Act-On's Integrated Online Marketing Platform Brings Fortune 500 Caliber Marketing Capabilities to Businesses of All Sizes
Large and small companies alike are looking for ways to project their messages into the market, automate sales processes, and manage every phase of client relationships from initial prospects to repeat customers. In this context, marketing automation holds great promise, however, the complexity and expense of today's marketing automation tools and processes are best suited to large companies, leaving smaller companies scrambling to keep up.
This white paper will review an Act-On Software sponsored survey of how small- and medium-sized businesses:
- Approach marketing campaign management and execution
- Handle critical challenges when maximizing program budgets
- Use cloud-based sales and marketing tools for metrics reporting
This paper will also present Act-On's powerful and simple solution for many of the complex issues that marketers report themselves confronted with daily.
SMB Marketing Status Quo
In February 2011 Act-On Software surveyed over 1,270 small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) ranging from 1 to 500 employees. The study included breakdown analysis from companies with 0-25, 25-75, 75-250, and 250-500 employees.
The survey achieved statistically significant responses from all subgroups, with no subgroup reporting less than 282 responses and no more than 348.
The chart below reports the reported usage of various marketing programs.
Survey results indicated email is the most heavily used marketing automation program, with over 94% of respondents using it regularly. Somewhat surprisingly, the least commonly used applications include search engine optimization/pay-per-click (SEO/ PPC) advertising, webinars, and lead scoring. The contours of the usage chart are remarkably similar for all subcategories of marketing organization sizes.
The survey then went on to ask: "What are the two most effective programs for sales pipeline conversion?"
Results indicated that email and trade shows were the two most effective vehicles for contributions to sales unanimously. Between the two, all subgroups reported that email marketing resulted in higher sales than trade shows. 71% of the smaller companies reported more success with email while 56-58% of the larger companies also reported email as more effective.
The next survey question asked: "Does your company employ a dedicated marketing operations staff, people whose primary job function is to manage marketing automation programs and the leads, prospects, and customers touched by those programs?"
Unsurprisingly, the larger the company surveyed, the more likely it was to employ a dedicated marketing operations staff.
Finally, the survey assessed satisfaction with marketing campaign management programs. Overall, respondents expressed nearly equal amounts of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Satisfaction rates ranged from 43-49% with dissatisfaction rates ranging from 41-45%.
The "Marketing Automation Gap"
The survey revealed significant differences in the ways small- and medium-sized companies use automated marketing campaign management to drive sales. We call this difference the "Marketing Automation Gap."
Trends that contribute to this gap:
- SMBs actively prospect for leads, but expend less effort and resources on nurturing and managing them.
Email is the most-used marketing campaign as we mentioned previously, while lead nurturing and scoring applications gather dust in the bottom drawer of the marketing tool chest.
This imbalance between prospecting and follow-up means that SMBs risk losing much of the value of their marketing campaign investment by failing to develop and nurture leads into paying customers.
- SMBs install point tools, not suites or end-to-end solutions.
SMBs tend to have collections of multiple point tools for email, website visitor tracking, social media prospecting, etc. This may indicate an aversion to one-size-fits-all marketing automation suites that over-fulfill SMB marketing needs and budgets. However, to really understand the prospect universe, you need to be able to aggregate and correlate the data from all the communication channels you employ. This can usually only be accomplished by manually reformatting it, converting it, and importing it into a spreadsheet, thereby increasing the risk of data error or loss.
- SMBs face complexity with marketing automation on multiple fronts.
The SMB looking into marketing automation runs into enterprise-class platforms that tout Fortune 500 affiliations. These come with big price tags, much complexity, steep learning curves, and explicit organizational requirements (such as dedicated DBA's and consultants for implementation, and corporate IT for ongoing support) for adoption. This DNA is shared with notoriously complex enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Clearly, this doesn't work for SMB.
- SMBs risk having their business processes realigned in unfavorable ways.
Marketing automation platforms automate businesses' processes. An SMB may find that to use the platform, it must change the way it does certain processes and adapt to the vendor's version of that process.
Not only can a small company find itself wrapped around a vendor's business process axle, but also such restriction can inhibit a small company's ability to capitalize on unexpected market conditions or new innovations that may help it compete more effectively against larger and established vendors.
- Satisfaction: half full or half empty?
The even split in marketing organization satisfaction/ dissatisfaction paints an unsettled picture. A significant proportion of SMBs are dissatisfied with their marketing automation tools. However, it is apparent that many SMBs reporting satisfaction would also welcome opportunities to improve their automation-supported marketing programs.
All in all, it is very clear that there is a huge SMB population with unmet needs, needs that are not the focus of the marketing automation vendors to date.
Act-on: Closing the "Marketing Automation Gap"
The Act-On Integrated Marketing Platform is a suite of online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) marketing automation tools designed specifically to meet the needs of small and medium marketing teams in growth-oriented businesses.
Act-On is built around the premise that the user is always right, and hence it supports the evolution of marketing in ways that marketers tell us they prefer to grow.
