Category Archives: Lead Monitoring

Abandon Your Marketing Automation System!?

I’m working on an interesting project right now: moving away from a marketing automation system. The plan is to go back to using only with some cheap add-on tools for email, form submission and data quality. Smart or foolish? I’d love to have your input on the potential pitfalls (and benefits) of this approach.


The company in question has used a comprehensive marketing automation system for about 2 years. In the early days it was used to sift through hundreds of new B2B leads per day to identify the valuable leads. This changed over time: now the focus has shifted to pro-active outreach to a handful of executives, instead of targeting thousands of software developers. In addition to cost savings, the thinking is that a full-blown marketing automation system just makes less sense with the new strategy.

How to Replace a Marketing Automation System?

My first reaction was: no way, you should not want to do without any type of marketing automation system (for simplicity sake, I use this term as synonymous to demand generation and lead management). However, when I started looking into and the wide variety of add-ons, I was less convinced. The database has some big issues (e.g. the split between Leads and Contacts), but many 3rd party tools are addressing these weaknesses.

What is easy to replace?

Email marketing that integrates with is provided by many vendors, like VerticalResponse, Boomerang, ExactTarget, Genius, Lyris and more. There are also some relatively affordable registration form vendors, like FormAssembly and OnDialog. Basic lead scoring features are built into, and data quality tools are available from vendors like Ringlead, CRM Fusion and Datatrim. Notifications of companies visiting your website are available from Leadlander, Netfactor, LEADSExplorer and DemandBase. You can create reports and dashboards in to provide analytics. So there are lots of useful add-ons available at a nominal price.

What Is Going to Be Missed…

Some Email Service Providers can send email on behalf of the record owner or can handle drip-campaigns, but those are exceptions and you sometimes pay quite a bit more for these advanced features. Unsubscribe handling is typically done via a generic page, rather than via branded page.

If you use a basic form vendor, you have to manually map the fields, and put the form on a landing page yourself. You may want to pre-fill the form, or send a thank-you email or the start of an email drip campaign: this is not always possible. Also, some form vendors are not able to append to existing records (resulting in duplicates) or to link new registrations to a campaign.

Lead scoring based on attributes (e.g. job title) is built into, but that does not include activity-based scoring, such scoring based on website visitors, clicks on links in emails or form submissions.

Even though you can get reports on anonymous visitors via stand-alone tools, it’s much more work to set up notifications of website visits by known users, and even more challenging to sync that information with

Then there are specific usage scenarios that are automated in a marketing automation system, such sending a reminder to non-registrants for an event: with the new approach this needs to be done manually, which takes a lot more time.

Most marketing automation systems replicate the database with their own database: in the new situation everything is stored in (or at least: that’s the goal). That is great for manageability, but – if you have the habit of qualifying leads before sending them to the CRM system – you now have a database full with unqualified leads.

What Is Your Take?

This project is still in the planning phase, so I’m still compiling a list of all the pros and cons. One thing is sure: in the new situation the monthly cost will be about $200, down from well over a thousand dollars. That is a significant savings.

But how much more time will it cost to manage the new situation? Are there specific features that create revenue, but simply cannot be implemented with the new approach. What is your take on this?

Genius Enterprise Review

Today launched their new Genius Enterprise product. It adds automated lead nurturing, real-time lead conversions, and lead scoring to its existing email marketing solutions. Product Suite is well-known for its sales notification product, SalesGenius. It allows sales people to send personalized emails to their prospects and monitor their response in real-time. The Genius Tracker – sort of an instant messaging client – gives immediate alerts if prospects visit the company’s website. Sales people can sign up individually, without having to involve the IT department.

Last year introduced MarketingGenius, which allows marketing departments to send emails on behalf of the sales people. Again, the responsible sales person is notified of click-throughs via the Tracker.

The Enterprise product that is launched today extends this offering with lead nurturing and lead scoring. Now is one step closer to becoming a viable competitor to more established marketing automation solutions, so I’ve added them to my list of Demand Generation systems.

Genius Enterprise

With the existing products emails are sent by a sales person or by the marketing department. With Genius Enterprise there can be lots of different events that trigger the sending of an email. Let’s take a quick peak at the new product:


The Genius Enterprise Workflow Designer

The screenshot shows that many events can start a workflow: a change in, a website visit, an email open or the passage of a certain amount of time. Based on that, additional emails can be sent, the lead score can be updated or the responsible sales person can be alerted. For a more detailed review, see David Raab’s write-up. expects that this product will especially appeal to mid-side to large organizations. Most will use this together with the SalesGenius product. Pricing starts at $18,000 per year, including 5 SalesGenius seats.

How does Genius Enterprise Compare?

Many new customers will upgrade from Email Service Providers that don’t provide the real-time tracking and lead nurturing features. The closest competitor in this area may be ExactTarget, which offers email nurturing functionality.

Also, many companies will compare with established Demand Generation products such as Eloqua. Genius does not provide some typical demand generation features, such as landing pages or microsites. However, not every company may need that. And Genius clearly has an edge in several areas:

  • quick implementation with no IT involvement
  • ease of use
  • marketing & sales collaboration
  • instant response
  • real-time integration


If your first priority in Demand Generation is to make better use of email campaigns to nurture prospects, and to foster sales & marketing collaboration, Genius Enterprise is an excellent choice. If you need other demand generation features like landing pages, you should compare it with full-featured demand generation products.

