Yammer – keeps them coming back

December 23rd, 2009 by Tom Elrod

Yammer is a secure Twitter (and more) for your internal organization. We have been trying it out and one feature I really like is the occasional email reminders letting me know the activity going on within our account and the gentle coaxing to participate. The emails are short and to the point and usually start off with “We haven’t heard from you lately.” Then it provides some ideas for posting and a link to login.

Although I’ll admit that the majority of the time I delete the emails, Yammer is persistent, yet doesn’t nag. Eventually, Yammer catches me between tasks and the reminder works as I’ll log in to catch up and the ideas for posting give me a quick starting point. I’m not a Yammer addict yet, but with respect to email reminders, they’ve certainly done a great job.

There are two interesting aspects of Yammer’s lead nurturing program here.  First, this program is a response to a lack of activity on an account.  This is a subtle, yet important, distinction.  The vast majority of nurturing programs are reactive; a user is enrolled into the program as a result of submitting a form, visiting a landing page, etc.  In essence, this program must be running continuously and must check for inactivity on an account.  The second interesting aspect of this nurturing program is that it must take into account activity data that it assumably stored in a separate application database (my next post will show you how to do this in LoopFuse OneView).

Does your organization automatically engage with users/prospects based on inactivity?

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Is Your Social Media Marketing Accountable?

December 15th, 2009 by Roy Russo

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Delicious, Yelp, YouTube, FreindFeed, Slideshare, Flickr… it seems like every day another social media channel is launched. With ever dwindling resources, marketers must choose where to spend their time and effort. It’s tempting to just engage on the most recognized channels. But how many of us really know which of these channels is most effective for our particular audience?

Many of these services can offer metrics and statistics, but how easy is it to compare the efficiency of your LinkedIn question versus your blogpost, versus your tweets?  Marcus Tewksbury of “The Marketing Mojo” fame is hosting a webinar on this topic for Alterian on Thursday of this week. I’ve been reading The Marketing Mojo site for almost a year now and they have a good handle on both social media and general marketing.  I’m curious to see what Marcus has in store. Here’s a link to the webinar if you’re curious.

Easy gets Easier with the SalesForce.com Wizard

December 10th, 2009 by Roy Russo

A recent Forrester report on Marketing Automation vendors places total marketing penetration somewhere between 2-5%. The report and its estimates point to several problems that contribute to lower adoption rates, including a lack of “innovation and easy-to-use features“. This is not something that has gone unnoticed by LoopFuse and other vendors in the industry; yet the vendor reponse to the problem is often worlds apart.

Other vendors try to answer the problem with difficult-to-configure/use/maintain products, yet back them with the promise of professional services designed to get you up-and-running quickly. This is a mirage that acts as a leech to your marketing budget, thus removing the incentive for the vendor to ever innovate. Certainly this Enterprise 1.0 way of conducting business (i.e. enslaving customers) is contributing to the slow pace of adoption during these lean times.

Our answer to the problem is simple – LoopFuse seeks to make adoption painless, by innovating on features and ease-of-use and NOT throwing a bus-load of $500/hr consultants your way. The choice could not be clearer in that LoopFuse OneView empowers marketing and sales with a full-featured simple-to-configure/use/maintain product that doesn’t require hand-holding or a monthly chunk of your marketing budget. We have the incentive the innovate as we have to win your business every month.

To simplify the on-boarding process for trial users and customers, our latest LoopFuse OneView 3.21 release included the easiest-to-configure SalesForce.com integration method in the industry. Our new SalesForce.com Integration wizard uses a 4-step process to integrate OneView bi-directionally with SFDC. The entire process takes you from establishing a connection between the two systems, to importing all of your Lead Records within minutes. That means, within a few minutes of signing-up for the free trial, you are ready to send an email campaign or build a nurturing program to all of your prospects/leads.

For more information on the SalesForce.com integration wizard, click here.

The Quota Carrying CMO

November 30th, 2009 by Roy Russo

There is an interesting shift happening in corporate America at the moment with regards to performance evaluation of marketing departments.  While I suspect that this shift may be global in nature, I have only personally witnessed it in the states and will therefore limit myself from over-reaching generalizations (seems almost quaint in the blogosphere today).

About 7 months ago I was discussing marketing automation tools in general, and LoopFuse in particular of course, with a marketing SVP and highlighting the different value propositions for the sales department versus the marketing department.  Given his role, I focused my discussion primarily within the marketing side of the equation, but he repeatedly kept redirecting the conversation towards the benefits for sales.  Initially I thought he was simply trying to identify any reservations or concerns that the sales VP might have by asking all of these sales-oriented questions.  But as the conversation progressed I learned that this marketing SVP’s personal bonus was not tied to the traditional measures of marketing success (brand awareness, lead volume, events, etc.) but instead was based almost entirely on revenue.