Typically, an online marketer starts with email marketing, then links it with web analytics to better identify and qualify prospects entering the sales funnel. Pretty soon, the marketer is doing drip marketing, behavioral scoring, integrating with webinars, and more.
The Act-On platform makes it easy for you to start with the processes that already works. As you start using the other apps in the platform, you will benefit from the fact that they all augment each other. Your results will be better-managed campaigns, higher quality prospects, and more sales, even in a marketing department of one.
The potential benefits of automating key sales and marketing processes are compelling:
"There will be significant process, cultural, and technical challenges. But the benefits are self evident: lower cost, higher efficiency and productivity, greater accountability, better performance, improved customer experience, and potentially shorter sales cycles."
2010 IDC Insight Report
Act-on: Powering Key Marketing Imperatives
Here are some of the ways in which Act-On powers your key marketing imperatives:
- Drive Outbound Demand Generation and Lead Management
Act-On's world-class email marketing capabilities include list management, content creation, campaign launch and logistics, response capture, and real-time reporting on campaign progress and results.
Act-On extends the reach of your email campaigns by enabling campaign recipients to rebroadcast your message via email or to retweet/post it to social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc...
Set up drip programs that unfold over time to keep messages flowing, nurturing prospects as they follow that path from initial prospect to closed customer. A simple behavioral scoring system that can be tuned to the needs of an organization allows spotting prospects that are ready to be handed off to sales.
- Turn your Website into a Lead Marketing Machine
Act-On gives web analytics and traffic reports that go well beyond what you can get from the likes of Google Analytics. With Act-On, you can see who is on your site right now, what drove them there, and what they are looking at.
In addition, Act-On uses reverse IP look-ups in conjunction with services like Jigsaw to transform anonymous website visitors into actionable prospects for your marketing campaigns.
Finally, Act-On Software allows you to add landing pages to your website with lead capture capabilities, and enables e-commerce features including trusted, secure automated payment.
- Maximize Your Online Events and Webinars
Act-On enables you to maximize attendance for your online events by adding a complete multi-stage multi-channel event promotion capability to best-of-breed webinar delivery platforms like WebEx.
Automated follow-up after events is easy since Act-On extracts the attendance data and generated segments that can drive your related marketing and sales initiatives. For example, attendees can be passed off to sales for active follow-up, while non-attendees can be dropped into drip marketing campaigns.
- Join the Social Media Revolution
Social media is high on every marketer's list. Conventional wisdom says that you build a presence and then get millions of followers who are watching for your updates. This is a great tactic - if you happen to be famous to start with (Ashton Kutcher, is that you?).
Act-On upends this kind of thinking, by allowing you to find social media conversations that are already going on, that you need to be a part of. Act-On's Twitter Prospector allows you to inject yourself into these conversations with well-thought-out content, and a tracking system to see if you succeeded in enticing people to your site.
- Get More Out of the Tools you Already Use
Act-On includes out-of-the-box integration with tools like WebEx, Microsoft Outlook, SugarCRM and Salesforce.com.
The CRM integration is especially valuable in smoothly transferring qualified leads to your sales staff for final development into happy customers.
"...lead nurturing has been proven to increase the total number of closed deals by about 33%..."
Sales teams looking to use Outlook can benefit from marketing- approved email templates created on the Act-On platform. When they click on our "Send via Act-On" button in Outlook, their e-mails gets tracked by Act-On and they can get alerts when recipients click.
- Find Out What Is Working and What is Not. In Real Time.
Act-On integrates reports from all your marketing channels, and generates rich reports that enable you to invest your time and money where you get the best return, and to eliminate the programs that don't deliver.
"You can't optimize customer relationships if you don't make analytics pervasive across all channels, touch-points, transactions, and business processes."
Wrapping Up and Moving Forward
Act-On levels the e-marketing playing field in two main ways:
- All the Apps You Need in a Plug-and-Play Platform.
Act-On's bottom-up approach to marketing automation means that you can start using the apps and the marketing tactics that you are most comfortable with.
Since email is the mainstay of most marketing departments, Act-On contains a world-class email app. All the apps on the Act-On platform are designed to work together, so that the results of using one can guide the intelligent use of the other apps. Comprehensive reports can be generated in real-time, and common marketing tasks can be automated without programming or IT support.
All of this enables marketers to work up to automation gradually without disrupting their organizational structures and the processes that are known to work well for them.
According to the SBA, businesses with fewer than 500 employees:
- Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
- Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
- Create more than half of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP).
- Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
- Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters; produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
- Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely to be among the one percent most cited.
Don't you deserve a world-class integrated marketing system built for you?
- Buyer-Protected Pricing that Allows You to Scale, and Won't Hold You Hostage.
Everything about Act-On is designed to make your marketing easier and your life simpler, including pricing.
Act-On offers you a pay-as-you-grow service model. No long- term contracts. No license audits. Start at $500/month for three active marketing seats and up to 5,000 active contacts. Pricing scales as you need it to – by adding more users and/or more contacts. You pay for what you use, however long you choose to use it.