PS. will be at the Sales 2.0 conference, this Wednesday and Thursday in San Francisco (4 & 5 March 2009). Stop by for a demo.

Demand Generation Market is Hot: LoopFuse,

While the stock market tanks, the Demand Generation and Marketing Automation markets are gearing up. This week both LoopFuse and published very positive news. 200% revenue growth reports 200% revenue growth and a 50% increase in new customer acquistions (that’s a typo from their press release). I assume that means they’ve also increased revenue per customer, most likely because they are now selling MarketingGenius, which is an email marketing tool, which sells at a higher price point than the existing SalesGenius product (for individual sales people). now has over 50,000 Genius users, in over 100 countries worldwide. That is impressive. However, their core functionality (tracking of prospects’ website activity) is now also offered by Marketing Automation systems as part of a bigger offering. So I wouldn’t be surprised if will continue to expand their offerings.

Loopfuse: Series A funding

loopfuse logoLoopfuse, a provider of open source marketing automation and email marketing solutions, has raised around $1.4 million in Series A funding led by True Ventures.

The only thing I know about them is that many of their customers are themselves open source software companies, such as Acquia, the company behind the Drupal Content Management System. As a matter of fact, Drupal is now integrated with LoopFuse. With the integration Loopfuse tags are automatically added to Drupal pages, and Drupal web forms are submitted into LoopFuse (at least, that’s what I understand based on the press release). I’d love to learn more about this system. Let me know your feedback or testimonials.

In any case, the LoopFuse people must be in euphoria after this news, at least based on the (somewhat cocky) comment on their blog:

“To Marketo and their overpriced Toy for Marketing Tots™, and Eloqua, with their Techological Torture Device™, I say, Get some coffee and try to stay awake. If it was bad for you when it was two guys (and a dog), it’s going to be an utter nightmare now.”

Tough times ahead?

You’d say that the good times must be ending some time? Or will marketing automation be the positive exception? Will and Eloqua go IPO in 2010? That would really put the demand generation space on the map.

Sales Intelligence: Track (Down) Website Visitors

The Challenge: you’ve invested in PR, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-per-Click ads to drive people to your website. A lot of people visit, they read a couple of pages, and then they leave. A lost opportunity…

ActiveConversion, an SMB lead management automation vendor, has a solution.  I stumbled upon their press release offering free Jigsaw data, and Fred Yee clarified: “If company ABC comes to your website, a simple mouseover in ActiveConversion will display ABC’s revenue range, employee size, industry etc. There are 2 million data records for companies in Jigsaw’s database, so it covers a lot of companies.”

And then you can decide to search Jigsaw to buy actual contact data of people with the right job titles within company ABC. For those who don’t know Jigsaw: it’s a business card exchange service, so their users contribute and rate the contact details. The result is that the data is reasonably up to date, they have a lot of different job titles (not just C-level and VPs) and it often includes direct-dial phone numbers and email addresses.

How does ActiveConversion know the company name of website visitors? Actually, the IP address of website visitors gives away more information than most people realize. Maxmind’s GeoIP product, for example, can identify the city, company name and even the connection speed, all based on the IP address. Try it out yourself: go to, copy your IP address and paste it into the box on, then press “get location”.

One of the first companies that offered daily reports of companies visiting your website was Leadlander. They can send your sales people a daily email with a list of company names and location. The main challenge that remains: you don’t know which person is on your website, just the company name. So who are you going to call?

That’s where the Jigsaw data can help. It’s still a bit of a guess, but at least you have names, job titles and phone numbers.

Demandbase Stream Another vendor is this space is Demandbase. Unlike ActiveConversion they don’t have a full lead management system, but they specialize in identifying anonymous website visitors and providing contact data for people within those companies. They use multiple data sources, like D&B and Hoovers. I’ve not been very lucky finding useful contacts myself: they seemed to have a bias towards C-level and VP-level executives, but I could be wrong.

However, Demandbase offers useful filters so you can focus on those website visitors that are important to you. You can enter specific company names or territories. I’m not sure if Demandbase offers this, but  it would also be interesting to filter by pages visited and search terms used in Google: that’s all part of the “Digital Body Language”.

Still I wonder how actionable the information is. Regardless of whether you get it through ActiveConversion and Jigsaw or through Demandbase: what is the chance that you can actually locate and contact the right person? My gut feeling is that it’s a very low chance.

Why don’t they offer an option to chat while they the visitor is still on the website? That is a proven methodology in the consumer space that I haven’t seen very often in the B2B space. Maybe because it’s hard to ensure timely response. As a matter of fact, I used chat on the Jigsaw website last week, and nobody responded, and I waited for 30 minutes. I had a better experience on the Hoovers website, with immediate response and good-quality answers.

Alternatively, you could put more attractive offers on your website and promote those more effectively: this will increase the number of registrations. I have seen very few B2B companies actively test and optimize their online conversion rates (other than for PPC landing pages). So that may be a relatively quick win, rather than try to call people who may have visited your website.

My feeling at this time: first try to get more people to register on your website by improving the call-to-actions, then add chat if you have enough people to staff it, and only then I would consider real-time lead monitoring. At this time, it’s just not actionable enough.

What is your experience with Leadlander, Demandbase and ActiveConversion? Did you actually identify opportunities that you would have missed otherwise?