Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Low Cost Systems for Demand Generation

My new obsession with Twitter (follow me as @draab) has led to several messages from people who seemed to have trouble choosing between Eloqua and Marketo . This is a bit perplexing, since those products are at the opposite ends of the spectrum: Marketo being relatively low cost / limited functionality / easier to learn, and Eloqua being higher cost / richer functionality / takes more training. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which one suits you better.

But what really concerns me is that these people are apparently limiting their consideration to just those two products. I do recognize that they are the best known vendors in the space (with apologies to Vtrenz, whose identity is somewhat blurred since its purchase by Silverpop). But there are plenty of other options, particularly for marketers with limited budgets. Marketo is certainly a fine product, but marketers should still look around before picking it by default. Here are some alternatives that will come in at or below Marketo’s published starting price of $2,400 per month (or $1,500 for their “Lite” version). (To be fair, many of the vendors below charge an installation of that can be several thousand dollars or more, while Marketo doesn't. But even including that, the first year cost for most of these will be less.) :

Manticore Technology: a full-featured demand generation product. See my 2007 blog entry for some information or buy the Raab Guide to Demand Generation Systems for a detailed review. (Just kidding...or am I?) Pricing on their Web site is quite close to Marketo’s: $1,000 a month for a limited edition and $2,400 per month for all the bells and whistles, and no extra charge for installation.

Pardot: another pretty powerful product; see my blog review from December 2008. But much better pricing at the low end $750 per month for the smallest complete system, and $1,250 per month for something that should be adequate for larger firms.

OfficeAutoPilot: this is the current incarnation of what used to be Moonray. I took a detailed look at a beta of the next release a couple of weeks ago and liked both the interface and breadth of functionality. I’m just waiting for the official release (due in for late February) to publish a detailed review. [Click here to read the review, published in April.] Pricing for a full-featured system was $597 per month—quite a bargain. Even cheaper options are available if you need fewer functions.

Treehouse Interactive: another company I spoke with recently, and another one I’m not writing about yet because they showed me some features that won’t be released for a while (early March). [Click read my March 18 review.] The company has a low profile but has been selling its demand generation product for nearly ten years. It offers a pretty complete set of features, with shortfalls in some areas balanced by strengths in others. More important to people who need it, the company offers partner management and channel sales management products that integrate with its demand generation offering. Pricing starts at $599 per month.

Infusionsoft: I spoke with them just yesterday, and there’s nothing preventing me from writing about them in detail except that I do like to sleep occasionally. Maybe next week. [I got to it on February 12. Read it here.] They aim to be a complete business operating system for very small companies (under 25 employees). So they offer not just demand generation but everything from contact management to e-commerce. However, marketing is their core function and they provide a decent set of features, although certainly not as polished as some other products I’ve mentioned. On the other hand, pricing starts at $199 per month for a 2 user system with pretty much all of their marketing features, and you’d be hard-pressed to spend more than $500 per month unless you want lots of users for non-marketing functions such as sales automation or order entry. Although you may not be familiar with them, the company is five years old and has more than 12,000 (yes, that's twelve thousand) clients.

Active Conversion: I had a chat with president Fred Yee last August although I didn’t publish a detailed review. [I did publish a real review in July 2009.] They focus on email nurturing campaigns and marketing measurement. The system didn’t do landing pages or forms when I spoke with Fred, although he tells me it does now. Pricing starts at $250 per month and averages around $500.

Act-On Software: a slightly different take, with strong Webinar support and an option to use its own low-cost sales automation system as an alternative to Price starts at $499 per month. I reviewed it here in March.

Before I get any complaints from other vendors in the industry, let me stress that the systems I've listed above are ones that I know have low price points. My own consideration set also includes Marketbright, Market2Lead, MarketingGenius, LeadLife, LoopFuse, LeadGenesys, , eTrigue and SalesFusion360, although I haven't looked at all of those in detail.

Obviously you need to evaluate these products in depth before deciding which is right for you. There are free papers on the Raab Guide site that can help you organize this process and of course I do consult in this area for a living. But the point of today's post isn't that you should run a thorough selection project. It's simply that should recognize that you do have choices, and take advantage of them.


Fred said...

Hi Dave,
We now have landing pages, auto-routing, lead management and a host of new features since August that I have neglected to update you on. Perhaps we should chat again.

Also, we aren't for very small companies but are for SMBs, which is usually companies with less than 500 employees. However, we have a number that are above that as well (but below 1000 employees).

Thanks for the mention.

David Raab said...

Thanks for the update Fred. I've corrected the text of the main post.

Joe said...

Thanks for the mention. We enjoy your diverse perspective in CRM and marketing automation software.

You're always welcome to ask us questions about what we've got going on.

Joseph Manna, Infusionsoft said...

David - I agree that Infusionsoft has some merit. I've been through their training certification for marketing automation and although the training was weak, the product is quite useful for small companies. One point to illustrate how they think about marketing automation and the customer: when Infusionsoft sends and automated email alert, it is captured in the customer contact history. Contrast this with Salesforce - where an email alert is ignored in the contact history. It never shows ups.

Ian Gilyeat

Adam Blitzer said...

Thanks for the write-up David. This is a great space and there are a lot of excellent choices for B2B marketers looking to implement marketing automation solutions.

One other player I would add to the mix is HubSpot. Their focus (SEO, social media tracking, inbound marketing, etc.) is a bit different but they provide excellent thought leadership for small business marketers.

Steven Woods said...

I've enjoyed your writing on the space, and the perspectives you bring. I did want to add a comment and quick clarification on this article though. I'm with Eloqua, and wanted to clarify the first categorization you made. We offer 4 products to the market, Lite, Express, Team, and Enterprise.

Lite starts at $1500/m (includes setup), and Express starts at $2000/m.

We'd be glad to put you in touch with some of our numerous SMB customers to get a deeper perspective on our success in that market.

Steve Woods, Eloqua

David Raab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Woods said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Raab said...

Thanks Steve. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that Eloqua lacks successful SMB clients. Readers interested in the functionality of different Eloqua versions can find them laid out nicely on the Elqoua Web site. Interestingly, different vendors remove different features when they configure their low-end products, so people should look at them carefully to see if what's included happens to match their needs. Eloqua Lite, for example, is shown on your Website as lacking integration--a critical issue for some people, and quite irrelevant for others. [Note: Steve told me subsequently that Lite DOES include integration. Sorry for any confusion.]

michael said...

yes, i realize this post is two years old, but it's a good overview of the types of companies and pricing in the market at the time. My question is whether it's necessary to spend the money for add-on apps when much of the functionality can be done in Salesforce. We evaluated one of the high-end apps in 2008 and felt that we could replicate much of the functionality, and especially most of what our client would truly use, in Salesforce.

What do people think of Salesforce as a stand-alone marketing automation/lead nurturing platform?



David Raab said...

Michael, this is a very common question. Key weaknesses of include limits on the number of emails you can send at any one time, limits in the complexity of multi-step campaigns, and lack of visitor-level Web tracking (very important for behavior-based lead scoring). I'm sure there are others if anyone else wishes to pile on.