Helping SMBs Convert Leads Actively: Thought Leadership Interview #17 with Active Conversion’s Fred Yee

Today’s interview is with Fred Yee, the CEO of Active Conversion, another player in the marketing automation game. But let me be clear: It’s not a new one. Active Conversion has been around awhile. I like that the company is trying to focus on helping SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses), who, let’s be honest, need help.

Yee has been at it for awhile and is a really smart guy both about the industry and about Active Conversion’s target market: SMBs. Active Conversion has seen an incredible upsurge in orders, so I thought it was time for Fred to talk to my audience.

Enjoy the interview:

1.    What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

  • The movement toward measuring marketing results more. This has resulted in less budget for TV and print in B2B marketing budgets, as they aren’t easily measurable. With marketing reduced by up to 40 percent for some industries, this has driven a trend where “spray and pray” is no longer as acceptable.
  • B2B demand gen has become sought after, as qualified leads appear more important than straight branding. 2009 is a year to get more sales, rather than do more marketing such as trade shows.
  • Many companies are looking to marketing automation as a way to optimize their marketing dollars and sales time — to survive, not just to grow market share.

2.    What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

In this economic environment, it’s the fortitude to invest rather than just stay under cover with their heads down. Although it’s easy to hunker down, the challenge is to have the courage to look for opportunities to recover lost business by getting new sales and likely market share. Someone said the other day, the strong will get stronger in this economy. Sometimes being strong means having courage.

3.    What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?

  • How much business is coming from leads directly generated by visits to their Web site
  • Incremental growth in their in-house email lists
  • How much traffic they’re getting to their Web site

The global village is more real today than ever. To do well, B2Bs have to access a global market, and have to do it with less sales resources than ever. Fortunately marketing tools and online marketing/advertising make it easier and less expensive. Those that don’t adapt will have a hard time competing.

4.    What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

If they are doing it the old way because that’s the way they’ve always done it, they may be in for a rude awakening. Today’s lead generation has to be measurable, qualified (scored) and “always on.” And they must auto-nurture those leads for sales. All those newspapers, yellow pages and other media companies that are struggling, are struggling for a reason — the old way is broken.

5.    What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

Find and use online tools to make the move to the Web and to make online work for you. I don’t mean just marketing automation like ActiveConversion, but email like Vertical Response, sales tools like Jigsaw and online advertising tools like Google (and Tippit).

6.    What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

  • Email marketing – its Web 1.5 but a staple for B2B
  • Contextual online advertising like search, content and social media
  • Marketing automation platform to tie it all together– like Active Conversion

7.    What do you hope for in B2B sales and marketing for the new year?

That they find low-cost and low-risk ways of implementing these strategies as soon as possible. I’ve been in B2B sales and marketing for what seems like forever, and trust me, once you do it this way, you won’t go back. More importantly though, it will make you and your company successful. Without it, you risk being passed by your competitors.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Good interview. Thanks to this interview I’m going to contact Fred Yee now. Thanks again, CR – Dietrich