Interpath leads to ad network

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Looking to generate highly targeted sales leads after revamping its business strategy, Interpath Communications Inc., an enterprise applications service provider, in early January rolled out a $5 million marketing campaign through an online advertising network.

The campaign, a collaborative effort between agency Greco Ethridge Group Inc. and Web ad network B2BWorks Inc., marks Interpath’s first marketing effort since it changed course. The company, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., was established in 1993 as an Internet service provider. Last year, it shifted its focus to enterprise applications, offering a range of managed hosted services and consulting services.

The Interpath campaign needed to be highly targeted, said Paul Marobella, VP-brand strategy, Greco Ethridge, Boston. In this initial marketing campaign, Interpath wanted to keep its efforts aimed squarely at prospective customers east of the Mississippi, the region where it had enough sales representatives in place to respond to leads, he said. "The expectation was there would be a very high level of response, and they wanted to have enough sales reps in place … to immediately follow up.”

Greco Ethridge drilled down through B2BWorks’ network of 500 b-to-b sites to pull together specific lists of IT professionals. "We had tremendous choices available to us to help compile lists of, for example, all IT managers in specific industrial categories, or a list of Web developers,” said Dominic Pontonio, B2BWorks’ regional sales manager. "We also went through each list at least twice, removing names that appeared more than once so that recipients weren’t receiving more than one e-mail.”

Part of what B2BWorks offers marketers is a guarantee that each prospect is a double opt-in; that is, that the recipient not only has agreed to receive e-mail but also has sent back a confirmation. "There’s always a risk that people are submitting other people’s names," Pontonio said. "We make sure that each person on our lists really is that person and wants to get that e-mail. That’s one of the ways we optimize the reach of our lists."

Mission: critical

Right after New Years’ Day, Interpath sent out its first batch of targeted e-mails to a list of corporate IT professionals at companies with revenues of more than $50 million. "The critical mission of Interpath’s campaign is lead generation," Marobella said. "While certainly there could be some brand awareness generated, that wasn’t the specific goal."

In its e-mail, Interpath offered a white paper about the future of ASPs, authored by Internet Data Corp. "We felt it brought more credibility to what Interpath had to offer by offering a white paper from a reputable source," Marobella said. "The white paper offers insight from executives that have used ASPs."

By the end of January, 4,000 prospective customers, or 3% of the total recipients, had clicked on the link embedded in the e-mail; roughly half actually downloaded the white paper. "Those 2,000 downloads are viable leads that have been delivered to the Interpath sales force to be followed up," Marobella said.

B2BWorks also advised Greco Ethridge and Interpath on which Web sites—and which pages within those Web sites—would be most visible to potential ASP customers. "Placement of an ad on a Web site is not always where. . .the advertiser thinks it will work best," Pontonio said. Interpath also purchased several sponsorships of ASP-oriented online newsletters, including, a search engine Web site geared toward ASP professionals, and, an online marketplace for ASP buyers and sellers.

Interpath will launch banner ads this month, to be followed later this year with an outdoor and print campaign and trade show appearances. "The bottom line directive from Interpath was, ‘Bring us leads,’ " Marobella said. "They want the sales pipeline kept full at all times."

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