Blog: Sales and Marketing Automation

Archive for the ‘Market Talk’ Category


Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Since our founding in 2007 as the pioneer in marketing and sales automation, we’ve seen rapid adoption of our On-Demand (SaaS) platform across both large and small organizations. Two years later, we mark a significant point in our history, having secured a Series-A round from True Ventures, led by John Burke, and the addition of our new CEO, Sean Dwyer,  to our ranks.

A Special Thanks

I won’t take this funding announcement to blog about how wonderful we are, drink our own kool-aid, and pat ourselves on the back, as some would expect. I will however, take this opportunity to thank the group of people that enabled us to get where we are today… our customers. Our customers have maintained a steady and unwavering belief in LoopFuse, the company and the vision from day-one. It is with their support, that we have not only reached this point in our history, but with their input and suggestions, have built the most innovative software they use every day to generate millions of dollars in sales. To our customers, allow me to say that everyone at LoopFuse thanks you for helping us build the strong partnership that exists today.


Through a rather serpentine twist of fate and coincidences, we were introduced to the partners at True Ventures (Thanks, Dave!). I can honestly say that they are the perfect partner for LoopFuse, with a perfect alignment of vision, goals, growth philosophies, and the importance of a solid team of dedicated A Players. I’ve met a lot of VCs in my career… these guys are truly different and an excellent partner complementing the LoopFuse executive team. We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented group of people working with us, along with our new admiral at the helm, Sean Dwyer; who loved using the product so much, he decided to run the company.

When Tom and I started this company, we were two guys (and a rather angry pit-bull) with an idea and a dream to revolutionize how online business is conducted. We’ve always maintained a belief that the success of the company and its customers is an inevitability. Even though the industry peddles the mirage of marketing automation, we actually deliver re$ult$, and believe that the influence this industry can have on business is much larger and broader than where we are today. Follow us, and you will see.

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.

We hire. They fire.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

These are interesting times for the U.S. and World economy, to say the least… housing market collapse, stock market volatility, growing unemployment, and talk about spreading the wealth. ;-) It’s enough to negatively affect the purchasing and hiring plans of even the most well-funded of businesses. And against the back-drop of the economic chaos, I’ll publicly boast, We’re growing Fast!

Over 2008,  we have seen our employee ranks increase by 30% and demand for our marketing automation suite has never been higher. It is evident that during times of economic uncertainty, now more than ever, marketers are hungry for a low-cost, high-return, and easy-to-use product in the marketing automation space. So the build-out continues with key hires in executive positions and game-changing product innovations in 2009.

With that, I introduce our newest addition to the executive ranks at LoopFuse…

We Hire

We are proud to welcome Frank Merenda to our ranks, as our new VP of Engineering. Frank joins us from Red Hat, where he created the JBoss Customer Support Portal and became the development team lead for enterprise support at Red Hat. Frank brings over twenty years of IT experience to LoopFuse. Frank will be responsible for continuing execution and build-out of our core product, LoopFuse OneView.

They Fire.

Now I’m not one to kick a competitor when he’s down, (Oh, who am I kidding, of course I am!), but unfortunately, this period of economic malaise hasn’t been good to everyone in our space. Having to slash its headcount by 20%, it seems like Eloqua’s feeling the payne. In a market that’s changing fast with lower-cost and easier-to-use products, I’d say the reign of terror over customers may be drawing to a close.

Crumbling old companies aside, the state of the marketing automation space looks extremely bright. I believe the next few years will be pivotal, in separating winners from losers, and only those with superior products, designed to solve marketing and sales solutions during a market downturn will survive. But hey, what do I know? ;-)

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.

Introducing Closed-Loop Reporting

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

With our OneView 3.6 release, LoopFuse enables marketers deeper and richer insight in to the Lead Funnel through an easy-to-us and intuitive user-interface. With our Closed-Loop Reporting enhancement, marketers are now able to visualize the entire Lead Funnel and pin-point the time involved in having prospects and leads move through the funnel at different stages. We can honestly say that this level of reporting is unseen in any competing product. (hurry up guys, you’re playing catch-up now) ;-)

So what do the new reports include and why should you care?

