Friday, October 24, 2008

Sports & Entertainment Franchises Turning To Marketing Automation To Drive Revenue

The majority of early adopters of marketing automation solutions have been in the high tech sector, where long sales cycles drove a need for insights and efficiency. Recently, other verticals are emerging with different business challenges and revenue hurdles they are looking to address by automating campaigns and providing better intelligence to their sales teams.

One of those unique verticals of is the sports & entertainment category, where sales marketing teams are responsible for filling the seats for NBA, NHL games as well concerts and other entertainment events (an estimated 80% of NBA teams also own the local arena) are increasingly turning to multi-channel marketing to drive revenue.

Executives from Comcast-Spectator (owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the Wachovia Center) and Maloof Sports & Entertainment (owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs and the Arco Arena) recently spoke on panels at the Eloqua Experience user conference and shared some of the hurdles they have addressed with Eloqua’s marketing automation tool kit.

Contrary to high tech and other industries where considered purchases result in lengthy sales cycles, sports & entertainment franchises are faced with the limited shelf life associated with each of the games, concerts and family shows on their calendar. “Perishability is a huge factor for us because our products get ripe faster than bananas,” explained Dennis Nelson, Director of New Media for Comcast-Spectacor. “We literally have a new product to sell every 2 days so we can’t afford to miss sales opportunities.”

Consistent with other industries, sports teams have increasingly turned to email marketing as a way to communicate with corporate clients, season ticket holders as well as single game prospects. After implementing to automate the efforts of their sales team, Mark Dimaurizio, Vice President of Technology Solutions at Comcast-Spectacor, said the company was looking for a solution that would help track website visits, form submissions and also manage a high volume of email campaigns.

After deploying Eloqua’s marketing automation solutions last year, Dimaurizio said the company has established business rules for the reps to follow up with prospects, and has seen an immediate payoff. “Our sales reps love the new system because they are getting leads that are qualified and timely,” he said.

In addition to utilizing Eloqua to automate email campaigns and track web activity, Dimaurizio added Comcast-Spectactor has had great success by employing Eloqua’s online chat functionality on its sites. “By providing fans with the option of pressing a button to chat with a representative we’ve closed quite a few sales. We a put a lot of different messages out in front of people but the online chat give us a whole new way of communicating.”

Overall, the marketing automation tools have helped to drive a 12% increase in season ticket renewals for both the 76ers and the Flyers, and Comcast-Spectacor was recently recognized for its efforts as the winner of the Markies Award for Multichannel Campaigns.

Although newer to the marketing automation space, Maloof Sports & Entertainment has plans to address similar pain points. After the Sacramento Kings failed to sell out for the first time in almost a decade last year, Kyle Eichman, Director of Relationship Marketing, said the company decided to employ Eloqua’s marketing automation tools to strengthen its online marketing. “We are looking to get a better handle on our email databases and also utilize personal landing pages to drive sales of single events, season ticket renewals and also for customer service functions,” Eichman said. “Marketing automation and relationship marketing really supports our three over-arching goals of increasing revenue, decreasing costs and ultimately delighting the fan.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Markies Awards Recognize 9 Leaders In Key Areas Of Demand Generation

The second annual Markies Awards were handed out in Las Vegas this week, recognizing innovative and visionary marketers in the field of demand generation. The awards were presented to winners in nine categories at Eloqua Experience ’08, with specific nods to ground-breaking campaigns and programs for sales and marketing effectiveness, lead scoring, lead management and campaign management.

The Markies winners were chosen based on a combination of metrics, innovation and demand generation excellence that drove results for their business. Award recipients included the following companies:

Marketing and Sales Alignment Award Winner: Administaff
Administaff (NYSE: ASF), a leading provider of human resources services for small and medium-sized businesses, successfully implemented the “Eloqua for Microsoft Outlook” program, enabling its sales force to directly access and track marketing collateral that is electronically provided to prospective clients. In addition, managers and sales consultants receive detailed overview reports and real-time key performance indicators, helping to measure the success of projects and initiatives. Since the implementation of this program, the Sales and Marketing departments have achieved an increase in efficiencies and productivity.

• Multi-Channel Campaign Award: Comcast-Spectacor

Comcast-Spectacor, a leader in the sports management industry and provider of high quality sports and entertainment, was honored for their successful implementation of a multi-channel marketing campaign to recruit, cultivate, and retain season ticket holders for both the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers. By leveraging the latest marketing technologies and industry best practices, Comcast-Spectacor increased season ticket renewals for both the 76ers and Flyers by 12% from the previous season.

