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Agilent creates virtual lab for prospects

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Two years ago, global measurement company Agilent Technology needed to position itself as a thought leader and educator in “metabolomics,” a new field of science that focuses on the comparative analysis of “metabolites,” the products and intermediaries of metabolism. Because metabolites are biomarkers of disease, their study is of keen interest to pharmaceutical, biotech and agricultural chemistry organizations. “We want to be educational and give customers a sense of what the science is, where it's potentially going and the challenges involved,” said Sally Webb, marketing communications manager at Agilent. Agilent, which sells its measurement technology to companies in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis markets, had three marketing objectives: Increase awareness of metabolomics; offer third-party resources to the science; and present its measurement products for the pharmaceutical and biotech fields. Agilent conceptualized a simple online navigating tool that its prospects, scientific researchers, would keep visiting and so create an ongoing dialogue about this emerging scientific field. Three months prior to creating the interactive lab, Agilent chose its own marketing agency PARTNERS+simons Inc., Boston, for the project, since the company was already responsible for Agilent's overall branding. A specialist in health care and health sciences marketing, PARTNERS+simons built an online lab that Agilent's customers could use to learn about specific instruments offered by the company, as well as application information and outsider references. “What's exciting about online is you make it very easy for [your customers] to access what's relevant and helpful,” said Michelle Boudreau, head of Agilent's account at PARTNERS+simons. Scientists visiting the site can analyze their data using the online lab, share their work by uploading posters and access peer-reviewed metabolomics publications and journals. Targeted at researchers working in the field, the metabolomics lab is self-guided and includes video footage and a rich resource library where visitors can quickly access specific information pertaining to their research. Boudreau said the lab is simple for newcomers to use but complex enough to be valuable to regular visitors. The virtual lab was only one of a number of campaigns aimed at driving metabolomics demand, but it proved to be the most successful lead-generation campaign. The lab was responsible for achieving 96% of all the marketing-generated metabolomics sales for the first six months of 2008 in North America, according to Agilent. The lab also won the 2008 Diamond Award from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association for leveraging digital marketing. Driven by the success of the lab's first run, PARTNERS+simons is currently in the process of releasing a new iteration, which will be publicly available May 31. ““It's a great technology,” Boudreau said. M
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