly thought leadership webinar service by ensuring the right audiences were targeted at the right time. Custom-branded landing pages, etc. were used to up the engagement ante, which increased webinar attendance.
Enriching sales effectiveness
Now that we’ve seen how the cloud helps businesses earn top-line revenue, let’s dig a little deeper into how cloud platforms can help improve sales effectiveness. Essentially, businesses can leverage the cloud to add more value to their sales process. This can be done by improving the following factors.
- Accuracy of Quote — Personalizing quotes by knowing more about user behavior, competitor pricing, historical price points, market dynamics and other key data points is now a real possibility.
- Contextual Interaction — Delivering relevant content, offers and discounts to personalize a customer’s shopping experience can lead to increased customer retention. Cloud will help you sell smarter. You can get access to customer profile data, purchase patterns, etc. This allows you to come up with a marketing approach the customer feels more comfortable with. In such cases, the customer is more inclined towards buying/using your products and/or services.
- Message Consistency – Customers will interact with your business through various channels including social media, sales calls, face-to face, online chat, etc. The idea is to distribute content quickly and consistently across all your channels. Whether you are rolling out a new product or a service, the message that you deliver to customers must remain the same. Cloud unifies the distributed marketing environments and sales channels. This ensures that a single message goes out to not just the sales and/or marketing departments but also the customers.
The cloud, provided you make good use of it, helps you optimize the digital marketing experience in more ways than one. It is very easy to get lost in the benefits that make cloud computing the ideal technology for boosting bottom-line revenue. But it’s not very difficult to see cloud pushing up your sales figures, if you see this technology through the sales and marketing prism.
In a London business forum, Philip Kotler, the “Father of Modern Marketing,” and co-author of 70 books, advised companies to follow the “mantra of marketing” — “create value, communicate value and deliver value.”
The importance of his advice in the 2008 presentation hasn’t changed a bit. Your top-line revenue is dependent on creating value for your customers, letting them know you are creating this value and making sure this value reaches them. Cloud helps you do it better.
Paul Lee is a community manager at Agiliron Inc., a Portland-based SaaS and cloud-based technology company. He has years of experience in this industry. Feel free to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.