The idea? behind this addition to our flagship product, is simple:

  • Empower marketers with unprecedented insight in to the Sales Cycle.
  • Supply knowledge in to what marketing initiatives are working and what isn’t.
  • Visualization that supports the further alignment of marketing and sales goals.
  • Contrast and compare marketing and sales performance during different times in the company’s history.

Funnel Analysis allows you to answer the most important question a marketer has – At what rate are my prospects moving along the lead funnel?. LoopFuse OneView provides key metrics, such as the rate of conversion between First Contact to Conversion, or Lead to Opportunity. With better insight in to these key metrics, OneView then allows you to better tune your nurturing and campaign initiatives.

For a full listing of the 3.6 enhancements, click here.

In one of my initial blog posts, I commented on the rapid pace of innovation that LoopFuse was going to bring to the Marketing and Sales Automation industry. Clearly, we’re delivering on our promise to inject better reporting and usability in to a a stagnant market…. this release is proof-positive that the LoopFuse machine continues to out-pace the competition with a better product, better support, and affordable pricing.

Keep your eyes on this space for future release announcements, which will include major enhancements to our flagship product and have LoopFuse moving in to new online markets. ;-)

OSBC 2008 Review

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Having just returned from San Francisco and reading many of the blogs/press on this year’s OSBC, I felt it was a good time to present an unfiltered and honest review (opinion?) of OSBC 2008:

  • Great Topics with Great Panels – the show gets better every year. Unfortunately, I missed some of the all-star panels (Mickos, ShuttleWorth, Roberts), but every single panel I attended was full of audience participation, and interesting/educated panelists.
  • Good news: Less attorney-blabber. I refuse to attend their panels for fear I’ll be billed $500/hr. to listen to them. This is the mundane sort of task that I already pay our own attorneys for.
  • It sure is damn nice to look over a crowded conference hall and be able to see that a large and growing percentage of the marketers in the room are existing LoopFuse customers.
  • It sure is damn nice to look over a crowded conference hall and be able to see that a shrinking percentage of the marketers in the room are existing Eloqua customers. (They’re easy to find… just look for the marketers that are broke and pissed off.)
  • As usual, Matt Asay’s keynote has a perfect blend of interesting and inspirational.
  • I wasn’t around for any of the other keynotes. I would’ve liked to have heard Red Hat’s Whitehurst. As for listening to the HP keynote, I paid my dues while at JBoss… ’nuff said.
  • Rob Bearden and Larry Augustin were among my favorite sessions. Perhaps the fact they plugged LoopFuse may have had something to do with it. ;-)
  • My panel was a solid mix of talent. Sitting next to Ian from Alfresco was an experience. Keeping on topic was a futile effort.
  • RingSide Networks launched at the show. I’m still not sure what my ex-Jbossians created, but Bob Bickel is involved and David Skok invested, so it must be good?

Roy’s shout-outs:

  • Matt Asay, thanks for spending a whole of 30 seconds with the Loopies.
  • Chris Harrick (SugarCRM) – Stand-up and incredibly knowledgeable guy. I think we got off on the wrong foot, but thats how I roll.
  • Raven Zachary (451 Group) – thanks for moderating and sharing hair-styling tips, but you’re still wrong on MySQL, Zimbra, and JBoss. ;-)
  • Dave Rosenberg (MuleSource) & Bill Karpovich (Zenoss) : These guys are dangerous in the same room together – Statler & Waldorf.
  • I finally met Javier Soltero (CEO, Hyperic) – He’s probably our #1 fan, one of our most active users, and great at offering unfiltered startup advice. He may also be close to being a bigger smart-ass than I – we’re neck and neck.
  • Mark Hinkle (Zenoss) – Good to finally meet him in person. Thanks for the blog.
  • The Hypericans – These guys are the official San Francisco welcoming committee. Always a good time.
  • Myself (LoopFuse) – I’m proud that I managed to sit through a whole session without insulting anyone in the room (that I know of). This CEO thing is changing me. I refuse to play golf…

Bulls on Parade

Friday, February 15th, 2008

From inception, LoopFuse has maintained a belief in its inevitability of success. I realized recently that there was one thorn in my side, from all the recent press coverage, that I had to address. Overwhelmingly, the media, prospects, and customers took to the message; the immense value we add to internal marketing and sales dynamics. However, one interview, didn’t sit well with me… where an interviewer asked the geniuses at Eloqua for their take on LoopFuse. Being who I am, and never backing down from a fight (that I can easily win), I felt compelled to answer inaccuracies put forward by our competitor.

