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This case study was authored by Tom Opdyke from SugarCRM to show our success internally using both Sugar and Act-On. For any questions about the case study or how we can work with you to develop your SugarCRM or Act-On Marketing Automation needs, feel free to contact us.
W-Systems, a leading U.S. implementer and developer of sales and marketing technology solutions, and SugarCRM Elite partner has been offering its clients a winning combination of process design, application customization, data and application integration, technical installation, training, and on-site and telephone hotline support since the company was founded in 1996.
As Christian Wettre, president of W-Systems explored the benefits of integrating SugarCRM software and Act-On, he decided he liked the combination so much he implemented the solution at W-Systems.
“Sugar is so flexible that we were excited to implement it as our own CRM. When it came to marketing automation, Act-On was accessible to a small marketing department – like ours -- where everyone might wear multiple hats. The integration to SugarCRM is so seamless that we totally avoid any double work that is painful when you have limited resources to start with. Act-On gives us access to powerful functions that previously would require an enormous investment.”.
Among the benefits W-Systems logs with its Sugar/Act-On integration:
Sugar and Act-On make a great team for W-Systems because they complement each other so efficiently.
W-Systems has been a Customer Relationship Management consultant almost as long as the strategy of CRM has existed. The company was founded in 1996 when code writers were mashing sales force automation databases with contact management functionality and thinking about what to call this new enterprise platform.
“We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly over the years, and I think that gives us credibility in the marketplace,” Christian says. “When we present a strategy to a customer, we can show we have a history of results.”
As W-Systems has evolved, so has CRM. So when W-Systems was seeking a new CRM partner four years ago, SugarCRM stood out as a leader that was evolving CRM into a business transformation platform and a company that focuses exclusively on CRM.
W-Systems wanted to offer customers a CRM that was user-friendly, affordable, and agile enough to integrate cost-effectively with top-level enterprise software, such as marketing automation programs like Act-On. Christian also wanted to work with an organization where he felt confident that the software developer and the implementation partner were working on the same team.
Christian found it all in Sugar.
“I have to say that I have never seen a product in my 20 years in this industry that does what Sugar does and so easily integrates with other applications. Additionally, the SugarCRM organization has a culture of transparency and good faith collaboration that instills trust in the day to day operations," he says.
His decision to partner with Sugar has paid off quickly.
In W-Systems’s short time with Sugar, it has captured a leadership role, ranking among the Top 5 North American partners and becoming one of the leaders in Sugar product certifications for its staff.
Internally, W-Systems uses Sugar to manage its opportunities, pipeline, customer relationships and customer service.
Act-On handles the bulk of marketing and customer acquisition, logging the events in Sugar and bringing quality leads to the attention of the sale staff.
Christian got a better understanding of Act-On when he attended SugarCon, the annual SugarCRM convention that brings together partners, customers, Sugar-integrators and CRM thought leaders for three days of pioneering instruction and information sharing.
“I saw Act-On continuing to enhance its Sugar integration with new and improved features. That continuity, that ongoing effort to integrate with Sugar, was what I was seeking,” says Christian, whose company specializes in financial and professional services, healthcare and manufacturing segments.
Using Sugar and Act-On, Christian and his W-Systems customers no longer rely on anecdotal information to gauge marketing effectiveness. The company can measure results by channel, campaign or funnel stage, and customize analytics, which can be viewed through Sugar or the Act-On dashboard.
Because of the dual sync between Act-On and Sugar, data is always current and valid.
Using the Act-On platform, sales and marketing teams can:
With the Sugar/Act-On integration, users spend less time managing marketing and more time engaging with customers.
“Sugar is our intelligence pane,” says Christian. “Relationship managers benefit from seeing all that information inside Sugar: seeing the web page clicks, the web tracking, the email links they click on; what events they sign up for; the white papers they download. The relationship manager, using Sugar, can see a complete customer interest profile.”
That kind of data inevitably leads to a rise in sales because the sales team has deep insight into customer needs from the start.
"When you see who is interacting with the content, you can focus your sales time and effort on those who seem to be engaging the most," Christian says.
Having that Sugar/Act-On dual sync shows immediate benefits when Sugar collects new information on prospects who come to the website and immediately transmits that information to Act-On, for marketing outreach.
“That makes it more valuable to enter the data into the CRM because it immediately is included in our marketing systems; it gives you the confidence that the information will be put to good use,” Christian says.
A story Christian tells about a W-Systems customer could just as well relate to his own company.
“They were using Sugar. They were doing email marketing, website traffic monitoring, webinar marketing, and they were executing on it,” he says. "But it was taking a lot of time, and there was a lot of duplication of effort and list-building across different tools."
To consolidate marketing databases and streamline its processes, the company asked W-Systems to implement Act-On and integrate it with Sugar.
In short order, the Sugar/Act-On integration surpassed expectations and turned a skeptical sales team into product evangelists because the better-qualified leads helped increase sales.
“Allowing the sales team to see exactly what was going on through the panel – which webinars somebody had attended, whether they got a newsletter, where they clicked on the website -- helped build the sales team’s trust in the marketing department,” Christian says.
“Sugar, integrated with Act-On, allowed the marketing team to spend more time generating content and campaigns and less time quarreling with sales about the quality of leads and follow up,” he adds.
The increase in qualified lead generation helped sell Christian on integrating Act-On with Sugar for W-Systems.
He cited website push marketing as an example of the early returns.
“Previously, our website would generate maybe three or four leads a week. Currently, it’s generating three or four qualified leads a day, and that’s because of Act-On,” he says. “In a recent month, we had 120, which really pegged our KPI report.”
After the company had defined a content marketing strategy, it used Act-On to lead the way in getting the word out.
“We were able to do webinar series, blog posts and our social media push; website management tracking; and get a consistent newsletter out the door. Those are hard and time-consuming tasks for a small organization to do consistently. I don’t think we could have done it without Act-On,” Christian says.
Because W-Systems’s new and consistent marketing plan was producing better leads, the company trimmed its pay-per-click spending, which had been $3,000 to $4,000 monthly.
"Before our content push, PPC was the only predictable, effective tool we had to generate visits to our website,” Christian says.
With the Sugar/Act-On integration, marketing is more efficient, and W-Systems is spending a quarter of what it used to spend on lead generation advertising and getting outstanding results.
“One of the key benefits of having your CRM linked to your marketing automation is that when you collect names and numbers in CRM, they immediately get transmitted to your marketing automation system for inclusion in newsletters and other content distribution,” he says.
“So we see speed improvements – how fast the names are included in the marketing effort, by being integrated, they are automatically transferred between system. That makes it more valuable to enter the data into the CRM because users know it will be included in our marketing systems.”