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DiCarta follows the leads

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DiCarta Inc. calls itself a market leader in a market many businesspeople haven’t heard of: contract management software. The software, which sells for a minimum of $150,000, automates the creation, execution, tracking and renewal of business contracts.

Given diCarta’s lack of exposure, it was a major challenge for the small, 4-year-old company with limited staff and budget to continually generate qualified leads and manage its customer relationships. Competition with other contract management software providers, as well as CRM and business procurement software companies, added to its challenges.

"Most of the large companies we target have not heard of us when we call," said Aaron Nichols, manager of sales development at diCarta.

The company first tried strategies such as direct mail and trade shows, but it found those tactics did not generate many leads and were very expensive. Direct mail was also time-consuming, Nichols said.

DiCarta then focused its efforts on e-mail marketing, but that, too, proved inefficient. The company created original templates for each campaign in-house, and it manually distributed the e-mails one at a time. Nichols said the leads generated were an improvement over the direct mail and trade show efforts, but the process was still too labor-intensive.

So diCarta turned to Toronto-based Eloqua Corp., a customer acquisition solutions company with an e-mail marketing and Web site analysis software suite called EloquaNow.

"It allowed us to create visually appealing HTML e-mails," Nichols said.

He said the software also allowed diCarta to track which recipients had opened the e-mail and clicked through to the company’s Web site—and where on the site they had gone.

"It helped me to focus my efforts on the people who seemed the most interested in my product," he said.

The program presents its analysis in reports that Nichols distributes to diCarta’s sales team.

Another major benefit for diCarta was that it was able to add Eloqua’s lead generation tool, which is Web-based, to its existing Salesforce.com CRM system. The company’s in-house and field sales groups then are able to get reports directly, and all information is automatically updated in Salesforce.com.

Eloqua time-stamps when recipients are sent an e-mail, as well as when they view it. The integration with the CRM system gives sales executives a thorough profile of current and prospective customers’ interests and needs.

Nichols said diCarta saw more than 35% of company leads generated through Eloqua e-mails in the first quarter of this year. In the current quarter, he said, the e-mails have generated about 80% of all of diCarta’s qualified leads. The remaining 20% come from salespeople and through word of mouth. Additionally, Nichols said that in response to an e-mail campaign that was distributed two weeks ago, he received a return e-mail from a large company he’s been targeting for more than a year. That reply came within 24 hours of the original e-mail’s transmission.

"This has allowed me to touch a lot more people in the same time frame than I would’ve been able to touch," Nichols said.

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