• New Media Marketing Award: Concur
Concur, the world’s leading provider of on-demand Employee Spend Management services, was recognized for its ability to creatively leverage Web 2.0 technologies to build stronger relationships and sustained dialogues with customers and prospects. The company created a viral Web 2.0 travel site, encouraging users to submit, browse, forward, rate and comment on brief travel stories. Traffic was driven to the site through the company’s homepage, print and banner advertisements, and viral distribution. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in traffic to the site, which generated increased page views and community participation through the submission of new stories and comments. The increased site traffic also drove additional sign-ups for Concur Expense - Trial Edition, which resulted in increased and measurable sales opportunities.

• Best Lead Scoring Award: Forrester Research, Inc.
Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology, has implemented a sophisticated implicit and explicit lead scoring program that automatically ranks qualified leads according to their buying interest, thereby improving conversion rates, more efficiently allocating resources, and improving communication with the company's sales force.

• Best Lead Nurturing Award: Taleo
Taleo, the leading provider of on-demand talent management solutions, cultivates prospects through a tiered lead nurturing campaign that has improved sales effectiveness and efficiency while minimizing lead attrition. The company’s processes for educating, qualifying and honing prospects through introductory and progressively more specific campaigns differentiates Taleo from its competition and involves the use of educational e-mails, as well as case studies, demos and high-touch tools.

• Global Marketing Effectiveness Award: National Instruments
National Instruments, a leading provider of engineering software and hardware, sells to more than 25,000 companies worldwide and employs hundreds of marketers worldwide that execute, track, analyze and build marketing programs in multiple languages. With more than 40 branch operations around the world, they rely on the power of marketing automation to seamlessly automate components of the company’s 2,000 highly targeted and personalized direct marketing campaigns per month regardless of language or scope. This has helped National Instruments manage its dialogue with its customers and prospects in a much more intelligent and efficient manner.

• Sales Efficiency Award: Sourcefire
Sourcefire, an open source innovator and creator of SNORT(R) creator, was recognized for its advanced lead-scoring program. Designed for maximum sales impact, this program allows for the ultimate in flexibility, enabling Sourcefire to continue to evaluate and adjust the quality and quantity of its leads based on feedback from the company’s sales organization. Since deploying this implementation, Sourcefire has realized a measurable increase in revenue and the number of product demo meetings scheduled with prospects.

• Interactive Marketing Award: TriNet
TriNet, a leading provider of HR outsourcing and consulting services for more than 2,000 small and medium-sized businesses nationwide, exemplifies the business value that can be gained through the successful implementation of interactive marketing best practices. The flawless execution of dynamic and personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns has enabled TriNet to maximize its campaign results, maintain and cultivate its prospect database, as well as organize, execute and measure the efficacy of its marketing programs. In a recent interactive marketing campaign, TriNet realized a 20% increase in its conversion rate and more than 1,000% return on investment (ROI) when measured against the cost of the campaign.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Live From Las Vegas"

Eloqua’s Inaugural Users Conference
Draws More Than 400 To Las Vegas

DemandGen Report was on-site for the Eloqua's first user conference this week in Las Vegas and will be blogging from the event with postings covering the seminars, and interviews with users as well as company executives.

In another sign that the marketing automation category has arrived, more than 430 attendees turned out in Las Vegas this week for Eloqua’s inaugural user conference. Eloqua Experience 08 drew over 300 customers to hear best practice presentations from power users as well as marketing experts and industry analysts.

CEO Joe Payne kicked off the event by spotlighting the company’s growth rate, recently exceeding 500 customers and 10,000 users and expanding globally into EMEA and Asia. Illustrating the company’s volume, Payne also pointed out that Eloqua is now handling almost 10,000 transactions per second, almost 6x the volume of the NASDAQ.

Moving forward, Payne stressed that Eloqua is listening closely to its customers and has already implemented improvements to its products and services based on that feedback. Some of the early byproducts of that customer feedback Payne highlighted include:

The new SmartStart program, which is an accelerated launch program speeding the adoption of Eloqua’s application, as well as integrating marketing and sales processes. Hosted at either Eloqua or a certified partner, the SmartStart program promises customer will be fully trained and live with campaigns in just 5 days.

One-Day Deployment –Eloqua’s rapid launch program provides access to the Eloqua environment within hours.

One-Click CRM Implementation – In order to make it easier for customers to integrate their marketing database with their CRM system, Eloqua is using best practices learned through hundreds CRM configurations to develop a CRM configuration wizard. The tool guides customers through the process of synchronizing marketing and sales data; putting actionable insight into the hands of sales organizations with just one click.

