Marketo Looks to Help Online Marketing Deliver

Monday May 21st 2007 by Dan Muse
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If you have an online presence, you probably use pay-per-click advertising at least to some extent. But is it helping you actually generate revenue? A startup company thinks it can help you answer 'yes' to that question.

In the old days, your marketing efforts would generate leads for your salespeople, who would (you hoped) follow up and turn those leads into prospects and those prospects into customers.

In the world of online marketing, small and mid-sized businesses are looking to make marketing a more quantifiable part of the operation. Google Adwords, of course, has changed how many companies approach getting the word out about products and services. This is especially true of business-to-business companies that offer a specialized product or service aimed at specific customers.


Marketo Optimization
Marketo helps you calculate how much you should bid on keywords.

To help automate your marketing efforts, Marketo, a startup company that aims to provide affordable Web-based marketing automation tools, today announced the availability or Marketo Search Marketing.

If you derive or plan to derive a significant portion of your revenue through pay-per-click advertising, Marketo is designed to automate tasks such as PPC bid management and reporting so that you can gain more control.

"Traditionally, marketing was all about finding potential customers and turning them over to sales. Now it's more about developing and nurturing sales leads. Marketing is no longer just image and branding. The Internet brings people to Web sites before they are ready to buy so lead-nurturing becomes more important."

You need to think about nurturing customers, because they may find you when they are only looking for general info — that is, they may not have grown into full-fledged buyers yet. Once you get the lead to your Web site, you can "nurture" it by offering a white paper or a free Webinar in exchange for information from the potential customer, Fernandez said.

Marketo Search Marketing comes in two modules: Marketo Pay-Per-Click and Marketo Landing Pages. The applications are designed to work with Salesforce.com's AppExchange, but are also available as standalone products. According to Fernandez, more than 25 companies and agencies have been beta testing the service and two-thirds of those early customers use Salesforce.com.


Marketo Landing Pages
Marketo claims its Powerpoint-like tool makes creating landing pages like this one a task any marketing person can quickly conquer.

The on-demand services are pre-integrated with Google AdWords, which eliminates the need for IT support, Fernandez said. Together the modules are designed to allow B2B marketers to bridge the gap between generating pay-per-click traffic and converting traffic into leads, he said.

Marketo Pay-Per-Click management service is designed to help drive traffic to your Web sites by improving the performance of PPC campaigns. Fernandez said Marketo uses a bid optimization algorithm to maximize business results for a target budget. It also enables marketers to make "what-if" forecasts for leads and opportunities generated from search, to discover new, relevant keywords, and to continuously improve pay-per-click advertisements through A/B testing.


Marketo Salesforce.com integration
If you use Salesforce.com, Marketo looks to be a picture of Web services integration.

You can also, Fernandez said, monitor keywords on your site and, perhaps more importantly, on a competitor's site. To help you come up with potential keywords to purchase, you can upload a relevant document, a white paper, for example, aimed your target audience and parse it for keywords.

Fernandez said that the competition for keywords can be fierce, so it's important that you buy the right ones and track their performance. "Look at something as specific as 'ceramic ball bearings.' There are probably about 50 companies buying that keyword.

Marketo's landing page optimization feature is designed to help convert traffic into leads by helping you create and test branded landing pages in minutes using what Marketo describes as a "Powerpoint-like interface."

Jon Miller, vice president of marketing at Marketo, said that three out of four companies send PPC visitors to their company's homepage. "That's a lot of wasted money."

A custom landing page, he said, improves PPC campaign performance because relevant landing pages get better ranking and dramatically higher conversion rates. On a customzed landing page, for example, you could say "You search for ... . To attend a free Webinar on that topic just fill out this form."

"Marketing knows it should be using landing pages," Miller said. "We make it easy to make them. Every marketing person knows how to use Powerpoint."

If your business uses Salesforce.com, you can upload new leads directly into the popular CRM Web-based applications, allowing you to track and get reports on which clicks turn into leads, opportunities and revenue.

Forms for landing pages are also easy to create and the categories are integrated with Salesforce.com fields. "It's a mash-up of salesforce data, and it offers a single sign-on with Salesforce.com," Miller said.

Pricing for the service starts at $50 per month.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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