Zoho announced this week Zoho Marketing Plus, its solution to unify its marketing products into one platform. Zoho is a company that I follow closely as a leader in business SaaS, offering a suite of over fifty web-based business applications that is scalable vertically and horizontally within a business.
Zoho greatly emphasizes its customer experience (CX) within its customer relationship management platform (CRM). Its enterprise-level operating system Zoho One does just that by connecting all lines of business (LOB) and with customers. I mentioned in my coverage of Zoho One that Zoho's long-term goal is unification at every level, from experience to the applications and right down to the infrastructure and networks that run in the background.
Zoho Marketing Plus is just that—connecting the multiple moving parts of marketing to create a seamless collaborative experience for stakeholders, customers, and marketing organizations. The key point that I want to make is that this is not Zoho's jump into marketing. Zoho has successfully offered marketing SaaS within its Zoho operating system for almost a decade. Zoho Marketing Plus looks to unify Zoho's marketing platform allowing for more personal CX and continuity across the Zoho operating system. Let's take a look.
A shared view of everything
When it comes to marketing, there can be a lot of moving parts—teams, content, and partners that are all trying to work together on the same goal. There are thousands of people working on one product launch, marketing project, or campaign in some cases. It becomes difficult to see all of the collaboration across projects and per team progress while keeping the shared customer in view and being as efficient and impactful as possible.
Zoho has taken a top-down approach by implementing a dashboard that allows the marketing leader to keep track of what is going on with respect to time. Zoho included a shared view of projects with schedules, tasks, and history of what is happening within a project or campaign. As someone who has been a chief marketing officer (CMO) and has been a part of many high-level multi-million-dollar marketing projects, I can attest to the amount of juggling that is done, and being able to see where everything is in a uniform manner opens up the marketing team to focus on improving the overall customer experience.
Similarly, Zoho has included a shared view of content with documents, spreadsheets, and decks so that teams have one place to see all of the artifacts of the projects. It is one centralized place for teams to conveniently pull out whatever content they need while also allowing other teams to do the same with continuity. I believe this method is a convenient way to ensure all assets are uniform in design, content, etc. I see this repository of marketing content is most helpful for marketers who are still learning the ins and outs of the marketing team. The repository of data gives marketers a glimpse of how content within a campaign or project should look based on what assets are already present.
Zoho has also made it to where marketing teams have a shared view of performance on a specific project with segments and metrics. Zoho has integrated other Zoho applications, including Campaigns, Social, Webinar, Analytics, Marketing Automation, Workdrive, PageSense, Survey, and Backstage within Marketing Plus for real-time data aggregation and analytics. Zoho gave examples of a heat map for a desktop page within the PageSense tab that showed which part of the page visitors to the sight was going. I believe feedback is paramount to improvement, and every marketing organization should be asking how to improve next go-around. Zoho has made this an important component of its push for unity within the Marketing Plus and this shared view of marketing data for all of a marketing team is a great idea.
Zoho has also consolidated its collaboration across projects and other LOBs. Zoho says marketing teams will be able to connect and collaborate on projects in tandem and with ease, with the ability to maintain version control. Collaboration is one of the SaaS topics I have written about most over the past couple of years as we have seen the digital transformation of businesses. Zoho recognized that collaboration happens around the content and assets being created for a project. The productivity suite that Zoho has for creating content has enabled features like commenting and version management for content collaboration.
Zoho has expanded this collaboration, recognizing that collaboration with other LOBs is also important. Zoho has enabled cross-functional collaboration with sales teams. So for example, marketing teams can see the pipeline status of leads and see what is working and what is not. Zoho has included analytics dashboards that can pull from other LOBs or third-party solutions so that marketing teams can adjust projects for better revenue growth.
Zoho has also enabled cross-functional collaboration across services like social media websites. I believe this is strategic because it gives marketing teams a closer and more accessible line to customers through multiple diverse channels.
New Customer Tools
Zoho has given marketing teams a more comprehensive view of customer databases with new search capabilities and contact lists. Marketing teams can segment customers through a list of criteria. In talking with Zoho, it is not making moves on customers' privacy, as there is no new accumulation of customer data, but rather giving marketing teams tools to understand customers better. I do not believe this is an evasion of privacy for customers because there is a right way to use information about customers and a wrong way. So, for example, there is public and private information about a person (customer), but there is also information we as consumers give to companies so that they are better able to supply our demands. Zoho simply makes it easier for marketing teams to utilize the data that customers have entrusted to business. Through many talks I have had with Zoho, it holds privacy for customers to a high degree and I do not believe this compromises that principle.
Zoho has enabled marketing teams to gather insights within the automation process by aggregating a marketing team's automation process. The Marketing Automation dashboard in Zoho Marketing Plus shows the automation of a project or campaign. It has AI-powered data analytics that optimizes customer preference and tracks the engagement of customers. Based on this feedback from customers, marketing teams can change automation processes within a project.
By unifying Zoho's marketing platform, it is continuing its goals to unify the entire Zoho operating system as one well-oiled platform. Zoho has unified the entire marketing process, creating a shared view of everything and collaboration across LOB and customers. The most compelling point of Zoho Marketing Plus is that Zoho has been successfully offering marketing products for quite a while, and this is Zoho aggregating the entire platform. The more Zoho can unify its products, the more valuable its tools become and the better CX.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy junior analyst Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.