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Tracking Live Conversations to Enhance Your Customers Holistic Experience and Your ROI

Tracking Live Conversations to Enhance Your Customers Holistic Experience and Your ROI

Kyle Christensen, the VP of Marketing at Invoca, reviews the state of marketing and the future of better customer service in this interview with the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast.

The connections your customers have with your company through sales, customer service, and the marketing journey, especially on mobile, play a big part in the customer experience. These connections aren’t just person-to-person; there are other points along the way that can transform leads into sales and setbacks into opportunities. When companies are better able to personalize their interactions with customers, they are seen as more in tune with what their customers want and need.

Of course, that connection isn’t just about leads and sales: It’s also about improving your marketing opportunities and helping your customer service team work more efficiently. Tie it all together with automation to improve the entire customer experience.

Kyle Christensen, the VP of Marketing at Invoca, reviews the state of marketing and the future of better customer service in this interview with the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast.

(Full Podcast Transcript)

Welcome to the Marketing Podcast. It’s the podcast where marketing leaders shoot straight about key trends, technologies, and topics in marketing today. And now, straight from the Salesforce marketing cloud, it’s your co-hosts Heike Young and Joel Book.

HY: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Marketing Cloudcast. It’s the Marketing Podcast from Salesforce. If you are new to the Cloudcast, welcome. I’m Heike Young, and I serve as our content innovation lead on Salesforce’s content marketing and social media team. This show is all about interviewing the most innovative marketers on what they’re doing in marketing, and why it’s working. Joel, please do us the honors and introduce today’s Cloudcast guest.

JB: Well, thank you very much, Heike. Hello, folks. Joel Book alongside today, where I serve as senior director for digital marketing insight at Salesforce. This is a podcast that we’ve really been looking forward to for a long time, Heike, because our guest today is Kyle Christensen. Kyle is VP of Marketing at Invoca. For those of you listening to the Marketing Cloudcast who may not be familiar with Invoca, you’re in for a real treat because if [you’re looking at] direct response advertising, optimizing the way in which you inject much more intelligence into the inbound calls that are coming into your call center, and improving the overall customer experience as it relates to not only product evaluation and selection but also customer service, you’re in for a real treat because that is exactly what Invoca does. And as you’ll hear from Kyle, [Invoca] works in close cooperation and integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, and also Service Cloud. So Kyle, welcome into the Marketing Cloudcast.

KC: Hey, thanks so much for having me. Really honored to be here.

JB: Well, as I said in the open, this is a topic that I think is really timely for so many marketers that are now very focused on improving the quality of their leads, and I think probably as much as anything else—and I know Kyle, you were at Connections recently and heard Keith Block talk about the fact that marketing, sales, customer service, all of these business functions now have converged and all rolled into one big function, which is called customer experience. And Invoca is smack dab in the middle of this. For folks not familiar with Invoca, provide a little bit of an overview of the company, how long you’ve been in existence, and what the solution enables marketers to be able to do.

KC: Yeah, absolutely. Invoca is the call intelligence company. So what does that mean, call intelligence? Well, we’re really all about taking what is one of the most important interactions you can have with either a customer or a prospect, i.e. a live conversation like we’re having right now, a live conversation between two human beings, and bringing that into the Sales Cloud or the Service Cloud or the Marketing Cloud. And why that’s interesting today is because if you think about digital—and all of us are digital marketers—if you think about the place in which digital interactions are taking place, more and more and more it’s happening on a mobile device, on a telephone. And one of the most intuitive things that you can do as a consumer when opening a mobile email or viewing a mobile social ad is not necessarily to fill out a lead form or to fill out a shopping cart, but it’s just a tap of a button and have a conversation with somebody. And so what Invoca does is really help marketers or customer experience professionals make sure that they have visibility into those calls and the conversations that result.

The Evolution of Email Marketing

JB: Well, I know, Kyle, you spent time at Salesforce. Previously, you served as senior director for product marketing for both and then also the Service Cloud products. Talk a little bit about the integration specifically with Marketing Cloud. And I know you highlighted this recently at Connections. What capabilities does Invoca add to Salesforce Marketing Cloud? And I guess more particularly for people on this call, what is this solution where you’ve taken Invoca and you now have it integrated with Salesforce Marketing Cloud? What does this enable marketers to be able to do much more effectively?

KC: Sure. So a great example with Marketing Cloud—and I think one of the first use cases for us—was really around email marketing. And the idea is that—and Joel, you know the stats. What was the number you gave? Was it 53 per cent of emails are now opened on mobile devices?

