- services: vendors are bundling their systems with services to help marketers use them, either by offering the services themselves (LeadLife, MakesBridge, Ontraport (formerly OfficeAutoPilot), RightWave, SalesEngineInternational) or by creating versions that agencies resell to their clients (Optify, MindFireInc, many others).
- sales enablement: systems to share marketing information with sales (Genius, SalesFusion, LeadFormix, RightOn Interactive, Optify)
- distributed marketing: systems shared between central marketing organizations and local branches, dealers, distributors, sales agents, etc. (NitroMojo, Marketing Advocate, OptifiNow, Optify, Balihoo)
The first three trends strike me as defensive: small vendors need niches to compete against the huge resources of the big general purpose marketing automation products, who are all now part of larger companies (Eloqua, Pardot/ExactTarget), public (Marketo) or heavily funded (Act-On, HubSpot). By contrast, the fourth trend seems to be driven by recognition that small business presents a huge opportunity.
I only mention this because I’ve recently been looking at a lot of new (to me) vendors and haven’t been able to write about many of them. Placing them in the larger industry perspective gives me a chance to at least drop all their names and makes it easier to decide which to profile next. I’ll use the extremely scientific approach of selecting Optify, since it appears in all four categories.
Optify was founded in 2008 and launched its original product, a search engine optimization (SEO) tool, about a year later. Its primary clients were then, and still remain, digital marketing agencies. Both the agencies and their clients have been mostly small businesses – in the survey for our soon-to-be-published VEST report, Optify reports that 60% of its clients have under $5 million revenue. This makes it a system for both small business and service vendors: two of my four themes. Its distributed marketing capabilities stem from its agency roots, since the fine-grained, hierarchical permissions needed to let one agency manage installations for multiple clients are similar to the permissions needed to distribute permissions between central marketers and local affiliates. That's theme number three.
Finally, Optify has expanded into conventional marketing automation over the past 18 months and most recently added basic contact management and distribution of lead information, scores, and alerts to sales people. This is enough sales enablement to complete its sweep of the four themes. I guess I should send them a t-shirt or something.
You can also think of Optify as having worked its way down from the top of the funnel (SEO) to the middle (marketing automation) and towards the bottom (CRM). This will remind marketing automation aficionados of HubSpot, which has made a similar journey. The biggest obvious difference (if you ignore HubSpot’s $100 million or so in venture capital funding) is that HubSpot offers its own blogging and Web content management, while Optify provides WordPress and Drupal plug-ins for visitor tracking and landing pages. This is the standard approach among marketing automation products – as Optify says on its Web site, “We know you already have a website and a favorite marketing CMS.” The system can also create Facebook landing pages and track visitors to them.
What Optify does offer inbound marketers is extensive support for search engine optimization. This includes detailed research into keyword rankings for the client and competitors, analysis of Web pages for features that improve search ranks, an inbound link manager, and a Twitter client to publish posts and embed trackable URLs that measure campaign results.
Moving towards the middle of the funnel, Optify offers reasonably powerful email and landing page builders, based on templates or HTML. Landing pages can be attached to an auto-responder email, while standard fields on forms are automatically mapped to Salesforce.com. Emails are delivered through ExactTarget. Users can create lists and segments based on all contact properties, activities, email history, and custom fields. There are no real multi-step campaigns, however.
Sales enablement includes lead scoring, with multiple scores per lead; alerts based on search keywords and lead scores; a live ticker showing current Web site visitors with companies identified via reverse IP lookup; and appending of company data from Dunn & Bradstreet. The system can send each salesperson a daily email of newly qualified leads, selected with shared rules or separate rules for each salesperson.. Salespeople can view their contact list, drill down to individual profiles, aand drill further to see behavior details – even as far as each page viewed during a Web site visit. Users can send the contact a system email or add it to a list.
CRM integration is currently limited to sending data to Salesforce.com. A proper API for bi-directional integration with any CRM system is under development.
Reporting is a particular strength. Optify can build a unified contact profile by connecting names, email addresses, social accounts, and multiple cookies for the same person, using site log-ins, email clicks, and form submits on different devices. This lets reports show Web visits, conversions and other subsequent activity from search, social, and email campaigns. A dashboard lets users pick widgets to display selected information. Data can be exported to Excel, which is what many of Optify's agency clients prefer. The company is planning an API to let clients export data directly.
All told, this is a pretty reasonable package for a small business marketing system. It’s broadly similar to the scope of small business leaders Infusionsoft and Ontraport, although those products offer more elaborate campaigns and process flows. Pricing is also competitive with other small business systems if not especially cheap: company marketers pay based on page views and emails sent; starting at $350 per month for 10,000 views and 25,000 emails, . Agency pricing is based on the number of Web sites and email volume. Distributed marketing also has its own pricing.
Optify has more than 400 agency clients and many more individual sites using the system.