Infusionsoft vs. LoopFuse for Marketing Automation

Posted by Rachel Blankstein
Rachel Blankstein
Rachel is a serial entrepreneur with a successful track record in launching businesses. Rachel launched and gr...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 12 April 2012
in Online Marketing

If you are looking to create more lasting relationships with potential and current customers, using marketing automation software is a worthy investment. Marketing automation has been shown to help deepen relationships by providing relevant information to your audience based upon actions they take or through the stage of the customer lifecycle they are in, among other factors.

Two of the lower-cost marketing automation providers are LoopFuse and Infusionsoft. Both companies have been around for many years and have built up a strong reputation among small and mid-sized businesses.

How do Loopfuse and Infusionsoft compare with each other?

LoopFuse and Infusionsoft offer many of the same features. They both have a fully functioning email marketing system that supports personalized emails and intelligent autoresponders, which send emails to end users when a certain action is taken by the end user.Both marketing applications also have a lead scoring system that allows leads to be graded by criteria such as number of actions a user has taken on your website or qualifications determined through a phone call, and segment them for targeting. In addition, the two products provide access to functions like lead nurturing, unique landing pages, and web analytics.

Infusionsoft does have a few capabilities that LoopFuse is missing. The application comes with a built-in CRM system that can automatically distribute leads to employees and standardize sales processes. It also supports a variety of eCommerce functions, such as an online shopping cart on your website to process payments and the option to offer discounts and trial versions.

The pricing plans for the two applications are slightly different. Infusionsoft starts off with the standard plan, which costs $199/month and supports 5,000 prospects and an unlimited number of emails per month. The higher tier plans support a much larger number of contacts, as well as more simultaneous users and additional features. Enterprise customers can have up to 500,000 prospects.

LoopFuse is notable in that all of its pricing plans offer an unlimited number of emails, page views, and simultaneous users. The main difference is the number of stored prospects that are allowed. For $450/month, a company can have up to 10,000 prospects, while $750/month increases this to 20,000 prospects. Enterprise-level customers can pay $2000/month to store up to 100,000 prospects.

LoopFuse also offers a free version of its application, though the capabilities are limited to 500 stored prospects, 5,000 emails, and 25,000 page views per month. Infusionsoft does not have any sort of free version, though it does offer a free trial that allows companies to try out the software ahead of time.

Customer support is fairly similar for the two products. They both provide phone and email support during normal business hours throughout the work week. LoopFuse is the only one that offers Live Chat to its users, however. This can provide a simplified means to get an answer about a basic problem or concern.

Infusionsoft definitely wins when it comes to mobile capabilities. The software is fully compatible with the iPhone, Android, and most tablet devices. LoopFuse does not currently have a mobile version of its application, though this may change in future versions.

Bottom line: Infusionsoft edges out LoopFuse in a few important categories. It has slightly better pricing and features, and can handle a greater number of stored contacts. They are both solid choices, however, and a marketing department can definitely benefit from having either at their disposal.

Comparz has user reviews and ranking of the marketing automation category. Click here to view Comparz' marketing automation rankings.

Tags: Untagged
Recent Comments Show all comments
  • jordanhatch
    jordanhatch says #
    Oliver - You are correct on a few points, but you're missing out on a few as well. 1. Do you currently have Salesforce implemen...
  • Oliver
    Oliver says #
    How strongly criteria can differ! I am evaluating both solutions and my three most important criteria are missing: 1. I need a pr...

Detailed Review of LoopFuse

Posted by Karen D. Schwartz
Karen D. Schwartz
With over 25 years of technology writing experience, Karen has worked at leading publications including CIO an...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 29 February 2012
in Online Marketing

LoopFuse: Easy-to-Use, Full-Featured Marketing Automation

Who it's for: Fast-growing companies that want to convert visitors to leads and leads to customers.

What it is:An easy-to-use marketing automation suite for managing marketing and email campaigns. Its integrated set of tools provide everything from lead nurturing and management to sophisticated tracking.

The Good: LoopFuse is a feature-rich system that is truly easy to use, even for first-timers. Its customer support is excellent, and its free version is a standout in the category.

The Bad: Although LoopFuse is well-integrated with Salesforce.com, it doesn’t have out-of-the-box integration with other CRM systems. Its social media functions also need upgrading.

Bottom Line: LoopFuse is a great choice for ambitious, fast-growing companies that want a full-featured marketing automation system.

Detailed Review

Pricing: LoopFuse FreeView is free for customers who stay within the limits, as long as they stay within those limits. No contract required.

LoopFuse FreeView

Free

Prospects

1,000

Page Views

5,000

Emails

25,000

Users

Unlimited

 

LoopFuse OneView

$400/month

$750/month

$1,250/month

$2,000/month

$3,000/month

Prospects

10,000

20,000

40,000

100,000

250,000

Page Views

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Emails

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Users

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited


OneView adds these features to the free version:

  • Premium support
  • Advanced CRM configuration capabilities
  • No LoopFuse logo and link in email campaigns
  • Access to APIs

Support: Users routinely sing the praises of LoopFuse’s support. For paying customers, LoopFuse offers phone, chat and email support Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm ET. Free users can call, email and chat, but their response times won’t be as fast. LoopFuse also has webinars, demos, a “Getting Started” guide, community forums, a knowledge base, best practices, white papers and an ROI calculator (so you can see how much value you’re getting from the product) on its website.

Setup: Unlike most marketing automation systems, this one is easy to set up and use out of the box, without outside help. Using the “Getting Started” guide on the website, new users can take the steps necessary to integrate LoopFuse with their web sites and CRM solutions. If you need help, contact LoopFuse. They don’t charge extra.

How it works: All of LoopFuse’s functions are fully integrated, so companies can see the effect that their actions take on the process at all points. The best way to measure everything is through the marketing dashboard, which provides charts and graphs with information in real time and the ability to drill down to campaigns, companies and prospects. LoopFuse doesn’t have its own content management system, but is easily integrated with an external CMS.

