Archive for the ‘Marketing Automation’ Category

Job Requirement: Experience with Marketing Automation software ?

Friday, November 20th, 2009

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 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

Monday, November 16th, 2009

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?

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

We re-launched the 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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Empowering Sales with Business Directory Integration

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

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

Monday, August 31st, 2009

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? ;-)

Congratulations to Zimbra

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I would like to congratulate Zimbra, the popular e-mail and collaboration company (and a division of Yahoo!). Since they started using Loopfuse OneView, Zimbra has increased its Sales and Marketing efficiency by 50% – special thanks to Greg  Armanini and John Robb of Zimbra for collaborating with us on the case study.

With over 41 million paid mailboxes worldwide, there is no doubt that Zimbra is redefining the email and collaboration space.  Achieving such web business success requires the right strategy coupled with the right partners to make it happen – especially with over 200,000 unique web visits a week to its homepage,

While Zimbra initially chose Eloqua for marketing automation, they subsequently replaced them with LoopFuse OneView, which is easier for the Zimbra team to use and it tightly integrates with, its CRM partner.

According to Greg, Zimbra is using LoopFuse’s demand generation, email marketing and lead scoring capabilities to keep the Zimbra sales team focused on “the most likely prospects in order to function efficiently and profitably.” I look forward to following Zimbra’s continued success.

LoopFuse with LinkedIn Integration

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

A few weeks ago, we released our OneView v3.17. Although originally marked as a “Beta” feature for this release, our LinkedIn integration has received extremely wide-spread adoption by sales people using the service. Clearly, the ability to quickly identify contacts you may have in common, leads to a more personal sales approach.

In keeping with our ease-of-use goals, I’ll walk through a typical process, that within 2 clicks of the mouse, will have you viewing all of the people you have in common with this particular prospect…

Of course, it all begins with a lead that our Marketing team either captured from a web-form or may have purchased and imported in to the LoopFuse system.

Here we see a portion of the Lead Dashboard within the system that describes our lead, in detail.

Click to Enlarge

Now, we simply click on the button labeled “LinkedIn Information”, and are instantly transported to the appropriate results on the LinkedIn website…

Click to Enlarge

Did I say two clicks? Ok, so it’s really just one click, but you get the point… One-click shopping for leads. ;-)

Blocking registration spam – a better alternative to CAPTCHA

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

If you have a web site with registration forms you have probably been spammed by a bot (or will in the near future). Most people think of spambots as rogue programs that run on the internet harvesting email address from web sites to then later spam via email (i.e. “Get your diploma today” emails). While this still occurs on a regular basis, there is an increasing trend of forum spam which can pollute your lead capture data.

Many web sites deploy CAPTCHA tests within their web site form registrations to protect against spambots. However, what most people don’t know is that most of the spambot software used today, such as the popular XRumer, can defeat CAPTCHA.

It is a little surprising that software programs can get past CAPTCHA seeing how it is difficult for most humans to respond correctly to them. However, with the wide availability of OCR packages, it is probably easier for computers to now figure out CAPTCHAs than it is for humans. If you don’t believe me, just take quick look at the demonstration pages for PWNTCHA and Gimpy and you will see how accurate computers can be at guessing the correct responses for CAPTCHA on the web.

The good news is a better alternative to CAPTCHA is easy. Just add an additional form field with a simple logic question. For example, 4 + 5 = ? or Is fire hot or cold?. The answer to type in the form field is easy for humans, but much more difficult for spambots. Obviously the answer given will need to be verified on your server before accepting the rest of the information posted, but this is typically trivial to add if you are already doing data verification. Generally simple arithmetic questions are best since math is universal and won’t have to worry about language barriers to word problems.

Hopefully this tip will help those of you already facing problems with large amounts of bad data polluting your registration data from spambots. For those of you who don’t face this problem, this tip might well prevent you from ever having to.

Introducing Rollover Credits

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Today, LoopFuse announced a dramatic change in the way our pricing model works. We’ve always  maintained that our product is the most full-featured and easiest-to-use marketing automation suite on the market. The change echoes our drive for innovation and simplicity by allowing marketers to focus on campaign and program initiatives without worrying about artificial quotas and overage fees, that limit their ability to execute.

In keeping with our mantra of simplicity, I’ll spell out the basics of the pricing model change:

  • Unlimited Seats
  • Unlimited Support Incidents
  • Support Package with 24/7 access to our Customer Support Portal
  • Rollover Creditsâ„¢

The concept behind Rollover Creditsâ„¢ is simple… you don’t need to ever worry about exceeding limits on page-view tracking or email sending, as all unused credits for a given month will roll-over to the following month. Website traffic and email campaigns are not fixed variables, so why should bandwidth usage and email usage fees be fixed?

LoopFuse has always maintained strong partnership ties with it’s customers. With that belief as a base, we felt that our pricing model should support, rather than hinder, our customer success’. What we found with our old pricing model (still in use by our competitors ;-) ) is that we were penalizing growth by limiting usage. As customer of our munchkin-loving-competitors will notice, they are hindered by the artificial barrier to growth in usage, seats, and support cases, leading to lost sales opportunities and increased costs.

More information on the new pricing model, can be found here.

Drupal / LoopFuse Integration Module Released

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Today, our friends at Drupal announced the release of the LoopFuse OneView integration module for Drupal. The module, now available from the Drupal website, allows for pluggable integration between the Drupal CMS and the LoopFuse OneView Marketing and Sales Automation platforms. This is a natural pairing for two technologies that are widely used throughout the internet – Our products have a considerable overlap in who they appeal to… Marketing and Sales executives.

The original impetus for this module, was started by Chuck D’Antonio under the Acquia umbrella. Much of it came about as Acquia became a LoopFuse customer and felt a tighter integration that would benefit the community would be fruitful. This is OSS, as it was meant to be. I couldn’t agree more. ;-)

Taking the press release at face-value would be a mistake, as there is an important message here, regarding the future direction of both companies. I believe it is evident that Drupal has continuously set itself apart from other Web CMS  by appealing to a more sophisticated crowd. The same is true for LoopFuse. At the same time, however, I would state that both companies have a fair understanding of what it means to have mass appeal… allowing a simple user to get up-and-running in minutes, yet enabling high-end users with unlimited flexbility and scalability. This is a delicate balancing-act for any company, but one that I believe our friends at Drupal/Acquia know very well how to master.