Rachel Appel of Reelio recently sat down with Zak Pines of Formstack to discuss her use of Formstack Sync. Here is an abridged transcript of the chat.
Background on Reelio
Zak: Can you start by telling us about Reelio and what the company does?
Rachel: Reelio is an influencer marketing company. We have a technology platform and an agency that helps social media influencers to connect with B2C brands for paid brand partnerships.
We’ve been doing this for over five years, which is actually a long time in the influencer marketing space. Our software streamlines the entire process, from finding influencers to tracking results, and our agency provides fully managed services as well.
Our founders created the company and evolved to this business model as they realized there were a lot of influencers out there making awesome content and with significant followers, who just needed a way to support themselves financially and get connected to brands looking to invest in new ways to reach their target audience.
Zak: Very neat. What is your role on the team?
Rachel: I’m the Director of Marketing. Here, that means that I’m responsible for generating marketing and sales collateral, and creating and managing campaigns and events—all toward the goal of generating leads and building our brand in the industry.
Reelio’s Marketing Strategy
Zak: Let’s talk about your marketing. First off, who are you typically targeting in terms of your bullseye audience?
Rachel: Our best customers are often ecommerce companies, and companies whose products are available nationally. Oftentimes our customers are looking to launch a new product in an established market, as influencer marketing is a key way for them to break through and disrupt that market. Also, products that benefit from consumers being able to see how they work are a really good fit for us.
Zak: Can you walk us through how you generate leads and the overall process with sales?
Rachel: We’re very focussed on inbound marketing to build a strong long-term growth engine. We regularly produce content on key topics, and we’re seeing strong growth in our organic traffic for key phrases such as “how to find an influencer” or “influencer marketing platforms.”
As we generate leads, we score them and push them directly to the sales team once qualified. If we qualified them correctly, our reps follow up with the lead and take the sales process from there.
Marketing Systems: The Need to Manage & Measure
Zak: What are your foundational sales & marketing systems?
Rachel: We’ve been using Zoho as our CRM since right from the beginning. I was promoted to Director of Marketing earlier this year, and coming into the role, one of my biggest concerns was that we hadn’t really been tracking marketing success.
We were doing marketing activities and seeing some results, but we didn’t have a systematic way of tracking it all easily. I really wanted to be able to see the impact of our efforts all the way through the funnel. This was especially important being part of a growth business.
Zak: Yes, that’s essential for marketing leaders. So stepping into the Director of Marketing role, how’d you go about looking to solve for your closed loop measurement challenge?
Rachel: We talked to a number of different marketing automation software companies, as well as many peers in the business. For me, the decision came down to usability. I wanted an environment whereby our team could get up to speed quickly, and the software could help unite our team through a unified process. I wanted something that would be efficient and easy to use on an ongoing basis. We ended up deciding on HubSpot based on that criteria.
Zak: How did the integration with Zoho factor into your decision?
Rachel: I knew that an automated HubSpot-Zoho integration was a must-have. That would be the only way for us to get the closed loop marketing reporting—connecting marketing investments to sales results—that we were looking for.
HubSpot recommended Formstack Sync (formerly Bedrock Data), and we knew there were many customers using Formstack Sync to integrate HubSpot and Zoho, so we knew that the integration would be doable without reinventing the wheel.
Reelio’s HubSpot-Zoho Integration
Zak: What are some of the keys to your HubSpot-Zoho integration?
Rachel: My favorite part (and we learned about this as Formstack Sync’s recommend approach for making HubSpot marketing data visible in our CRM) is we have a section in our Zoho lead & contact records labeled as marketing information, and these fields get auto-filled with HubSpot data.
We map in the key information to give sales context for engaging with that person. The fields include when the contact first came to the website; when the contact last came to the website; conversion date; what action did they take—such as requesting a demo; what product are they interested in; and their biggest challenge with influencer marketing. The “biggest challenge” is a question we ask on some forms, and there we’ll see responses like “Finding influencers,” or “How do I quantify ROI?,” or—and we saw this one recently—“looking to improve our influencer strategy to drive in-store event attendance.”
