Analytics: The Short Game vs. the Long Con

I’ve never done this before, but today I want to gush about an analytics service I recently signed up for: Lead Forensics, based on a true story that happened last week. But let me set this up the right way.
I think of Analytics as a “long con”…in the most empathic sense of the term, since I don’t just drink the kool-aid, I prepare it! In fact, people like me spend their careers trying to convince our coworkers that problems can be avoided and opportunities seized by monitoring website behavior. But it’s hard to prove the benefits right away; you have to invest in the right equipment, sow the seeds of data capture in a careful manner across your site, establish some benchmarks and then create the right sorts of dashboards and tests to make the most of it. And no matter what, there will always be doubters that refuse to accept what the data says, especially when it shows that their idea was a real stinker (I’m looking at you, Pato!).
This is all to say that we web analysts are in a business that rarely yields immediate gratification, which is why last week’s experience is so blogworthy!
Lead Forensics is a tool that looks up IP addresses of your site visitors, and tells you what company they work for. For some businesses that might not be enough of a lead, but for me it’s plenty. My product has such narrow appeal that, even in a big company, there are likely fewer than a dozen people who’ve even heard of the problem that my company fixes. So when I received an email in the morning that somebody from a big East Coast company had visited my website, I reached out to a contact I had made there some years ago through Linkedin. He gave me the name of the person who could best evaluate my service, who turned out to be the very person who had visited my site. By the end of the day we had exchanged contact information and scheduled a product demo for early next week.
“Funny story…” he started, then went on to say that someone in Chicago had brought up my company’s name during a conversation that very morning as they discussed the challenges of campaign tracking. I immediately let him know that our meeting was no coincidence, and explained the voodoo behind our connection. “I hope that’s not creepy,” I wrote, to which he replied: “not at all.” In fact, he called it a terrific demonstration of actionable analytics!
Now I’m lucky to be in a field where people are likely to respond in a friendly way to this kind of snooping. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not this type of technology is good or bad–-all I know is that two people on the other side of the country mentioned my name, and that same day I was able to insert myself into the conversation at an extremely opportune moment. That in itself is enormously valuable to me, since right now my *only* marketing work is reaching out directly to people who might be interested. Not to mention I was able to reach back and thank the referrer for his recommendation!
DISCLAIMER: I have two disclaimers to make. The first is that I haven’t made a thorough analysis of all the Account Monitoring vendors out there. Lead Forensics is the first one I found, and they won me over with stories like the one I just told along with a screamin’ great deal on price. Some weeks later I attended a DemandBase webinar where I realized that other companies are doing this and even have some additional features (like API hooks) that might be more appropriate for enterprise-level clients. Anyway, I’m just saying that you should do your homework to find the right solution for you. My second disclaimer is that Lead Forensics did float the idea of referral bonuses when I signed the contract. I promise that I didn’t write this article on any solicitation from them, but if that component makes you think it’s squirrelly for me to write this, just feel free to *not* tell them where you heard about their product. 🙂

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