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Close-Up with James Rogers, VP-marketing, Hoover's

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Since April 2010, James Rogers has been VP-marketing of Hoover's, a D&B company. In this role, he oversees marketing for D&B's Internet Solutions group, which includes Hoover's, AllBusiness.com and other digital properties. Prior to joining Hoover's, Rogers held marketing positions at a number of technology companies, including Blazent, Gravitant and Troux Technologies. In the following interview, he discusses a recent strategic deal Hoover's inked with LinkedIn as well as other marketing initiatives the company has planned for this year.

CMO Close-Up: What are your main goals for this year?

James Rogers: Social media is a significant goal for us to drive more interactions with our community on multiple levels. We did hire a new agency that specializes in social media, and that's Shift Communications. We work with them specifically on a comprehensive framework across all of marketing to identify all of the digital properties that we have and to apply the appropriate treatment in terms of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, so that we have that ability of dialogue and interaction with those communities relative to those digital properties. And then working with Shift, we measure, monitor and manage all that traffic.

CMO Close-Up: Can you tell us more about your new agreement with LinkedIn?

Rogers: We just announced a strategic relationship with LinkedIn. So for us, social is not just voice and presence from an outbound marketing perspective, it's actually a strategic aspect of our business as well. We have embedded LinkedIn into our product, and we recognize that for people who are consuming information (on companies) from Hoover's that there's absolute value in the content of social media dialogues that are happening relative to those companies as well.

CMO Close-Up: How would a salesperson researching IBM Corp., for example, use Hoover's and LinkedIn together?

Rogers: If I were in the Hoover's product and I'm looking up IBM, the traditional information that we provided has been aspects around IBM in terms of the size of the company, how many employees, if there's public information in terms of revenue. We have roles and titles, we have e-mail addresses. If you're a salesperson, you'd want that information to prepare for calling into that account to potentially try to sell to them.

We're finding in many cases our customers would have both LinkedIn and Hoover's. They would go into Hoover's to get some information, and they would go into LinkedIn to get this other information. So now that's why, when we were working with LinkedIn, it just made sense between both companies that we can create a better user experience if we just go ahead and put the LinkedIn information right within Hoover's, so those users don't have to toggle between the two solutions. Right there within the same interface they can bring in that incremental content (from social media).

CMO Close-Up: What can you tell us about mobile apps you've developed?

Rogers: (Near Here) is an application that's available on the Apple App Store. It was in the top 50 business applications downloaded for several months. It's been out about a year. Wherever you are, it uses GPS. You can identify certain industries or maybe certain business sizes, and it will identify the businesses that are whatever approximate distance from your geographic location.

We have some stories from customers. One example: A businessperson was in Florida, and his flight was delayed three or four hours. He used the Near Here application. He said, “I have three or four hours, I might as well see if I can do some more business.” He used that application, identified another opportunity and closed a $30,000 deal before he got on that delayed flight.

CMO Close-Up:: What can you tell us about your marketing tactics for this year?

Rogers: We've done some XM Radio. In 2010 we started XM Radio around August. Radio seems like such an old school thing, but XM Radio is highly targeted. Now you can communicate with the demographics you're looking for and create a radio spot. You can air (the spot) to those highly targeted audiences, because it's all going through XM. We have an assigned specific phone number that we can trace. We have traceability of the amount of leads that come in and the amount of business that we close. XM Radio has been a successful marketing campaign for us. Clearly we're going to continue to do more of that.

Another exciting thing we're investing in in 2011 from a marketing standpoint is TV. We're excited that you're going to start seeing some marketing advertisements coming out because, with the new Google TV, now there's an ability, just like paid search, where we can target specific demographics to bid on what we're willing to pay for those airtimes.

CMO Close-Up: How well does your marketing team work with the sales team at Hoover's?

Rogers: Five years ago or more, marketing was more art than science. We didn't really have the tools to measure the things that we're doing and show the benefit and the impact that it was making to the sales organization. That became a foundational aspect that created the conflict between sales and marketing.

That is changing because, with the tools that we have now, I'm able to measure all of the unique visitors to my properties, and I can measure the opportunities that come into Salesforce.com all the way to close. We have implemented an advanced system that allows us to segment all of our customer base, and run e-mail campaigns and direct campaigns with unique IDs to measure all of those into Salesforce and measure those to close. I was talking about XM Radio—I can measure that; and I was talking about Google TV—we have an ability to measure that. So now I have the ability to understand where I'm spending my discretionary marketing spend and where the dollars are making the most profound positive impact to the business.

Sales and marketing at Hoover's—we work very well together—and the thing that has really fostered that is that we really have implemented a lot of these tools that have really manifested themselves in the last five years. They really give marketing a much stronger ability to measure where we're spending money and what the outcomes are of those investments. And when you can do that, then you can demonstrate to your partner how you're helping them.

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