Zak: And how is your sales team using that information? What have you heard back from the sales team?
Rachel: First off, they appreciate that they can see this info right there in the Zoho interface they are using every day, and it doesn’t take any extra clicks or views. It’s summarized nice and neatly for them.
The information like what action the prospect took, or what they are interested in, helps sales tailor their follow-up to that person. They know what to reference in their emails or voicemails to help them determine what content to share to be most helpful around their pains or challenges.
Zak: Any anecdotes you can share with us about this HubSpot data being valuable to your sales team?
Rachel: Yes, definitely for website visit data for in progress leads or opportunities. We’ve had cases where sales team says someone has gone dark on them, but then they see they are back on the website reading about us. That becomes a trigger for our sales to call back in and give that person a timely check-in. Our sales team loves that.
Zak: You talked about one of your initial objectives of achieveing closed loop reporting on your marketing investments. How is that working out for you?
Rachel: We’ve nailed that one. Formstack Sync feeds back both lead and opportunity updates from Zoho to HubSpot, so HubSpot knows the status of each original contact, and we can see the total lifecycle funnel in HubSpot right there on the HubSpot dashboard. It’s exactly what I had envisioned in terms of seeing what our marketing activities are turning into and getting closed loop reporting in HubSpot.
I can see what are the key contributors for opportunities and customers. Did they come in from a LinkedIn ad? An organic search? A referral from a specific content piece?
That allows me to understand what’s performing, what’s not performing, and make the best decisions for our resources going forward, whether it’s our actual resources and what we spend time on, or where we invest our marketing budget.
Zak: What’s next for you in terms of your HubSpot-Zoho integration?
Rachel: We’re going to take more advantage of the lead, contact, and account data we are bringing over from Zoho to HubSpot. For example, once leads are moved into a nurture stage, we are building out automated email cadences to keep in touch with those people. Formstack Sync feeds that data from Zoho into HubSpot, and then we’ll use HubSpot’s smart lists to segment those people and put them into an ongoing cadence.
One of the things I learned about the integration as we got into it, is the importance of data feeding in both directions. Formstack Sync is about both feeding our marketing qualified leads from HubSpot to Zoho, but just as important is bringing back opportunity, account, and contact data from Zoho to HubSpot so we can use it there. So the bi-directional integration is key for everything we need to do between marketing and sales.
Data Integration Tailor Made for Marketers
Zak: How did the data integration you got through Formstack Sync compare with what you were expecting going into the process?
Rachel: It’s worked out great. I didn’t know a lot going into it, just that it was 100% necessary for us reach our goals.
For how complicated a thing data integration could be, Formstack Sync does a great job of demystifying it. The onboarding team coached me through decisions we would need to make like setting the system of record to resolve data conflicts, on a per field basis. The team also helped us step through common pitfalls, like making sure we were feeding in data for all required fields in Zoho, so that records didn’t fail to get in.
Also, what I didn’t anticipate was through the process I can now manage my own updates to the integration. I’m not beholden to an IT team or a services provider to make changes for me. I’m able to make field updates or change a rule myself through the Formstack Sync interface.
As a somewhat impatient DIY marketer, it’s perfect. It’s tailor-made for marketers who want to be able to manage data integrations without requiring a developer or IT resource to make changes. Who wants to wait on IT to make changes to their marketing and sales software?
Zak: How would you net out what Formstack Sync is doing for you?
Rachel: It’s huge. Having an automated integration between HubSpot and Zoho is key to our success.
Otherwise, we’d be wasting a ton of time doing it manually. And you know if it was done manually, there would be lots and lots of errors, not to mention time delays would not be acceptable to our sales team or our marketing team.
It’s assuring to know that the software is just there and working and we don’t have to think about it. It’s the right way to do it. I can’t imagine it any other way.