Hansel is a central purchasing body owned by the Finnish State and the Association of Finnish Municipalities. Its customers include the ministries and their subordinate agencies, municipalities, joint municipal authorities, hospital districts and parishes.
Hansel employs around 120 public procurement experts and conducts joint procurement for public administrations in more than 100 product and service areas. “Our aim is to make public procurement more productive. It is important that markets work efficiently and that all suppliers are treated equally,” says Hansel marketing manager Satu Ahola.
Hansel’s customers can benefit from the company’s expertise through joint procurement, or through tendering for individual contracts if there is no applicable joint procurement agreement in place. Hansel also helps customers to improve efficiency and further develop their own procurement operations.
In order to market its services more effectively and show its customers the benefits of joint procurement, Hansel decided to revamp its marketing tools in collaboration with Fellowmind.
Hansel markets its services in a variety of ways. For example, the company’s monthly newsletter gives the latest news on its services and on public procurement. Hansel’s website has several handy functions for customers and a blog providing insights from its experts, and it also holds a wide range of webinars for those working in procurement.
Hansel has more than 800 contract suppliers and 1,500 customers in joint procurement, and communicating effectively with them is essential.
Hansel has been using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for its customer relationship management (CRM) since 2011. "We have all our key business information in the CRM, and it is extensively integrated with many of our other systems. Because customer relationship plays such a central role for us, it acts as a kind of enterprise resource planning solution,” says Hansel service manager Tiina Petäsnoro.
In 2021, Hansel also introduced the Marketing module of Dynamics 365. Before that, the marketing team used several different programs for tasks such as sending newsletters and creating forms. “We were manually transferring target groups in Excel spreadsheets between different systems, and the marketing data was not automatically transferred back to the CRM. This made it difficult to measure results and develop them based on the data,” explains Petäsnoro.
There were also practical difficulties, as Hansel staff did not have access to marketing data, there was no up-to-date information on inactive addresses, target groups were not systematically created, and the content and layout of customer messages was inconsistent due to the use of different programs. From the point of view of data protection legislation, it also made no sense to have different registers in different systems.
Hansel’s marketing team had a clear idea of what the solution to these problems would look like. The team had the following desire for Hansel’s marketing communications:
- Communications should be well-timed: customers should receive the necessary information when they need it most
- Communications should be well targeted: each customer should receive information on things that are relevant to them
- Communications should be compliant with data protection legislation: personal data stored and processed by Hansel must always be up to date and handled according to the law
- Communications should be transparent, so that all Hansel employees know what communications have been sent to customers
- Communications should be data-driven: the effectiveness of measures must be measured, and this data must be used in future planning
- The production should be convenient: there should be as little manual work as possible
After analyzing the different options, Hansel chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing. It was quick to introduce, and the Hansel team was able to send out the first newsletter about the system within a few months of starting the project.
“Naturally, everything was far from finished at that point, but we wanted to move forward quickly and also learn to tolerate incompleteness. In this field, nothing is ever quite ready,” Ahola says.
Events were then transferred to Dynamics 365 Marketing, and the use of marketing automation tools began. “When a new customer registers on Hansel’s online service, for instance, a welcome message is automatically sent. The aim of the message is not only to get customers to sign up, but also to interest them in exploring our online service and all it has to offer in more detail from the start. We also tell them what kind of communication they will receive from us in the future, and how they can manage their communication settings,” Ahola explains.
The marketing team has a lot of work to do, so templates for emails, segments and the like save them valuable time and ensure consistency in communications. According to Ahola, automated work flows also make life easier. “It takes time to create a work flow, but they reduce the amount of manual work substantially.”
Thanks to the new solution, many of the steps in the organization of events have also been eliminated or automated. “We have templates for all the various parts of events, and our account managers can see directly in real time which customers are attending which event. Amongst its other features, the solution also allows reminders to be sent to those who have not yet registered for an event,” Petäsnoro adds.
An important part of deploying the new solution was cleaning up customer data and creating a process for dealing with inactive addresses in the future. Hard bounces – that is, incorrect or deactivated email addresses – must be corrected or removed from the system as soon as they occur. “The new solution automatically compiles such addresses into a to-do list, which is managed by our customer service team. The team will either correct the addresses or delete them, and the change will always be marked in the timeline of the person making it. The success rate in sending emails improves immediately when customer information is of high quality,” says Petäsnoro.
Hansel uses general marketing permissions, as well as newsletter-specific marketing permissions. It is also possible to temporarily suspend marketing communication in the solution, for example when the person is on maternity leave. “We have noticed that fewer recipients place a general ban on marketing materials when we do not send messages when they are not using their email account for some time,” Ahola says.
Hansel is highly satisfied with how Dynamics 365 Marketing was deployed and with its positive impact on the company.
“This was a successful project in many ways. Firstly, we are now better able to support sales, for example by jointly identifying our target groups, providing customers with more effectively targeted communications based on their activities, and making our marketing activities more systematic and better scheduled. Secondly, the customer experience has improved substantially, as our communications are now more coherent and easier to recognize,” Ahola summarizes.
Petäsnoro also sees success in several other areas, such as improvements in data quality and a reduction in the amount of manual work that has to be done. “Our customer data is now much more up to date than before, and everyone in the organization has access to customer data and to information on what marketing that customer has already received. Excel lists are a thing of the past, and many tasks that used to be handled manually, such as event invitations and reminders, are now automated.”
And what tips would Hansel’s marketing experts give to companies considering adopting Dynamics 365 Marketing?
“We highly recommend it. It is quick to deploy, and once it was up and running we were able to take over the solution and develop our marketing,” says Petäsnoro. “Having customer and marketing data in the one place is a big advantage. It’s also important to allow sufficient time to think about what the goals in adopting the new solution and on new ways of working. No matter how good a system is, its potential can only be fully realized when you know the direction in which you want to go and have divided responsibilities wisely. The development of marketing automation is a continuous learning process.”
“Fellowmind was very easy to work with, and our collaboration went well. Now we have a versatile CRM solution that enables us to develop digital communications in line with our business objectives. The work continues, of course, and we are progressing step by step towards more automated communication – and above all, towards serving our customers and suppliers better and better all the time,” says Petäsnoro.
Tiina Petäsnoro, Service Manager, Hansel, +358 29 444 4331, email@example.com
Outi Ikävalko-Kärki, Customer Success Manager, Fellowmind, +358 40 661 6007, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hansel is a joint procurement unit for public administrations. The company serves the entire Finnish public administration, offering a wide range of public procurement and expert services. The social impact of Hansel’s work is significant, as it aims to promote more efficient use of taxpayers’ money and increasingly responsible public procurement.