The article in question, can be found here, and features a rather smarmy rebuttal from Thor Johnson, SVP of Marketing at Eloqua. Now let’s dissect the FUD:

“Still, Johnson said he was unconcerned with LoopFuse, noting that he already has a plethora of smaller rivals.”

The facts show otherwise… our own LoopFuse OneView product shows a “concerned” Eloqua frequently scouring our site for information:

Perhaps its difficult to be concerned, when you’re in a constant state of panic? Considering that our LoopFuse site only has about 20 pages on it, what on earth could they be spending over 11 hours on it for? Did they lose something? Customers, perhaps? Maybe they’re all looking for jobs after the ship sinks? Dunno.

“That pricing compares favorably to Eloqua. Its service starts at $3,000 per month for a team of about five users, but with no limits on e-mail or page views”

This is a joke, right? Is this pricing before or after you nickle-and-dime them to death with hourly support expenses? Is it before or after you up-sell them the following year on multiples over the previous year, because (as we all know) you hold their data hostage. The truth is that we are consistently a fraction of Eloqua’s yearly Total Cost of Ownership, and offer a far broader and easier-to-use product (and you’re free to take your data with you at any time).

Oh, and Thor, thanks for the free press. Next time, remind yourself that the LoopFuse founders used your “product” for 3 years, and will correct you when you feel like spreading the FUD around.

LoopFuse @ OSBC 2008

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

LoopFuse has been invited to attend a panel on “Converting the Open Source Lead Funnelat this year’s Open Source Business Conference (OSBC). Although I would never pass up a chance at listening to Matt Asay blabber on about the wonders of OSS, backed by a slide deck with such OSS visionaries as Homer Simpson, this year’s OSBC aims to provide a wealth of information beyond that to any and all OSS companies; from competitive advantage topics, marketing essentials, community relations, and legal issues. This is a must-attend conference for any OSS entrepreneur and OSS executive.

The panel I will be taking part in, is similar to last year’s “Downloads to Dollars” panel, where OSS marketers discussed what works/doesn’t in OSS marketing initiatives. The 451 Group’s Raven Zachary will be moderating the panel. I will be joined by some heavy hitters in the OSS world – from Alfresco, Zend, and SugarCRM.

So if any of you are wondering, “Can LoopFuse crack the open source conversion conundrum?“, as the 451 Group’s Matthew Aslett asks, this is the place to get answers. Attendees are always free to ask me how we “cracked” it at JBoss, using a dysfunctional marketing automation product, and how our current OSS customers are leveraging our knowledge with a superior product/service offering today.

LoopFuse OneView 3.0 Announced

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

So ends yet another cycle of coding, testing, deployment, and overall innovation. Although I’m starting to get tired of constantly out-innovating our bobo competitors and watching them cry like little babies, I never get tired of bragging about it or taking their customers – such is business, the American way.

This past weekend, the LoopFuse team deployed the latest release [press] of our On-Demand offering to our Tier-1 network operations center. This release marked a major milestone for LoopFuse, as it added several significant features to an already feature-rich and flexible product suite, designed to improve marketing and sales efficiency (ie. Increase revenue and lower costs). Below is a short description of what you’ll find in the latest release:

  • Automated Lead Nurturing: This isn’t your grandmother’s lead nurturing tool. OneView’s Lead Nurturing module touches every part of the LoopFuse system and your CRM, allowing you to create the richest lead nurturing programs for your organization imaginable. You can instantly build workflow’s that encompass a lead’s web activity, email activity, and CRM activity and have that workflow automatically send email campaigns and modify that lead’s fields within your configured CRM. The additional reporting capabilities built around lead nurturing also allow you to not only gauge how your programs are performing, but provide the necessary information to better-tune them for maximum efficiency in warming up your prospects until they’re ready to buy.
  • Activity History CRM integration: Now in 3.0, OneView automagically enters in real-time information in to your CRM for specific leads. The as-it-happens activity history injection is triggered whenever a lead visits your site, opens an email campaign, or completes a lead capture form. This is an important addition, allowing sales personnel to have real-time actionable data from within your CRM and continuing to provide a 360-degree of a particular prospect’s activities and interests.
  • Lead Capture Reporting: What good is a process if you can’t measure it? To answer that question, we’ve augmented our reporting capabilities with a real-time look at your lead capture information. Marketers can now gauge their lead capture activity for specific lead capture forms and also view trend information over time.