Email Marketing: LoopFuse’s email marketing system has all of the functions of a standalone systems, including the ability to create and send personalized emails that incorporate CRM contact information, schedule campaigns for delivery and track and analyze response data. It has message formatting and personalization tools along with tools to authenticate emails for higher deliverability rates. Reports tell you how many of your emails have made it to their destination, along with bounces, bad links, and geographic data.

Lead Management:

Lead Capture: An automated routing process from your integrated CRM system funnels keeps lead information fresh. You can customize the response pages sent to prospects based on the information you get from them, create forms quickly, and send auto-response emails based on the criteria you dictate. Information is automatically routed to the CRM system.

Lead Nurturing: Leads are automatically added to a lead nurturing program when they fill out a lead capture form. A wizard-based system allows users to create lead nurturing programs with the features they want. Personalized and trackable emails can be integrated into the lead nurturing program. The lead nurturing system makes real-time queries to the CRM system, so everything is synced immediately.

Lead Scoring: A wizard-based scoring rule creator lets users create lead scoring rules quickly, based on rules you define, including things like email campaign opens, specific files or web pages downloaded, or specific information entered in lead capture forms. Grades and scores are automatically assigned to leads and contacts within the CRM system. 

Lead Management: LoopFuse coordinates all lead-related data with your CRM account. It also has tools to segment your lead database based on the criteria you specify.

Inbound Marketing and Search Engine Management: This is where you can see what search engines and sites are most valuable to your campaigns. For example, you can see which keywords are impacting your users most, across 12 major search engines. You can also which content pages attract the most visitors.

Identify and track visitors to your website: This feature allows users to see how well marketing efforts have worked at specific companies by tracking which companies have visited the website, which have responded to email marketing campaigns, and which have volunteered information.

CRM Integration: LoopFuse is fully integrated with SalesForce.com, but if you use another CRM system, you’ll have to integrate it with LoopFuse using its API (Application Programming Interface).

Integration with other external applications: LoopFuse relies heavily on integration with third-party systems. In addition to full integration with Salesforce, it also integrates seamlessly with ZenDesk, WordPress, Drupal, Jigsaw, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Google Analytics. Through its API, it also integrates with other CRM systems, help desk software and business directories. Tech-savvy users can create mash-ups that combine LoopFuse data with data from other sources, such as an internal billing system.

Reporting and Analytics: LoopFuse has a wizard that can create marketing reports with customized information, based on one of the 30 templates it offers. Reports can be exported in CSV format or Microsoft Excel. Reports include summaries of target company interaction, activity summary, website activity, email campaign and lead nurturing reports. It’s also got closed-loop reporting that shows the entire lead funnel and can show specifically how prospects and leads are moving through the stages.

Security and Privacy: LoopFuse’s servers and data are secured in a fully backed up secure data center with complete with firewalls and other enterprise-grade security technology. LoopFuse doesn’t use personal information for marketing purpose, but it uses the information (and provides it to third parties) to help improve the product and its services. It shares personal information with its partners and third-party vendors. LoopFuse uses cookies to confirm identity and improve the service.

Comparison to Similar Products: Of the marketing automation companies we reviewed, LoopFuse falls squarely in the middle, along with Pardot, in terms of ease of use and the size of company it’s best suited to (companies of 50 to 100 employees that are growing rapidly).

Conclusions: LoopFuse has a great combination of features on a platform that’s easy to use. It’s a great value, especially since its free version has no time limit. That means companies can grow with the platform until they reach the size where they have to pay for use. Service for paying customers is excellent.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.


Detailed Review of Spark by Marketo

Posted by Michael Dortch
Michael Dortch
With over 30 years of analyst experience, Michael most recently served as Director of Research at Focus.com. M...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 28 February 2012
in Online Marketing

Spark by Marketo: Marketing Automation Purpose-Built for Growing Companies

Who it's for: Companies seeking a relatively economical and straightforward entry point into revenue-focused marketing automation. Marketo has combined the core strengths of its popular flagship offering with services and support designed to achieve positive results quickly.

What it is: An integrated suite of tools and services designed to help companies to identify, evaluate, nurture and convert leads, to execute targeted multichannel marketing campaigns and to achieve "360-degree" views of all revenue-driving activities.

The Good: Spark by Marketo is a new offering based upon a proven, comprehensive, flexible and easy-to-use solution. Spark also includes online tutorials for all key features, one-on-one marketing mentoring sessions and a growing range of best practices and other resources.

The Bad: Spark is relatively easy to navigate, even for novices, and includes many useful online resources to help users to get started. Nonetheless, some companies would likely find it more reassuring if Spark clearly included at least the option for direct access to live human help.

Bottom Line: Spark by Marketo offers full-blown marketing automation, tailored to be immediately usable without technical help, even by smaller businesses. For those not intimidated by limited direct access to live, human help, Spark by Marketo could be a true game-changer. 

Detailed Review

Pricing: The Spark by Marketo Web site offers a form for requesting a free "test drive" of the software. Spark by Marketo is priced at $750 per month for all features and support for sending as many as 30,000 e-mails. Users can invoke a "one-click" upgrade to Marketo's flagship Revenue Performance Management Suite at any time, preserving all of their leads and campaigns. Of course, additional charges will apply.

Support: Marketo offers a vibrant online support community, extensive online support resources and rapid electronic access (via e-mail, social media and/or live chat) to customer support personnel. And every Spark by Marketo subscription includes what the company calls a "Spark Launch Pack," purported to ease and speed getting started with the solution. However, Spark by Marketo users cannot access the 24x5 telephone support available to users of Marketo's Revenue Performance Suite.

Where Spark by Marketo support shines is in the inclusion with Spark subscriptions of one-on-one mentoring sessions with marketing experts. Subscribers can seek assistance with specific campaigns or ask about almost anything else related to marketing.