JB: Yeah, and that’s typically what our friends and partners at Litmus talk about, is that now 53 per cent of all emails sent are being opened on mobile devices.

KC: Right. And so, we have invested a lot in making sure that we’ve got beautifully responsive emails written. They look great and the call-to-actions are clear on a mobile device. The challenge that I think marketers have is that what happens if that person opens that email and decides that either there’s not enough information there, or I want to ask a few follow-up questions. I either call the phone number in the email or I click through the landing page and then call the phone number. Oftentimes you lose sight of that conversation and to the email marketer it appears as if that email went unresponded to, despite the fact that someone is actually calling and perhaps purchasing your product or service. You should be getting credit for that call. You should be getting visibility in what’s said in conversation.

And so what Invoca does is we allow you inside the Marketing Cloud to—just like you’re designing an email with a piece of content, you could drag in a little Invoca widget onto the email that will present a personalized phone number for every single customer. And so, if they either tap that number on their mobile device or they call it on a desktop phone, Invoca will know that information and be able to credit that phone call back to this specific email that drove the call.

JB: That’s interesting. I mean, it’s almost like in direct mail. It’s almost like having a PURL—or personalized URL—so that it allows me to be able to attribute that response back to that unique individual.

Yeah, it’s exactly like that. The first benefit for a marketer is, I’m getting attribution. I’m finally getting credit for the calls that my email campaigns are driving. But it’s not just really about the attribution. It’s about the data you can collect, and a customer experience you can drive as a result. For example, let’s say you’re working at a travel company, and you send a big email campaign out about the summer promotion you’re running on exotic vacations. And somebody responds via your phone, and they have a conversation with you, and they say, “Hey Joel, I got your note. This looks good. I’m planning a family trip, and we’re thinking about going to Mexico.” And I collect the information about Mexico, and I say, “Great. Let me think about it. I’ll call you back.” Well, that’s a great buying signal. They gave you information about what they’re looking to purchase, and with Invoca you can take that conversation and automatically feed that into the Marketing Cloud so that you know we can, in the next interactions, send a follow-up email about Mexico, or we target them with a display ad about Mexico. So you’re personalizing that experience based on the actual conversation.

Customer Experience Matters

JB: I love the travel company example, Kyle. Do you have another example or two of how some customers are using this just so we can take that theory and see it in real life?

KC: Yeah, I’ll give you a couple of examples. One of our customers is DirecTV, the satellite TV company. And they had a situation where, prior to Invoca, people would call in. They’d do some research online, and they’d look at the Bronze package, the Silver package, and the Gold package, and they’d have some questions. They’re like, “Hey you know, I don’t know, do I really need ESPN-8? I’m not sure which package does that come in.” So they would call the call center. Well, what happens is the digital marketing teach looks at that and they say, “Hey, whatever search ad that drove that site visit, it looked like it didn’t work. It looked like that search ad is not converting, because it’s driving visits but not purchases.” So what they would do is they would re-target that person. They would say, “Hey, this person abandoned, let me show them a display ad for the DirecTV Silver package.” What actually was happening is that person was getting on the phone and buying the Silver package. So number one, it’s about customer experience—I’m seeing ads for something I’ve already purchased. And number two, it’s a missed opportunity.

So this is what they’re able to do now: now that person calls in, I’m getting credit for the conversation I drove, I’m getting credit for that conversion. And I also know that in conversation, that person might be saying is, “Hey, I’m interested in NFL Sunday Ticket.” Well, what you can do with Invoca is you can say, “Great. I know this person called in. They’re interested in NFL, and they called in from San Francisco. So let me take that and construct now a personalized display advertisement featuring the San Francisco 49ers and showing a discount on NFL Sunday Ticket.” You’ve personalized that digital customer journey based on the phone call that took place.

While we’re at it, there’s one more story who I know is a customer of both Salesforce Marketing Cloud and of Invoca—it’s a company called Vivint. If you’re not familiar with these guys, I love them not only because they’re fantastic marketers, but they have really cool products.

So they do solar powered homes. They do smart home automation. And they, prior to Invoca, had been optimizing everything that they did on their website for form fills. They would send emails, they would do display ads, they would do social marketing, say, “Hey, come to the website and fill out a form.” Which is great because you get good data about what’s driving results. But what they found is people really were kind of going out of their way to call in and have conversations, and they just weren’t getting visibility into those calls. And so by leveraging Marketing Cloud in conjunction with Invoca they can give that customer the options. You go to their website now and you could see it’s mostly oriented around calls. You see phone numbers all over their website, because that happens to be many customers’ preferred means of interaction. And by leveraging Invoca with Salesforce together, they can treat those interactions the same way they would a digital interaction. So they finally had attribution and data about what’s working and what’s not.