So thats my elevator-pitch on the recent additions to the LoopFuse platform. All great additions to help round-out our marketing automation solution.

Looking forward to February, we will be releasing Google AdWords API integration, allowing marketers to better measure ROI against their Google AdWords spend. Although this is possible currently, the addition of the API integration will make the process seamless and increase flexibility for our users… and inevitably make our competitors cry some more.

Market Talk: Marketing Automation in 2007 (2008)

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

As 2007 draws to a close, I thought I’d post my version of a “Year-In-Review” blog covering activity in the marketing automation space. Certainly its been an active year with some M&A and IPO activity, and new startups ramping up, and some complimentary market players diving in. This is, no doubt, a hot space to be in (kinda of reminds me of the early JBoss days), and what makes this an even more exciting time is that there are no clear leaders in the space.

What you will note is a common theme; that everyone (even those in complimentary markets) are moving toward the same objective – a complete and consolidated solution for all marketing (and sales) needs. Its a natural progression, I believe, as the email marketing folks are trying to differentiate themselves out of the race-to-the-bottom pricing effects, analytics companies are under pressure from cheaper and sometimes free alternatives, and marketing automation companies are looking to beat everyone else to be the first with this holy grail of solutions (I don’t believe anyone has it “right” just yet).

So here goes, what I believe were considerable moves in this space for 2007 that will set the stage for it in 2008…

  • Unica: Acquired MarketingCentral (7/07). A good play that helps round out their offering. Not really in the marketing automation space, but I believe to be slowly moving in that direction.
  • ManticoreTechnology: If I get one more resume from anyone working there, I’m going to blow a fuse. Seriously now, can someone just acquire them, and put them out of their misery already? I’m sure there’s something there worth buying, right? Aeron chairs? Foosball tables?
  • Omniture: Acquired WebSideStory (10/07), also launches closed-loop-marketing addition to their offering as a plugin. I’m betting they’ll make big moves in to this space in ‘08, possibly through further acquisitions and likely with the intent to
    • differentiate themselves with the other web analytics companies they have a history of competing with (enter B2B)
    • seize this soft market in one fail swoop before anyone else can dream of it.
  • Eloqua: Closed a whopping $23m round (11/07) one year after their last round. New CEO seems to have cleaned house of the old guard that were taking the company in to the upper regions of the Canadian tundra (ie. nowhere). Even though they’re hobbled by a surprisingly dysfunctional and overpriced technology offering, they are eagerly locking unsuspecting customers in to multi-year contracts. Smart move, as you’ve been voted most likely to get steamrolled during the mad-dash to consolidate the space. I do sense IPO coming soon for them.
  • Marketo: Popped on the scene early this year with a bucket of cash. One half-baked and feature-lacking product later, they’ve resorted to employing tactics from the”3D Startup Manual”. You haven’t heard of the 3D Startup Manual? It has one page, and it reads “Dillute! Dillute! Dillute!”.
  • Market2Lead: Injection of cash (10/07) by partner Rainmaker Systems may keep these guys afloat a while longer. Their technology is lacking, but its nothing $1m can’t fix, right?
  • SilverPOP: Ye old stomping grounds. Acquired vTrenz (05/07) marketing automation. A good play for the Pop, seeking to break away from the rest of the pack in email marketing. I blogged about this earlier.
  • WebTrends: I have no idea whats happening there. My guess is that 2008 has them following Omniture’s lead in to this space.
  • Aprimo: Filed for IPO (9/07) with a $50m run-rate. Clearly a potential leader in the space that has the potential to swallow up a large chunk of it on its own.

So thats my rather narrow view of the world (well, at least the bits I’d openly share). I won’t share any major plans regarding where LoopFuse is headed in ‘08, except to say that we will strive as hard as possible to shatter the dreams of all of those mentioned above by continuing to build a world-class platform, while providing solutions for our growing clientèle. ;-)