Setup: While Spark by Marketo is straightforward in design and appearance, it offers a lot of functionality, not all of which may be equally familiar to all users within an organization. The rich set of included online tutorials can be helpful here. However, the real challenge for many users will not be Spark by Marketo, but access to and understanding the information those users need to enter into the system to get full value from it. The Spark Launch Pack can help here, but more help may be needed in some cases.

How it works: Spark by Marketo includes easy-to-understand, drag-and-drop tools that let non-technical users build and automate multiple types of outreach collateral and marketing campaigns. The solution also includes lead scoring features, to help marketing teams to prioritize their limited resources more effectively. Some key features are summarized below.

Email Marketing: Spark includes integrated, easy-to-use features for creating email templates, Web site landing pages, event invitations and other outreach collateral. Spark can also then send and track email campaigns on behalf of specific sales or marketing team members and triggered by specifically selected events.

Event Marketing: Spark shines at supporting easy organization and execution of online events. The solution offers integration with leading Webinar and online meeting providers, including Adobe Connect, ON24 and WebEx. Marketers can easily create and send personalized event invitations and reminders and perform post-event lead nurturing.

Inbound Marketing: Spark includes search engine optimization (SEO) features and tools for analyzing keywords and Web site traffic.

Lead Nurturing, Scoring and Insights: Spark is designed to help marketers and sales teams to identify and pursue the prospects that are most likely to buy. It eases and speeds the creation of tailored, multi-part campaigns designed to nurture relationships with high-quality leads, and automates the management of those campaigns. Spark also uses prospect demographics and online behavior information to provide lead scoring, which further helps to identify the most likely prospects.

Social Media: Spark allows users to incorporate on-screen "buttons" for sharing content via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media into customized Web landing pages and forms. Spark also includes social media monitoring and tracking features designed to help users to identify key online purchase influencers, with no IT help required.

Salesforce.com Integration: Spark includes bi-directional integration with the market-leading cloud-based solution for customer and lead management (CRM), Salesforce.com. That integration sets up in minutes, and enables the creation of lead management programs that automatically update key information and tasks in Salesforce.com. Such integration can enable more complete management of every relationship with every lead across that relationship's entire "life cycle."

Reporting & Analytics: Numerous out-of-the-box, easy-to-customize dashboard and report templates help to translate detailed analytics of interactions, leads and opportunities into actionable business information for all business decision makers. Users can create detailed reports with or without a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, and automate e-mail notification of report updates.

Security and Privacy: Marketo uses high levels of security including encryption of customer data in transit using the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol. Only authorized personnel have access to Marketo data centers, servers and customer information. Physical security includes biometric controls, video surveillance and background checks of all security personnel.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of Marketing Automation software and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' Marketing Automation software reviews and rankings.



Detailed Review of Pardot

Posted by Karen D. Schwartz
Karen D. Schwartz
With over 25 years of technology writing experience, Karen has worked at leading publications including CIO an...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 28 February 2012
in Online Marketing

Pardot: Soup to nuts marketing automation

Who it's for: Companies of about 20 to 200 employees that want to move away from standalone email marketing, lead management and web analytics to one comprehensive solution.

What it is: A marketing automation platform that tracks prospects at every touchpoint from the first visit until they become customers.

The Good: Competitive pricing, easier setup and learning curve, and very good support.

The Bad: No phone support at Professional and Enterprise levels. Doesn’t support automation of events.

Bottom Line: Pardot is a well-priced, easy to use marketing automation platform that makes a lot of sense for small and midsized businesses. 

Detailed Review

Pricing: No contract required. Free trial. 

Edition

Professional: $1,000/month

Enterprise: $1,500/month

Ultimate: $3,000/month

Emails per month

30,000

100,000

500,000

Landing pages

50

Unlimited

Unlimited

Forms

50

Unlimited

Unlimited

Custom fields

50

Unlimited

Unlimited

Hosting space

100 MB

500 MB

5 GB

Support

Email

Email/chat

Email/chat/phone

 

Note on pricing grid: All editions include unlimited users and prospects, lead deduplication, custom lead scoring, nurturing programs, real-time sales alerts, custom domain for URLs and fully customizable URLs.

 

Quick Start Package (optional):

 

Quick Start Package

Bronze (included/free)

Silver ($2k+)

Gold ($3k+)

Personalized training hours

0

2

5

Forms setup

2

6

15

Landing pages setup

2

6

15

Autoresponder email setup

2

6

15

Automation rules setup

1

2

3

Drip programs setup

1

2

3

Site search setup

No

Yes

Yes

 

Note on Quick Start packages: All levels include a dedicated implementation manager and unlimited instructor-led group training. They also include integration for CRM, Google AdWords and databases as well as dedicated email IP setup.

 

Support: Support is available 9am-6pm EDT, Monday through Friday, via phone, email or chat, depending on the edition you purchased. Self-support options include a comprehensive knowledgebase, white papers and best practices, as well as twice-weekly two-hour instructor-led group training sessions. Users requiring more in-depth training can schedule one-on-one sessions for an additional fee, as well as consulting.

Setup: Marketing automation systems tend to be difficult to get started with because there are so many pieces, so like most marketing automation vendors, Pardot includes setup support in the form of its QuickStart program. It’s free for the Bronze (basic) edition, and includes setting up drip programs, automation rules, autoresponder email, landing pages and forms. It’s available in a more comprehensive form (for a fee) for the Silver and Gold editions.

How it works: Companies store all prospect data in a Pardot-hosted database, which is kept fully synchronized with the company’s CRM system of choice. Those two systems together manage all touchpoints with the customers and fosters lead tracking and nurturing. Salespeople use Pardot’s LeadDeck to track potential customers. Similar to TweetDeck (but for leads), it tracks the appropriate salesperson when his or her lead is on the site. It’s updated in real time. Pardot’s integration with Google AdWords allows companies to track prospects all the way from the first click to when they start producing revenue.

