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JBoss integrates e-mail with CRM to make most of valuable leads

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Open source software developer JBoss caters to tens of thousands of software professionals. Qualifying and tracking that many potential customers with a sales force of 25 can be difficult, so JBoss uses e-mail marketing as one of its primary means of lead generation, said Joe McGonnell, the Atlanta-based company's director of marketing.

"With so many names, it wouldn't make sense for us to just call people," he said. "The e-mail campaign results are really the best way for us to gauge interest."

JBoss sends about 20 e-mail campaigns a month that highlight new products and services, training courses and events. Some of the messages are regional while others, like the ones sent out this month for the company's upcoming user conference, go out to everyone on the company's lists.

Leads come from a number of sources, including Web registration forms and forum visits. The JBoss sales team culls the most qualified leads using a combination of tools in its CRM program from Salesforce.com. Recently, JBoss added a new tool to the CRM program: e-mail marketing data and analytics from Eloqua Corp.'s Conversion Suite, which works with the Salesforce.com product.

"We deal with on average 10,000 leads per month. Prior to integrating e-mail marketing with Salesforce.com, we did little with lead qualification. It was a manual process of going in and looking through all the leads," McGonnell said. "We [now] get tremendous response to our marketing-we have about a 40% open rate and 2% to 14% click-through rate-so that was really overwhelming."

The combination of e-mail marketing data and CRM lets salespeople sort leads based on open and click-through rates, and remarket to those who show a particular interest in a specific program or service. In fact, it's helped JBoss refine its marketing programs and boost open rates accordingly, McGonnell said.

The program also lets sales and marketing professionals send and track individual e-mails, which aids in the sales process. For example, salespeople can see open, forward and click-through data for a newsletter sent to a particular customer because everything is logged into Salesforce.com's contact records. Then salespeople can e-mail the recipient directly from their own Outlook software. Details about that contact are logged into Salesforce.com, so there won't be any marketing or sales overlap. Once the customer is actively involved in the sales process, details about contract negotiations and correspondence are also merged into the contact form.

Although the integration is still relatively new, McGonnell said the company is already reaping the benefits of combining data from e-mail marketing and CRM.

Of 759 Software Development Times subscribers recently surveyed by BZ Research, a subsidiary of BZ Media, 33.9% said they had deployed Java on JBoss' application server in 2004, compared with 27% in 2003. According to the survey, not only did more respondents say they were using JBoss, but fewer said they were using the closed-source commercial application servers from IBM, BEA and Oracle.

"Without the integration, the salespeople would be much less productive," McGonnell said. "Without the automation, our salespeople would have to struggle to spend their time wisely."

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