What’s Next for Trade Shows?

JB: These are great examples, Kyle, and I love these ways that marketers are really bridging the gap between these offline conversations and their online journey. And I know for you as VP of marketing at Invoca, you’ve always been involved, obviously, in doing some of the same things for your own company. And one of the recent offline events that you’ve been to is our own Connections event. And I know that B2Bs love their trade shows. Some of them are more profitable than others; some of them have better results. But how are you guys leveraging trade shows in a creative way? I just think some folks would be interested in how you’re doing this as the VP of marketing at a growing company like Invoca.

KC: We love trade shows. We are one of those B2B companies who are all about the trade show. Your point is well taken: Trade shows can be really, really effective, but they’re also really expensive. So you’ve really got to do them right, if you’re going to actually prove out ROI on your events. And so we figured out a formula that we think has worked really well for us, and it’s a model I would recommend to any B2B marketer out there. What a lot of people do, is they come to the show, they maybe do a little bit of email outreach ahead of time to a broad list, and they scan leads to the booth and maybe do some lead swaps and that’s the end of it. We realized that with just a little bit more effort, we can drive a much better return.

So here’s how we approach it. We spend several weeks ahead of time, researching exactly which companies are going to be there, and we map that to our target account profile. So we know which types of industries and which types of companies are going to be the right fit for Invoca. So leading up to the event, we are doing a true omni-channel outreach to these accounts. So we’re doing it of course with email, also with CRM retargeting display advertising, so those people at those companies are starting to see Invoca ads just to get brand recognition. We have our sales development reps doing outreach via the phone, and we’re actually using direct mail. So we use a company who’s also integrated with Marketing Cloud PFL to send out personalized packages and offers to people, encouraging them to take a meeting with us at the booth. By the time that we showed up at Connections this year, we already had 30 meetings in place set up with prospects who were exactly the right fit for us, who already knew a little bit about us. By the time they got there, we could have a live conversation with them and really have a more tailored conversation. So wildly successful for us. Our live’s already about 300 per cent what we spent on the event, and we’re only about two weeks past the show.

JB: That’s incredible. Kyle, please repeat those numbers for me. Just the ROI from Connections that you’re receiving today.

KC: Yeah, so far it’s about 300 per cent of what we spent on the show. To get that kind of result within two weeks is pretty phenomenal. Usually it takes two or three months to see a payback. We were just seeing it right away from really trying to do that. It’s a true omni-channel outreach that we did as a part of this. So we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.

How Automation Can Help Customer Service

JB: I love the relationship with PFL. Folks listening, for those of you who may not be familiar with PFL, PFL stands for Printing for Less. They actually have an application called Tactile Marketing Automation, which as Kyle just pointed out, is seamlessly integrated with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and quite frankly, enables companies to be able to do exactly what Invoca has done, and that is use Journey Builder to be able to automate the execution of direct mail packages, which obviously in the case of Invoca serve to generate meetings at Connections. That’s a really, really smart strategy. I love PFL. We’ve got a great partnership with them. Kyle, I want to switch gears for a minute, because I’d love your take on the application of Invoca working in concert with Salesforce Marketing Cloud and particularly Journey Builder for customer service. A lot of the questions, a lot of the interest that we’re now beginning to see on the part of long-time users of Marketing Cloud is now taking a lot of that data-driven capability using Journey Builder to automate communications that are more related to what happens after the purchase, be they customer service related specifically. Can you talk a little bit about what you see happening or what you see evolving here in terms of what can be very effective usage of Invoca to really optimize the whole customer service experience?

KC: Absolutely. I personally think that one of the most exciting things that’s happening in marketing overall is this trend toward not siloed interactions from a marketing department and a sales department and a customer support department, but it’s one holistic customer experience. And so really, as a customer experience professional, you ought to have the same tools at your disposal to automate any of those interactions and to personalize any of those interactions. I gave you two or three examples earlier of how you could use call intelligence in conjunction with marketing, but the same principles apply. So here’s a great example. We’ve probably all had a bad customer service example where we go to a company’s website, and we do a bunch of research on our broken products. We can’t get our Bluetooth headset to work. And so we’re searching the forums, we can’t figure it out. And we get frustrated, and we say, “I want to talk to somebody to work through this.” And so then you call the number on the website. And what happens? Well, you have to repeat that whole process all over again—press one for sales, press two for customer service. You get customer service on the phone, “Hey sir, thanks for calling. Can I get your email address so I can identify you? Okay, what seems to be the problem?” And you’ve just doubled your efforts and it becomes really frustrating.