Email Marketing: Pardot has a full email marketing system built into its platform, complete with an Outlook plug-in. It allows for tailored messages, email blasts, drip marketing, list segmentation, automated scheduling and autoresponders.

Landing Pages and Forms: Pardot includes a set of templates and drag-and-drop tools to quickly build landing pages and forms. The pages capture and store all data entered by prospects, track who has abandoned forms, and collect new data from prospects each time they fill out a form, which builds prospects’ profiles over time.

Lead Nurturing: Users can set up the system to send out emails based on criteria like actions taken by prospects or time. You can also set up a system that collects a few key data point each time the prospect interacts with the site. Answers to those data points will drive the actions the company takes with that prospect.

Lead Grading and Scoring: The system automatically grades prospects based on a customer profile you create and creates a score based on actions they take. It then prioritizes leads based on their scores.

CRM Integration: Pardot is fully integrated with Salesforce.com, SugarCRM SugarForge, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and it can be integrated with other CRM systems using Pardot’s API.

Social Media Integration: Pardot is fully integrated with chat and LinkedIn via plug-ins, which means it can track prospect activities in those mediums. It also has plug-ins for AddThis, a social sharing platform for spreading the word on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks; a bit.ly connector and custom URLs that let users track links across any online channel. Pardot recently upped its social media game by adding new features, such as automated access to sales prospect social media profile data and posts from within the Pardot system and the ability to schedule and send social media messages to prospects from Pardot’s platform.

Integration with other external applications: In addition to plug-ins for social media (LinkedIn, chat, bit.ly and AddThis), Pardot also integrates via plug-in with WebEx, ReadyTalk, GoodData Reporting, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Jigsaw and Twilio Telephony. Email-related plug-ins include Outlook and Gmail. GotoMeeting/GoToWebinar integration is coming soon. Also on the horizon is a video plug-in. For other applications, companies (in concert with a developer) can use Pardot’s API to foster integration.

Mobile compatibility: Pardot has a native iPhone (iOS) app, downloadable from Apple’s iTunes store. This app, optimized for the small screen, gives users access to prospect data and the ability to connect with prospects. There is no app specifically for other mobile platforms, and the company is considering developing an HTML5 app that works on all mobile platforms.

Reporting and Analytics: In addition to numerous standard reports focusing on emails sent, delivered, clicked and opened, along with reports on landing pages and leads, Pardot integrates with GoodData, a reporting system that allows users to create custom reports and see them visualized in whatever way makes sense for the user. This integration allows users to drill down by time frame; and filter data by value, ranking, range and variables. Pardot also integrates with Google Analytics.

Comparison to Similar Products: Large companies may prefer an offering like Eloqua, and very small businesses may prefer something geared to their needs, like InfusionSoft. The sweet spot for Pardot is the small business intent on growing into a medium-sized business.

Conclusions: Pardot has the features of a big-league marketing automation vendor, in an easier-to-use, well-priced package.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' Marketing Automation software reviews and rankings.


Detailed Review of InfusionSoft

Posted by Karen D. Schwartz
Karen D. Schwartz
With over 25 years of technology writing experience, Karen has worked at leading publications including CIO an...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 28 February 2012
in Online Marketing

Infusionsoft: Soup to Nuts Marketing Automation

Who it's for: Small businesses of less than about 50 employees with B2B or B2C models that want a scalable way to ramp up marketing automation.

What it is: A marketing automation platform for small businesses that includes the basics of marketing automation plus ecommerce functions and a proprietary CRM system. Tons of plug-ins so you can expand as needed.

The Good: Extremely powerful system with a lot of flexibility.

The Bad: Not particularly easy to learn. No lead scoring or integrated website tracking. If you’re committed to Salesforce.com or other standalone CRM system, this isn’t for you.

Bottom Line: If you’re a small business selling to consumers or businesses online, Infusionsoft is a good choice. 

Detailed Review

Pricing: 15 day free trial. No contract required. 

Version

Standard $199/month

Plus   $299/month

Premier   $499/month

Elite   $699/month

Enterprise $999/month

Email limit

Unlimited

Unlimited

500,000

1.25 million

2.5 million

Contact Limit

5,000

20,000

100,000

250,000

500,000

Users

2

5

10

15

20

Sales Automation

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Ecommerce

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Note on pricing grid: All pricing levels include QuickStart service. This mandatory bundle of services starts at $1,999. Extra coaching and support services are available at an hourly rate.

Support: Email and phone support are available is available Monday through Friday 7am-5pm Arizona time and UK time. Self-support options include videos, articles and how-to guides along with webinars. Users requiring more comprehensive help can buy blocks of time for things like transitioning data, extensive training and strategic planning.

Setup: Setup isn’t easy, but Infusion’s Quick-Start Services bundle (required of all new customers, starting at $2,000) includes coaching, assessment of current marketing processes, development of a marketing automation plan, help setting up two campaigns, and additional “flex-blocks) for your specific needs.

How it works: Dashboard? 

Unlike most other marketing automation systems, Infusionsoft has its own internal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which captures and stores leads, manages contacts and lists, and handles calendars and appointments.

Email Marketing: Infusionsoft has a full email marketing system built into its platform, complete with an Outlook plug-in. It allows for tailored messages, email blasts, drip marketing, list segmentation, automated scheduling and autoresponders.

Landing Pages and Forms: Infusionsoft includes a set of templates and drag-and-drop tools to quickly build landing pages and forms. The pages capture and store all data entered by prospects, track who has abandoned forms, and collect new data from prospects each time they fill out a form, which builds prospects’ profiles over time.

Lead Nurturing: Users can set up the system to send out emails based on criteria like actions taken by prospects or time. You can also set up a system that collects a few key data point each time the prospect interacts with the site. Answers to those data points will drive the actions the company takes with that prospect.

Lead Grading and Scoring: The system automatically grades prospects based on a customer profile you create and creates a score based on actions they take. It then prioritizes leads based on their scores.

CRM Integration: Pardot is fully integrated with Salesforce.com, SugarCRM SugarForge, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and it can be integrated with other CRM systems using Pardot’s API.

E-commerce: The functions in this category distinguish Infusionsoft from many of its competitors. It’s most useful for Infusionsoft’s customers because so many of them are small B2B or B2C customers that make their living online. Features include the ability to create a storefront and shopping cart, create electronic order forms, offer discounts and upsells based on what you know about customers and their buying behaviors, offer payment plans, and invoice and collect payments electronically. You can also add tags for segmentation, send thank-you emails and trigger other post-purchase follow-up. The inventory tracking feature lets you keep track of when quantities reach a level where they need replenishing. 

Integration with other external applications: Plug-ins araeavailable for GoToWebinar, High Impact Email email templates, InfusionSMS for text message marketing, WordPress, iPhone, Outlook, UPS Shipping, the CustomerHub membership management system, and the QuickSalesSystem lead tracking system. In addition, users can use the API (Application Programming Interface) to integrate Infusionsoft with other systems.

Reporting and Analytics: Infusionsoft has many canned reports to analyze sales, email, campaign, lead and ecommerce metrics. You can customize the dashboard to include the reports most important to you and customize the timeframe of the information you are getting. You can also integrate with Google Analytics via the Infusionsoft API. For example, you can get real-time information on website traffic including popular keywords people are using to visit your site, compare the current month with the previous month in terms of conversion rates or any other metric you want, and see budgeting metrics such as cost per lead or cost per sale.

Security and Privacy: Data transmitted through Infusionsoft is fully encrypted. When it reaches Infusionsoft’s secure data center, it is behind a firewall, where only employees passing biometric, physical and access control devices can enter. Infusionsoft doesn’t sell customer information, but it uses it internally to send special offers and promotional notices. Customers can opt out of these offers.

Comparison to Similar Products: Infusionsoft is the only system we reviewed that uses its own CRM system instead of integrating with powerhouse CRM systems like Salesforce,com. It also has the strongest integration with ecommerce, which is appropriate for system targeting very small businesses.

Conclusions: Infusionsoft clearly is geared toward small businesses. It’s a good choice for small B2B/B2C companies that know exactly what they want out of marketing automation in a flexible, powerful package.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.



Recent comment in this post Show all comments
  • Ramon
    Ramon says #
    Hey Karen, just an FYI Infusionsoft now does have lead scoring and web site analysis!

Detailed Review of Eloqua

Posted by Karen D. Schwartz
Karen D. Schwartz
With over 25 years of technology writing experience, Karen has worked at leading publications including CIO an...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 28 February 2012
in Online Marketing

Eloqua: Marketing Automation with a Focus on Service

Who it's for: Companies that want to turn leads into customers. Eloqua does this with sophisticated tactics like in-depth behavioral lead scoring, nurturing and routing, along with and tight integration with CRM systems.

What it is: An integrated suite of tools that helps companies execute targeted multichannel marketing campaigns, identify likely prospects, and create a method of turning those prospects into customers.

The Good: Eloqua is a mature, flexible, feature-rich system that scores highly on customer support and professional services. It assigns a customer success manager to each customer, helping to ensure success.

The Bad: Although its graphical user interface is intuitive, most companies will need help getting started, and will need to dedicate someone in the company to it. Pricing is higher than some of its competitors, due to its rich feature set.

Bottom Line: It’s a good value, despite the relatively high cost. If you can handle the learning curve, it’s a good investment.

Detailed Review

Pricing: No free trial. Contract required. 

 

Express

Team

Enterprise

Price

$2,000/month

$3,200/month

$6,400/month

Number of users

4-10

11-50

250

Success Coaching

First 10 weeks

Ongoing

Ongoing

Personalization/Customization

Limited

More option

More options

Web API access

10,000 calls/day

20,000 calls/day

50,000 calls/da

Cloud Connectors

Up to 3 apps

Up to 10 apps

Unlimited

Reporting

Standard

Standard

More customized

Notes on Pricing Grid:

All price levels offer best practices and programs template, free live weekly training with trainer, unlimited emails and campaigns.

Support: When it comes to support, Eloqua rises above the rest. In addition to standard chat, email and phone support offered 12 hours per day, Eloqua has an extensive array of courses through Eloqua University, a once weekly “Power Hour” webinar, guides to everything from lead scoring to social enablement, best practices videos, articles and tips.

Most impressively, each customer is assigned to a “customer success manager” (Eloqua Express users share one with other customers, while Team and Enterprise members get their own manager). These managers are on call to help users with everything from ad hoc questions to strategizing about how to get the most out of the tool for a particular campaign.

Setup: Getting started isn’t easy if you’re new at this. Eloqua strongly recommends its money-back guaranteed $6,000 SmartStart package, which includes services to get a company up and running on the platform in less than five days. In addition to implementation, it includes a three-day remote training course.

How it works: Eloqua’s entire stack of functions are fully integrated, which means that companies can see the effect that their actions take on the process every step of the way. Everything is stored in a content management system, which can be organized by campaigns, dates, or any other criteria users set. Users create business process flows using a tool called the Program Builder. This flexible tool can help create and automate any process, from programs that help identify targeted accounts to a scoring program to track and measure prospects.

Email Marketing: Eloqua has a fully functional email marketing system with all of the functionality of a standalone email marketing system. It includes the basics like forms, email templates, opt-out and subscription management, along with more sophisticated functions like the ability to develop multichannel marketing campaigns.

Drip Marketing: This function allows users to send a series of automated messages to prospects at user-set intervals to better engage with the prospect and improve the chances that recipients will become customers.

