Data protection solution vendor EVault has revamped its partner Web portal with an eye to improving communication with and providing new marketing tools to its channel partners.

The Emeryville, Calif. vendor’s portal offers easier navigation, a place to register opportunities, collect and track leads, sales tools, and marketing collateral. Partners can also use the site to place orders.

An earlier version of the site offered content and information that was more static. The new portal features an automated self-service marketing system that allows VARs to create e-mail campaigns by adding their own logos and providing content to send out to a list of potential customers.

Responses are collected by the portal site so that leads can be tracked by both EVault and the VAR. In addition, the system allows partners to register opportunities, a feature that one partner called the biggest new benefit of the new site.

Click here to read about Ingram Micro’s Web portal for VARs.

“This lets us lock in our clients so there are no communications issues regarding whose account it is,” said Dan Hill, CEO of Ubistor in Schaumburg, Ill. “And then it allows us to update EVault on the completion of the sale.”

The automated system has alleviated a lot of manual work for Hill’s company, which used to send spreadsheets back and forth to EVault.

“It’s all done online now, and that saves us a lot of time and effort,” he said.

The collection and registration of leads is one of the channel’s most pressing needs. Solution providers often complain they don’t get good enough leads from vendors, though in the last two years more vendors have sought to automate the lead-registration process to make it more meaningful.

EVault created the portal by installing a front-end CRM system from marketing automation company Marketbright that integrates with the company’s existing back-end SalesLogix CRM system.

“From our experience a lot of larger companies are building these kinds of systems for the channel,” said William Da Cunha, vice president of alliances for EVault, which is expecting to do $54 million in sales for fiscal 2007, closing in June 2007.

“We are trying to take technology that larger companies have to the smaller end of the market.”

EVault was founded in 1997 and initially focused entirely on building software as a service and selling 100 percent through the channel.

Click here to view exclusive channel research from Amazon Consulting.

The company now offers software and outsourced services for backup, recovery, archiving, business continuity and e-discovery and uses a direct sales force to take leading edge products to market.

“We decided then that we were early to market,” said Da Cunha. “We were not selling well through the channel.”

When EVault initially went to market, these types of data services were still at a point where customers did not understand the offerings, Da Cunha said. So the company targeted some vertical markets that had tougher compliance requirements—legal, financial and health care—with a direct sales force.

The direct sales provided EVault with feedback that led to a better understanding of the market requirements, while at the same time allowed the company to explain the benefits of a leading edge service to customers.

“We use the direct sales force as the tip of the arrow to try to understand how to enter a market,” Da Cunha said. “And then we articulate those challenges to the channel.”

The company’s 100 channel partners account for 47 percent of EVault’s revenue.