Demandbase Applies Web 2.0 Tricks to Lead Generation

Two-year-old Demandbase has planted its own stake in the rapidly emerging next-gen lead generation and lead conversion space with the introduction this week of Demandbase Central.

A Software as a Service platform, Demandbase Central consists of sales and marketing applications, as well as a search, scoring and transaction engine that identifies qualified sales leads.

The company also introduced a complementary tool that helps users convert Web traffic into paying customers.

The platform integrates data provided by D&B/Hoovers, Zoom Info, Lexis Nexis Business Information, Data Marketing Solutions, List Orbit and Opt-In Builders, and information from certain social networking sites.

Demandbase Central assigns every business contact a performance score generated through the use of algorithms that rate each business contact based on target audience profile, quality and freshness of data sources, as well as historical responsiveness.

The company also introduced Demandbase Stream, a free Web application that helps to identify qualified business visitors to a Web site.

Data-Agnostic System

The point of these rollouts is to unite customer relationship management with search and online advertising, Demandbase CEO Chris Golec told CRM Buyer. The application integrates with Salesforce.com now, and will eventually have interfaces to other popular CRM applications, such as SAP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Unlike other vendors in the space, Demandbase uses a data-agnostic model, noted Golec. “We have invested in technology that breaks apart all of the data available, cleanses it and reorganizes it in a much more useful way.”

Companies’ greatest costs in these endeavors are due to unstructured and duplicate data, which must be maintained, he added.

iTunes-Like Interface

The company also differentiates itself by the way it allows users to narrow the leads they want to use for a particular campaign. Based on shopping cart technology, users can buy leads by the item, instead of in blocks of, for instance, 15,000 or 20,000.

It is an iTunes-like interface, Laura Ramos, an analyst with Forrester Research, told CRM Buyer. “It gives sales reps or marketers a lot of control on the parameters of their search — they can go from very basic information to a specific subset of names.”

The company falls into a category that is still emerging, Ramos said, which makes it difficult to compare the application to its nearest competitors: Jigsaw, Sales Genius and Zoom Info.

Indeed, Golec said he considers some of these firms potential clients instead of competitors.

Demandbase is characterized by an agency-like service model at one end and a SaaS infrastructure at the other end, Ramos said. Its value lies in its search capabilities for end users — in the iTunes interface, that is — as well as in the scoring and analytics that accompany the search.

“I like what they are doing, but this is still the early stage,” Ramos remarked. “It will be interesting to see in six to 12 months where they go with this.”

Right now, companies are using the application to fill in voids left by CRM vendors, Golec noted. Xactly, for instance, is leveraging the application with its Salesforce.com backbone, Kirk Crenshaw, director of marketing operations and demand generation at Xactly, told CRM Buyer.

“While Salesforce has completely transformed the sales and marketing process, I was still left with a need to ensure that all of the leads that I am gathering through these programs are new, unique and relevant to my business,” he said.

“Demandbase hooks into my CRM system to drive new actionable leads, ensuring that I am not spending extraneous dollars and keeping bad data out of my system. This also creates trust between sales and marketing, because there is a high probability that I am purchasing good data to support our sales efforts.”

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