• August 1, 2009
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Less Is More

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For the rest of the August 2009 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.

All Zimbra wanted was transparency. True to the nature of its open-source email-collaboration product, Zimbra’s marketing efforts follow a policy of open standards, viral models, and word-of-mouth distribution. Users are welcome to flame the company or congratulate it.

“Our product is completely open-book,” says Greg Armanini, Zimbra’s director of marketing. “We react to our community 100 percent.” What Zimbra wanted was a marketing solution as transparent as the company is with customers.
Zimbra spent two years struggling with a vendor whose solution ran the gamut of marketing capabilities. Armanini recalls extraneous features that were needless expenses and, worse, caused unnecessary confusion. Zimbra just wanted a straightforward solution that focused on lead generation, email marketing, and Web analytics.

And there was another major drawback, Armanini says: The old platform only worked on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser. With 50 percent of the employees on Macs and more than two-thirds of them using Mozilla’s Firefox browser, this proved a huge barrier to adoption.

Just 18 months ago, Zimbra had few choices. Armanini asked the old platform vendor’s chief technology officer to estimate when Zimbra could expect Firefox and Safari compatibility. The response, Armanini recalls, was something like, “Don’t hold your breath.” It was time for a change, he says, in part because most newer solutions are browser-agnostic.

Zimbra’s sales process begins when one of its 200,000 unique weekly visitors downloads a 60-day trial version. Salespeople nurture the leads and soon identify those ready to upgrade to either Open Source Edition (basic email and collaboration) or Network Edition (enterprise).

After exploring three solutions, Zimbra went with LoopFuse, a provider of sales and marketing automation software. LoopFuse’s on-demand solution, OneView, wasn’t a niche offering with limited functionality—but nor was it a Swiss Army knife. It did, however, provide the high level of automation Zimbra needed without requiring a full-time person to maintain it, thereby reducing labor time by nearly 50 percent.

On the old platform, Zimbra could only afford the entry-level package, which meant that just five salespeople and one marketing person had access. Now, with LoopFuse’s unlimited seating and pay-per-use model, approximately 30 salespeople—nearly the entire sales force—and four marketing staffers are actively using the system for demand generation.

Moreover, system language that Armanini says felt very “idiosyncratic” and “proprietary” was finally comprehensible. “You don’t ever want to have to scratch your head and wonder if you broke something,” he says. Yet, with the old platform, that’s what often happened when marketers were asked to code conditional logic for the data fields they wanted to collect. “You definitely needed some hand-holding,” he says.

One of the primary benefits was the value restored to email alerts, which are critical to salespeople when they can signal a prospect’s interest in near real time. But the old platform had no way to set specific criteria for alerts—it was all or none. With emails coming in by the hundreds per day, alerts quickly turned into unintelligible spam. With LoopFuse, though, salespeople can now fine-tune the settings. LoopFuse also captures pipeline activity on Zimbra’s Web site and, based on preset criteria, sends alerts when a priority client is ready for the next step.

Reporting, too, had become a huge burden on the too-powerful old platform—there were actually too many ways to slice the data. Zimbra wanted a single place that could definitively point to the hot lead. LoopFuse allows salespeople to track visitor activity and tie it into the CRM system, creating a detailed resource to gauge each lead’s relative value.

LoopFuse integrates directly with Salesforce.com, an environment Zimbra’s sales team is comfortable in and prefers to stay in. Before, when a salesperson needed to view prospect activity, access between Salesforce.com and the old platform was denied, in part because sales was using Firefox. Now LoopFuse lets sales pull up all the information with one click.

“Salespeople are very fickle,” Armanini says. “They don’t like leaving Salesforce[.com] and they really don’t care for technology in most cases.” So it was a huge win, he recalls, when sales finally had something positive to say.
While the sales and marketing teams haven’t changed structurally, Armanini says that they’ve become incredibly more efficient. With LoopFuse, marketers spend more time crafting the right content in email and landing pages, rather than wasting time trying to decipher how the content’s coming in and how it’ll go out. Instead of juggling with the back end, more effort is invested in helping sales identify the most qualified leads.

Of the 36.5 percent of leads that become qualified, after switching to LoopFuse, Zimbra has increased its close rate from 10 percent to 15 percent—a significant bump considering the thousands of leads at any given time.

LoopFuse’s simplicity may have been what initially attracted Zimbra, but Armanini says that LoopFuse has evolved. “The feature set is getting more tailored to our needs,” he says. “I don’t see us growing out of this platform. I see us growing into it.” 

With LoopFuse, Zimbra was able to achieve:

  • a 50 percent drop in maintenance time;
  • a 5 percent increase in close rates; and
  • nearly 100 percent participation from the sales team devoted to demand generation, up from less than 20 percent.

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