Act-On Email Marketing Software Review
Digital Lead Tracking
By adding an Act-On code snippet of HTML to your website pages the marketing software will attempt to capture and track anonymous visitors by their IP addresses. Unfortunately, IP reverse lookup only identifies a small portion of anonymous visitors (and generally only larger companies) and doesn't display contact information. Nonetheless, the anonymous visitor tracking can display known or unknown visitors on the website and be used for lead tracking and lead scoring.
While pretty much all marketing software solutions use reverse IP lookup as one method to attempt to identify anonymous visitors on the website, not all competitors also integrate with Salesforce.com's Data.com to offer additional contact intelligence. As with reverse IP lookup, this data append service will likely only work with a small portion of visitors but may still be a helpful feature for Act-On customers who also use Salesforce.com. Upon visitor identification the system can also forward alerts for named accounts or contacts to designated sales resources.
When leads click on content containing an Act-On trackable link—such as an email link, a Tweet link or a form—a tracking cookie is deposited with the browser and associated to a campaign. Thereafter, the visitor can be tracked and the visitor activities used for lead scoring and reporting purposes.
Where visitors land on the website without campaign flights or trackable links, the marketing software will attempt to capture the referring URL, or if coming from a search engine, will attempt to capture or infer the search keywords.
Unfortunately for PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns, Act-On does not reach far enough to capture the keywords or PPC/Adword campaign in order to tie PPC adwords or keywords to campaigns and leads as well as track PPC effectiveness and profitability.
Email composition generally begins from templates, permits the standard configuration options such as a sender From designation (i.e. a member of the sales team) and uses a WYSIWYG rich text editor. Going a bit beyond the standard functionality, the email editor permits various types of content block insertions—such as rich text, images, an attachment, a multiple choice question, a time/place event notice, a form link or signature—to be inserted in the email body. Emails may be sent on demand or scheduled for future delivery and are sent in both HTML and plain text.
The Form Link block is a useful component for inserting registration or other forms in the email. This can allow visitor conversions without the visitor ever leaving the email. There is also a Show Prefilled configuration option with this component which then auto populates the known lead data into the form.
Two other content blocks that stand out are the multiple choice question component which permits marketers to create an in-mail survey, and the Time & Place block which inserts meeting or event details in order to schedule and reserve time in the recipient's calendar. The Time & Place block resembles a traditional calendar appointment and includes time, physical location or online event information (URL, phone, access code and instructions) within the email.
Various content blocks can be repositioned using drag and drop, however, content placement is limited to single column vertical stacking. More complex emails and forms using multi-column layouts are beyond this simple tool.
Act-On content blocks are useful components but should not be confused with the more powerful rules-based, dynamic content placement (which renders dynamic content based on user profile, attribute or behavior) used by several marketing software competitors. Nonetheless, for simple email construction the Act-On Software email editor will work well for most SMBs.
While Act-On doesn't offer a suite of administration tools it does offer a few simple utilities such as the ability to remove duplicate or invalid emails as well as email addresses for contacts that have designated campaign emails as spam. Unfortunately, the solution is not automated which will be of little assistance for clients who knowingly spam or choose not to remove recipients who have designated their emails as spam. This may become an issue for Act-On customers who find themselves hosted in bad neighborhoods based on the actions of other customers.
Email testing is not nearly as powerful as some competitors and this will negatively impact email deliverability rates. The system does support simple test messages and uses an integration with Litmus to display a visual rendering of how emails will appear in various email programs. Unfortunately, this simple approach falls far short of identifying which ISPs, email clients and spam protection services will find objectionable content (and block the emails from being received) and suggesting resolution for such content before the emails are actually sent. The Act-On reporting tool Send Report shows the email opens, click-throughs and bounces and permits drill down into a recipient's profile to view the history of that recipient's engagement with your campaigns.
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