November 23, 2011
Case Study

Marketing Automation Case Study: One marketer’s 5 step process from vendor selection to a 178% increase in deals

SUMMARY: For the B2B marketer, the sale is often complex, the sales cycle can be long, and the number of leads throughout the pipeline can be simply massive. It can be daunting, but marketing automation software is a tool that can get the whole marketing effort under control.

See how a software company that changed its business model, and knew it would be generating a very high volume of leads, implemented marketing automation to almost double its opportunities and increase revenue from deals by 178%. Learn the factors it considered in vendor selection and see screenshots of its lead flow process.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter


Marketing automation software is a powerful tool. For B2B marketers with a complex sale and long sales cycle, it can be an essential tool to manage every customer’s progression through the entire funnel -- especially when you deal with a large number of leads.

Opsview, a UK-based software company providing enterprise-level management and monitoring for distributed IT infrastructures, started out as a free, open-source software project. This means the actual software code for the product was available to anyone who wanted to contribute to the project. The open-source project came with an entire ecosystem and goodwill built up around the tool and existing dot-org website.

Opsera acquired the freeware project a couple of years ago, and brought in Tom Callway to become the Marketing Manager for Opsview, and begin ramping up the commercialization of the product. This included revamping the dot-org website and launching a dot-com website, as well.

Opsview was separated into two variants:
  • A free community version

  • A subscription-based enterprise version

The dot-com website launched in June 2010, and required registration to access value-added content like whitepapers and software downloads.

"The anticipated volume of registrants meant it was impossible for our then small sales team to follow up every person who completed a Web-to-lead form," explained Callway.

Opsview solved this issue by implementing CRM and marketing automation software to handle leads coming in from the new website and to help separate visitors who, as Callway put it, "would be ‘forever free,’" and those who looked like they would have an interest in the enterprise product.

Read on to learn how Opsview used marketing automation to earn an almost 200% increase in the revenue from its deals.


The span of this case study looks at the scope of Marketing’s entire implementation of marketing automation at Opsview -- from vendor selection to sales-ready lead hand-off.

Step #1. Choose the vendor

For organizations looking for a marketing automation software vendor, there are many options to choose from.

Callway said Opsview had several criteria its vendor needed to meet:
  • Experience in Opsview’s industry

  • Attractive and easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface)

  • Out-of-the box integration with its content management system and CRM

  • Scalable pricing structure to match cost with company growth

Part of the "experience in the industry" criteria included a background working with open source software companies since Opsview began as an open source project.

"We considered it important that the vendor we selected had an understanding of using the lure of open source, or ‘freemium,’ software, to drive registrations and using scoring to separate out those who would be forever-free from those who are commercially interesting (to us)," said Callway.

Once they chose the vendor, it was time to implement the entire marketing automation process.

Step #2. Capture leads through website registration

Opsview’s leads were generated through a fairly extensive registration process on its website.

Beyond the typical name, phone number and email fields, Opsview also required registrants to provide:
  • Company/organization

  • Primary business activity

  • Job function

  • Number of employees

  • Country

  • How did you find us?

  • What best describes you? (this field is used to separate decision makers, influencers and simple end users)

  • Are you using Opsview in production? (this field determines if the registrant is using the free version of the product, indicating a more promising lead)

  • What would be most valuable way to help you manage your deployment of Opsview? (this field provides information on the most appropriate services for the lead)

To drive traffic to the website for registration, Opsview uses a number of marketing channels.

"To begin with, lead gen is undertaken primarily using Google AdWords and PR," stated Callway.

He added the company uses a London-based PR firm, and that the pay-per-click effort currently drives traffic to website pages offering value-added content instead of customized landing pages.

Other lead generation activities include:
  • Webinars/screencasts

  • Direct selling

  • Email

  • Channel management

Step #3. Score the leads

After leads are captured -- particularly when a high volume of leads are generated -- marketing automation really shows its stuff through scoring and nurturing. When the number of leads passes a certain threshold, both activities become essentially impossible without the aid of automation software.

Lead scoring is the first stage of this process and typically includes behaviors by the prospects along with attributes such as job title or size of company.

At Opsview, Marketing worked with Sales to assign scoring values to different lead attributes by ranking them in importance.

The company determined 26 points was the benchmark for a lead to become a sales-qualified lead and get passed into the CRM. In some cases, one lead attribute might be enough to get them past the 26-point level, creating an immediate sales-qualified lead. Some example attributes that can immediately push prospects past that threshold are industry and influence.

"Attributes that get scored up include companies that come from industry sectors where we have our strongest stories, for example, finance (and) banking. The more influential the registrant is in the purchasing decision process, the more points they get," explained Callway.

He continued, "So a budget-holding IT executive in, say, a managed service provider will get exported immediately into (the CRM) for follow-up by a rep."

