Fair Isaac uses vertical search engine ad to generate leads

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Challenge: Fair Isaac Corp., a data giant that provides analytics and credit scoring services, wanted to increase visibility for its Blaze Advisor business rules software. The company had acquired HNC Software, which produced Blaze Advisor, in August 2002.

"We were trying to improve our ability to link a product name to our new corporate owner," said Ken Molay, director of product marketing at Fair Isaac, San Jose, Calif. "Fair Isaac was known among a specific target population for doing credit checks and FICO scores. Banks and financial institutions knew about us, but not a lot of other industries, and I needed to change that for my success."

Molay said it was imperative to increase visibility and "have more placements on the Internet."

At the time, marketing for Blaze Advisor included print ads, Webinars, event marketing, sponsored e-newsletters, white papers posted on portals and some basic search engine marking-site optimization and keyword buys-with leaders such as Google and Overture.

sOLUTION: Fair Isaac tapped Alpharetta, Ga.-based KnowledgeStorm, a vertical search engine that specializes in technology, to integrate vertical search into its marketing "bag of tricks." KnowledgeStorm provides vendor-neutral content for IT professionals and other business technology users in exchange for registration information. Fair Isaac initially purchased listings of its products and services with Know-ledgeStorm in early 2003 in order to reach users looking for business rules technology solutions.

"That resulted in some extra hits and we got a few extra leads out of it, but it wasn't a lot and I felt we weren't getting as much out of the service as we could," Molay said.

Molay said his account representative agreed and suggested another tactic: research sponsorship.

At the end of 2003, at KnowledgeStorm's suggestion, Fair Isaac sponsored an analyst report from Gartner Group on the subject of business rules and business rules software. The research was posted on the KnowledgeStorm main site with a "call-out box" indicating that the user should click to get direct access to the report. It contained a "sponsored by Fair Isaac" tag and a link to Fair Isaac's site. Fair Isaac's goal was to generate 500 leads. KnowledgeStorm said it would run the sponsored link for three months; if the 500-lead goal was not met in that time frame, KnowledgeStorm said, it would keep running the ad until the goal was reached.

RESULTS: By spring 2004, the company had generated 760 leads for its business rules software, an amount that far exceeded its goal.

"Results were dramatic," Molay said.

He said Fair Isaac was also able to distinguish people who linked from the research to related solution listings on its site from those who only read the research.

In addition, Fair Isaac can capture those leads that come through the site and add those names to its database. Since the program started, the company has added almost 3,000 new names to its marketing house list.

Fair Isaac said it plans to expand the vertical program to more of its product lines.

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