Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Silverpop's Latest Release Targets Sophisticated Marketing Automation Buyers

Summary: Silverpop has continued to extend the marketing automation capabilities of its Engage platform. The latest release adds features that are most important to enterprise marketers.

More than a year has passed since Silverpop merged its email and marketing automation systems into a single product, Engage 8. The combined product offered advanced email but was missing some capabilities available in the previous marketing automation product. These included revenue reporting, anonymous visitor lookups, marketing calendars, and advanced scoring features such as caps on points from one event type. Clients who needed those features had to remain on the previous system (Engage B2B). Prospects who wanted them had to look elsewhere.

Silverpop has been steadily enhancing its new product since that time. The latest version, Engage 8.3, was released last month. It still doesn’t offer all the features of the oldl B2B product because Silverpop decided that some were not worth duplicating. But it does offer other capabilities that are improvements. Here are some highlights from the latest set of additions:

- multiple scores per lead. This is important in large companies that need to score leads against multiple products. It also allows different scoring rules for different customer segments. Scoring models can now include data values, such as a score that was calculated externally and imported.

- progressive profiling. Online forms can automatically remove questions a visitor has already answered and replace them with new questions in a user-specified sequence. Silverpop's form builder handles this quite elegantly, without requiring the user to embed rules or a scripting language.

- social sharing. The system can publish directly to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Content can include sharing buttons for a wide range of other systems. The system can track the number of shares and reshares for each message and identify traffic from those shares. It also captures the identity of the original sharer although this is not currently exposed.

- revenue tracking. Engage still relies on to produce revenue reports. But it now feeds Salesforce all campaigns that touched the lead and flags both the original source and the campaign that generated contact information. This will allow advanced attribution analysis.

- integration. Users can now embed campaign codes within a URL link, making them easier to capture. They can have the system create tasks when a new lead is created, use opportunity stages within campaign rules, and add leads to a campaign at any step in a marketing automation program.

- enhanced security. Silverpop suffered a widely-publicized security breach in December 2010. The new release tightens access in several ways, including user-specific IP restrictions, challenges to log-ins from new IP addresses, two-factor authentication, and narrower restrictions on administrative rights. Given subsequent breaches at other firms, most recently Epsilon and Sony, it's possible that vendors and marketers will start paying more attention to security issues.

- email controls. Merging the email and marketing automation systems does have the advantage of giving B2B marketers access to features developed for Silverpop’s advanced email business. These include send-time optimization, which automatically sends campaign emails at the most effective time of day, and a “snooze” option that lets recipients halt email messages for a specified time period instead of opting out completely.

These are all valuable additions to Silverpop’s B2B capabilities. But Silverpop faces an uphill battle in regaining lost momentum and competing with the advanced analytics now touted by several competitors. Silverpop may be positioning itself to serve the upper end of the market, where companies with multiple products and world-wide organizations need advanced features like multiple scores, dynamic content, enhanced security, and high scalability. That’s a plausible strategy, although it means competing against both high-end B2B marketing automation vendors and B2C products like Neolane and Teradata/Aprimo. Given the costs of product development, it would be tough to remain a first-tier system by selling to large enterprises alone.

No comments: