SMB Targeted Marketing Automation Platform will Change the Category
Marketing automation platforms (MAP) has been around since 1992 when Unica first made its appearance. But not until the late 2000’s when the marketing automation industry grew exponentially from a $225 million industry to a $1.65 billion industry in just five years did it become a common tool in the marketer’s tool chest.
However, for B2B Lead Generation, particularly for small to mid-sized businesses, marketing automation has always been a challenge. The key fit issue for these organizations was one of scale. If a business has a marketable universe of less than 10,000 prospects, it has been historically difficult to justify the cost of a marketing automation system when amortizing that cost across a limited set of prospects. This has limited the penetration of marketing automation systems to the enterprise and mid-market. Largely it is only SMBs that target a large universe of prospects can justify the cost of a marketing automation system within their marketing programs and maintain a positive ROI.
In recent years, some market players like Marketo, Hubspot and Act-On have taken steps to address the SMB market, offering pricing packages that are more attractive to SMBs with 10,000 prospects or less. However, even these packages represents a reasonable monthly investment of marketing dollars, particularly for the businesses on the smaller side of “small business.”
The Gartner Magic Quadrant for marketing automation vendors shows a wide array of high to low-end providers, but even the low end of those considered by Gartner are a stretch for many small business budgets.
Gartner Marketing Automation Magic Quadrant, 2015
The industry is about to change again, however, with the emergency of low-cost or even open source vendors in the space. Recently, Mautic, an open source, full-service marketing automation platform launched. It is being offered as a SaaS at a very low monthly cost or for free if you run the server on your own hardware.
However, the real cost of marketing automation is the time spent managing the platform and generating content. Further, the real value is realized through improved business results. Therefore, a free system that wastes users’ time or produces substandard results will be a very costly waste of resources.
At Slack and Company, we are agnostic to marketing automation platforms. We approach our campaigns first as "use the client's technology" and only recommend platforms when the client comes to the table without a pre-existing system. We are certified on Marketo, Gold certified on Eloqua, and have experience working with a variety of other platforms as well. Having worked with this variety of platforms, I have to note that my experience in working with Mautic has been exceptional. The interface is intuitive and, at least for someone that is already familiar with how marketing automation systems work, is very predictable.
Included functionalities compare favorably with some of the more expensive platform options out there. With Mautic you can:
- Import contacts
- manually enter contacts
- Create emails
- Create web pages
- Create web forms
- Upload assets
- Assign points for lead scoring
- Build multi-step, branching campaign flows
- Integrate with CRM systems
Content building is competent with a limited WYSIWYG editor, but with full support of editing emails, forms and landing pages in external editors as well.
The campaign builder is where Mautic really shines. It offers a real drag-and-drop interface to build a flow chart with a reasonable list of relevant actions. The flow can branch on lead behaviors and lead allocation and movement can be triggered by user behavior, happen after a specified number of days, or be scheduled for a specific date and time. The logic and interface of the campaign builder is actually a bit better than some of the leaders in the market-I’m looking at you, Marketo.
Lead scoring is also reasonably flexible. Lead scoring is mono-dimensional but can be modified both up and down by both user behavior and triggers. While not as advanced as products like Eloqua, it is very serviceable for straight-forward lead scoring.
At the end of the day, given the price-or lack thereof-and rich feature set of Mautic, I see a coming shift in the entire marketing automation category.