What makes a tech savvy bootstrapper marketing automation tool?

@ian this is triggered by you…

Marketing Automation here’s what I want. I want it to understand soft lifecycle of find, try, purch + events + emails. no cms, forms, etc

— Ian Landsman (@ianlandsman) January 18, 2014

I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on this in a non-140 character limited space!

Oh … and releated: http://chiefmartec.com/2014/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2014/

Well… like all good customer I don’t know exactly what I want just that I want it!

In short I want 1 part CRM, 1 part Mixpanel, 1 part CampaignMonitor but all software specific. See most of the marketing automation stuff out there does this already. They do track contacts and let you add info to them, they can track ‘events’ they can automate the sending of emails based on contact data.

None of them that I can find though are software specific. They’re all generic so that a software company can use them or a deli. I get why you’d want to make it so, but I find I end up hitting all kinds of walls because of this.

Some examples. Pretty much none of them have the concept of an Account as being separate from a Contact. So there’s no way to say these 5 people work for Company XYZ. You just end up with 5 separate contacts which causes all kinds of problems when you get to events and sending emails based on events, etc. Most people seem to just punt on this and lie to the systems and act as if all 5 people are the same. So they login and you just apply the admin’s email to all the people. But then you get a lot of inaccuracy.

None of them specifically track the process of someone finding you (and how), signing up for a trial, purchasing. You CAN set that up yourself kinda, but even so all the reports end up being very generic and the whole thing would be cleaner and simpler if the software understood my process instead of me bending it in ways it doesn’t always like.

Almost none of them are optimized for more than 1 product. Have 2 products? That’s too bad, you’ll need 2 accounts which means you need to set everything up again! Go through all their weird mumbo jump.

The costs on most of these tools are outrageous. I don’t so much mind that they’re expensive. I can see how in theory they’re providing a lot of value. But again, they’re optimized for deli’s. Starting me out with a max of 10K contacts is silly. To make the most use of this tool I’d want to import all our customers and past contacts. Well over that, so right from the start I’m in the penalty zone paying outrageous per contact fees.

To me contacts should be added in huge swaths at different tiers not $100 or every extra 500 and what not. I’m not a big fan of per-contact pricing anyway as I think it encourages the users to make bad decisions. Most likely I’ll have to go through from time to time and delete contacts who I think may not be useful anymore. But isn’t the point of the software to tell me who is and isn’t and let me track if someone who I thought wasn’t’ going to be a customer becomes one! Why encourage me to constantly be deleting my data to avoid crazy overage charges?

So there you go. That’s pretty much the core of it. Most of it can in theory be wired together with different services but that has a lot of other downsides. I could also build it into the apps but that’s a lot of work and there are some things that we just wouldn’t want to do that with. Looking forward to suggested solutions!

I’ve had good experience with https://www.intercom.io

From your ‘1 part CRM, 1 part Mixpanel, 1 part CampaignMonitor’ description, they seem to fulfil at least most of your criteria. We had good experience passing customer data into it and using it as our help desk tool and some lifecycle emails.

For more traditional ‘marketing email’ we still synced our user mails with Campaign Monitor.

Whether you get on with the design decisions they’ve made… that’s your call! :smile:

Intercom might be OK for Snappy. I tried it there before, though I overall didn’t really like it. Their real time view is probably best of all of them. It won’t work for something like HelpSpot as far as I can tell, it’s entirely focused on SaaS apps. It also doesn’t seem to do anything with the entire front end of the cycle. So no tracking of visits and where they came from and the flow through becoming a customer. It’s only for after they sign up.

Very true.

Google Analytics for the customer acquisition side? Although, honestly, I’ve never been able to master it. Mixpanel/Kissmetrics have both been recommended to me for that half… but I couldn’t get on with either particularly.

Exactly! See this is what I want. I don’t want to cobble together 3 apps to do what every single person selling software needs to do. Track how they find you, track when they become a lead (start a trial, etc), track when they purchase, track what features they’re using, provide unified reports across all that. That’s what I want. GIVE IT TO ME!

I guess the problem is that it is so rare for an individual user to want all of this functionality in one place. Both pre- and post-customership.

I guess, most typical businesses of any size are likely to be silo-ed enough for the individual pieces of the puzzle to be operated by separate people? Customer acquisition, one problem, customer support, another. Then statistics pulled together for the CEO using gasp PowerPoint/Keynote…

Turns out bootstrap-y, control freaks (like myself) are not a significant target market. :smile:

Hey Ian,

Your outline of what you want is golden. As a marketer that’s what I want too. Understanding “soft” leads converting to customers, having a notion of a “Company” or account. And really getting a full picture of the funnel in one place. As the CEO of Customer.io, we’re seeking to solve that problem. We’re not there yet.

For a really core set of cases like:

  • Sending a newsletter to your userbase (or just paid accounts)
  • Sending (and measuring) a series onboarding emails based on whether or not someone invited a teammate to snappy etc…
  • Letting your less-technical folks edit content for transactional emails

If you’re a software product, we kick the pants off of marketing automation tools for delis, analytics products that tacked on email, traditional list based email tools, and CRMs.

We’ve had companies like Codeclimate hack our app to model “accounts”. If you’re willing, you can use the product in non-standard ways to achieve your goals.

As far as my understanding of the market, you’re probably going to have to do some cobbling. Our whole funnel exists in Woopra (leads + anonymous) + Customer.io (email) + a custom dashboard (post-sign up reporting). On our dashboard we have charts & stats for activation post-sign up, churn etc. I’ll show it to you if you want. It’s a daily challenge to make sure I have a full picture of our entire company and funnel from beginning to end.

You may also want to talk to Brennan Dunn about how he uses InfusionSoft. (He also uses Customer.io, but his specific use of Infusionsoft is for cross selling from courses, ebooks, and his software).

The specific problem you outlined is one I personally experience in my company, and one I care deeply about. We’re 1.5 years (and just reached profitability for 5 people!) in to a 10 year goal to solve that. If you can wait (heh), we’re going to be expanding from the core we do well now in to all of the directions you mentioned.

– Colin

P.S. We focus on giving you kick-ass support too.

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I look forward to the day when I can safely ditch InfusionSoft and place all my chips on Customer.io :smile:

But like Colin said, for lifecycle / transactional / broadcast emails to people who have a representative user record sitting in your app’s database, Customer.io can’t be beat. Where it sounds like they’re working toward is to track pre-“customer” contacts and anonymous sessions.

In a perfect world, I’d know:

  1. Lead sources (referrers, etc.) of everyone who signed up for an email course / general newsletter (e.g. a lead)
  2. When they went from anonymous -> lead, and what that process looked like.
  3. When they went from lead -> customer (purchase, trial, …) I’d love for this to be one-to-many, like “They bought X today, and tried Y a week ago but didn’t convert.” I’m doing this now with InfusionSoft tags.
  4. Lifetime value stats, especially if multiple products are in the mix.
  5. User centered in lead / anonymous stage, which nicely folds under accounts or companies.
  6. Conditional targeting based on what people have done, not done, bought, and not bought. (Again, doing this now with the kitchen sink that is InfusionSoft)

Didn’t realize you were here Brennan! Thanks for sharing how you’re thinking about things.

Has anyone here tried/used Ontraport? Seems like it combines a lot of the features Brennan mentions, but I’ve heard it’s not Enterprise scale (not that I would be bothered by that). It does have an API.