Web Content Management for Lead Generation

This week’s news about the acquisition of Content Management vendor Interwoven by Autonomy made me think about the importance of website management for lead generation. Nowadays, most lead generation campaigns revolve around the website: SEO, AdWords, Email campaigns and even direct mail usually point to a website to capture responses. So the website clearly has an important role in lead generation.

Thinking about lead generation, what functionality would you expect in a CMS? I would look for the following:

  • Updates possible by non-technical users (WYSIWYG)
  • Search Engine Optimized & SEO Reporting
  • Landing pages
  • Registration forms integrated with Salesforce.com
  • A/B or multi-variate testing
  • Web Analytics integration, and automatic inclusion of other tracking code
  • Real-time visitor reporting (similar to Demandbase Stream)
  • Press Release distribution to PRWeb and others
  • Behavioral targeting
  • Fast downloads for downloads for trial software, videos and Flash demos (CDN)

There are some vendors that focus on these areas. First of all Hot Banana, who’s been focused on creating a ‘Marketing CMS’ for quite a while already, further emphasized after their acquisition by Lyris. However, few of their clients are in industries that rely on lead generation (such as tech companies).

I-Dialogue has also been around for many years, and their solution works from within Salesforce.com. They seem to be more focused on closed communities, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

There is one demand generation vendor that integrates a full Web Content Management system: Marqui. However, they had financial difficulties and have been acquired in the fall of 2008 by a group of investors: now they’re hiring again, so let’s hope that their new management can execute their vision.

In addition to their core SEO functionality, Hubspot offers a basic CMS for their entry-level customers. However, those are typically small companies, who are most likely migrating from either template-based Site Building tools or simple plain HTML websites: no advanced features to be found here.

Demand Generation software vendor Pardot is part of the Hannon-Hill group, a CMS vendor. Adam Blitzer, co-founder of Pardot, told me that Hannon-Hill just launched eCrowds, a hosted CMS for SMBs, and they are actively cross-selling the Pardot marketing automation system (see ‘add-on’ section on their pricing page). Also, there is some product integration: Pardot’s tracking tags and forms can easily be inserted into an eCrowds-based site. That’s interesting, and I’m curious to see how many customers will start using both.

There are also companies focused on landing pages alone, rather than a full CMS. For example, ion interactive and OnDialog (formerly Plurapage). When I lasted talked to OnDialog they were moving towards a full marketing suite, because landing pages along didn’t give enough revenue. Ion interactive has followed a strong thought-leadership campaign, including a recently published book on post-click marketing,and they seem to do pretty well, although they also introduced lower entry-level pricing.

Altogether, my gut feeling is that CMS software can definitely be optimized to support lead generation, but few customers are willing to pay a premium for it today. Most likely, website management will be added as an add-on to Demand Generation systems, or vice-versa. When the worst of the credit crunch is over (say 2010) we may even see some acquisitions: will Marketo or Eloqua acquire a CMS vendor, or will CMS vendors acquire marketing automation companies? What is your take?

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12 thoughts on “Web Content Management for Lead Generation

  1. Anna Talerico

    GREAT post on the ‘state of the union’ for web CMS as it relates to lead generation. Thanks for including ion interactive in your round up! As you know, we think B2B lead gen for paid traffic requires specialist tools as well as solid best practices.

  2. Fred Yee

    Hi Jep,

    We’ve been in the demand generation category for awhile and can’t say that adding a CMS has been part of many deals, if any. So to your point, I don’t think it’s an issue for customers.

    I would also be very surprised if Marketo or Eloqua got acquired by a CMS vendor too. And Marqui problems may have been caused by trying to enter a market that wasn’t interested in combining the two.

    But who knows? I’ve been wrong before ;-) An interesting post for sure though.

  3. David Raab

    Interesting post. I wonder whether marketing departments run the corporate Web site: if not, there is no natural integration of demand gen with CMS. Also consider that administration, rights management and workflow are very limited in most demand generation systems, but are central to a serious CMS.

    Incidentally, MarketBright considers their “full CMS” features to be a major point of differentiation. I’m just starting to look at them closely so I can’t yet say whether I agree.

  4. jepc Post author

    Thank you all for your comments: it’s interesting to hear different perspectives.

    David, in most small to medium-sized tech companies I’ve seen fairly simple CMS requirements, with limited or no need for rights management and workflow: so maybe a simple CMS will do for most companies, maybe even open source? What is your take?

