Edgell overhauls CMS, lead-generation systems

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Over the past decade, Randolph, N.J.-based Edgell Communications has made the transition from a printcentric operation to one in which revenue is now divided equally among print, online and events. Three years ago, Rob Keenan, who previously spent seven years with CMP (now United Business Media), joined Edgell as VP-online media.

In December 2008, he was named VP-media integration, responsible for making sure various technologies work together to meet business goals. Over the past year, he has been leading the development of the company's new content management system (CMS), online audience database and lead-generation architecture.

Digital Directions: How did you decide on your new CMS?

Keenan: First, we went through a very detailed specification process, which was the basis of our RFP (request for proposal). I looked at about 10 different platforms, and it came down to two finalists—Drupal and Kentico, which is based on the Microsoft.NET framework. We chose Kentico.

DD: Why did you go with Kentico?

Keenan: If you had asked me at the beginning of the project if I would end up on a .NET platform, I would have said, ‘No way.' Kentico had a lot of the interfaces we needed already in place and we could buy the source code, so it was the best of both worlds for us. We had Drupal-like access to adapt and customize the software, and we were getting more of the capabilities we needed on Day 1. Everyone talks about the great Drupal developer network, but there's a huge developer network out there for .NET, too.

We picked an India-based developer that would help us, a company called Asentech that had a lot of experience in publishing and great references. We're a small operation and don't have enough bandwidth to execute a development project of this size. We started the project in March and launched the first site, RIS News, on Aug. 30. Our second site launched just a couple of weeks ago. We will launch the rest of our tech group sites by the end of the year and all of our sites by February 2011.

DD: What is your lead generation solution?

Keenan: We looked at two or three different off-the-shelf lead platforms, but we couldn't achieve what we wanted from a business perspective, so we developed a custom solution. Actually, we look at the lead generation and audience development as one project, which is being handled by the developers in India who did our CMS.

It was clear that to grow our online business, we had to become a more complete lead-generation company. We have been providing transactional leads [that include a name and contact information] for about five years, but we needed to position ourselves to move into lead scoring and lead nurturing. Our goal is to get more data and use that data to provide more qualified leads to our audience.

DD: How does the new system do that?

Keenan: Computer Fulfillment does our print fulfillment and e-mail newsletters and has those lists. We've built much tighter integration between our online audience database and theirs so that every night those two are resolving with one another. WebEx does our webinars, but registration is now handled through our system, which allows us to control the data.

We now have a structure that allows me to collect customized registration data on an asset-by-asset basis. So, for example, if the marketer wants, we can ask where people are in the buying cycle and if they agree to receive information from the marketer. We can also automatically log users onto our sites without cookies when we have information about them from a newsletter, for example. Ninety percent of the people who've come to the RIS News site since we relaunched were automatically logged in, versus 10% that might have taken the action to log in previously.

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