Case Study: Online marketing company gets connected with 24/7 office
How email marketing company Responsewave has unified its diverse European operations through a utility service provider, to communicate a single brand image and build closer customer relationships.
Despite the onslaught of spam, and the overwhelming impact of escalating e-mail volume, e-mail marketing remains highly profitable.
Responsewave is part of a new wave of companies that can help organisations increase their online presence and enhance profitability through tailored, innovative marketing campaigns with their interactive campaign backbone. The solution enables creation of complex, multi-channel, seamlessly measurable, closed-loop marketing campaigns.
Responsewave helps its customers to build strong customer relationships in order to promote loyalty and increase retention rates. In order to deliver this for its customers, Responsewave identified that this needed to be reflected in its own business approach. Using a web-based ERP system from 24SevenOffice, Responsewave has unified its diverse European operations to communicate a single brand image and develop close working relationships.
Rapid Expansion, Restrictive IT
With the burgeoning market for email marketing solutions, competitive advantage is essential to stay one step ahead. Responsewave has to constantly adapt its online marketing toolset to meet the growing demands of today’s online community and help generate sales leads. Accurate market knowledge and a complete understanding of a company’s business are prerequisites.
Operating since 2002, Responsewave has rapidly expanded its business through partnerships so that it can deliver tailored marketing campaigns utilising local market expertise. With offices and distributors in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Australia, Responsewave operates a very decentralised and remote infrastructure.
Administration and contact management was maintained locally within the different geographic locations, with each office having a certain amount of autonomy over its IT needs. This meant that it operated a mix of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools from Siebel on-demand to Salesforce.com and a local bespoke tool.
Henrik Mandal, CEO of Responsewave explains: “Such a complex IT infrastructure was tricky to manage and very cost inefficient. Despite our large investment in CRM, it was difficult to gain an accurate picture of our business as information was maintained on separate systems. The ability to make quick business decisions is essential as the online market is constantly evolving. Our existing IT infrastructure was too restrictive for our needs and not conducive to sharing market intelligence.”
As a rapidly expanding company, Responsewave needed technology that was flexible to evolve with its changing business requirements. At the heart of Responsewave’s IT strategy was the need to standardise IT onto a single platform which could then be easily accessed by non-technical staff at any of its offices and also by its external partners.
Mandal comments, “We recognised the importance of having a centralised internet-based tool that would present one version of the truth across all our business operations, as opposed to having information stored in silo fashion. We were looking for a tool that had the look and feel of a local internal application. We found Salesforce.com frustrating as it was evident that it was internet-based due to the number of pop-up windows that kept appearing. The user experience was a key consideration in our decision”.
Responsewave conducted a cost analysis for managing this type of environment internally. It determined that to run effectively, it would need to purchase a dedicated server, an internet connection, software licences and due to scarce resources, would need to rely on expensive consultants to maintain and upgrade the systems. This worked out too costly to meet its needs.
With his headquarters in London, Responsewave sought advice from London First Centre (LFC), an inward invest agency for London providing consultancy services. As a small business with 11 employees across eight countries, LFC recommended the services of 24SevenOffice, a young company itself who’s web-based ERP system is optimised for SMEs and has CRM built into its modular environment.
Responsewave trialled it alongside its existing CRM tools so that it could compare the environments and monitor the impact on the user experience. Responsewave looked at the majority of the modules that the 24SevenOffice platform provided from accounting, invoicing, budgeting, project management, CRM and email.
“It provided a very comprehensive system, incorporating a CRM module that helped us to accurately track customer contacts across our pan-European operations,” explains Mandal. “We quickly became dependent on it as it was fast and flexible, enabling us to access business documents within minutes from anywhere in the World. The ASP model meant that we could pay a fixed fee every month and we would benefit from free upgrades and people that could manage our data on our behalf.”
Obviously, any company who outsources its data to a third party has concerns about security and trust. Developing this is vital in maintaining harmonious relationships with outsourced suppliers. Responsewave found that 24SevenOffice met its every concern head-on as Mandal explains: “We like to partner with companies and people that are like-minded and who share the same vision”, comments Mandal. “As a small company like our own, 24SevenOffice understood our concerns and excelled at providing us with unrivalled customer service and support. We have had minimal problems since implementation in January 2004, and find virtual services more secure than having the hardware on-site, which would inevitably go wrong at some point.”
In order to roll it out quickly, it was important to have staff buy-in. Following the pilot, it was evident to Responsewave that the users liked the windows-like interface as it was easy to navigate and quick to source information.
Andy Thorne, Executive Advisor of Responsewave, explains: “The remote web-based browser feels like we are using a local application as it is highly intuitive. It is fast to access information and as it has one central encrypted log-in, we can log in from anywhere in the World and get the same information. We can store emails in one place, which we found very useful.”
Business continuity was also addressed as 24SevenOffice maintains company data on separate servers at a highly secure data centre facility in Norway. All data is backed up remotely to ensure that data is secure for business continuity purposes.
Mandal concludes: “With 24SevenOffice we can rest assured that our data is in the best hands. It acts as our back-office from which we can log meetings, schedule corporate activities and download presentations remotely with ease. We can go into meetings confident that we have the market intelligence and documents that we need to make a real impact. We have developed a great working relationship with 24SevenOffice, one that is based on trust, and one that will continue as we grow”.