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Act-On Marketing Software Review

 

Act-On Software Technology Review—An Independent Analysis

System Administration

User rights, permissions and security settings are sufficient for single location, small marketing groups, but will clearly pose significant challenges for multi-location organizations. Security settings include the three fixed roles of administrator, marketing and sales.

Administrators possess master permissions over the marketing software, marketing users and sales users. Security settings are few and namely include control over some software features as well as user permissions for marketing and sales software access rights and privileges.

Marketing staff have complete access to the marketing software and sales features while sales staff do not have direct access to the marketing software but can view separate marketing dashboards, key lead metrics such as website visitor tracking and marketing reports. Users can also receive lead notification alerts. When Act-On software is integrated with a CRM software application, the CRM software users can view marketing extracts such as the Act-On Hot Prospect lists for their territory.

While administrators and all marketing users share complete access to all creative assets and content, certain types of marketing assets, such as stationery, email templates, forms, and landing pages may be shared with business partners or channel partners who also have their own Act-On software accounts. The content owner can designate the channel partner recipient in a list and publish content to that list. The channel partner is a passive recipient, and cannot edit or access content beyond what has been granted.

Overall, the marketing software's group-based/role-based security will likely not accommodate decentralized or larger organizations which assign different marketers to different campaigns, regions, products or otherwise desire to apply security permissions to designated campaigns, content assets and the like.

While there are few administrative functions in the Act-On marketing software, one that may offer a lot of value is the ability to periodically review and remove duplicate contacts. Act-On Software displays a Delete Duplicates menu item and upon activation presents a duplicate contacts list to allow a manual review and decision process to delete duplicates. Duplicates are detected based on email address or Salesforce.com record ID. There's no ability to merge duplicates so if duplicate accounts possess unique data, some data transcription will be necessary before deleting the duplicates.

Act-On software offers several third party integrations, including integrations with the CRM software systems of Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SugarCRM and SalesLogix as well as interfaces with the WebEx Event Center, GoToWebinar, Data.com, Litmus.com, Google Analytics and CoreMetrics. Some interface capability is available with the social networks of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

Act-On Software Customization

The standard approaches to cloud-based business software customization generally include a vendor supplied Platform as a Service (PaaS) visual toolkit or studio and/or simple scripting tools. Unfortunately, such tools are not available from Act-On, and software customization is extremely limited. In fact, while the marketing software does permit some basic configuration there is actually little to no ability to customize Act-On software for unique feature requirements or business processes. Interestingly, there is a Custom tab on lead form, however, its purpose is not necessarily as it sounds. The tab is designed to capture atypical activities such as offline or other events.

Act-On Software is restricted in the ability to add new user-defined fields to lead and other record pages. This may be a serious limitation for companies who wish to refer to data elements which may or may not reside in their CRM system but are necessary for creating campaign lists or customer segmentation, or used in lead scoring or reporting.

The inability to modify pages, insert fields/columns and the like may be an issue for companies that wish to tailor their marketing software with simple changes, or pose more of a limitation to companies which wish to insert custom calculation or other logic to landing pages or forms, or for companies that desire to insert new objects or tables to the database to capture and process additional information.

Custom reports also remains a big void, as there is no custom report writer or ability to create custom reports.

Act-On Technology

Act-On is browser-based solution purpose built for cloud or Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment. The marketing software is a leading edge technology solution with a multi-tenant architecture and developed on the LAMJ stack.

Contact data can be imported to Act-On from Salesforce.com, Microsoft Outlook, Excel (CSV) files, WebEx and of course its own web forms. For organizations seeking to integrate lead data with legacy systems or even CRM software systems not currently supported by Act-On, the company offers a SOAP-based API that provides access to the tables, objects and elements in your Act-On system.

The company uses an interesting nomenclature to describe lead record structures. It suggests that leads are stored in lists, which from a technology perspective suggests some type of aggregated columnar structures. However, after our review, it became apparent that the company's description is more about how lead groups are categorized than stored.

In large part because of the marketing software's multi-tenant architecture, Act-On Software is able to push out product updates and new innovation in as little as two week cycles. This frequent release schedule results in small but continuous iterations and marketing software advancements.

Next: Act-On Cloud Delivery and Software Pricing >>

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