Thursday, May 06, 2010

Genoo Offers Web Marketing for Small Business

Summary: Genoo provides a simple Web site, demand generation and social marketing for $199 per month. It’s not the most sophisticated system or the prettiest, but some small businesses may find it's just what they need.

Genoo offers a small-business-oriented Web marketing system at a small-business-friendly price of $199 per month. I’m somewhat grandly labeling it a “Web marketing system” rather than “demand generation” because its microsite could replace a small company’s primary Web site. Demand generation features are adequate, if a bit rudimentary, and are supplemented by social marketing capabilities that do an above-average job of integrating social activities with traditional lead data. Over all, it’s an option worth considering for businesses with limited funding and limited needs. (For other small business systems, see my list of demand generation vendors from last November.)

Let’s start with the microsites. Each Genoo subscription includes a single site with unlimited pages using the client’s own domain name. Pages can be built with Genoo’s free standard design templates or clients can pay Genoo $500 for a custom template. Each page can incorporate CSS style sheets, tags for search engine optimization, social sharing widgets, data capture forms, and visitor comments. Commenters are automatically entered as leads into the Genoo database. The commenting system captures a URL, link text and Twitter name in addition to the usual first/last name and email address.

All pages are built and managed through a content library, which can also contain materials such as images, downloadable files and link lists. An RSS manager lets visitors subscribe to selected items, simplifying programs such as newsletters. RSS subscribers can also be automatically added as leads.

Data capture forms can be displayed within a Genoo page or linked to an externally-hosted page through Genoo-provided Javascript. Either configuration will post data directly to the Genoo database. One major limitation is that the system supports only a fixed set of data fields (29 if I counted correctly). Genoo plans to let users add custom fields but hasn’t set a date for this feature. User-defined surveys, which allow some expansion in data storage, are due this fall.

The current system lets users build forms with any of the existing fields, change formatting, labels and sequence, and designate fields as mandatory. Once a form is submitted, Genoo can add a lead type and lead source to the submitter’s record. Submission can also trigger a confirmation email, send the visitor to a confirmation Web page, and send an alert email to company staff.

Each lead can be tagged with multiple lead types. These can be set by page comments, content downloads and list criteria in addition to form submissions. List criteria can be based on combinations of existing lead types, other lead attributes (location, industry, company size, budget, etc.) and behaviors such as number of site visits, time since last visit, and number of emails.

The system can send emails through list selections or nurture programs. Leads enter nurture programs through triggers, which can be based on assignment of a new lead type or Web events such as email clicks, page views and downloads. Nurture programs contain one or more emails, each sent a specified number of days after the initial trigger event. Genoo’s nurture capabilities are barebones by today’s demand generation standards – email is the only type of message available, there’s no way to send different emails to different leads within the same step, and there's no way to skip a step. Genoo does plan to add direct mail and telemarketing options.

Let me modify that last statement just a bit: most of Genoo’s nurture capabilities are barebones. The scheme to coordinate movement of leads across sequences is quite elaborate – in fact, the term “Byzantine” comes to mind. For each sequence, users can a specify a trigger that will remove leads from the sequence and can decide whether entry to the sequence will remove a lead from all other sequences or a list of specific sequences. So far so good.

But if users really want to get fancy, they can also assign each sequence to a numeric level within track. They can then specify, separately for each sequence, whether entry to the sequence will suspend a lead from all other sequences within a track, from all sequences at lower levels within the same track, or all sequences at lower levels in all tracks. They can also block leads from entering a new sequence if the lead is already active at a sequence on a higher level. This is a very powerful and flexible approach, although users must be well organized to apploy it effectively. Of course, users can ignore these features if they wish.

Lead scoring in Genoo is more straightforward. Points can be assigned for attributes and activities, including the usual Web behaviors (page visits, form submissions, downloads) and social behaviors (sharing, commenting, RSS subscription). This is a closer integration of social into lead scoring than I recall seeing elsewhere. Users also specify how far back to look when assigning points and set a score threshold to submit a lead to CRM. Genoo maintains only one score per lead – a big problem for companies that want to score leads against different products, but a limit that Genoo shares with many other demand generation products.

Genoo offers bidirectional synchronization with, although only a handful of the company's 32 current clients actually use it. Users have considerable control over which leads are shared, with options to create queues for leads to send to Salesforce and to specify which campaigns will send leads back to Genoo.

Users can also create shared and personal follow-up queues within Genoo, complete with notes and scheduled activities for individual leads. This lets Genoo to provide basic contact management for clients without a separate CRM system.

Reporting in Genoo is reasonably complete, including source tracking, referrals, search keywords, email campaign results, links clicks, forms filled out, and forward-to-friend forms. The system doesn’t use IP addresses to report on the companies of anonymous Web site visitors, although the vendor is exploring an alliance with a third party to add this feature. As I mentioned in an earlier post on social marketing, Genoo is among the handful of systems that track social click-throughs to the original sharer, allowing marketers to see which leads are actively driving traffic through social media.

These features are all included in Genoo’s base price of $199 per month, regardless of file size or Web activity. Users pay another $8.50 per thousand for emails sent, which won't add much to most clients' bills. Clients wishing to use Genoo as a sales automation system pay another $9.95 per sales user per month. Set-up and support are free and there’s a 30 day free trial.


Roy Russo said...

Hi David,

Interesting angle on Marketing Automation, with a base offering and a nominal price. As more of these types of offerings appear, it's a clear sign that the MA market is maturing and going mainstream.

Roy Russo

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing Dave; great critique. We'll see if the Genoos and Infusionsofts of the world will get SMBs to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon.