Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Genoo and Act-On Software Add Social Marketing Features

Summary: Two low-cost demand generation systems, Genoo and Act-On Software, have added unusually advanced social marketing features.

A few weeks back, I wrote about social marketing features from consumer marketing automation vendors. Naturally our friends in the business marketing space have been adding such features as well. I got details from two of them last week.

- Genoo, which offers a solid demand generation system for a rock-bottom $199/month, has placed a particular focus on capturing contact information from social interactions. People who comment on a Genoo-hosted Web page or subscribe to a Genoo-originated RSS feed can be loaded into the system as contacts and these activities can factor into their lead score. I don’t recall seeing either feature in any other demand generation system, although I haven't checked carefully.

Genoo also offers “share to social” badges for messages delivered by its system. These embed a unique ID to link any resulting Web visits back to the original sharer. This feature is not unique – Genius.com and smartFocus do something similar – but it’s still pretty unusual. However, the value is so obvious that I expect many other vendors will soon follow. Genoo can also assign lead score points for social media sharing.

I expect to post a more comprehensive review of Genoo in the next week or two.

- Act-On Software is another low-cost system, starting at $500 per month. It has made several important enhancements since my review in March 2009, notably multi-step campaign sequences and bi-directional integration with Salesforce.com.

To the current topic, it has also added a “Twitter Prospector” to reduce the labor required to mine Twitter for leads. This lets users define multiple search queries and see each result in separate columns. To screen out marketing pitches, the system can exclude tweets with embedded links. Users can reply to selected tweets through corporate accounts, drawing on a library of standard messages. This reduces the risk of inappropriate replies. Users can also forward a tweet to someone else for review or comment.

Act-On will also string together related tweets to give a sense of the on-going dialog. Web site visits driven from Twitter are flagged in the activity history of individual leads and in general Web analytics reports, although Act-On does not tie them to the originator like Genoo. It does add the Twitter ID of known visitors to their lead profile when possible.

Providing a library of standard replies to Twitter messages is not unique (see my December 2009 review of Spredfast for something similar). But it’s an unusual feature for a demand generation system, which typically defers to CRM for managing interactions with individuals. Act-On originally developed the feature for its own use, so perhaps there's no deep significance to its choice. It's also worth considering that the next logical step -- fully automated replies to social messages -- would almost surely fall within the normal scope of marketing and demand generation. (I'm not sure automated responses are such a great idea, but they will ultimately be the only way to manage the volume of messages presented in social media. So it's more a question of how to do them effectively than whether to do them at all.) What we see here is still more blurring of the boundaries between the demand generation and CRM systems, a trend I fully expect to continue.

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