Campaign Management: This part of the system is for creating and automating multi-channel campaigns. It’s got a lot of useful features, but perhaps the most useful feature is the decision tree, which helps the system route leads based on user-based criteria. Campaign managers start by defining a list of prospects that will be included in the campaign; they can use filters to include and exclude communities of leads within the database. There are also demographic and behavioral filters to help define the most appropriate targets. Campaign managers can create a series of rules for the campaign that help direct the flow, such as when and how to send messages or creating or updating lead record data. Eloqua also supports event management.

Lead Nurturing, Lead Assignment and Lead Scoring: 

  • Lead Nurturing: This is the process of communicating regularly with prospects through newsletters, blogs or event invitations. Eloqua’s system uses automated processes to manage this communication and score prospects until they are ready to become leads.
  • Lead Scoring and Assignment: Eloqua uses algorithms to rank prospects based what they have responded to, their interests, activity and behavior. The higher the score, the more qualified the lead. Unqualified or cold leads can be routed to lead nurturing programs.

Sales Tools: In the end, it’s all about making sales, and Eloqua has it covered. The main tools is Discover, a prospect discovery tool that shows salespeople active and qualified prospects in real-time using a color-coded dashboard. This tool can easily be integrated with a CRM system.

CRM Integration: This is an area of strength for Eloqua, which comes with one-click integration with Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle/Siebel CRM, and RightNow. If you use another CRM system, it’s not that difficult to connect with them via Eloqua’s Application Programming Interface (API). The connections are tight, especially with Salesforce.com, and users can choose what data should be shared. In most cases, the more data you share with Eloqua, the better. The tight integration allows you to sync leads, contacts, accounts and campaign profiles. When leads are updated in Eloqua, that information can be shared with the CRM system as well.

Social Media Integration: Eloqua is integrated with Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds, so users can insert links into emails, track traffic from social media sites and use RSS feeds to update campaign content dynamically. The company also has recently upped its social media integration with a suite of tools that help score leads based on social activity, implement one-click forms on social media sites and publish live Twitter feeds of a prospect’s most recent tweets in the Eloqua Profiler dashboard.

Integration with other external applications: By using Eloqua’s AppCloud Connectors, users can connect to a large variety of applications such as web conferencing platforms, social media services, online communities, event registration platforms or anything else you need to get the most out of marketing automation.

Reporting and Analytics: Eloqua has hundreds of reports for campaign and website analytics, as well as dashboards with high-level views of activity. Executives can quickly how well the marketing database is growing, trends in email response, what emails are driving the most inquiries, or any other parameter requested. Web analytics include the number of website visitors over a time period, most popular website pages and leading search engines and keywords. Campaign-related reports can report on the performance of all aspects of a campaign in one dashboard, or break it down to track campaign performance by region or product line. Users can also set up reports to show top campaigns by opportunities generated, opportunity revenue, new inquiries, or any other parameter. Reports can be exported to email, Excel, CSV, Word, PDF and HTML files. Eloqua works well with Google Analytics, Omniture Sitecatalyst, Webtrends and Coremetrics.

Security and Privacy: Eloqua uses high levels of security including the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol for encryption. Only qualified personnel have access to Eloqua’s servers. Physical security includes biometric controls and video surveillance.

Eloqua uses cookies and web beacons to collect personally identifiable information, anonymous demographic information and information about users’ hardware and software, but uses it only to improve performance or notify users about changes. It doesn’t sell, share or rent user information for promotional use, but may do so with partners. Users can opt out of receiving any or all communications.

Comparison to Similar Products: Very small businesses may find Eloqua a bit overwhelming and prefer an easier-to-use, less expensive option. For growing companies that put marketing front and center, Eloqua is a great choice. It competes most directly with Marketo. Both are rated very highly, and you won’t go wrong with either one.

Conclusions: Eloqua has top-notch features and support, and customers tend to think that despite the price, it’s a good value. Once you master the learning curve, the possibilities are limited by your personnel—not the product.

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.


SEO Insurrection: Experts Up in Arms Over Google Changes

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 19 December 2011
in Online Marketing

There is a growing wave of anger and resentment towards Google by SEO experts incensed over Google’s recent decision to block what are known as “keyword referral data,” the search terms that lead a visitor to a website.

The outrage stems not only from the fact that the keyword data is being blocked, but that Google’s paying AdWords customers are able to see the data, which had been freely available to everyone previously.

Google claimed its motive for encrypting and blocking the keywords was to protect user privacy, but many in the SEO community see that as a not very convincing cover story.   

A more likely reason is that Google is trying to choke off access to the valuable keyword data to competing ad networks, said Aaron Wheeler of SEOmoz in an emergency blog post that analyzed the Google changes.

The net effect is that, for a percentage of searches, SEO practitioners will no longer be able to tell which keywords sent a logged-in Google visitor to a site. Instead of keywords appearing in their analytics dashboards, they see the words “Not Provided.” This, say SEO practitioners, affects their ability to perform their jobs.

When Google announced the change in October 2011, it said the number of blocked keywords would be insignificant, in the less than 10% range for most websites. However, SEO practitioners are reporting steadily climbing numbers in the 20% to 30% range.  Even low percentages of blocked keywords, some SEOs have said, can be detrimental to their efforts.

“What started as a minor inconvenience has turned into a nightmare for SEO companies that are now faced with the reality of inaccurate reporting and guessing games when it comes to analyzing their organic traffic,” wrote Will Gallahue on the Fahrenheit Marketing blog.

The issue is serious enough that SEOs are posting petitions and urging one another to speak to their representatives in Congress.

“There is a lot of, I think, fear and uncertainty right now in the analytics world,” wrote Aaron Wheeler of SEOmoz.

“This is a total abuse of Google's monopoly and I can't believe they would even think about this in the middle of their ongoing anti-trust investigation,” commented Drew Hammond on the SEOmoz blog.

“If Google starves white hat SEOs of the data we need to help them stay at the top, they may force us to help their competitors instead,” wrote the Stores Direct SEO practitioner on SEOmoz.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged
Recent comment in this post Show all comments
  • Carrie Mezzie
    Carrie Mezzie says #
    Not everyone knows what SEO is. Can you provide some insight?

HubSpot Debuts Marketing Grader, a Cool New Assessment Tool

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 07 December 2011
in Online Marketing

HubSpot just made available a new free tool called Marketing Grader that offers a detailed assessment of your online marketing efforts. The tool is an upgrade for HubSpot's five-year-old Website Grader and is more comprehensive. 

Marketing Grader is fast and easy. Simply plug in your website’s address, and if you like, the urls of two of your competitors, and Marketing Grader will generate a score from 0 to 100, like a Klout score for your online marketing efforts.

Scroll down the results page, and Marketing Grader will provide a fairly detailed analysis of what is working and lacking in three key areas: Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel, and Analytics, including assessments of your SEO, mobile, social media efforts, and more.

Marketing Grader offers tidbits like how often your company was mentioned on Twitter in the last 24 hours, how many fans your business page has, and how many of your last 10 tweets were replies to somebody else.

Your results will include tips and suggestions on how to improve your marketing, such as a list of Top 3 Things To Do, with suggestions like:

  1. Get more inbound links to your website.
  2. Tweet more frequently.
  3. Reply to individuals on Twitter to be more conversational.

Marketing Grader’s results mix general marketing observations with a sprinkling of survey data. For example it tells you that “Creating, optimizing, and promoting content are keys to filling the top of your sales and marketing funnel with more website traffic and leads” and complements this bit of advice with, “The good news is that companies who create, optimize and promote their blogs get 55% more traffic and 70% more leads than those who don't.”

Using Marketing Grader is fascinating and fun, although its assessments may miss the mark in certain areas (for example, telling you to work on converting leads to sales, even if you don’t sell anything on your site), and you may take issue with any number of the results you receive. Overall, Marketing Grader provides a general barometer of your marketing that you should find interesting and useful.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

SEO for Small Business: Tips, Traps, and Costs

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 December 2011
in Online Marketing

SEO, along with social media, is the marketing tactic small businesses said they would pursue most and spend the most money on in 2011 and 2012, according to surveys.

When asked by MarketingSherpa what they found to be the most effective SEO tactics, all businesses responded with the following top five:

  • Keyword research
  • On-page content optimization
  • Title tag optimization
  • Link building
  • Meta tag and meta description

Small businesses ranked content optimization slightly higher than keyword search, a result MarketingSherpa said was surprising but could be an indication that this group is the most eager to get results fast. However,  MarketingSherpa warns, if you implement an SEO plan without thorough keyword research, “you’re setting yourself up to get poor results.”

Overall, MarketingSherpa found that “Marketing departments that truly understand SEO want to spend more on it.”

However, therein lies the rub. As Laurie Sullivan pointed out in “Small Business Owners Still Don’t Get Search Marketing,” SEO “isn't the easiest online marketing tactic to learn…Nor is it easy for small companies to find a reputable small agency to outsource the work.”

Which leads to the question, how much does outside SEO help cost for a small business? BrightLocal’s 2011 Local SEO Industry Survey of more than 1,150 SEO providers showed that 59% of full local SEO campaign pricing fell into the $500 to $5,000 range and that most local SEO firms charge from $500 to $1,000 for a full local SEO campaign. 

In seeking outside SEO help, as Rachel Blankstein warned, an uneducated small business risks being sold a bill of goods. This warning is echoed by Chris Nielsen of Domain Incubation, who writes that, “Small businesses that are scared off from search marketing are the lucky ones. Most that try it wind up spending a lot of money and getting very little in return.”

As Sullivan notes, “There is a dizzying array of strategies, knowledge and tactics required to plan, budget and execute” an SEO campaign.

Before plunging into SEO, small businesses should do their homework and learn all the elements and tactics that comprise an SEO campaign, then check the reputation and references of potential SEO providers before handing them their business.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

What You Need to Know Before Hiring an SEO Firm or Service

Posted by Rachel Blankstein
Rachel Blankstein
Rachel is a serial entrepreneur with a successful track record in launching businesses. Rachel launched and gr...
User is currently offline
on Friday, 02 December 2011
in Online Marketing

While increasing numbers of SMBs recognize the importance of SEO, it is a very broad term, which means many different things and of which many of us have little knowledge.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I need to hire someone to do SEO,” but they are clueless as to what that actually means.  The result is that some SEO service providers will take advantage of that lack of knowledge. 

The first thing to realize is that SEO is a confluence of different skill sets, all of which you may not receive from one provider, even though they provide SEO services.  In addition, SEO is not a one-shot development effort, but a constant, ongoing process for your business. Thus, you cannot hire someone to “do SEO” for two weeks and think that you are done.

SEO in large part has to do with having highly relevant, highly interesting content.  That is what the search engines are seeking, and if you provide it they will reward you by placing you well in their organic results.

