W-Systems Corporation helps companies integrate their sales and marketing using CRM technologies to meet the needs of mid-sized companies. As one of SugarCRM’s top partners – and as one of the top seven SugarCRM agencies in North America – W-Systems holds SugarCRM’s coveted three-star platinum partner designation.
Christian Wettre, W-Systems president, said Act-On’s Sugar integration allows small and mid-sized clients to implement customer relationship management and marketing automation efforts that were once out of reach to all but the largest enterprise-scale operations.
“As a 22-person CRM organization, mid-market is where we do well,” Christian said. “We’re a boutique firm, and we work across industries to manage leads, manage forecasts, manage conversion of leads into sales – we focus on the processes that lead to results.”
W-Systems has seen those results first-hand. By using Act-On in conjunction with Sugar, the agency cut its advertising expenses and saw a seven-fold increase in qualified lead generation. W-Systems also uses integrated CRM and marketing automation systems to improve collaboration between sales and marketing teams, and to generate more actionable leads.
“With a modern CRM system, you typically have some ability to broadcast emails to your client list, and the ability to capture leads from websites,” Christian said. “But when the customer needs more sophisticated capabilities, that’s when we look to marketing automation. Previously, it was an enterprise product, out of range for our clients. But Act-On filled that gap with a platform that could help the mid-market customers we serve. They could invest in Act-On and get the tool set that they needed without necessarily having to spend $30,000–40,000.”
Christian’s first encounter with Act-On came at SugarCon, the annual convention for SugarCRM partners and customers. He liked what he saw, but he also wanted to make sure that Act-On’s solutions would meet W-Systems’ long-term needs. “We were looking for a marketing automation partner that didn’t just see Sugar as a checkbox on a list on a list of options,” Christian said. “SugarCRM is part of our primary business. We wanted to be sure that our marketing automation partner was committed to Sugar as a platform, would stick with it and keep developing it continuously.”
After researching his options, Christian concluded that Act-On offered the best solutions to his Sugar clients. “I saw Act-On continuing to enhance its Sugar integration and going to SugarCon with new and improved features,” he said. “That continuity, that ongoing effort to integrate with Sugar, was what I was looking for.”
“Act-On is accessible to a small marketing department where everyone might wear multiple hats, and it gives them access to extended functions that otherwise would require an enormous investment,” Christian said. Mid-sized firms appreciate the flexibility that comes with being able to choose between Act-On’s month-to-month and annual contracts, and they appreciate the feature mix and purchasing flexibility that allows them to customize Act-On to meet their needs, he said.
“Smaller marketing organizations need these tools, but also feel that they’re taking a chance when they try something new and get locked in. With Act-On, our clients can get a sophisticated tool set onboard, while feeling that they are taking less risk.”
Christian described one of his clients that was doing all the right things – but not necessarily in the right ways. “They were using Sugar. They were doing email marketing, website traffic monitoring, webinar marketing, and they were executing on it,” he said. “But it was taking a lot of time and there was a lot of duplication of effort and list-building across different tools.”
The client was drawn to Act-On in hopes that it could consolidate and streamline the use of those tools, Christian said. Once implemented, Act-On did more than the client had anticipated. In addition to making the leads the company was generating more actionable, the new system won over a skeptical sales crew and improved collaboration between marketing and the sales department.
“Allowing the sales team to see exactly what was going on through the panel – which webinars somebody had attended, and the fact they got a newsletter, the fact they clicked on the website – helped build the sales team’s trust in the marketing department. And as the sales team had more trust in the marketing department, they also were more willing to contribute and make sure that their contacts and relationships were documented in Sugar. That, in turn, helped sales prioritize their time on leads that had demonstrated interest.”
In 2013, W-Systems applied the expertise it had been sharing with clients to its own operations.
“Our primary company goal was to nail down our own content marketing strategy and execute on it,” Christian said. “With Act- On, we were able to get that done. We were able to do webinar series. We were able to do blog posts. We were able to do our social media push. We were able to do website management tracking. We were able to get a consistent newsletter out the door. Those are hard and time-consuming tasks for a small organization to do, not just once, but consistently. Act-On was the vehicle to make it possible. I don’t think I could have done it without Act-On.”
Act-On didn’t just help W-Systems reach out to customers – it also helped the agency to boost lead generation, and to save money in the process.
Christian said Act-On’s ability to integrate with other tools has repeatedly enhanced the effectiveness of W-System’s content push. “For example, using our integration of GoToMeeting with Act-On, we were able to more effectively market, track, and capture the results of web events and events that we attend in the physical world. The process of organizing those events used to be a completely isolated process using just GoToMeeting tools. It is now incorporated into the general marketing capability of Act-On, and it became a natural extension of our online marketing effort.”
“Prior to our content push, Google AdWords was the only predictable, effective tool we had to generate visits to our website,” Christian said. W-Systems spent between $3,000 and $4,000 per month to keep traffic flowing. Through the agency’s Act-On-fueled content strategy, however, organic traffic climbed to the point that W-Systems temporarily suspended all spending on Google Ads. The agency is again using Google AdWords, but its approach is much more tactical – and W-Systems’ ad spending is a quarter of its previous levels.
As a result of its marketing-automation-integrated content push, W-Systems is also drawing higher-quality traffic, Christian said. “Previously, the website would generate maybe three or four leads a week. Currently, it’s generating three or four leads a day, qualified leads, and that’s because of Act-On.”
That steady flow of leads is a result of the marketing consistency that Act-On helps companies refine, Christian said.
“Without Act-On, I would be doing desperate marketing – the kind of marketing that comes about when you feel guilty that you haven’t gotten a newsletter out on time,” he said. “The value of Act-On is consistency over time, consistency of the message, consistency with communication. Instead of doing a little bit of marketing once every five months or so – which is very ineffective – Act-On has allowed a small group like mine to accomplish consistent marketing. That makes all the difference. If I hadn’t had Act-On, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that consistency, because it would have been too difficult to do it across all the different systems involved.”