Act-On Software Review—An Independent Marketing Automation Software Analysis
The Act-On platform uses an integrated suite of graphical design tools to create emails, web forms and landing pages for the purposes of marketing campaigns (email, events and webinar campaigns), nurture marketing, lead tracking, lead scoring, lead transfer and marketing analytics.
The marketing software excels in ease of use. Intuitive navbars, quick start navigation panes, one-click menus, prominently displayed common tasks and an abundance of white space deliver an inviting, and unintimidating, user interface. The UI also takes lessons from consumer technologies with simple two-dimensional viewing, crisp colors and little to no training required to navigate as you see fit.
Act-On Software campaign profiles are simple and efficient—although possess a minimal amount of data and information. Campaign setup follows an intuitive flow and requires little if any training. Nurture marketing campaigns may be constructed with multiple-step sequences and conditional logic using simple operators and event-based triggers to tailor flights and deliver relevant content to leads based on their profiles and/or digital behaviors. Lead nurturing campaigns can be triggered by decision rules based on lead activities, events and data changes and may include response treatments such as campaign changes, lead score changes, email distributions, a wait time period, alerts, or assignment and transfer to the sales team.
Act-On Software tools don't use the more traditional free canvas workflow and Business Process Management (BPM) tools commonly used in the marketing software industry, and as a result campaign and other configurations tend to be more linear and a bit less flexible but possibly easier to use depending upon your perspective.
Campaigns, or what the company often calls Programs, target user-defined lists or prospect segments. Defining segments is flexible and may include lead profile (explicit) attributes (company size, industry, location, contact title, etc.) and/or lead (implicit) behaviors (interactions and responses to campaign flights). Interestingly, a lead can reside in multiple lists. Depending upon your marketing scenario, this can provide increased flexibility or unintended consequences for the lead that falls within multiple marketing campaigns. Once a campaign becomes active the leads are inserted automatically when those lead contacts are included in the list or when they match prospect segment criterion.
An interesting campaign operator was the "early exit" condition that can be included at virtually any or all steps of a campaign sequence. This can be an effective operator to transition the lead from one campaign to another, or discard a lead from the campaign when it is forwarded to sales or if it is determined to be disqualified. Another interesting feature is the system's ability to send SMS alerts when a link is clicked or a named contact or account engages.
Surprisingly, there were a number of missing campaign management features that may or may not be an issue depending upon your circumstances. For example, campaign steps must be followed sequentially (i.e. a lead cannot skip steps in a campaign based on an interaction that would suggest they should advance) and campaigns cannot prescribe the transfer to a specific step within another campaign process (for example, when a lead is transferred from one campaign to another the lead must start at step 1, possibly resulting in duplicate measures based on prior nurturing).
Act-On campaigns do not retain cost or revenue data, which would seemingly prohibit the ability to calculate and deliver campaign profitability and Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) reporting. As a workaround, the marketing software can reach into Salesforce.com (but not necessarily other CRM systems) in order to extract campaign costs and revenues from the Salesforce.com campaign object and then render a simple report. However, as Salesforce.com is the campaign system of record and produces its own marketing reports, the Act-On work-around appears redundant and adds no additional value. Further, as Salesforce.com marketing campaign cost fields are extremely limited, neither Salesforce or Act-On are capable of calculating key marketing metrics such as ROMI.
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