Conventional knowledge these days is that people and organizations want to be offered products and services that speak to their individual needs, and that companies can no longer throw things over the wall and expect positive results. Instead, they need to design and target products and services with customer needs in mind. This is no small feat; however, new web-based lead generation and addendum engines are now helping organizations better understand existing and target customers so they can offer them the right solutions at the right time.
Traditionally, companies have collected information on their customers such as where they are, their number of employees, and the like. But now companies can expand those profiles by using tools that enables them to pull data on those organizations from other sources, like social network sites. For example, a recommendation engine might reveal that 70 percent of company’s clients are part of a certain LinkedIn group or go to a particular trade show. That provides a richer picture of the companies and individuals to whom you’re selling. She adds that recommendation engines and similar solutions can also help a company that just met with several organizations at a trade show to identify which are the low-hanging fruit because they can match attributes of the organizations it has sold to in the past with the attributes of the new prospects.
Companies offering solutions that can help organizations expand customer profiles and ensure the information in them is correct and usable include Data.com and Jigsaw at Salesforce, Dun & Bradstreet (News - Alert), Infer, Leadspace, NetInfo, NetProspex, ReachForce, and StrikeIron.
Amnon Mishor, vice president of products and founder of Leadspace, which got its start in 2007, says the company offers technology that understands the ideal profile of the type of organization your company wants to go after. That profile can be based on the companies with whom your organization already does business. And it can build on that profile by leveraging the web for additional information.
Leadspace’s solution is a combination of an engine that helps reach and score existing and new leads and that connects to existing CRM and marketing automation systems, says Mishor. The Leadspace package also provides credits that customers can use to buy additional data.
The engine looks for data on demand and connects to the user’s marketing programs and campaigns. One of interesting use cases is connecting the engine to your web form, says Mishor, explaining that the platform can match the lead to information available via social media, such as the titles of individuals and what those companies are already using.
“We are what you would call a virtual database,” says Mishor. “The web is our database.”
Among the users of Leadspace are Jive, SAS (News - Alert) and the Eloqua business of Oracle. Some of these customers started using the within their inside sales organizations, then expanded their use cases to other stuff such as marketing.
For the most part, the companies in the recommendation engine space like Leadspace are relatively small and young companies, so this is more of an emerging category, says Wizdo, but she does hear about such companies frequently from her clients.
She adds that some of these companies have formed partnerships with marketing automation vendors such as the Eloqua part of Oracle, the Pardot solution now owned by Salesforce, and Marketo (News - Alert). Marketing automation is a broad category, explains Wizdo, but it has to do with managing the pipeline to revenue, which starts with attracting the right kind of traffic, engaging that traffic and converting it to sales. She adds that CRM and marketing automation are also obviously very closely related. CRM addresses the back end, and front end had not been automated, but now that’s starting to change, she says. So it’s no surprise that Oracle bought Eloqua (News - Alert) or that Salesforce bought ExactTarget, which had purchased Pardot a couple months earlier.
“There will be more consolidation,” she says.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi