Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hushly Helps Marketers Connect With Anonymous Web Site Visitors

When this blog last left Geoff Rego in 2010, he had just sold the assets of pioneering B2B marketing automation vendor Market2Lead to Oracle. Since then, he’s been gnawing at the bone of anonymous business leads, suspecting that there’s some way to gain value from people who are interested in a product but haven’t identified themselves to vendors. Rego has shown me a couple of approaches over the past few years, none of which quite worked out. But when we saw each other at Dreamforce last month, it seemed he had settled on a keeper.

The new product is Hushly, which addresses the reluctance of prospects to provide their email address even in return for valuable content. This is the gating dilemma: more people will read your content if it’s not gated, but you don’t capture their email address unless you gate. In its current form, Hushly waits until visitors have abandoned a content form and then pops up an offer for them to download anonymously via Hushly. Visitors determined to remain unknown can view the content online, while those willing give Hushly their email address can actually download and save it.  Making the offer after the form is abandoned ensures that Hushly only captures people who would not otherwise have connected with the company directly.

Once a Hushly member has downloaded vendor content, vendors can send emails to the member via Hushly.  This allows communication without the vendor actually receiving the member's email address.  Members can block messages from a vendor if they wish.

Hushly also lets members send questions to vendors and receive answers through the system, still without revealing their identity. They can even contact competitive vendors with the same protection. The system lets members send a list of questions to multiple vendors and tabulates the results, allowing more detailed anonymous research. 

Each member gets a Hushly library to store their downloaded documents and communications. Members can grant other people access to their library for collaboration. On the vendor side, Hushly creates anonymous lead records in the client’s instance, so companies can track their interactions with anonymous prospects and keep the history once the prospect identifies herself. The system can integrate with other CRM vendors through batch file transfers.

All told, I think Hushly is a pretty clever idea. The concept takes a bit of explaining to potential members, which could be a barrier to success. There’s also a chance that people simply won’t believe Hushly’s promises to protect members’ privacy – not because of anything about Hushly but simply because they distrust of Web services in general.  Happily, both obstacles can be overcome through good marketing.  Rego reports that initial results show Hushly can confidently guarantee a 200% increase in distribution of gated content and 20% increase in identified leads. So it looks like enough potential users are receptive to make things interesting.

Hushly has been deployed in various forms by more than 200 companies since early 2014. Set-up is quite simple: users associate content with Hushly widget, which they embed in a landing page. Pricing is based on the number of form abandons, starting at $200 per month for 100 abandoners and falling on a per-abandoner basis as volumes increase.

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