Cross-Pollinating Customer Service Calls

Well, you shouldn’t have to do that. The customer service person on the phone should have access to all of the digital interactions. And so if you were to pair Invoca with Service Cloud, you’d be able to do things like present the call center agent on the other end of the line with the previous digital touches. So the person’s calling in, we know which customer they are, we know that they happen to be calling from a support article about my broken Bluetooth headset. And they have that information handy before they even answer the phone call. Now follow that up. Let’s say that the person on the line, they have a conversation, and the customer says, “Hey, you got my problem resolved. This is fantastic. By the way, I was also checking out another product you guys have on your site. Now, tell me a little bit more about the cell phone case.” And customer support says, “Yeah, great, I’ll send you a note about that.” Well, by verbalizing that phrase—cell phone case—with Invoca, we can trigger out marketing campaigns, or follow-up emails about the cell phone case. It’s customer experience, customer support, and marketing all rolled together, and it can be powered by Invoca plus Service Cloud plus Marketing Cloud.

JB: Yeah, I think that’s where we’re headed. So much of the interest today is clearly moving in this direction of cross-cloud solutions. So you take a lot of this capability as you just talked about in Marketing Cloud, and now you just apply that same technology for one-to-one messaging, more for really proactive customer service. But I really like those examples that you talked about because, I think vision-wise, that’s exactly where folks are heading. But we just need to really do a much more effective job of showing people what’s possible when you think creatively about really making these inbound calls much more intelligent, handling them in a much better way. Every time when that calls comes in, Invoca gives me the—if I’m on the customer side—it gives me the ability then to be able to pull information forward, whether that’s in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, or Marketing Cloud, so that if I’m a CSR—a customer support rep—I now have that full profile of that individual up in front of me. I know exactly what the issues are, what the claim status is and so forth. So I can now have a much more informed conversation. I think that’s really for me pretty pretty compelling stuff.

KC: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.

JB: Well, I tell you, this is really, really interesting, and I’m so glad that you’ve been able to join us today, because this whole area of taking customer experience to a whole new level is obviously what we are so much focused on here at Salesforce. And Kyle, thanks so much for bringing that story to us. Before we go on to the next session here, I want to remind everybody our special guest today is Kyle Christensen. Kyle is Vice President of Marketing for Invoca. And as you have been learning, Invoca is the company that makes your inbound phone calls much more intelligent, improves the capability of your customer support, customer service reps, to have a much better informed conversation with the individual customer or prospective customer, whatever the case may be. Their technology is integrated with not just Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but also Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. And if you want to know more, simply go to

And now before we go into the final segment, I want to share with you that this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast is brought to you by Dreamforce. Yeah, Dreamforce is right around the corner, Heike, and registration is now live. And folks, if you have not registered for Dreamforce yet, I highly encourage you, get it done. This event will sell out as it always does, and most importantly, also make sure you have your hotel rooms reserved. Dreamforce registration is now live. You can head to right now and begin to plan your trip, build your agenda. If you were fortunate enough to be with us last year in San Francisco you know this is the premier technology conference in the world. We had last year, I believe, just over 135,000 to 140,000 individuals from all facets of marketing sales, customer service, B2B, nonprofit, consumer package goods, you name it. Anybody that has their role focused on technology is at Dreamforce. It is the education event of the year. Dreamforce brings together thought leaders, industry pioneers, and thousands of your peers for four high energy days of fun, inspiration, network, and giving back. I urge you to get there. It all happens October 4th through 7th. You can check it out, and you can register by going to And Heike, I’m going to kick it back over to you now to begin our second and final segment.

The Final Five

HY: That’s right Joel. This is the final five, Kyle. These are the last five questions that we ask every guest who appears on The Marketing Cloudcast. And we’re going to start with this: Who is your biggest influence professionally would you say?

KC: That’s a tough one. I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of amazing marketers in my career, but I’m going to go with actually another fellow alum—a gentleman by the name of Tien Tzuo. Tien was, I believe, employee number 10 or so at Salesforce and he was there for the first 10 years of the company, so I was fortunate enough to work for him while he was at Salesforce and also at his other company that he started and founded, Zuora. Tien’s a rock star, he’s an amazing marketer and all around fantastic guy in terms of developing knowledge of software as a service and the entire business model.

JB: That’s a great answer. You would be amazed, Kyle, at the number of unique individuals, that when Heike and I ask that question, it is a who’s-who list of people that have had their fingerprints on all facets of really, really innovative marketing. Second question for you, Kyle, is this, and I want to have you put on your thinking cap right now because the question is, is there one company that you would say that you have a brand crush on because their marketing is so incredibly innovative and inspiring?

