New Application Helps Marketers Track Direct Response Sales Leads

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Responding to what it saw as an industry need to improve lead management and tracking capabilities, The Warren Group, a marketing agency specializing in results-oriented television, this month created an application service provider lead management program that it claims is the first of its kind in direct marketing.

Aided by Web-based technology from Agillion, a provider of customer management solutions, The Warren Group released the program -- InternetLOOP -- in hopes of closing the loop on direct marketing leads, including those from direct response TV spots.

InternetLOOP helps direct response or direct marketing agencies that generate leads for clients better manage those clients and seal those leads more efficiently at all points of direct contact. The program eliminates the traditional methods of tracking a lead, including telephone calls, reporting and faxing.

"Since it's manual, it makes so much work for them to track, so they never do," said Jim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group. "Most of these companies will generate the lead and just fax it out and hope that something happens."

With InternetLOOP, however, clients can track the lead soon after it is recorded, Warren said. Local vendors, too, can log on and check the development of a sale right away, instead of having to wait for a fax to begin the process, he said.

"It eliminates a lot of the old manual touch points," Warren said. "It really creates a one-step tracking mechanism for all of your leads."

Warren said the product, developed by The Warren Group and Agillion, both based in Austin, TX, serves as a cost-effective alternative to having a company come in and build a $1 million system to manage the front- and back-end portions of a business. InternetLOOP, in contrast, is an online service customized for the direct marketing industry that a client can access for a monthly fee, he said.

"It's custom tailored to a multitier sales force using direct marketing as the initial client acquisition mode," Warren said.

InternetLOOP aims to assist agencies in their direct response campaigns, Warren said. The program's database can store detailed information on leads generated via any form of direct customer acquisition, he said. It also can store each phase of the sales process of each local vendor with each lead and all related historical data for that lead, he said.

And since each step of that lead can be tracked, InternetLOOP allows a client to evaluate the productivity of its local vendors, Warren said.

"The program lets [the client] see which one of your local vendors or resellers or authorized distributors are moving the ball forward," he said. "It lets them see who's really acting on these leads and making progress."

InternetLOOP is set to be tested on Sept. 1 on one of The Warren Group's national clients, Scooter Nation, Austin, a provider of medical equipment. Scooter Nation plans to generate sales leads via multiple channels, including direct marketing, direct response television and print advertising, and distribute them to a number of outlets nationwide.

Vendors then can pull up the contact information for those leads, which will be waiting for them in their mailbox, said Calvin Cole, CEO of Scooter Nation. There will be 10 steps in the sales process, Cole said. Both he, as the "master client," and the various vendors across the country can track the development of that sale.

"It really allows you to manage customers all the way through the final sale," Cole said.

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