Aggregating client data into a single source of truth

Image courtesy of Heroes of Digital
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Heroes of Digital is a Singapore-based digital agency that has recently adopted a data-driven approach with an integrated digital marketing strategy; one that employs machine learning to help their clients out.

A digital agency typically makes the first move when engaging with prospective clients. If a prospective client is interested, they would request for a proposal. Once both parties decide to work together, the digital agency would then analyse the client’s website and devise a campaign to optimise it. This may involve web design, search engine optimisation, social media marketing, content marketing, digital advertising, and various other digital marketing channels.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these steps used to be carried out in person. In order to consistently achieve better output, Heroes of Digital has deployed Zoho One – a suite of enterprise applications – for all of these processes to be executed virtually or in a hybrid manner.

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Xavier Tan, Co-Founder and Director at Heroes of Digital. Image courtesy of Heroes of Digital.

Speaking to Frontier Enterprise, Xavier Tan – Co-Founder and Director of Heroes of Digital – said that they have seen an improvement in their team’s productivity after the Zoho One implementation. “The integration of the apps allowed us to connect data seamlessly without the team having to do double work, as we now have a single-source-of-truth system. Communication and collaboration between departments have improved significantly as well, as a result of Zoho One. With Zoho, not only is our internal workflow improved, we use Zoho SalesIQ, a live chat and analytics platform to engage with our customers on our website. Zoho SalesIQ allows our team to manage the customer communication cycle which greatly helps with our customer service level,” he asserted.

Workflow setup

Tan believes that having an end-to-end system is important for digital agencies like Heroes of Digital. They have different departments working on the same projects, and it’s essential that they have a suite of apps that integrate with each other, so that collaboration and communication can be seamless.

Here is how Heroes of Digital’s workflow is set up: “We use Zoho CRM (customer relationship management) to store all our clients’ details and contracts, campaigns with different email lists to manage and communicate with prospects, WorkDrive to store all clients’ related assets, Cliq to communicate internally, Meeting to meet prospects, and Zoho Sign to get prospects to sign off on agreements,” Tan shared.

Heroes had been using various cloud apps, including Google Suite, HelloSign, Slack, Mailchimp, Pipedrive, Calendly, LastPass, and Basecamp. Tan observed that it is not easy to get all of them to connect with each other. Thus, user management, permissions, and collaboration were difficult. There was also no single-source-of-truth system, which made their switch to Zoho One somewhat inevitable.

Using a centralised platform

Gibu Mathew, Vice President and General Manager of Asia Pacific at Zoho. Image courtesy of Zoho.

Gibu Mathew, Vice President and General Manager of Asia Pacific at Zoho, said that Zoho One functions as an operating system for businesses. It also aims to help businesses solve disjointed data challenges and close communication gaps across silos. Mathew maintains that their product is cost-effective, especially as capital expenses associated with building and maintaining the cloud have fallen steadily. 

He also noted that businesses prefer a tightly integrated suite of apps, rather than a fleet of solutions from multiple vendors requiring complex and costly integrations. 

“We’ve seen that 25% of Zoho One customers use more than 25 applications on the platform, and more than 50% use beyond 16 applications,” Mathew revealed. “The integration we provide is continuously expanding: when we launched Zoho One, the platform had around 35 apps. Today, we have reached over 45 apps with more OS-wide services and several other improvements.”

When asked what makes Zoho One particularly suitable for Heroes of Digital, Mathew supposes that the digital agency keeps up with new technology trends. “Satisfying them with Zoho’s suite is surely harder than other regular non-technology-savvy companies,” he reasoned. 

“Like any company born in the internet age, Heroes of Digital used cloud apps for different business functions, but they then realised the need for a centralised platform to run their entire business,” Mathew remarked. “For instance, the marketing agency relied on Zoho Cliq for collaboration, which served not only as a chat application but also as an information lifeline for the company. Through the framework offered by Zoho One, Heroes of Digital can tackle their processes from the time a prospect chooses to engage with them, until the time the digital marketing campaign is launched,” he said.

Supporting digital agencies

Mathew said that as a platform, Zoho One supports digital agencies throughout their entire workflow. For instance, request for proposal (RFP) – the step that initiates client engagement – can be done through Zoho CRM, a cloud-based tool. This is followed by contract signing, which is supported by Zoho Sign. 

For pitch meetings, employees can brainstorm ideas through Zoho Cliq and Zoho Meetings, which are communication tools that also help them collaborate remotely. Creative professionals, meanwhile, can collaborate and begin working on projects through Zoho WorkDrive, a content collaboration platform designed for teams to store, share, manage, and work on files together.

Accordingly, Zoho’s integration is mapped out with alerts, which aim to make workflows smoother overall for businesses, including digital agencies.

Prioritising privacy

We asked what companies should consider when on the lookout for a technology provider, Mathew explained that with more businesses turning to software-as-a-service vendors for business solutions, it is important to ensure that vendors value the privacy of business data. After all, data privacy should always be an organisation’s top priority in looking for a technology provider.

“First, ensure the technology provider does not have an ad-based model and a motivation to sell your data to third parties in any form, including as derivatives created for an advertising model,” said Mathew. “Many technology companies do this and hence have a corporate conflict of interest.”

“Technology providers that have an integrated platform make it easier for your legal teams to ensure the boundaries that your business data crosses,” he pointed out. “When third-party providers are used for services like artificial intelligence, business intelligence, or search analytics, it may cause unwarranted and unexpected movement of your corporate data to third parties that you did not sign up for.”

Furthermore, said Mathew, remote working increases data privacy and security risks. “As such, businesses should look for technology providers that impose data access controls and authentication forms to help mitigate these risks.”

“Next, a vendor should always let their customers know what information they will collect,” Mathew suggested. “Most people are shocked when they uncover the amount of information social media and other companies have gathered about them. Vendors should be upfront and transparent about what information they will gather from the first step of their engagement so there will be no surprises down the road. Being open about this, increases customer confidence and satisfaction as well,” he concluded.

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