At the time I considered his company’s personal performance measurement approach to be interesting, but not particularly relevant.  One outlier is an anomaly, two is a coincidence, three is a pattern, and four is a trend.  As of today I have encountered my fourth marketing executive who is primarily rewarded based on the success or failure of the sales department.  At first, this approach seemed unfair to the marketing department.  But as I see this trend growing I realize that almost everyone is rewarded based partially on the success or failure of others, especially at the executive levels.    In this case the CMO is actually carrying the company’s global quota just like the sales executive.  One potentially positive aspect of this approach is that your sales and marketing departments may find that there is significantly less friction between them because their respective leadership’s goals are now perfectly aligned.

Are you a marketing VP?  Is your bonus compensation driven almost exclusively through revenue quotas?  Tell us how it has impacted yourself, your team, and your organization.

Job Requirement: Experience with Marketing Automation software ?

November 20th, 2009 by Tom Elrod

I recently read a great post by Jep on LeadSloth entitled “Why Are  Marketing Automation Managers So Hard to Find?“.  Although it was a great read, the one thing that kept bothering me was  that the first job requirement for a Marketing Automation professional  was “Experience with Marketing Automation software”.

This is disturbing because of all the important skill sets a Marketing  Automation manager should possess, knowing how to use a particular Marketing Automation tool should be minuscule in comparison.  The  primary value they should be providing is their ability to craft effective campaigns for the business.  Execution of those campaigns should be trivial with the right tools.  Otherwise, if more time and  effort is spent on learning the tool set than execution, isn”t that ultimately taking away from the overall value?

In my opinion, learning how to use a new Marketing Automation tool  should be no more difficult than learning how to use Google Analytics.  For example, integration of LoopFuse with a user”s website is the same  basic process as with Google Analytics.  Another example is with our new  CRM Wizard, users can integrate their LoopFuse accounts with their  Salesforce.com accounts within minutes… without outside assistance.

Learning a new Marketing Automation tool should be easy.  If you have to  take a training course, then might be worth evaluating why.

Email Open-Rates Lie

November 16th, 2009 by Roy Russo

Email marketing is an industry that survives based on the ability to measure the effectiveness of email campaigns.  This is accomplished through some technical wizardry that leverages two primary features of HTML-based email : images and hyperlinks.  In order to track if/when an individual email recipient actually opened the email campaign, the recipient’s email client must display images.  Unfortunately, having images enabled in your email client can result in embarrassing situations such as opening what looks like a legitimate email in a business meeting only to find that it is a spam containing pornographic images.  As a result, more and more email client programs (Outlook 2007, Gmail, AOL, Windows Live Mail) come with images disabled by default.  As more email client programs adopt this default setting, email marketers will see fewer and fewer “opens” in their campaign analytics and may even misinterpret the trend as a reflection of their campaign quality when it is simply a byproduct of technical evolution.

It’s all Relative

Does this mean that email marketers should ignore the open-rate statistic when evaluating their campaign performance?  No, but it does mean that the open-rate is only meaningful as a relative measurement of whether your email was compelling enough for people to open.  For example, it’s valid when doing A/B testing to compare whether email subject A or email subject B was more compelling (but, of course, only if the segmentation of groups A & B is completely random).  But it is not valid as a measurement of this year’s total email open-rates versus last year’s.

Nurturing Gone Awry

Another dangerous practice is using “email open” events as conditions inside of your lead nurturing programs (in LoopFuse we refer to these as leadflows).  I have had two new LoopFuse customers propose leadflows which take different paths depending on whether the recipient actually opens a particular email.  However, if the recipient has images disabled there is simply no way for the leadflow to determine the correct path.  This can create a confusing or even frustrating experience for their prospects as a result.  If you want to react to a prospect’s email interactions, a click-through is much more reliable.

In an era of analytics overload, it’s understand exactly what the data is telling you, not just what it says.

What’s in Your Wallet?

October 8th, 2009 by Roy Russo

We re-launched the LoopFuse.com website a little while back with some new whizbang graphics, product details, case studies, etc.  The web team did an amazing job (thank you!), but what I am particularly pleased with is the return of our pricing page.

Having been in the software business for the last 15 years, I’ve always been amazed at how few of the “enterprise” software companies provide pricing on their websites.  Instead, you were forced to call a commissioned salesperson who would reveal only the price for a specific configuration you specify (as if their pricing structure were a matter of national security) which included a “one-time only discount” that expires at the end of this month!  Feels more like a trip to a used-car lot than a serious business solicitation.  This pricing model at one of my former employers was casually referred to as the Capital One model because the price you were quoted was based on the popular Capital One tagline “What’s in YOUR wallet?”

Why are some companies nervous about sharing their pricing information publicly?  Because knowledge is power when it comes to price negotiation.  The more someone knows about the prices paid by other similar (and dissimilar) customers, the chance of them overpaying drops dramatically. Some companies show highly inflated list prices, but with the full knowlege that due to deep discounting none of their customers will never pay full price (think used-car dealerships).  These practices are left over from the days when information hiding was helpful in extracting every possible penny from a customer.  However, the advent of communities, the social graph, and technologies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have enabled prospects to quickly and easily connect with existing customers of any vendor.

