Challenge: Acquire leads.
Solution: Implement a cloud-based online marketing platform capable of data integration, lead scoring and cross-platform analytics.
Results: With an average deal size worth $5 million, HA Advantage credits one closed deal to the new solution, as well as six leads that are in the pipeline. The company booked 10.9 percent more appointments during the second half of 2010—right after implementing the solution. As of March, the 2011 appointments have increased by 13 percent.
When HA Advantage started up in June 2009, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based transportation spend management solution provider didn't have any names in its database. But the software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider knew logistics, so it tackled the problem right away.
Still, by the fourth quarter of 2009, HA Advantage knew the names it had—from two list providers, its current analytics and lead generation tool, and secondary functions of its customer relationship management software—wouldn't be enough to yield the leads the company needed to succeed, says Carter Perez, HA Advantage's vice president of sales and marketing.
So in December 2009, HA Advantage signed a contract with Beaverton, Ore.-based Act-On Software to use its integrated online marketing platform. Perez says HA Advantage wanted the solution to expand its market reach, differentiate its brand and provide customer insight. But, most of all, HA Advantage wanted to acquire leads within its target audience of $50-million to $500-million manufacturing companies.
From the first email campaign the logistics company launched in January 2010, the tool started yielding results.
"At the front-end of the [sales] funnel, [the] email tools allow us to ... segment our population into the three critical buying groups that we have," he says. "[We] design templates and an email campaign of six to eight emails for each of those segments and then ... launch those personalized emails [using the tool]."
Emails are personalized by the recipient's company and contact information. But the tool also allows HA Advantage to personalize the "from" line, so recipients get messages from the sales representative who will eventually be contacting them, creating name recognition.
From there, Perez gets into the analytics: "It gives us not only the leading analytics: ... Was it a valid email address? ... Did you open it? ... Did you click through? If you clicked through, what did you click on? And then [the tool tracks] if there are incremental activities from there—either opening subsequent emails or downloading white papers or attending webinars. All of that is tracked within Act-On and integrated with our [Salesforce.com] engine so that our sales team has visibility into ... the behavioral activities of customers before they ever get on the phone with them.
"So think about the value," he continues. "If I know you've downloaded a whitepaper on one of our business concepts, I can certainly steer the conversation or ask you questions about that business concept, because there's a decent likelihood that you were trying to educate yourself on it."
This level of intelligence allows HA Advantage to score its leads and continue the conversation with interested consumers. That helped the company book an additional 10.9 percent in appointments during the second half of 2010. Additionally, as of March 2011, Perez says HA Advantage has seen a 13 percent increase in bookings so far this year.
What all that adds up to is HA Advantage's first sale that the company can directly attribute to the tool. With six more customers in the pipeline at an average of $5 million per deal, Perez says, "the proof is in the pudding."