  5. Scott Mersy

    Interesting post, thanks! Picking up from the thread between David and Jep: There’s a difference between full-blown CMS systems and the demand/lead generation-specific content requirements for companies in need of lead management. Across companies of all sizes there is value in end-users being able to create landing pages, track campaigns, and measure conversions. And it’s key to be able to deliver without a lot of help from a centralized IT or Web Services functions. Full-blown CMS is usually well beyond what that same marketer needs. That’s not to say, of course, that there isn’t a place for full-on CMS combined with a lead management system in some organizations, but I agree with Fred that it’s probably a fairly small percentage.

  6. Jon Miller, Marketo

    Jep —

    A very thoughtful analysis! If I look at your feature list, I’d say most if not all that functionality is already being incorporated into demand generation solutions like Marketo. Certainly things like creation of landing pages, forms, etc by non-technical users; search-related analytics; testing; and web behavior tracking and visitor reporting are all part of many solutions.

  7. jepc Post author

    Jon, especially because most demand generation systems already have many of these features, I think it makes technical sense to add more CMS features to demand generation systems, or more Demand Gen features to CMSs. Or at least integrate them closer. Assuming the website is controlled by marketing, this will make the marketing processes more integrated. Whether the market is willing to pay a premium for this is a whole other question :-)

  8. Erik Bower

    We agree, and in fact at Marketbright we built the company based on this premise. Your website and campaigns are one and the same. We have content management underlying our entire platform and manage global websites for customers ranging from large companies like SAP Business Objects (we manage their partner website) to companies like Serena Software. Our web content management system has many of the table stakes you look for in a CMS, plus tight integration with campaigns so you can surface offers on your website automatically. We see the convergence as a logical next step. Marketing should own the website, not IT. Other sections of the site should also move to the cloud (Finance/IR goes to Thompson, Careers/Job Section to Taleo, etc).

    This is a natural progression. We are having a webinar on this next month, check out http://www.marketbright.com/events/ in about two days.

  9. Chris Adams

    Jep – great post.

    As the co-founder of Hot Banana Software, I can say that our entire Web content management strategy as a company was not only to make our clients lives easier with simple Web site management tools, but also to help our clients become Internet Marketing experts. We are able to do that by making complex marketing tactics very simple to set-up, manage and report.

    The Web site is at the heart of lead generation. As stated by in your post above, visitors arrive at your Web site via many channels including: email marketing, search engines, pay-per-click advertising, social media sites, as well as offline media such as direct mail, print, TV and radio, and don’t forget good old fashioned word of mouth. The conversion happens on the Web page or landing page, and you must have compelling content and a proven design layout. Better yet – with a Web CMS you can easily track behavior and make incremental improvements to your pages.

    Interwoven is a strong enterprise Web CMS vendor, and it wasn’t a surprise that it was picked up in the marketplace. Hot Banana was acquired by Lyris Inc. in August of 2006 based on the belief that in order to provide value as an internet marketing vendor, you must provide more than one tool. For example, you can’t survive solely as a content management vendor – at Hot Banana we recognized this in 2004, and we were the first Web CMS to automate Web analytics data tagging on our pages with WebTrends, and we partnered with ExactTarget at the time with a landing page and Web form integration.

    Lyris also acquired ClickTracks Web Analytics in August 2006. By that time Lyris had assembled EmailLabs, EmailAdvisor, Hot Banana, ClickTracks and BidHero software products. The point of difference was that we owned the software and we could now build a very cool new product that was “fully integrated”. At that point, Lyris HQ was born, and we believe that we defined a new market segment called an “integrated marketing suite”.

    Fast forward to March 2009 – many acquisitions in this area have been reported and many analysts have confirmed that the market is demanding integration with online marketing tools. To answer your question about whether Marketo or Eloqua will acquire a Web CMS vendor in the future – I say yes – if they can find a vendor that has a great API layer, a great product, great brand recognition, and the belief that they will be stronger as a larger integrated product.

    I can be followed on Twitter @chrishadams (http://twitter.com/chrishadams) or reached via LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrishadams)


    Chris Adams

  10. Heather

    Your blog, “Web Content Management for Lead Generation” was indeed well worth writing a comment on!

    Just wished to announce u did a superb work. I
    appreciate it -Jerry

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