• February 1, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

No More Bumps for BlueRoads

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When it comes to managing partner relationships, BlueRoads drives in the fast lane. A provider of partner opportunity management solutions, California-based BlueRoads aims to help its clients work with their distribution channels, focusing on accelerating sales cycles, increasing close rates, maximizing close margin contributions, and improving cross-sell and upsell opportunities, explains Charles Watson, the firm's vice president of marketing and sales. Despite a devotion to capturing the "business of opportunity" in a collaborative effort with all partners, though, BlueRoads was missing out on an opportunity of its own. Like many businesses today, BlueRoads relies on Google AdWords to help attract interest and hopefully increase conversion rates. "We were paying what I considered to be average rates for paid search but the performance was [just] average," Watson recalls. "I wasn't being blown away." BlueRoads had a paid-search advertising agency monitor the performance of its keywords, but despite quarterly updates and reviews, the account manager could really only devote 10 percent to 15 percent of its attention to BlueRoads. Then along came California-based marketing automation software provider Marketo. "It was just good timing," Watson says, "We weren't doing some big, open-evaluation solution for paid search." Nevertheless, he admits that before implementing Marketo, the paid-search agency's "lackluster" performance made BlueRoads eager for an alternative. "We were the perfect prey for a perfect solution." Deciding whether or not to replace a human with automation software was a no-brainer. But the real benefit? Marketo addressed the dilemma that plagues many small and midsize businesses: lack of resources. "Most of the tools out there allow you to set it up, but you have to be the one who's smart," Watson says. BlueRoads' staff doesn't have in-depth knowledge about paid-search strategies, so Watson needed a solution that would do it all. With Marketo, Watson was able to obtain results that evaluated a variety of factors: the performance of keywords on Google; the corresponding costs; the keywords used by competitors; and the prices those competitors were paying. By taking all these elements into account, Marketo is able to offer valuable insight into appropriate spend allocations -- and the best recommendation if a campaign needs to be changed. "They can go into our system and say, 'We want to spend $6,000 this month on our pay-per-click,' " explains Jon Miller, vice president of marketing at Marketo. From there, the vendor's analytics will determine how best to distribute the money across the full breadth of BlueRoads' campaigns in order to produce the most-qualified leads. In just two days, the software was fully deployed, and BlueRoads was no longer fighting for attention. "Marketo does a constant reiteration, in midflight, [recommending] changes all the time -- so it feels like someone's got their hands on the steering wheel 100 percent of the time," Watson says. Even more important, he says, is that BlueRoads now spends just a quarter of its original Google AdWords budget. Cost-effectiveness has not only allowed BlueRoads to double its number of paid-search terms, but also to expand its market reach. Traditionally, Watson says, BlueRoads focused its services on three technology industries: networking, storage, and security. With the money saved, BlueRoads has been able to invest in six other industries, such as industrial equipment manufacturing and office automation. Moreover, Watson credits Marketo with increasing qualified-lead conversion from 25 percent to 30 percent. Watson says he feels pretty fortunate to have stumbled upon the right product at the right time. "If Marketo had failed, or it had not given substantial improvement somewhere, I bet we would've looked at alternatives out there," he says. But it's been a smooth ride with BlueRoads so far: "We have no motivation to look for an alternative," he says. THE PAYOFF Since implementing Marketo's software, BlueRoads has been able to:
  • reduce pay-per-click spend by 75 percent;
  • increase its presence from three different industries to nine; and
  • increase conversion to qualified leads from 25 percent to 30 percent.
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