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Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring)
Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring)
At Constant Contact, we deliver for small businesses with powerful tools to simplify and amplify digital marketing. Constant Contact Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring) is a marketing and sales platform developed to help busines...Read more about Lead Gen & CRM (formerly SharpSpring)
Marketing automation is a very active segment of the CRM software market. Not only are new vendors entering the market, but existing market leaders are constantly innovating and delivering new product updates. Today, the majority of solutions can be split into business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) solutions. The two groupings are very different and so are their functional needs.
Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) firms have longer sales cycles and engage in more relationship building activities. Businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) rely more on brand and high-volume direct outreach efforts. This overview aims to improve understanding of how marketing software applications work and provide an update on trends every buyer should know.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What Is Marketing Automation Software?
Henry Procter is credited with saying, “I know I waste half of my advertising dollars. I just wish that I knew which half.” This is precisely the question that this software answers. It assists firms in developing, executing and tracking campaigns. Media buying and planning applications help with planning advertising campaigns involving traditional and digital media. Managers use these systems to automate workflows, manage collateral, track prospect behavior and qualify leads before they are passed to sales.
B2B systems have sophisticated lead generation and lead management capabilities. For example, lead scoring functions score leads based on:
Responses to campaigns
The resulting scores ensure that the sales department only receives qualified leads that are close to making a purchase. For leads that are not ready to buy, marketing tracking software provides campaign management, which helps marketers to foster the relationship through techniques such as drip and “stay in touch” campaigns.
B2C systems tend to manage vast databases of customer data—often millions of records. These systems have sophisticated tools for analyzing and segmenting customers into different categories of buyers. Markets can then execute specific campaigns, or “treatments” for each segment. Campaigns are typically designed to elicit a direct response, such as returning to a website to make a purchase. Alternatively, campaigns may feed a target prospect list into a call center systems for telesales outreach.
MA software also provides companies with advanced reporting and analytics tools to measure the performance of initiatives. This allows managers to see which campaigns and channels are driving leads, along with the costs and revenue of those initiatives. In the end, this helps organizations decide how to better allocate resources.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
We believe that most buyers segment into the following four categories:
B2C enterprise buyer. These buyers work for firms that market to consumers. With millions of prospects and huge volumes of data, they need sophisticated analytics and segmentation tools to define, select and reach members of their target markets.
B2B enterprise buyer. These buyers work for firms that market to other businesses, and engage in longer sales cycles. They are primarily seeking capabilities that help them nurture relationships with prospects. Lead nurturing, lead scoring, sales force automation (SFA) and sales coordination and enablement tools are all critical for optimal performance.
CRM suite buyer. These buyers have less sophisticated requirements, but value integration with their other customer relationship management (CRM) programs. They are typically content to trade feature depth for native integration with CRM, SFA and other applications.
Email emphasis buyer. These buyers work for small businesses that want to engage in more sophisticated email outreach, but are not ready to deploy enterprise-class MA. Marketing campaign management software buyers are primarily focused on managing a database of contacts and executing regular email campaigns.
For detailed analysis of the top buyers trends among marketing automation buyers, visit our Marketing Automation Software BuyerView | 2014 report here.
Benefits and Potential Issues
Buyers who successfully implement a MA system should expect to realize the following benefits:
Identify and qualify more leads. MA allows firms to better target potential customers, quickly qualify leads, and send them to the appropriate sales rep.
Improved sales coordination. MA helps firms better coordinate inter-team activity. For example, a firm can promote a single product and track the effectiveness by looking at the number of qualified leads generated and comparing that to the number of leads converted to sales.
More effective campaigns. MA lets firms measure their campaigns and adjust those campaigns based on what they learn.
Decrease costs. The savings per dollar shows up in several ways. Two of the most important are number of the employees in the department and the dollars spent on outside support.
Issues with MA software often results from unrealistic expectations and poor implementations. For example, this software cannot make a bad service or product into a good service or product. If the collateral is bad or misses the point, MA will simply deliver a bad message more efficiently. Finally, if the wrong target market is selected, effective delivery to that target market will not help the bottom line.
Market Trends to Understand
There are a number of market trends that buyers should understand, including:
Software as a Service (SaaS). In the MA market, SaaS is less of a trend than it is the dominant model for deploying software. Buyers will find that the majority of solutions—with the exception of some high-end B2C solutions—are delivered through the online marketing software model where the system is hosted by the software vendor and accessed over the Internet by user. A benefit of Web-based email marketing software is increased accessibility. They can be accessed on multiple devices and from any operating system, whether you're a Mac or PC. Interested in learning more about email marketing software? Check out our catalogue and buyers' guide specific to this category here.
Social media. Social networking gives managers a new channel. Firms tweet coupons to customers and post special offers to friends on Facebook. Advertising videos are successful if they go viral on YouTube. MA is embracing all of this. Social networking integration will drive the next generation of MA.
Use of two-dimensional barcodes. Two-dimensional (2D) bar codes are seen more and more often on print ads, bill boards, bus stop benches and even as tattoos. Customers can use smart phones as code readers to get information about a product or service immediately on their mobile browser. Current solutions can use 2D bar codes with third-party solutions, but new versions will have built in support.
MA vendor consolidation. Large ERP and CRM vendors will acquire some firms, while some niche providers will combine to remain competitive. IBM and Terradata both made significant acquisitions by picking up Unica and Aprimo, respectively. Oracle purchased the assets of Market2Lead. Buyers should expect to see more M&A activity going forward.
The Vendor Landscape
This type of buyer...
Should evaluate these systems
B2C enterprise buyer
Aprimo (Terradata), Unica (IBM)
B2B enterprise buyer
Eloqua, InfusionSoft, Marketo, Manticore, Pardot, Genoo
CRM suite buyer
Oracle CRM, SAP, Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Email emphasis buyer
Alsamarketing, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft, Vertical Response
To see additional reviews and comparisons, visit MA Software Guide.