When website visitor stalking goes horribly wrong…


So as you know, I am a supporter of marketing automation tools (and getting as much insight as possible on your web visitors and suspects).  And of course, as a marketer, I am always trying to learn more about what other markters are doing and best practices.  Etc, etc.  I read white papers, of solutions I have, solutions I’d love to have and stuff I’d never want.  You never know where the good tip will come from.

A few days/weeks ago I went to a website, and downloaded a white paper.  I filled out a webform, and went on my merry way.  Typically if I don’t want a phone call, I use a fake number.  I always use a real email address, but it might be a gmail address that forwards into my primary account, a personal account if it is more general info, or use a primary email account.  Last week I received a call from that vendor.

Here is a transcript:

Hi this is Joe Smith from Acme.  I am calling because someone from your company visited several pages on our website a few days ago.  They must have been looking for information on our technology and services.  Was hoping to talk to you to see who it was in your company looking for this info.  Hopefully you can point me in the right direction towards that person or maybe it was you.  I wanted to see what you were looking for.  Please call or email me, we can help you!

And then I got an email.  To an address I didn’t use to fill in the webform.  So this sales rep actually went out of his way on jigsaw or whatever other source to get my contact info.  And he could have just emailed me at the webform address.  Here is the email:

To follow-up on the phone call, someone from your company hit our site the other day – four pages – so I thought you might like a personal contact.

We specialize in solutions for other similar B2B companies. Our services help people like you do their jobs (just paraphrasing here).

If you would like to review what’s working for other companies in B2B technology, please see our blog (below), or visit the Resource Library on our Web site.   If you would like to talk about your ’09 plans, please don’t hesitate to contact me personally.

I hear this company actually uses an automation tool.  Similar to my choice, Pardot.  So knowing that this person clear uses a tool that could sync up my web history to filling out a form and my downloads, but he didn’t actually use this information.  ANd let’s pretend this intelligence wasn’t available to him (clearly it wasn’t), he could have cold called me in a completely different way with more success.  Instead he looked like a desperate stalker.

Here are my tips to using website visitor lists more effectively:

  • Don’t specifically mention that you saw someone in our organization was viewing your site
  • Don’t assume because someone was viewing your site they are asking for a phone call right away
  • Don’t start the call with “someone from your company visited many pages on my website”
  • Assume that if the visitor didn’t leave a clear way to contact them, they aren’t really ready for a hardcore pitch
  • Mention that similar organizations to mine (the prospect) use this tool for XYZ, and you (the cold caller) thought you’d would be interested in: an upcoming webinar, white paper, subcription to RSS feed or whatever.  Something low risk, low commitment.
  • Offer to send me information (even if it is the same info I already checked out) and schedule a follow up call.  You already know the prospect viewed it, so you’ll either get shot down because of lack of interest or the prospect will be interested and ready to move to the next step

What happened after this call and email, I just started laughing and decided to blog about it.  I probably won’t look into or investigate their services if I am in the market.  Clueless sales reps.

2 thoughts on “When website visitor stalking goes horribly wrong…

  1. shonal narayan

    That’s a funny story but sad at the same time. Marketing automation is making it so much easier for marketers to understand and track customers on their websites, but how well does the info get disseminated throughout the various depts? Who is to blame for this “clueless sales rep”? Should he/she have been instructed better on selling, or was it a case of not knowing the ‘ethics 101’ behind marketing automation? It seems like common sense to not mention his means of gaining this info on you, but it should’ve been emphasized to sales/marketing at the time of implementation (i.e. MA training/best practices).

    The upside for his company is that they have marketing automation and show interest in analyzing their prospects, contacting them, and helping them attain more info. But you have to wonder what REAL info he gained from you aside from your contact. Does he know your needs? Does he have talking points? I think your 6 tips are great best practices. Maybe next time you can direct a similar caller to this blog post (:

  2. Whenever we do Sales Training for Pardot’s Cookie-based Prospect tracking, we always start with: “DON’T BE CREEPY WITH SOFTWARE”.

    It’s always a good rule of thumb to act like you don’t have this type of insight, or else the prospect will draw their shades (since you are acting like a stalker, they know you might actually be hiding in their bushes), clear their cookies, and set their CPU on fire to make sure you don’t e-Stalk them anymore.

    Since you know what they are interested in (since you captured their search term, referring URL, and click path – including time on page) – Just try to steer the conversation with the prospect toward where you know they want to go anyway. Use this information to improve the service you provide to prospects…not scare them away.

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