KC: Yeah, this is a tricky one. There’s a lot of companies doing really innovative things, but I think if I had to pick one, I’m going to go with Virgin America. I guess now, they are a part of a different airline which is unfortunate, but I think that Virgin—

JB: I really hope that their great branding doesn’t get diluted, Kyle. It makes me so sad.

KC: Totally, totally. I love them, not only because they do amazing branding, but because I think that they really embrace the whole mantra of the customer experience. That’s why I love them. When I go and I travel on Virgin America, their branding and their brand promise comes through with the experience you get on the flight itself, and I think that there are so few companies that actually deliver an end-to-end experience like that—that you have the same consistent experience from the marketing all the way through to the product itself. So they just nail it every time.

JB: They do and they nail it with those in-seat chargers for your devices every time [chuckles].

KC: Totally.

JB: All right, Kyle, if you had 10 per cent more marketing budget this year for Invoca, but you could only invest in one strategy or channel, what would you pick?

KC: Well, you know it’s not going to be one channel, because I talked about how we’re omni-channel on everything we do. But in terms of strategy, it’s events. Events kill it for us. We like events because we’re sort of a new concept, and in a lot of the conversations we have to have, we need to be very educational. So we need that face time, we need to have those longer conversations with people. And one of the events that we’re doing for really one of the first times is our own event down in Santa Barbara this fall. So if you got gloomy weather where you’re at, after Dreamforce, and you want to come out to another event, we’re doing our own down in Santa Barbara.

KC: And that’s an event where people can learn more and actually probably experience the technology from Invoca up close and personal.

JB: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And if I had 10 per cent more budget for it, I would love that. I promise [chuckles].

JB: Well, I really appreciate that. And thanks again so much for just talking about your own event marketing experience with Connections, because I think a lot of listeners on this call also do events and they’re also looking for better ways to really monetize those events and drive more quality leads. So you really provided some great content for our listeners. So Kyle, question number four in our final five gets down to what you like to read. The question is this: What book would you recommend to our listeners and insist that they read it and if so, why?

KC: Yeah, this is an easy one for me. There is a marketing classic called Positioning by Ries and Trout. Positioning is the name of the book. While digital tactics and digital strategies are the topic de jour these days, and people always want to learn more about tech and learn more about how to tailor the customer journey, at the end of the day, the message behind those marketing programs, does it really make marketing campaigns successful? And I think people lose sight of that sometimes. And so the book Positioning is that, it’s that foundational like Marketing 101. This is a foolproof way to have a solid message platform that’s going to drive the rest of your campaign. So I love that book.

KC: Jack Ries, one of the really, really great authors. I read the book years ago and I completely agree with it.

JB: All right, Kyle, it’s our last question for you here in our final five. How would you sum up the state of marketing today in one word?

KC: I think I’ve touched on this already. I’m going to cheat, maybe two words, but I think it’s customer experience. I think it’s that trend towards marketing, not just being about the upfront outreach, but really marketing taking over the entire set of interactions that make up the entire customer experience.

JB: Could not agree more. We talked a lot about this at Connections and Scott McCorkle in his keynote noted the fact that digital has clearly become king. It’s one of the reasons why the trend is toward—I think our own research indicates, Kyle, that by 2021, several marketers are forecasting that close to 75 per cent of the marketing budget is going to be digital. And if digital is king, clearly customer experience is the Holy Grail, and I think you’ve nailed it. Kyle, I just really want to thank you for spending some time with Heike and me today. I really love your insight about how brands can make their inbound phone calls much more effective, much more intelligent. Really use that inbound call not only to create a better experience for the customer that is evaluating a product before they buy it, but then also, as you talked previously, also post-purchase using Invoca plus Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to now really deliver a great customer service experience. That is really, really stellar stuff.

JB: Folks, you’ve been listening to Kyle Christensen today. Kyle is VP of marketing at Invoca, a great fast-growing partner of Salesforce. You can learn more about their capabilities by going to And I want to thank all of you for joining Heike and me again today on this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. And if you’ve enjoyed listening, we would really appreciate it if you would give us your vote. Rate us. Go to iTunes, tell us what you think. And if you have not yet subscribed, it’s real easy. All you need do, folks, is go to and also want to remind you we’re now also available on Google Play Music, so search for the Marketing Cloudcast there. So on behalf of Heike Young, I’m Joel Book saying thanks again for joining us and we’re looking forward to having you next time alongside for another great episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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