Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Genoo Adds SEO To Web Site Management and Marketing Automation

I had an earful last week from Genoo president Kim Albee, who told me that I’ve misclassified her target customers as “micro businesses” (under $5 million revenue) for the past two years. She tells me nearly all of her clients are larger than that. I’ve revised my big list of demand generation vendors to reflect this.

The main cause of my misunderstanding was Genoo’s starting price of $199 per month, which is below any small or mid-size business system. But the lowest price for Genoo with CRM integration is $599 per month, and I consider CRM integration a required feature in a B2B marketing automation product. This is still low for small-to-mid systems but not wholly out of line. On the other hand, I should have been warned by the fact that Genoo doesn’t provide a built-in CRM system, which is pretty much the key defining characteristic of a micro business system.

The good news is the error doesn’t seem to have crimped Genoo’s growth, although Albee tells me it was used against them in several competitive situations. The company now has about 75 clients, compared with around 35 at the time of my initial review nearly eighteen months ago.

The system itself has also grown although the general approach remains consistent. This approach extends beyond most marketing automation products to incorporate full Web content management and marketing services. The most interesting recent enhancements are products for search engine optimization (SEO): “competitive intelligence” runs a multivariate analysis to identify factors that contribute to competitive pages’ ranking; and “content relevancy analyzer” scans high-ranking pages find theme words that search engines will use to determine relevance. The goal in both cases is to recommend changes that will improve search marketing results.

Other enhancements allow deeper visitor tracking, including tracking tags on Web pages not hosted at Genoo; improved customer scoring; progressive profiling; unlimited custom fields on the lead table (Albee said no client has ever asked for custom fields anywhere else); and an expanded Application Program Interface (API) to accept leads from other systems. The February release will add features to capture social media activities and encourage social book-marking. These join a respectable set of social media features already in place, including sharing buttons, share tracking, and traffic reporting.

Albee said the company has also developed anonymous visitor look-up, based on IP address. But internal tests found additional filtering is needed to avoid wasting users’ time, so full deployment is on hold until this can be added.

This concern about users’ time reflects Genoo’s unusually deep involvement with its clients’ marketing programs. Professional services have always been a major part of the company’s offering and constitute its fastest growing line of business. The company is setting up alliances with external consultants to help meet the demand.

Albee also pointed to Genoo’s pricing as a reaction to customer requirements. The model is more complicated than many small business oriented marketing automation systems.  It has three product levels and gives users within each level the choice to pay either for emails (with unlimited leads in the database) or by database size (with unlimited emails). The two lower price levels also require additional charges for the SEO tools, which are licensed from an external developer.  Free phone support is always included and professional services are always billed separately. There’s also a salesperson access tool billed at $9.95 per month per user. Clients can change their plans each month and are billed for overages on a cost per thousand basis. While conventional wisdom among marketing automation vendors is that buyers prefer a fixed fee and no surprises, Albee said her clients appreciate the flexibility of Genoo’s approach.

Albee said her clients are a mix of small and mid-size businesses, including some divisions of large enterprises.  Genoo's low price may have scared off a few buyers who felt a system that cheap simply couldn't be adequate.  It's an easy mistake to make, but companies of all sizes who want to combine conventional marketing automation with Web site and SEO should still take a look.

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