Managing Automation launches lead marketplace

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While some in b-to-b media held back to watch others pioneer new online business models, Heather Holst-Knudsen, publisher of Thomas Publishing's Managing Automation media brand, drove to the front lines—earning many victories and a few battle scars.

“One problem is that some customers not only expect a lead guarantee for a low fee but also that all the leads will convert,” Holst-Knudsen said. “We would argue that we couldn't do the selling for them, but it didn't matter. We had a hard time renewing, and it was very demotivating.”

So last month Managing Automation launched a pay-per-lead program for its most cost-conscious clients, allowing them to simply purchase the chance to pursue an actual lead.

Companies that choose to pay an annual subscription to the PPL program receive alerts when a site visitor engages with a content asset posted on or that customer's listing in the TechMatch database of more than 4,000 manufacturing software and automation solutions.

A subscriber has a 48-hour period of exclusivity in which to decide to purchase or decline the lead. If the vendor declines, the lead is listed within the Lead Marketplace (, where it available for purchase by up to five suppliers, including nonsubscribers. The marketplace is not an auction; each lead is priced based on the demographics and activity of the site visitor. A lead related to a senior manager for a large company who has made a direct inquiry about a particular solution might cost $400, while one related to a systems engineer who has downloaded a white paper on a general topic could go for $35.

“We generate about 20,000 leads a year currently, and we're looking to double that number with the site enhancements we're making,” Holst-Knudsen said. “Within about 24 months, we're looking to get to a run rate where we're generating $1 million a year through the Lead Marketplace.”

Holst-Knudsen is also enhancing Managing Automation's high-end Platinum TechMatch program through a marketing automation system from Eloqua that facilitates real-time lead delivery. “With Eloqua, we are doing lead profiling based on users' behavior as it relates to their engagement with sponsor content, supplemented by their overall behavior on the Web site, which is called digital body language,” she said. “We're also doing lead nurturing. Based on a user's initial action on the site, we serve micro campaigns promoting additional offerings during subsequent visits.”

Marketers pay a monthly fee of $5,000 to $6,000 for Platinum TechMatch. “We append data to leads and cleanse them using Dun & Bradstreet. We verify information by telephone,” Holst-Knudsen said. “We can score leads based on how the lead was generated and drive the leads into the customer's CRM basis on a real-time basis.”

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