ACT-ON: When you were looking for solutions for marketing automation, what were you looking for?
TED: I had a very clear view in my mind that I wanted to implement something that had the capabilities especially for middle of the funnel, number one. Number two, I needed something that was easy to use because we had constrained resources, and I needed to get it set up by myself. And number three, we were looking for value in terms of pricing.
I had implemented (an Act-On competitor) in the past, so I had used another marketing automation platform. And I been pitched by (another competitor). I had done my homework quite a bit in terms of what I was looking for. And I came straight to you guys.
The challenges of high-velocity sales
ACT-ON: Tell us about the sales cycle for iCharts; what does it look like?
TED: Over the last 18 months, we’ve built a very transactional go-to-market business. Right now our sales cycles vary anywhere from zero days to 30 to 45 days. Our average is about 14 days. This is high-velocity transactional business, so we needed to figure out exactly how we get leads into the funnel, nurture them, and then bring them forward to the sales team to close.
ACT-ON: What were the challenges to nurturing leads in such a quick timeframe?
TED: The first challenge was lead acquisition; how do you get the leads into the funnel? Then, what is the content that we need to have in order to help nurture those leads? And then of course once you have the content, how do you put the nurturing programs in place to nurture those leads effectively?
ACT-ON: What about the Act-On solution to nurturing those leads mid-cycle was most attractive to you?
TED: The capabilities for automated programs. Webinars are a big, big driver for us, so I was looking for a solution that was well-integrated into a webinar platform.
Every two weeks we run a webinar. Having an integrated platform that allows us to minimize the manual work needed to get those up and running, and nurture the people once they go to the webinar, is important.
The role of content in nurturing
ACT-ON: Do you have a nurture track with somebody that registered and attended versus somebody that registered and did not attend?
TED: Yes. We have six or seven different pieces of content that we use to drive a lot of the inbound traffic and leads that we’re getting. Depending on how you enter, you have a very different kind of nurture program. Anybody that either registered or attended a webinar gets followed up by one of our SDRs, in addition to the nurture programs.
ACT-ON: When you first started using Act-On, what were some of the first programs that you set up? And tell me a little bit about how it was setting those up.
TED: We started by building a lot of gated content specifically to start to drive the inbound leads that we needed. The first piece of content that we developed – it’s still there, it’s been a workhorse in terms of performance for us – is called The NetSuite Reporting Tools Guide. This is a mid to top of the funnel piece of content. If you are looking to improve how you actually report on your NetSuite business, reading this gets you 10 quick hits, suggestions that you can do to improve your reporting. It’s actually firmly objective, so it’s not really a promotional piece for iCharts. iCharts is featured there, but so are some of the other players in the ecosystem.
Since then we’ve developed quite a few more. We have a quick overview of our product capabilities. We have an on-demand video that’s actually performing extremely well for us. We have the webinar. And then we have three or four different pieces of content that speak to specific roles. We have best practices for sales, best practices reporting for finance, professional, customer service, supply chain. Once you fill out a form, you enter into a drip campaign, and the drip campaign starts based on the action that you just took.
ACT-ON: How gated is your content? I know a lot of companies will start by asking just for an email address, and then the next time you visit maybe asking for job title. Are you doing anything like that?
TED: I’ve done a lot of A/B testing on forms, which fields to have in front of the gated assets. For most of the forms we have first name, last name, and email address, unless you’re bottom of the funnel, where we ask you for more information including your company name and so on. For instance, to register for the webinar you have to give us a lot more data than you do to download that first reporting tool guide.
Act-On and the sales team
ACT-ON: Which CRM do you use?
ACT-ON: Do you have integration set up?
TED: Oh yeah. [LAUGHTER] We now even have Act-On Anywhere and our sales team loves it. It’s increased efficiency because they no longer lose time by going to another tab to type in the lead’s name and find out their activity history, number one.
Number two, as a result, by being able to bring in the activity history right as they’re drafting the email, the can be a lot more targeted in their responses, which increases obviously the chances of the email getting read and responded to.
ACT-ON: How big is your sales team?
TED: If you count the SDRs, I think it’s 10. Everybody has an Act-On sales seat.
ACT-ON: What’s the process? How do you, your marketing team, work with your sales team? How are you qualifying those leads? And what’s it look like when you’re passing them over to sales? And what is sales’ process from there?
TED: Our SDRs try to touch every inbound lead that comes in. While they’re trying to connect with them, those leads still get nurtured. And then based on certain kind of behavioral characteristics in terms of the pages you’ve visited, the assets you have downloaded, and so on and so forth, we have a scoring mechanism in place.
Once a lead becomes an MQL (marketing qualified lead), then the SDR gets an alert from Act-On through Salesforce. And then obviously these leads get first priority when it comes to getting followed up by the SDRs. Once the SDRs establish contact, if they’re able to book a meeting, that’s when we convert the leads to an opportunity. And that’s when our sales team takes over from the SDRs.
A bit more about Act-On Anywhere
ACT-ON: What about Act-On Anywhere? Can you talk a little bit more about using that and how you discovered it and what the benefits are of using that?
TED: I discovered it through one of your customer nurturing emails. So good job on that. [LAUGHTER] The way we’re using it now –which I personally think is tremendous value – once you open an email, you can basically select that email address and you can see the activity that this person has taken right within Gmail, without really having to go back to Salesforce to see what they’ve done recently.
ACT-ON: And that is crucial when you have a 14-day sales cycle.
ACT-ON: So speed seems to be one of the major benefits that you’ve gotten from using Act-On.
TED: Well, I mean, speed and everything else. Because in order for us to be able to continuously backfill our funnel and bring more qualified leads, in order to achieve that speed, we have to be able to identify who the right leads are, and we have to put them into the appropriate nurturing program so that they continue to get nurtured. And obviously without Act-On we wouldn’t have been able to do that.