Monthly Archives: March 2009

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?

ActiveConversion Review – SMB Lead Management

From Web Analytics to Demand Generation

ActiveConversion first became known for its sales-focused Web Analytics, such as identifying companies that visit your website (similar to Leadlander). Therefore I initially called them a ‘niche vendor’. However, the product has evolved into a fairly complete marketing automation suite for SMB companies. So the people behind ActiveConversion gave me a demo to show they are more than a niche player.

Anonymous Visitor Identification

ActiveConversion provides reports on anonymous website visitors: they show the company name and activity. It integrates with Jigsaw to show company details like revenue, and available contacts for a specific company: contacts can be bought for $1 each directly at Jigsaw.

There are two ways to identify visitors:

  • They fill out a form on your website
  • They click on a link in an email that you sent them

After that, the (previously anonymous) website sessions are linked to a specific person.

anonymous prospect information by ActiveConversion and JigSaw
An anonymous prospect record

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring works for both anonymous and known visitors: for anonymous visitors the triggers for increasing the lead score are somewhat limited, essentially page views and return visits. For known visitors you can also track clicks from emails you sent them. It’s fairly basic compared to some of the more expensive systems, but effective and easy to use.

activeconversion lead scoring settings
Lead scoring configuration

Form builder

The form builder works different from some higher-end systems that actually host the entire landing page for you. ActiveConversion generates HTML code for you, so you can include it in a page on your own website. As far as I understand it, it uses the JavaScript tracking code (installed for Web Analytics) to also read the form data and save it in the ActiveConversion database, rather than using a traditional form submission. It can also integrate with Salesforce Web-to-Lead forms.

Email marketing

ActiveConversion supports both one-time emails to a segment of the database, as well as drip emails that are triggered after a prospect registers. By default it uses VerticalResponse as the underlying email system, fully integrated in the ActiveConversion user interface. However, customers can also use any of the 10 ESPs that they have integrated with. integration

ActiveConversion also integrates with, although using Salesforce is not a requirement. Typically, new leads are assigned to sales person before they are copied to the assignment rules are flexible. Also, when a visitors registers, ActiveConversion will check in Salesforce if that email address is already present, to avoid duplicates. So there is data exchange on demand, but not a full bidirectional synchronization like in most of the more expensive lead management systems. The visitor activity is also exported to and shown in the lead record (see screen shot).

activeconversion salesforce integration
Website sessions are added to the Lead record

Marketing & Web Analytics

The marketing reporting features allow you to monitor performance of various marketing activities. There are several reports including reports on qualified contacts and website visits as a result of emails, pay-per-click campaigns and other online advertisements. Several reports can also be emailed on a daily or weekly basis.

companies identified by activeconversion
Report on the companies that visited the website in the past 7 days

Basic web analytics is also included, so many customers don’t use additional web analytics. Only customers with specific conversion tracking (e.g. e-commerce websites) typically use a dedicated web analytics product such as Google Analytics.


Based on the demo I attended, I feel that ActiveConversion is a good first B2B demand generation solution for smaller companies. It is easy to use, it has significantly more features than Leadlander (which is cheaper and narrower in scope), it is a notch up from InfusionSoft (which focuses on the smallest companies), and it is cheaper than most other Demand Generation vendors.

If you’re looking for an entry-level B2B lead management solution, check out their 30-trial. If you’ve verified that it has all the features you want, you get excellent value for money, starting at $250 per month.

Have you worked with ActiveConversion? Please leave a comment or email me with your experiences.

MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2009

marketingsherpa logo Today MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit started in Miami. It is focused on advanced email strategies, which is an important part of the demand generation process. Most of the case studies seem to be B2C rather than B2B. The focus is on list- and trigger-based emails and on landing pages, rather than on the full Lead Management Automation functionality. Nevertheless, there are lots of interesting advanced email topics that are just as relevant for B2B demand generation specialists.

Unfortunately I can’t be there, but there is live coverage via Twitter.

Some highlights from the agenda:

Email Strategies

  • Using email in conjunction with social media campaigns
  • Combining List- and Trigger-Based Campaigns
  • Using direct mail with dynamic printing to recover email addresses

Email Analytics

  • Integrating web & email analytics for better conversion
  • Using Artificial Intelligence to predict prospect behavior

Email design

  • Leveraging user-generated content
  • Mobile email marketing
  • Cross-channel: using SMS and instant messaging

Landing page design & Personalization

  • Post-click personalization based on the “wisdom of the masses”
  • Optimization by focusing on specific actions


  • Using multi-variate testing to optimize conversion and sales
  • Using Email Control Groups for cost justification

Lead Management Automation Systems Compared

Stagnant email service providers becoming irrelevant? (see conclusion)

In a previous post there was a lively discussion about the terms Demand Generation and Lead Management Automation (LMA) systems. The consensus was that Lead Management System is part of the demand generation process, and focuses on managing leads you already have in your database (and capturing/importing new leads). Some example features:

  • building landing pages and registration forms
  • tracking the source of leads
  • collecting as much information as possible (web & data analytics)
  • nurturing via email and other channels
  • calculating a lead score until the prospect is sales-ready

But how does that compare to email marketing, web analytics and landing page optimization tools? In talking to several marketing managers, they often asked: “How do LMA systems compare to {fill in any other marketing software}”. In the next paragraphs I compare LMA systems with other popular marketing systems, and I hope to go more in-depth in future posts.

Email Marketing

Lead Management Systems can send out batch emails to a list, similar to Email Services Providers (ESPs) like VerticalResponse, ExactTarget and Constant Contact. Interesting enough, I’ve heard of several companies that still use ESPs in addition to their Lead Management System, not sure why. Let me know if you have ideas.

Lead Management Systems also provide lots of advanced email features, such as drip-marketing, event-based emails, heavily segmented and personalized emails (e.g. sent from the account of the responsible sales person), and event reminder emails. However, ESPs are also moving forward, and for example ExactTarget now also offers drip-marketing support.

Data Management

Some demandgen vendors provide data management features for deduplication and normalization. My personal opinion is that these features are usually somewhat limited, and that they’re not mature enough to replace specialized data cleaning solutions (Ringlead, DemandTools). But that may change soon, as LMA vendors keep expanding their offerings.

Web Analytics

All Lead Management Systems offer some kind of web analytics, mostly focused on marketing metrics. Only LMA systems aimed at smaller companies tend to offer generic web analytics (page views, referrers, etc.). In all other cases, you would still need a general-purpose Web Analytics systems, such Google Analytics, Coremetrics, Omniture or WebTrends.

There are also some specialized Web Analytics vendors that identify the company name of anonymous leads (Leadlander) or website activity for known leads ( However, more and more LMA systems include this functionality. It ranges from fairly basic (Market2lead) to more comprehensive (Marketo, Genius Enterprise, ActiveConversion, LeadGenesys, Pardot).

Web Content Management

Lead Management Systems also do not replace Web Content Management systems, although it may be more common to have WCM features in Demand Generation in the future (earlier post). The only web pages they currently manage are landing pages or microsites. Those are usually hosted on a subdomain such as There are some exceptions: both Marketbright and Marqui include a full WCM system.

Landing page optimization & Website Personalization

An area where many Lead Management Systems can still improve is landing page optimization. In my opinion they should offer more features to optimize landing page conversion, which critical for Search Marketing efforts. There are dedicated vendors with a superior feature set, such as ion interactive, magnify360 and Sitebrand.

I’ve heard some vendors thinking about personalizing offers based on behavior of anonymous visitors to make it more likely that they register for an offer. Currently I’m not aware of any LMA vendors that offer this functionality: let me know if you know more about this…

Search Marketing

Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-Click management are usually not included in Lead Management Systems. At most, LMA systems provide reporting on the lead source (which keywords, and organic search or PPC). It looks like SEO and PPC management will stay separate from Lead Management for the short to medium term. Personally I expect this will be integrated in the long term, as lead acquisition and lead management naturally complement each other, and cover the entire demand generation cycle.


Lead Management Automation vendors are rapidly expanding their functionality, but will not replace all specialized tools any time soon. I think we’ll see a consolidation of the industry of the next couple of years. Specialized vendors need to keep innovating, otherwise they will falter. Some categories are there to stay, such as Web Content Management and Web Analytics, but each will also expand their marketing automation features.

I’m not sure about Email Service Providers: In my opinion they either need to move towards lead management or become irrelevant. ExactTarget, Lyris and Silverpop are on the move, but VerticalResponse is at risk: even for small companies there are more effective lead management solutions (such as InfusionSoft).

What do you think: is there a future for pure-play ESPs?

Markesales 2.0™

I’m going to need your help with this post. For me, one thing was clear about the Sales 2.0 Conference: to get better results, the Marketing & Sales teams need to operate like a single team. Nevertheless, “Sales 2.0” sounds like it’s still all about Sales, and not about Marketing (see my previous post). How can we make sure that both marketing and sales adopt Sales 2.0 as their own?

My take: it’s the name, so let’s replace Sales 2.0!

I first wanted to blame the inventors of the term “Sales 2.0”: But you can’t blame a thought leader for choosing a bad name when they’ve done such a great job advancing state-of-the-art selling techniques!

And even more important, they proposed a great alternative in a yesterday’s blog post: “Buying 2.0”. It reflects the current consensus that sales reps cannot control the sales process anymore. The buyer is in control.

I thought I found another alternative in “Smarketing”. Unfortunately the “S” is for smart, and not for sales (and I couldn’t find out who first coined this term).

Anna Talerico (ion interactive) calls it the great ’sales & marketing mashup’. Not bad, and we get rid of the omnipresent 2.0 suffix.

But maybe we – as marketers – just need to bite the bullet and accept that “everybody is in sales” and consider ourselves sales people. As Eloqua’s Steve Wood mentions in his book: “marketing must be involved until much later in the buying cycle, as most buyers will only want to engage with sales when they are much closer to being ready to purchase”. So maybe we should stick with the Sales 2.0 moniker.

The best alternative I could come up with was “Markesales 2.0”, not a great option either (I TM’ed it just in case).

So let’s make this a group project:

How do you think we should call the new Marketing & Sales mashup?

