Elsevier, which provides science and health information to scientists, students and health professionals, needed a new prescription for its online marketing strategy. The U.K.-based business publisher was lacking for both sales and marketing alignment and a consistent method for communicating with its customers and prospects, said Sandra de Gelder, marketing communications director at Elsevier. However, Elsevier said its online marketing efforts have improved dramatically in the last year. De Gelder credited Aprimo's On Demand Marketing Automation software and a new lead nurturing strategy. De Gelder spoke to Digital Directions about how the software has enhanced Elsevier's marketing efforts. Digital Directions: How does Aprimo's On Demand Marketing Automation software work? Sandra de Gelder: Aprimo Marketing Studio On Demand is marketing automation software that is part of our closed-loop sales and marketing environment. It provides us with marketing data management, campaign management, lead management and reporting. We use it to drive leads into our sales funnel and then once new leads are generated, execute nurturing campaigns to ensure leads progress through our various sales stages until they close. DD: How did Elsevier initially leverage the technology to improve customer engagement and generate better leads? De Gelder: We leveraged marketing automation software, Aprimo Marketing Studio On Demand, as part of a closed-loop lead management system that would allow us to measure leads and properly identify them in our CRM system. This was necessary not only to qualify leads but also to start reporting on lead quality. Once established, we set out to build a centralized and integrated marketing plan to support our customer base. It was here that we relied on (technology company) Extraprise. They helped us to develop and execute on a strategy that would apply the data found in Aprimo, use it to build better engagements with our customers and nurture them until they were ready to engage with sales. DD: A key part of the program involves getting Elsevier's marketing department to become an integral part of the sales process. How does that work? De Gelder: We paid careful attention to building automated rules in the lead management system that would determine when a lead is ready for our sales force. We also made sure to involve sales in this critical process by taking the time to align ourselves with the sales team's priorities and by getting their involvement in decisions involving lead handover. This is still being fine-tuned, but collaboration between both groups has been key to a successful outcome. So while it may have taken a little longer initially, we now see sales representatives becoming fully engaged with the process. And while sales professionals are always excited about receiving leads, now they can see what the real value of the lead is. As a result, sales is now paying more attention to what marketing does because they feel we are helping them be more successful by handing over a larger amount of leads, and ones that are higher in quality.