Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation Market

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

In a recent survey of over 2100 IT professionals who buy or recommend telecom and networking solutions, we found buyers turn to peers and colleagues first, followed by vendor, industry trade, or professional Web sites, to inform their purchase decisions. In fact, 88% said Web sites were important in helping them decide what to buy. However, many tech buyers visit vendor Web sites many times to learn about and compare products, yet few register or leave evidence of their activity.

B2B marketers looking for ways to turn their Web sites into demand generation tools have some new solutions to consider.  Yesterday, Demandbase announced a new software suite to help marketers harvest passive traffic visiting Web sites. As part of a broader lead generation, on-demand platform, Demandbase offers a free, downloadable Web application built on Adobe AIR (one of 3 investors in an $8M round they also announced.) Demand Stream™ includes a Web widget that shows sales and marketing the names of companies visiting the Web site in near real-time.  Users can query this widget to find out more about these visitors and decide if they want to purchase full business contact information. I think the idea of an iTunes™ -like interface — and pay-as-you-go pricing structure — for viewing, sorting, and selecting B2B contacts is intriguing.  I worry that this tool only ends up helping sales pick out cold calls to make, and is not used by marketers enough to segment, collect, and improve their prospecting databases. The technology appears useful at both ends of this spectrum.

The lead management automation market, about which I blogged previously, continues to attract new players at a rapid rate. The main problems targeted are keeping the pipeline full of marketing-qualified leads and automating the process of nurturing demand not yet ready to buy.  One side of the supply helps firms generate demand — acquire leads in a sales-led “push” model, one that feels more focused on outbound communication. I would put Demandbase here along with firms like Active Conversion, Hubspot, iHance, Leadlander, Sales Genius, and Zoominfo. (I’m sure I forgot a few. Feel free to chime in if I did. Or disagree with the list…) 

On the other side, I see solutions more oriented toward marketing and enabling a “pull” model, one focused on letting prospects engage at their own pace.  I would put the lead management automation crop here: Eloqua, Loopfuse, Manticore Technologies, Market2Lead, Marketo, and Vtrenz.  I would also put another group — one more focused on helping marketing align with, support, and enable sales: firms like BrightMarket, einsof, Longwood Software, and Salesforce.com with their Saleforce Content offering, to name a few. 

When evaluating any technology to help manage demand, the short list of features should look something like:

1) Prospect data acquisition — helps with targeting, list building, list management, and data quality. Starting to see providers team up with data aggregators (Jigsaw’s name comes up here) to provide new sources of business contacts. Reverse IP look up appears to be the new thing here.

2) Online lead generation — provides or connects with email delivery, online advertising, search marketing adword tools, landing pages, registration/information capture, and offer testing. Among other stuff.

3) Online activity analytics — rather than examine overall site traffic and usage patterns like Omniture and WebTrends, these tools focus more on tracking what one individual or opportunity is doing.  Analytics include Web site visits, return visits, email opens, and click-throughs with an emphasis on letting marketing, insides sales, or account managers know when these activities happen.

4) Lead scoring — in a prior post, I make the case for quantitative scoring. And for including explicit (words) and implicit (deeds) information in the algorithm. I believe this is a key capability.

5) Routing/reporting — automation to help close the loop with sales and give marketing visibility into the sales pipeline. Must include some sort of dashboard for everyone to access internally.

6) SFA integration — ditto the above. Synchronizing prospect and opportunity databases is key. The data has to flow back and forth and not dirty up the pipeline with raw leads.

7) Lead nurturing —  automates follow up communication, is drip or event-triggered, and allows marketing to educate, persuade, and accelerate buyers as they move through the purchase process to the point where they become “sales ready.”

For those needing more capabilities to help with sales enablement or account-based communication, I would add:

8) Sales/marketing portal or workspace — includes account spaces/threaded discussions, sales call/activity prep, libraries for marketing content, task lists.

9) Collaboration — capabilities like wikis, sales-contributed content, voting and tagging.  Just makes it easier to manage all the stuff. Social networking stuff fits here too.

10) eLearning — checklists, directed sales tools, self-serve courses, quizzes, certifications, etc.  Stuff to help sales management get the new guys/gals up to speed.

Ok, that’s enough for now. I’m sure this post will generate its fair share of comments, outrage, and controversy. All thoughts are welcome!  I’m gearing up to write a market overview about this space, so hearing from you early in the process will help to shape that research.

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Comments

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

I think marketing (specifically lead generation) is divided into two basic methods: Outbound Marketing and Inbound Marketing."Outbound" Marketing is the set of traditional direct marketing tactics including using targeted lists for telemarketing, direct mail and email marketing. Most of the solutions you talk about in this article support some form of advanced outbound marketing - they help you find a better list, send more targeted emails to that list, call more targeted people, etc.The problem with outbound marketing is that it relies on interruption, and people are now using more and more tools to block these channels (like caller ID and email spam blocking software). These methods are becoming less and less effective - email open rates are falling, response rates are falling, connect rates on phone calls are declining, etc. Why?Well, people don't want or need these annoying interruptions anymore. When you are ready to start researching something before making a purchase, you read a blog, you search Google, you ask friends for recommendations, you post questions in forums, etc. You don’t wait for a cold call to talk to an annoying sales person. You don’t dig through your junk email folder to find that email some vendor sent you weeks ago.The reality is that the purchasing process has changed and most marketers (and also most marketing software technologies) have not changed to support this new paradigm. Most of the companies you mention in this article fall into this camp – making existing outbound marketing processes more automated and maybe a bit more efficient. But this is like making a gas powered car get 25 MPG instead of 20 MPG, when you really should be building an electric car or fuel cell car that gets the equivalent to 500 MPG.Inbound Marketing is a collection of all the techniques marketers should use to get found in search engines, blogs and social media, and be more like the electric or fuel cell car and get a radically different ROI, not just a slight gain.Anyone curious about more on this topic should check out http://www.InboundMarketingSummit.com - Inbound Marketing Gurus like Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan and 250 other folks would love to chat more with you.PS – You included HubSpot in the list of “outbound” marketing systems, and I just wanted to make clear that the complete opposite is true – HubSpot is an inbound marketing system. Finally, for those that don’t know me by name – I want to point out I am 100% biased since I work at HubSpot. So, take my comments with a grain of salt. Want to get to know us better? http://Blog.HubSpot.com

