Get sales leads from your Web site

A Vancouver-based software developer has made a Portable Document Format-based electronic commerce application designed to help companies generate sales leads from their Web site.

Vitrium Systems Inc. says its Docmetrics software, which it released Wednesday, can be used to track who is reading the documents companies are posting online, such as white papers, data sheets and case studies.

Docmetrics, which saves documents in Adobe Systems Inc.’s PDF format and lets potential customers open them with the free Acrobat Reader software, includes in-document forms which can record the readers’ name, contact info, occupation, responses to survey and other details.

“Unlike standard PDF forms, these are able to transmit reader responses to an external server in real time,” said Peter Nieforth, Vitrium’s chief executive officer. “They transform PDFs from static format into an interactive sort of Web 2.0 medium”

These forms can appear in a layer that partially obscures the document itself, and users have a choice of requiring readers to complete the forms to access the content, or to skip the forms if they do not wish to fill them out.

Docmetrics can provide detailed reports, such as how many unique readers open a document, how many times a document has been printed and how long readers viewed the content. The software can also provide reports on the number of readers who open a document, how many pages they look at and how much time they spend reading each page.

“I could actually present you a PDF where there is no limitation of you accessing the content,” Nieforth said. “Then maybe on page 3 or 4, I’m going to ask you your company name how many employees you have and are you a decision maker? And then maybe I’ll let you read on some more.” Vitrium says existing technologies that capture data use clumsy forms that users are often reluctant to complete.

“If you consider a Web form that you encounter today, this long invasive form, most people probably bail and don’t bother filling out, or what they actually do is they put in fake information,” said Nieforth.

Companies operating electronic commerce sites cannot always get the information they need on potential buyers through traditional HTML or Flash technologies, said Timothy Hickernell, associate senior research analyst for London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

“You can actually capture meaningful information about how a person reads a traditional business document, traditional marketing campaign literature or service manual and in real time deliver information back,” Hickernell said of Docmetrics.

Documetrics lets users embed forms within their PDF documents so they can capture data after readers have downloaded the forms.

“Having a document that is disconnected and offline and still report back, phone home if you will, information about itself, that’s continually used over time, is going to be beneficial to the buying process,” said Hickernell. “Often times the buying process, especially the research stage, it not something that happens in single Web session, it’s something that is ongoing, especially when you look at corporate procurement.”

Anyone can download Docmetrics and try it free of charge for 14 days. After that, pricing varies, starting at $49 per month, with an additional $2.80 per lead generated. Nieforth said the initial target market is high-tech firms who are trying to get sales leads from white papers, case studies and data sheets published on their Web site.

He edded Vitrium was originally in the business of digital rights management. Two years ago they made software that would let publishers restrict content to users who enter their identity and have it checked against a database.

“Our company was born out of digital rights management, but we had a lot of customers coming to us looking for protection, and when they discovered tracking, they said, ‘Actually, we do not want to protect our content. We just want to know how people are using it.’ And that was the lightbulb for us to develop the Docmetrics technology.”

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