Genius.com shines light on e-mail marketing performance

Startup Genius.com is targeting sales managers with a new product to help them assess how well their staff are using e-mail to target prospective customers.

On-demand sales and marketing services startup Genius.com is releasing a new product, Genius Team, to enable sales managers to assess how effectively their staff are using e-mail to target prospective customers.

The company demonstrated Genius Team on Monday and plans to ship it to customers in two weeks.

Previously, Genius.com focused on how to help individual salespeople to get a better sense of prospective customers' online behavior with its first offering, SalesGenius, which debuted in May 2006. The service enables a sales representative to send prospects an e-mail with links to their company's Web site and then be alerted when the prospect opens that e-mail and clicks on the links. The rep is also informed of which pages on the site the prospect viewed and has the option to replay the prospect's entire Web site visit at a later time.

Genius.com created Genius Team after feedback from sales managers at companies using SalesGenius who wanted a way to monitor the way their reps were using e-mail.

"It's curious," said Felicity Wohltman, vice president of marketing at Genius.com. "Most organizations have ways of monitoring other technologies." She gave the example of telesales where a manager can use tools to determine the average duration of a sales call, wait times and the number of calls handled by their entire sales team or by individual members. "With e-mail, it's been something of a black hole," she added. "The manager has very limited visibility into how it's being used."

Using Genius Team in conjunction with Sales Genius, a sales manager has access to analytics showing how many e-mail have been sent, opened and clicked through. They can drill down on those figures to see how an individual rep performs, for instance, if they've sent a lot of e-mail to sales prospects, but the opening and click-through rates for those messages are very low, Wohltman said. This could suggest that the rep needs more coaching on how to better craft e-mails.

Creating compelling e-mails to encourage prospects to visit the Web site included in the message is another issue that Genius Team addresses, Wohltman said. Some SalesGenius users said they'd prefer not to be involved in e-mail creation and instead have one person on the sales team compose and send message on their behalf.

Using Genius Team, a manager can send e-mail on behalf of the entire sales team or send it as though it's coming from an individual rep who may be sick or on vacation. "We're blurring the distinctions between sales and marketing," Wohltman said. "This lets sales managers really take control of e-mail marketing for his or her team." The manager can also send e-mail to a chosen segment of prospects, say, attendees of a particular trade show. The rep assigned to any contacted prospect will be then alerted that a message has been sent on their behalf and they can then track that prospect's visit to the company's Web site and follow up with the prospect.

Should prospects' responses to sales e-mail be that they're not interested, Genius Team helps manage opt-outs across an entire sales team.

SalesGenius costs from US$49 per seat for each named user per month. Adding Genius Team is an extra US$500 flat rate per month across an organization. Genius.com is also offering a Team starter pack for smaller companies at US$300 per month.

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