Microsoft Azure Demand Center

Microsoft Corp

The Demand Center story

The Demand Center story begins in Washington, USA, where Microsoft’s C&E Azure Marketing team is responsible for driving Azure subscriptions revenue through demand creation.

Microsoft is an industry unto themselves, and have been a major name in software for over 40 years. Known globally for their outstanding software, they believe in empowering their customers to achieve more from the world, whether at home or in business.

Azure is an open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform and infrastructure designed and created by Microsoft; a collection of integrated cloud-based services, incorporating analytics, database management, computing, networking and more. It is used for building, deploying and managing business services and applications, and serves as a reliable data transporter vehicle for integration of these different applications and platforms. The motto is move faster, do more, and save money; words the team lives by.

The next generation systems and infrastructure that Intergen helped us build has become a model for how we do business-to-business modern marketing and sales at Microsoft. Their expertise, consultative approach, and delivery were key to our success.

Charles Eichenbaum
Director of Marketing Technology & Operations, Microsoft Corporation

The business case for technology change

Today, the Azure platform is used by many customers worldwide. Microsoft’s Marketing & Sales team is itself a unified organization, engaging in joint planning processes around leading flow marketing needs. To keep up with their success, and to drive more, effective marketing tools to support their staff are essential.

In the modern market, sales and marketing automation is a growing industry. While Microsoft’s standard model was to sell on-premises software through one- to three-year cycles in established markets, the shift to pay-as-you-go subscriptions like Azure meant that marketing would play a much larger role in demand creation, leading to costly endeavors, like cold calling or direct sales. 

Enabling such systems to effectively run themselves saves work hours, streamlines the customer experience, and allows valuable personnel to get on with other projects. Also, with such high volumes of customers in this industry a more reliable customer management system is a must. Microsoft needed a robust, intelligent and finely-tuned system to handle this.

The engagement

To adapt to this industry shift, Intergen’s Seattle team was tasked with building a system to automate Azure’s marketing strategy, and allow them to keep track of their customer base by creating an infrastructure which would enable buyer journeys. This would make Azure marketing easier, quicker, and more effective; a winning formula.

The primary goal of the project would be to keep track of Azure subscriptions, and allow for easier marketing to both new and existing clients. Nurturing these clients was considered equally important, and qualifying leads using scoring with automation would accelerate revenue growth. Reporting would also be key. The platform had to be extendable, to allow for onboarding of future products with the expansion of the project’s scope and cloud-based interfaces would be ideal for the eventual global rollout.

Effective marketing automation and customer relationship management were the cornerstones of Microsoft’s requirements. Over the course of a two-and-a-half-year engagement, the Demand Center initiative was born and developed, and remains in a continuous process of improvement and refinement.

The solution

The Demand Center solution combined countless internal data sources to come up with the types of customers Microsoft could use for targeted promotions and channel engagement.

It ultimately consists of:

  • Marketo: This cloud-based marketing automation tool is used to manage lead scoring, email automation, webinars and much more. Its business analytics block is used for leads scoring, after all leads are synced with Contacts in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM aspect of the solution. All Marketo Leads are scored based on demographic and behavioral data so, once the score hits a predetermined threshold, a trigger in Marketo sends a message to CRM to generate a new phone call. 
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM: This acts as a central repository for all customer and business-related data: accounts, contacts, subscriptions, and so on. Dynamics CRM serves as central functional hub for all integrated process objects, creating reports, sending emails, and automating data processing. It also acts as an accessible user interface for qualifiers and nurturers to enter all pertinent call information.
  • Inside Sales (Power Dialer): This cloud based solution allows for dialing automation, saving time and money in the most straightforward of ways. 

These tools combined allowed for a platform from which to launch not only Azure, but all sorts of other Microsoft products, including its new range of cloud delivered products including, but not limited to, Power BI, Visual Studio Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite, Internet of Things, and more.

The gain

Demand Center allows for more engaging content to be shared with both existing and potential customers across multiple channels. The system reaches a high volume of customers every day, and the platform handles this with ease. It’s also an extremely accessible and intuitive solution, and has been translated into 15 languages.

Demand Center acts as an intelligent solution, combining countless internal data sources to come up with the types of customers Microsoft use for targeted promotions and channel engagement. It’s a benchmark for how the best customers use products, and encourages them to buy more for different aspects of the business. The topic-specific nurture programs have open rates of roughly 38%, and click-through rates of 25%; that’s not just basic market penetration, but often several multiples of the industry average. 

Time saving has also been a huge plus. The power dialing technology has reduced the cost-per-call by 75%, and reduced webinar launch times from six weeks to less than a day. Demand Center is in a constant process of fine-tuning and experimentation, meaning that it stays on top of industry trends and customer habits, leading to the best possible marketing programs available.

The business case

A need to adapt to new pay-as-you-go licensing model and a shift within the industry towards modern marketing and automation platforms catalyzed the need for Microsoft to look to implement a new CRM and marketing automation solution for its Azure business, creating an infrastructure to enable buyer journeys and provide better services. 

With high customer volumes, saving work hours was also a major need, leading to the idea of auto-dialing software in conjunction with the existing automation.

The business value

  • More engaging marketing and improved lead qualification leads to better sales outcomes
  • CRM shows exactly who to nurture
  • An expandable, flexible system in place should the scope of the project grow in the future; no building from scratch
  • Ability to use the Demand Center solution to manage sales, marketing and lead qualification for other Microsoft products
  • An information architecture and data strategy that ensures greater accuracy and understanding of customer information
  • Reduced costs from dialing and increased sales show a huge increase in marketing efficiency

Solutions

Cloud Services

Incorporating cloud-based services to deliver improved access, scalability and capability.

Customer Relationship Management

Managing customer interactions to improve sales, marketing and customer service. CRM designed to work the way your business works.

Technology

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications that support your business.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

A powerful relationship management platform that is suited to the requirements of any organisation.

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server brings breakthrough performance and faster insights delivered by a hybrid data platform.

Industry

Professional Services

Using technology to help make the most of your people and your IP.

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