Following Payne, Author Dr. Robert Cialdini provided the opening keynote titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” which provided suggestions into how marketers should respond to current uncertainty in the market due to the economic downturn. Cialdini suggested marketers focus on the following key principles of influence which include:

--Reciprocation (Be the first to give)
--Scarcity (Emphasize exclusive information)
--Authority (Showing, knowing)
--Consistency (Start small with existing commitments)
--Liking (Making friends to influence people)
--Consensus (Testimonials of similar people)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Take 5: ON24’s New CMO Shares Plans For Driving Future Growth Of Online Event Sector

ON24, Inc. has announced the appointment of Denise Persson as the company’s new CMO. The former Executive VP of Global Marketing for Genesys Conferencing, Persson is experienced in the event space as well as ON24’s webcasting solutions, as she has been a long-time customer of the San Francisco-based company.

During her tenure at Genesys, Persson’s marketing strategies and programs helped the company build a customer base of more than 200 of the Global Fortune 500. She was an also integral member of the executive team that grew the company tenfold - from $20 million to more than $200 million.

In her new role at ON24, Persson will drive the company’s global marketing efforts for its integrated family of webcasting and virtual events solutions across the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific Regions.
DemandGen Report had an opportunity to chat with Persson to learn more about the strategies and practices she plans to bring to ON24. She pointed out that her experience as a customer will help in to shorten her learning curve in her new position in the virtual world.

DGR: Given your experience at Genesys, you are obviously very familiar with the event business, how have you seen the landscape changing over the past in light of the challenging economy, particularly as it relates to using events as a lead generation tool?

Persson: Virtual events and webcasting are the obvious answers for addressing the perfect storm—escalating costs associated with business travel combined with the increased need for demand generation programs that enable you to better engage your audience and also a global audience.

In the past, virtual events and webcasting have been used to optimize demand generation programs. Moving forward, we are working with our customers to help them further optimize their audience generation and getting more people to participate in a webcast, as well as how to create a more compelling event experience. We are also focusing on the follow-up after the event, in terms of lead scoring and allowing customers to qualify the leads from their webcasts before they pass them on to sales. In addition, there is opportunity to use webcasting to nurture those prospects and leads moving forward.

DGR: How would you describe your approach to demand generation and you share some insights into how you plan to integrate that approach into ON24?

Persson: My approach over the past several years has developed into a very systematic approach to demand generation, and that is very much the approach that ON24 has had as well. Really moving away from the traditional campaign approach, to more of a prospect maturation process, which allows us to provide a more engaging experience with our target markets and really position ON24 as a trusted advisor among our prospects. Rather than focusing on one-off campaigns, and then moving on the next month, we are looking to create more of an ongoing conversation with our target markets.

DGR: When you look at ON24 as a company, where do you see the biggest opportunities and room for growth? How much room for expansion do you see in the traditional web seminar business?

Persson: There is a tremendous growth opportunity among our existing base of large enterprise customers, coming back to the need for helping them optimize the use of virtual events for demand generation. We want to provide them tools for audience generation. Many of our customers have only been using our services for the actual event. We also have tools to help generate a larger audience, such as video-based invitations, and video-based banners which can help drive interest and participation in your event. And then after the event, we have extensive lead scoring capabilities which helps qualify opportunities. Some companies have thousands of participants in their event and need to decide who to call first. Our tools can help rank the leads and prioritize them before they hand the over to the sales team, or put them into a nurturing program.

DGR: ON24 recently announced its expansion into the virtual show platform. What kind of runway do you see there and will your marketing approach for this platform be different than the current business?

Persson: We are moving back to a whole education process where webcasting was five years ago-- very educational approach in our marketing efforts. It’s all about getting customers exposed to what a virtual show is and get them to attend their first show so they get to experience it.
From our side, it is going to be so important to create a very compelling experience for participants in a virtual show. So one thing we are heavily focused and we have invested heavily is to truly customize the virtual show. As a business executive, you don’t want to attend a virtual show that has a cartoon type of feel to it, you want something more engaging. It’s about educating the market and making sure that everyone’s first experience exceeds their expectations.

DGR: How about the Insight 24 business, will that be part of your focus as well, and if so, what are your plans to increase the awareness and utilization of that platform?

Persson: That business has really taken off. It’s very much an extension to what we do, extending the shelf life for the content you have already generated. It really provides a greater return on your investment so you can continue to generate leads after the event is completed. You only pay for the leads you want and the lists you are getting are pre-qualified and ready for contact.