So why do companies still use these ethically challenged tactics?  The same reason that pawn shops and payday lenders still exist.  To exploit an imbalance of power or knowledge with the customer for financial gain.  So much time, effort, and money is wasted in corporate America today as a result of this game.  Demand more from your vendors.  Demand fair, transparent, public pricing, starting with your marketing automation provider.  Too much to ask?  We think not.

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We’re Hiring: 3 Customer Support Specialists

September 23rd, 2009 by Roy Russo

LoopFuse is looking to add 3 Customer Support Specialists to its growing ranks of happy team members. Positions are to be at our home office in Atlanta, GA.

… and without me yammering on about how awesome it is to work here ;-) , I give you the blurb straight from our HR Dept….

Job Description
Customer Support Specialist

Summary :
Provides technical assistance and training to customers by performing the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Provide client support and technical issue resolution via E-Mail,  and phone.
  • Provide training to clients in the use of the LoopFuse OneView system and its integration with client websites and CRM systems.
  • Obtain general understanding of Marketing Automation, EMail marketing, Lead Nurturing, CRM software, and operations related to company offered services.
  • Manage the customer on-boarding process.
  • Interact with customers and the community via the LoopFuse Community Portal.

The Ideal candidate will also possess the following skills:

  • Able to work independently and efficiently to meet deadlines.
  • Able to promptly answer support related email, phone calls and other electronic communications.
  • Self motivated, detail-oriented and organized.
  • Experience with E-Mail marketing systems and E-Mail desktop clients.
  • Proficient with SalesForce.com administration.
  • Proficient in Internet related applications such as E-Mail clients and Web Browsers.
  • Excellent communication (oral and written), interpersonal, organizational, and presentation skills.

Education and/or Experience :
Four year certificate from college or technical school; or three to six months related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

Language Skills :
Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations. Ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals. Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public.

Reasoning Ability :
Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of situations. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.

Work Environment :

Work hard. Play hard. (Ok, so I added that part in. Don’t tell HR) ;-)

Please send resumes and cover letters to [email protected]

Empowering Sales with Business Directory Integration

September 23rd, 2009 by Roy Russo

Empowering Sales with up-to-date contact information on contacts and interested prospects is essential in this day and age of high-volume, low-touch sales processes. LoopFuse OneView offers Sales organizations deep integration with a great number of common 3rd-party business directory and news sites, easily accessible from any visiting Company’s analytics page.

The current integrated 3rd party directories and news sites are pictured below, and include direct-linking to information providers such as Hoover’s Business Directory, Jigsaw, Google News, and ZoomInfo.

Hoover's Business Directory


What, no Google news for Eloqua? ;-)

Because the level of integration is “native” and presented as a hot-link, LoopFuse is able to provide the added value and information to sales organizations at no cost to us and therefore no additional cost to LoopFuse customers… and sales people are much happier for it all. ;-)

OneView v3.20 – Context-Sensitive Help and Open Communities

August 31st, 2009 by Roy Russo

OneView v3.20 (release FAQ) was released last week after weeks of testing and hardening by our QA staff. It stands out among all of our releases, as the focus was not concentrated on the LoopFuse side, but shared equally and externally by providing tight integration with our new Community Support Portal.

The new Community Support Portal is now populated with over 100 articles, FAQs, videos, and screencasts. It hosts a complete reference documentation section for all aspects of LoopFuse OneView. Its goal was to cover every category, module, page, and possible user action in the product and out (Aspects of our Web Service API are also covered for techno-savvy users).

The highlight of our integration is that we now have a seamless integration for users in our OneView product and our Community Support Portal. That is, users (even non-paying trial users) can easily login to the portal from within the product and ask questions or share ideas and feedback openly.

One particularly innovate approach to online help we have taken is making the OneView Help System  contextually aware – no matter what section of the product you happen to be in, calling the online help menu will point you to the correct Help Article, Category, and pre-fill the correct Search Terms.

One-Click Context-Sensitive Help System

In keeping with our original beliefs, we have decided to make our Community Support Portal completely open and transparent. Anyone, even guests, may browse the documentation and online discussions. We feel it is important to show prospects all aspects of the product and level of community participation. From companies as large as Oracle to your local gardening forum, open communities benefit registered users and anonymous ones alike. They provide an open door for all to window-shop your offering before taking the next step.

At its core, leveraging communities for effective marketing and sales is not an original idea (it’s actually Marketing 101), which of course makes me wonder why our over-funded Canadian friends and those other guys (you know, the ones that rhyme with stiletto and spend their lives telling you how much they know about marketing) chose to lock-up their documentation and community conversations with an iron door that only paying users can unlock. C’mon guys, what are you hiding? ;-)