Billtrust, a provider of automated billing solutions, recently integrated its marketing and sales processes, using marketing automation software to refine its approach to the market, develop new content and identify underserved verticals. The results: The company outpaced its own year-over-year revenue growth projections by almost 40% and created a tracking system that tied marketing programs to 65% of $3.9 million in fiscal-year revenue.
James Kanir, senior VP-sales and marketing at Billtrust, spearheaded the initiative. “You need to take the sales team and make it more productive,” he said. “The way you do that is you merge marketing and sales together into one unit.”
Billtrust began working with Atlanta-based Pedowitz Group to overhaul its processes. Eighteen months ago, the company started tracking its programs using marketing automation tools and integrating that software with the sales force's customer relationship management tools. The model allowed the company to track a lead from initial input to closed deal and also provided feedback on the content the company produces.
Billtrust converted its product-marketing materials into thought-leadership campaigns and began to review open and click-through rates to better understand the needs of a broad customer base that stretches from big brands such as Nike and Kraft Foods to utility companies.
The software-as-a-service company also used feedback from the automation tools to identify and move into underserved verticals such as transportation, media and municipalities. Billtrust grew its content customization strategy to address approximately 15 markets.
Because the Internet allows users to conduct independent research and review materials without interacting with the company's salespeople, Kanir said it was important to tune content to specific market needs and pain points. “Because we were using the lead-scoring engine, we can see immediately who opened [an email or newsletter], who forwarded it, who waded in four pages deep.”
The feedback also allows Billtrust to generate content that addresses leads at specific stages in the pipeline. For example, the company's most effective content vehicle proved to be an invitation-only webinar that spelled out the implementation process and was designed to push customers who had stalled in the final stages of the sales funnel toward a decision. Delivery of that piece of content spurred six sales that closed within 60 days, yielding recurring annual revenue of $337,000, Kanir said.
The company has used feedback from the automation tools to hone customer service communications as well. Kanir tracks newsletter open rates and notes topics that net the most interest. “There are applications beyond sales and marketing,” he said. The next step will be to develop a sales forecast using historical data and snapshots of leads in the pipeline.
“The key is to have a well-defined process,” he said. “You need to build a process so you can flush this out as you go. There is a lot of science that goes on behind the scenes.”