Callway also said lead scoring changes over time in response to changes in the lead flow, or the growth of the sales team. When the sales team grew in advance of increases in lead volume, some attributes would be given higher scores to create more sales-qualified leads in the pipeline.

Even though Opsview’s lead scoring was an evolving process, 26 remained the benchmark for a sales-qualified lead.

"We’ve made a point of sticking to that conversion point. When changes happen -- new products or more (sales) reps -- we’ve scored-up attributes around the 26-point benchmark," stated Callway. "In other words, rather than keeping the same scores for different attributes and increasing or decreasing the conversion score, we have scored up or down different attributes that make up the total score."

Step #4. Nurture the leads

For leads in the middle of the funnel, those being scored but are not yet sales-qualified, Opsview engages in lead nurturing.

Marketing automation aids lead nurturing at Opsview by allowing Marketing to construct the process using what Callway described as "simple logic" and combining it with lead scoring activities.

He said, "For example, if a lead reaches a certain status, then do ‘x’ -- send out a personalized email. If they perform a measurable action, then do ‘y’ -- export them into the CRM. If ‘else,’ then put them into process ‘z’ -- pause for 15 days until a further email is automatically sent out."

Opsview has what Callway described as three "leadflow branches" to segment prospects according to their interest in the company’s products -- one leadflow for enterprise-level and two that segment the Opsview community users.

For example, an IT hobbyist who is part of the community will enter a leadflow where the criteria become a sales-qualified lead is more difficult to attain. This leadflow also receives a lower level of email than the leadflow for leads expressing an interest in the enterprise-level products.

The enterprise-level leadflow receives email every 10 to 15 days and all activities, such as opening an email, visiting the website, or downloading content, are all scored during nurturing until the lead reaches the sales-qualified threshold.

After a certain amount of time, even leads that don’t meet that scoring level are entered into the CRM as non-qualified leads. Even though the lead is now part of Sales, Marketing does continue with some very diminished lead nurturing through email to possibly turn that cold lead into a sales-qualified lead.
Callway said even after a lead enters the CRM as “disqualified,” Marketing continues to monitor their behaviors.

"We’re aware that users of our free products may take some time to warm up. They may, for example, think they can survive without our enterprise reporting features whilst their business is small. But as they grow, demands for such features will become more pressing," Callway said.

He added, "If their activity indicates they’re seriously considering graduating to our paid-for products, then they get re-imported into (the CRM) as a pre-qualified lead and are assigned to the right rep."

Step #5. Hand the lead off to Sales

The goal of the entire funnel is to hand Sales qualified leads. For Opsview, this means using marketing automation to track, score and nurture its registered leads until they reach the 26-point threshold in the system.

However, Marketing’s role does not completely end at that point. Some "disqualified" leads get passed on to Sales, but continue to be scored by Marketing to possibly reenter the lead nurturing process. Also, the marketing automation system and the CRM are tightly integrated so Marketing can track leads across applications.

Callway said Marketing is in fact largely responsible for administering the CRM, and added, "We feel this is important to create some dependency between the marketing and sales teams."


Callway said one important result of implementing automation is the software complements the reporting features of Google Analytics and the CRM to provide what he described as, "an end-to-end view of your sales and marketing funnel."

Key metrics from the campaign include:
  • Opportunities in the CRM have increased 95% quarter-over-quarter (previous to implementing marketing automation, leads were generated by software download only and not scored in the CRM)

  • Pre-qualified leads increased 30% quarter-over-quarter

  • Volume of leads pursued by Sales increased 55% quarter-over-quarter

  • Bookings in the form of revenue have increased 178% since marketing automation was implemented

Callway said Opsview’s KPIs include lead capture performance, lead scoring, email campaign performance and CRM "leads and opportunities" reports.

The marketing automation system undergoes continual tweaking and improvement, such as through adjusting lead scores to match the needs of Sales.

The registration process is also in the process of changing.

The company is considering shortening the form by turning it into a multistage process of four short forms rather than one long form with so many required fields.

The other option considered is running banners alongside the long form explaining the advantages of completing the process: software downloads, forum membership, whitepapers, webinar invites, etc.

Opsview is currently conducting A/B multivariate testing on how it will handle registration in the future.

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples:
  1. Example of lead scoring dashboard

  2. Example of leadflow dashboard

  3. Email to offer software version upgrade


LoopFuse – Opsview’s marketing automation vendor

Special Report: 8 Criteria for Choosing a Lead Scoring/Marketing Automation Vendor

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Getting Sales and Marketing into the Same Room: Marketing automation implementation spurs successful integration process

Marketing Automation Tool Drives List Growth, Boosts Registrations 664%

B2B Marketing: Combining sales and marketing knowledge to improve lead qualification

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