Customer Management Articles

Review of Totango a Real-Time Customer Engagement Platform for Online Businesses

by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 12 June 2012

Bringing customers into your small business or application is the easy part. Engaging them, understanding how they interact with your application, and crafting specific products and marketing strategies for customers is the difficult part.

This week, we will review Totango - a real-time customer engagement tool. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.

Behind The Totango

A "fundamental and disruptive shift in the way software is delivered" is the reason behind the Totango story. "No longer is customer acquisition alone enough," says Dominique Levin, vice president of marketing at Totango. "Vendors have to engage customers throughout their life cycle, starting with the free trial to increase customer lifetime value to boost overall revenues. "

Based on data analyzed from over one million businesses, the folks at Totango found that the more active users are more likely to buy and less active users are most likely to cancel. Levin says this is reason enough to increase user engagement continuously by monitoring customer actions in real-time and creating sales and marketing campaigns based on customer activities.

The Case For Totango

"Totango helps you define what makes a good and healthy customer," says Obie Howe, regional manager with the company. The solution does this by tracking customer interactions with your product. He identifies four areas of a small business where Totango can make a difference:

  • Increasing trial conversion rates
  • Ensuring system improvements from a user stand point.
  • Automating marketing strategy through analysis of customer interactions with your product.
  • Providing you with the ability to segment and identifying customers and understanding risks and issues associated with typical customers.

Levin from marketing adds that the solution is indispensable for small businesses with online users. "Anyone who has online users should know customer activity with their solution and use it to better monetize users over their lifetime."

Using Totango

Using Totango is fairly simple. You can use the setup wizard to define activities for tracking immediately after registration. The activities constitute the sum of user flow and interactions with your product. Next, you can either use Totango's javascript API (or your own code) to send HTTP requests for data.

The good part is that you can do this either on the client side or server side. Finally, make sure that everything is working as planned. According to Howe, the entire process does not take more than two hours. Totango classifies customers based on their "health." Thus, a customer with "good health" is a customer that uses your application on a regular basis. Similarly, a customer with "poor health" is a paying customer that does not use your application. Finally, customers with "average health" are the remaining customers, who use your application "infrequently."

The interesting thing is that you can configure and refine these customer health parameters using an administrative account. The solution also computes a consolidated "health score" for all your customers. This score will, in turn, determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and products.

The report card scores might seem pedagogical; analytics are not. Using the application, you can drill down to the appropriate customer or health scores and use causal analysis to determine appropriate strategies. For example, you can drill down to customer accounts with "poor health" and send targeted communication. What's more, you can also generate reports about your customers using appropriate account attributes such as generating reports for all paid customers etc.

Totango also comes packaged with a lifecycle marketing solution that enables SaaS businesses to create email marketing campaigns for specific accounts or users.

The Totango Interface And You

The tabbed interface is simple and clean. I especially like the fact that they have stuck to the basics in designing the global menu; this means that each tab, whether it is trials or customers, is targeted at minimizing the number of clicks required to get useful information. The global menu, in turn, is divided into individual sub-menus. For example, the customer health screen is a tabbed interface again. It consists of five tabs - Dashboard, Account, Analytics, and Reports - that provide a snapshot of customer engagement. The interface also enables you to add new filters to measure criteria by adding conditions to further segment your customers.

Totango Pros And Cons

There are several benefits to using the solution; I will not enumerate each benefit individually. However, the folks behind Totango have successfully condensed these benefits into an extremely feature-friendly and user-friendly interface. I especially liked the fact that, from the bottom up, the solution is designed to engage and get down to work immediately. However, I think the installation process, though pretty short, could be less technical to enable small businesses that do not have technical expertise at their disposal to perform the installation. Similarly, they should consider including more reports and applications to enhance utility of the solution. That said, the solution's founders already seem to have thought through these points. Totango has a comprehensive video and documentation library that takes users through the installation process, including a video on configuring SQL 2008 server. Levin says they have big plans for the future. "We will enable automated multichannel customer communications such as phone and social media based on user engagement signals collected," she says. "For example, we will more tightly integrate Totango customer analytics and Totango's in-app messaging tool. Ultimately, we believe that Totango becomes a new way to manage online customers soup-to-nuts.

The Price Is Right

Totango's pricing is based around active accounts or prospects and customers who are actively engaged with your SaaS service within the past month. The solution offers three types of accounts: Business, Standard, and Premium. Each account is based on the number of active accounts being tracked. For example, the business account is for small businesses tracking 1000 active accounts and one million events (or activities) per month. Besides this, you can try individual free trials for a month to test the application's utility.

Should You Tango With Totango?

Enough has been said about increasing customer engagement on the web. Totango is an excellent tool that enables you to track and measure this metric. Using this tool, you can make informed decisions and craft successful strategies for your application. To be sure, this is one dance you will not regret!


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