Using Twitter to Cover the Sales 2.0 Conference

Today’s Sales 2.0 Conference was covered extensively via Twitter. Just take a look at the search results for the #sales20 tag (link probably stops working after a couple of weeks). These tweets summarized the good bits of the conference effectively, and it also allowed people who couldn’t make it in-person to follow the conference. And finally, there was also some discussion going on between attendees.

The driving force behind the Twitter coverage was Mike Damphousse from Green Leads (a sponsor of the conference). Mike took a couple of minutes for an interview at the end of a long day. He talks about the things that went well, the things he’d do different next time, and how to use Twitter to for your Sales 2.0 strategy.

Mike Damphousse on Using Twitter to Cover the Sales 2.0 Conference from Jep Castelein on Vimeo.

I’m having some trouble to get the video in the right aspect ratio. I recorded it with a Canon FS100 in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Then I rendered to MP4 in 720×480 and uploaded to Vimeo (and also to, and both seem stretched. Any suggestions?

Sales 2.0: Also for Marketing?

Today I’m at the Sales 2.0 conference to learn more about new sales & marketing techniques. A sales conference while I’m in marketing? I told one of my sales coworkers yesterday, and the discussion went like this:

Jep: I’m going to the Sales 2.0 conference tomorrow

Coworker: [confused look] Why are you going to a sales conference?

Jep: It also covers sales development (lead qualification) and demand generation

Coworker: Oh really? That’s interesting.

So many people still think that “Sales 2.0” is only about sales. Not surprising, as it says “sales” and does not mention marketing.

The reality is different: successful implementation of Sales 2.0 requires close collaboration between sales and marketing. For example, David Solinger explained  that Ariba now has precise metrics how many leads they need to close a specific amount of business. That is only possible when sales and marketing work closely together.

Sales & Marketing: a single revenue cycle

I stopped by at Marketo‘s booth and had a nice chat with Deanna Deary (Sales) and Kelly Abner (Marketing Director) and asked them about their take. They see marketing & sales as a single revenue cycle. And with better tools (like Marketo) there is better insight in the revenue that marketing influences: so rather than seeing marketing as a cost center, it actually brings in money.

As marketing is getting their act together, sales is also more appreciative or marketing. David Satterwhite of NewScale mentioned an old quote of Larry Ellison: “If you’re not a sales rep and you’re not an engineer, then you’re overhead.”

Marketo’s Kelly mentioned that the first Sales 2.0 conference had a lot of “marketing bashing”. That has changed: today’s conference has a dedicated marketing session, and dozens of marketing people are attending.

Tom McCleary of GroupSwim sees the same trend: “marketing and sales need to be in lockstep, and the feedback needs to be instantaneous”. GroupSwim provides online collaboration software that results in better alignment of sales & marketing teams, regardless of the location of these teams.

We need a new type of marketing person…

Another trend is a change in people: I’ve seen traditional marketing VPs who do not like to be pinned down on a specific lead goals. They think it’s better to keep the goals vague, and focus on lead quantity rather than quality. Traditional Sales VPs then complain about the marketing leads and try to find ways to become self-sufficient and generate their own leads.

As Sales 2.0 is changing to a collaborative model, different skills and priorities are needed. For marketing specifically, I think we need more analytical skills: people who are not focused on pretty images, but on setting up efficient processes, with metrics to support this.

This analytical marketer is hard to find: I’ve been told that the best Eloqua sales rep is also placing demand-gen specialists with new Eloqua clients, to ensure that they have the skills need to make “Marketing 2.0” a success.

Marketers Unite

There are books and conferences on Sales 2.0, but – even though marketing is mentioned – are primarily about sales. But for successful implementation of Sales 2.0 you need both sales and marketing, and marketing seems to be behind.

How can we get more exposure for the role of marketing in Sales 2.0?

Let me know your ideas!

Marketo 3.0 Screen shots

Today Marketo is launching their 3.0 release. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to take a closer look at it. However, both David Raab and John Gaffney have already published about it, so I’ll limit myself to posting several screenshots. This will give a good idea of some of the new features.

the marketo home screen

The Marketo home screen, showing the 4 main elements or Marketo: activities, design of emails and landing pages, data (lead) management, and reporting.

Marketo drip email campaigns

Drip email-campaigns, also shows the extensive Salesforce integration (bottom-right)

marketo wysiwyg landing page builder

WYSIWYG Landing Page Builder; new feature: progressive profiling, which enables showing additional form fields for repeat visitors

Marketo Reporting

Reporting, including getting reports by email

Marketo Data and Contact Management

Data and contact management, including enhanced support for merging duplicate leads

Marketo website monitoring

Website monitoring (incl. anonymous visitors and real-time alerts) and lead scoring; when visitors fill out a form and make themselves known, you still see their earlier website behavior (then still anonymous)

UPDATE: this is the new Marketo 3.0 demo (3 minute Flash movie)

Overall, it doesn’t look like there are any revolutionary changes, just a lot of improvements that will make the day-to-day use of the system easier, with even better usability and more time-saving features.

To all Marketo users: what is the new feature that you like best? Please leave a comment…

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.