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Is anyone else bothered by the surreptitious nature of the DemandBase product?People who visit your website do so with some sense of anonymity. If they want to be revealed, they will leave their name and email address. As marketers, we use offers and other incentives to get them to give up their contact info.But to collect this information without their permission - and then act on it with a cold call or even an email - seems to me to be technology going too far.Moreover, this approach to marketing will shatter whatever trust we might have with our customers and prospects.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Laura -Thanks for your leadership in this area. We too are seeing new entrants jump into this market.VisitorTrack was the first entrant, and is the leading application in the B2B web Visitor tracking space. This Saas product integrates the highest level of detail available on invisible web Visitors, with fully integrated Contacts data. This originates from Jigsaw, and provides Executive names, phone numbers, and email addresses without any additional subscription.With new applications in the market, we continue to feel strongly that it is not just about capturing "Who" is Visiting. Rather, it is the underlying behavioral analytics to easily target the "highest Value" Visitors based on what they did. For instance, have they come multiple times, hit the download/registration page, but did not submit? VisitorTrack is the only product in the market which blends full profiles of the Companies Visiting (name, address, phone, SIC description...) with individual "Behavioral Data" to identify high-value Visitors, and rich information about the desired Contacts - this to streamline the Sales outreach and direct Marketing our clients purpose this information.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Hi Laura,Thank you for mentioning ActiveConversion in your post. I'd like to point out that we are more in the lead management category, rather than 'push' or outbound side that you had us on.We do have a partnering arrangement with Jigsaw, which may lead people to think that we are primarily for prospecting but that is not true. In fact, we are a part of our system that is somewhat like DemandBase, (actually they are more like us being that we've been doing this for over 2 years), where after noting the company that visited, a lookup in Jigsaw can be used to find the right contact.But getting back to our category, we are often compared against Eloqua and Manticore. We generate, score and manage leads to sales completion and integration with Salesforce.com. We are similar in that systems like this utilize both inbound and outbound.Unlike the others though, we are geared more towards SMEs with a low cost, easy to adopt solution. It works for our customer segment, with over 120 implementations to-date.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Laura;Great post on the burgeoning market space. It will be interesting to see how the "push" and "pull" markets come together over time - or will they? Would love to get your $.02.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Thanks Laura. We appreciate the recognition and positioning in the space. As a front end lead generation technology, vs. a traditional lead management or automation solution, Demandbase is aligning to "push" the most qualified business contacts from the highest potential businesses directly to the desktop, Inbox, CRM or marketing system - whatever is most important to the customer. Only the most relevant contacts (depending on who you sell or market to) from the company location where the search originated get passed along with duplicates automatically removed. This wouldn't be possible without target audience scoring, multiple data partnerships, and CRM integration.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

LEADSExplorer goes one step beyond:Not only the website visitor is identified by company name upon his first visit, but all of the visiting data of the next visits is streamed into the CRM (seamless integration). This allows to know and analyze the response, reaction and behavior of the contacted person within the lead organization or your customer.a)Response analysis:After your cold call or email interested people will visit your website (again): this information is to be used to adjust your communication message.b)Interest changes:Know the increase or decrease of visits representing the changes in interest by company (visit data get aggregated by company too) from a visual graph.c)Returning interest:Once interested companies can come back after a certain idle time: time to contact them again.The CRM includes email integration for tracking all email communications between you and your prospect or customer.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Thanks, Laura, you are such a fantastic resource for the B2B marketing crowd! I am particularly interested in sales enablement features #8, #9 and #10 - are there software packages out there that incorporate those key elements with the first 7? Or technologies that integrate with existing marketing automation solution to provide a complete sales/marketing solution?

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

@Jason: Look into HighriseHQ for collaboration & project CRM.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

My company is using Pardot's Prospect Insight for lead management/automation. It is great to have so much insight on our suspects -- and how long it takes for them to convert. I did a round up on the solutions I found, and considered, that link is included above.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Thanks that is very interesting information. Another great suite for lead capture is the InsideSales.com suite which is tailored more for the Inside Sales end than the marketing end, but still very effective

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Hey Laura, thanks for the insight.I have checked out Hubspot and LeadLander. Have you shopped Visitor Track yet? I found it to be sort of like the big brother to LeadLander. The extra data and more granulatity was a bit more impressive.

re: Demandbase: A New Twist In The Lead Management Automation M

Sometimes internet marketer thinks that visitors get attracted to the web and the products just because the webmaster is qualified enough to draw people, but that is not the thing. Visitors only get attracted to the products that will benefit them in any way.