Saligent System Offers High-Yield Results

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Business-to-business marketers have been offered a number of marketing automation systems over the past two years with roughly the same functions: Web-based data capture, multi-step marketing campaigns and project administration. These pretty much encompass the lead management tasks performed inside a typical business marketing department.

Other activities, such as running a call center, fulfilling literature requests and distributing leads to salespeople, tend to be outsourced to service agencies or other departments within a corporation. But some marketing departments perform these tasks for themselves. Those groups would need to supplement a standard marketing automation system with one or more additional systems.

High-Yield Marketing (Saligent Software, 719/590-4044, combines conventional marketing automation with call center, fulfillment and lead distribution capabilities. The system was originally developed to meet the internal needs of Saligent Inc., a seven-year-old BTB marketing service agency. Not seeing an equivalent commercial product, Saligent spun off Saligent Software in 1998 and released the first version of High-Yield Marketing early last year.

The system uses a fixed data structure, which includes three levels of marketing activity (campaigns, programs and individual lead sources) and two levels of customer information (sites and individuals). Each data level includes several unassigned fields for users to apply as they wish. Since the base data model is fairly thorough, this approach should suffice for most users. More substantial changes would require a database administrator to modify the existing tables or add new ones.

High-Yield Marketing is designed to act as a portal, meaning its initial screen can display summary information and provide access to other applications both within and outside of the system. The initial screen can be modified for different users, so they see only the functions related to their work.

Available functions include both managerial tasks, mostly related to program set-up, and execution tasks such as call center and fulfillment. Managerial functions include a calendar displaying start and end dates at the campaign, program and source levels; a planner showing information such as the manager, objectives, target market, expected results and status of each effort and budgets showing expected costs at the source level and automatically summarized to the program and campaign.

These functions are adequate, but not especially rich. For example, the calendar can provide a list of tasks associated with a project and report on the status of each task, but not show a due date. Similarly, the budget figures are entered for each lead source rather than calculated from components such as cost per unit. The vendor plans to enhance this area by the middle of this year, adding task dates, electronic images of promotion materials and tools to develop marketing strategies and to forecast results.

Managerial functions also include a set of 32 standard reports, generated by an embedded version of Crystal Reports. Reports include lists of database contents and analyses of campaign results. They can be displayed in ActiveX, Java, HTML or Excel formats. Some include drill-down capabilities to look at the detail behind the summary results.

Execution functions include Web-based data capture and lead distribution, personalized e-mail, target list creation, literature fulfillment and inbound and outbound telemarketing. These are generally quite powerful, reflecting Saligent's experience as a service agency.

Lead distribution can automatically score leads and assign them to appropriate individuals or territories; let salespeople review information related to a lead and then accept, decline or reassign it; can download accepted leads to sales automation systems such as ACT! or SalesLogix; and can gather lead disposition information including details on quotes and sales. Literature fulfillment can track physical inventory, automatically send different combinations of materials to different classes of leads and check to avoid

duplicate orders by the same individual.

Telemarketing lets non-technical users create scripts that ask different questions based on previous answers; can assign weights to different script answers to score leads; lets agents look up callers based on name, company or other information; displays a caller's history of past contacts; can build prioritized outbound calling queues for individual agents; provides a "knowledge base" to look up key words and see their definitions; and lets agents take notes and set callback dates.

This is quite good for a business telemarketing system. But there are no computer-telephone features, such as automatic caller identification, agent-to-agent call transfer or outbound predictive dialing. And Saligent makes clear that the software is not designed to run a customer support or sales automation call center.

Web-based data capture lets users create Web pages with data entry forms, attach these to an existing site, and load replies directly into a database or into a temporary table for quality review. But, unlike some marketing automation products, High-Yield Marketing does not provide site building functions.

Functions for e-mail and conventional outbound marketing campaigns are less advanced. Users can define list segments using a fill-in-the-blanks format that allows simple queries but not conditional statements, calculations, random samples or hierarchically nested segments. These limits are typical of BTB marketing systems. But while most marketing automation products can automatically deliver a sequence of contacts over time, High-Yield Marketing is limited to one contact per promotion. Users could chain together a set of promotions, but this is less convenient than laying out the entire sequence as a unit. Nor does the system have a scheduler to execute promotions automatically.

High-Yield Marketing runs on Windows NT servers and on either the Microsoft Access or SQL Server relational database. Managerial functions can be run from any Web browser, while execution functions use a conventional client-server architecture to ensure adequate performance. Users have the option to run the execution functions through a browser by installing a Citrix remote access server.

The system is priced at $80,000 for the first 10 users and $7,500 for each additional 10 users. Future releases may include separate prices for different functions. There are currently 11 external installations, plus about 20 clients using the system at Saligent's service operation.

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