So you need to make sure you are covered across all the basic SEO components, which include:

  • URL Construction—Ensuring that your URLs are constructed properly so that the search engines can read them properly. HTML/CSS coders generally handle this SEO component.
  • Page Titles, Meta Tags and Image Tags—This is another way of telling the search engines what is on your page.  Page titling, meta tags and image tags can be done within a Content Management System by a non-technical type.  If you do not have a Content Management system (which is not a good idea), you will need an HTML/CSS coder to put in the terms.  However, the page titles and other words need to be highly relevant to the content on the page and then also highly relevant to the keywords you are targeting.
  • Content—The most critical part of SEO is having relevant, regular, timely content.  The more of this you have, the more the search engines will like your site and the more that others will mention links to your site on their sites or via social media.  Content generation and dissemination is a writer/marketer’s job and is of course a completely different skill set than the person ensuring that your URLS are being created properly.
  • Keywords—Choosing keywords that match the terms that users type into search engines is critical for your pages to achieve a high ranking. You should research the appropriate keywords and make sure they are embedded in your content, titles, link descriptions, etc.
  • Links—The quality of the links that link to your site are considered in search engine rankings.  The general rule is to not to have too many (more than 10 to 20) links per page. 
  • Site Map Submissions—This can be done by anyone but is usually done by a technical person.  This ensures that a continuous feed of your site map (what your site is about) is being given to the search engines.  That way when they crawl your site they have a “map” to understanding what is there.

SEO experts will employ a number of techniques to optimize your site for search engines—such as configuring your robots.txt file to direct crawlers in the most optimal way, and performing practices such as canonicalization, the art of making duplicate content appear as one item to a search engine crawler, using technique such as 301 redirects.

To properly "do SEO" you need to have all these bases covered. It can be different people or firms doing the work since it involves different skill sets. Your web development shop may be able to handle the HTML component but not be able to create compelling content. A good SEO firm should have all of the right skill sets in house. Without knowing everything that comprises SEO, you risk paying a lot of money without receiving the results you seek.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

Google Search Gets Fresh, Finally

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 December 2011
in Online Marketing

One of the most annoying, and unproductive, aspects of Google has been to search for recent news or information and receive results that are years or decades old.

Anyone who has used Goggle as a serious search tool has encountered this frustrating problem. Searches for company financials or product areas would yield results from five or 10 years ago. Even searches for TV and movie schedules would bring up stale results.

Google finally has addressed the issue, announcing a major overhaul in its ranking algorithm that will be geared towards producing fresh results.

Google Fellow Amit Singhal announced the change using the homey analogy, “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh.”

Singhal likened the significance of the freshness upgrade to last year’s Caffeine web indexing change that added a jolt of speed to Google's search results, and said the new change would impact from 6% to 35% of searches, depending on the topic.

When you search for information about a presidential election or annual conference, noted Singhal, “it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago.”

Now when you search for current events like “occupy oakland protest” or “nba lockout, he said, “you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old.” 

How will the change affect companies’ online marketing and SEO efforts? It’s too early to tell, but as James A. Martin on Social Media Today says, “it's pretty safe to say that being topical whenever possible—in your social media updates, blog posts, press releases, and other content—may help that content rank well in Google searches.”

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

Death Knell Sounds for Google+ Business Pages

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 November 2011
in Online Marketing

It is too early to call Google+ Pages for business a complete bust. However, based on a lackluster start, critics are beginning to pronounce the service dead.

“Evidence That Google Plus Business Pages Are Dying A Slow Death Already,” writes Niall Harbison, who has been monitoring the activity of Google+ Pages by major brands such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Volkswagen, McDonalds, and Adidas.

While these brands have bustling Facebook pages, she finds that the activity on their Goggle+ Pages has been anemic, with few posts and weak engagement levels.  

Looking at Pepsi’s Google+ Page, for example, she notes that “they have not posted an update in nearly three weeks, showing that they may already have lost interest in Google+ as a platform.”

Similarly, for Volkswagen she finds that, “Their main page has a paltry 1,600 people following it and their latest status update has no comments or reshares at all.”

Harbison’s findings jibe with those of BrightEdge, which in its November 2011 “Tracking Social Adoption and Trends,” reports that while 61% of the top 100 brands have established Google+ Pages, no brand other than Google had more than 50,000 Google+ fans, and more than two dozen of the top 100 brands had zero Google+ fans.

The BrightEdge findings prompted Seth Fiegerman to write that “Google+ Pages Are Officially a Failure (So Far).”  Relating the disappointing stats, Fiegerman writes that “two dozen companies had no fans whatsoever and others such as McDonalds and Verizon were stuck in the dozens, despite the fact that many have hundreds of thousands if not millions of fans on Facebook.”

BrightEdge found that only 12% of the top brands on Google+ mentioned those pages on their company website, which Fiegerman says may suggest a deeper problem, that “businesses may have created a page just to do it but have little interest in promoting it.”  

Although he believes Google+ Pages have promise if they can be integrated in Google searches, “at the moment,” he writes, “it’s hard enough to find a company’s page when searching on Google+, let alone to stumble onto a page while browsing elsewhere online. If that doesn’t change, Google+ Pages will stay dead.”

It looks like Google+ Pages have a steep hill to climb to pose a threat to Facebook. As Bill Gates used to say during the browser share wars, we’ll be watching the metrics.

Tags: Untagged
Recent comment in this post Show all comments
  • Mantis
    Mantis says #
    Ok, i know this is WAAAAAAY later, but here goes(might have written a new article about this, i dont know, just found this 1) The...

How to Save Money on Google AdWords

Posted by Rachel Blankstein
Rachel Blankstein
Rachel is a serial entrepreneur with a successful track record in launching businesses. Rachel launched and gr...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 29 November 2011
in Online Marketing

Check your AdWords account or ask your AdWords firm about how they are handling a concept called “broad match.”  Yes, this is a detail that you may not know about that could be costing you A LOT of money.  We all know AdWords can be a very effective method of obtaining relevant traffic and leads for your business.  But it also tends to be a very costly method for customer acquisition, and as such, it is important to understand the details in order to optimize your results.

All AdWords campaigns are automatically defaulted to “broad match.”  What this means is that if you selected the term “payroll solutions” to be one of your search terms, your ad will show on Google’s paid results for keywords that include both “payroll” or “solutions.”  This means that your keyword will be displayed in a lot of search results that are not very relevant, and any clicks are likely to be a waste of money. 

To turn off “broad match” you click on the checkbox to the left of a particular keyword.  Then you click on “edit” which is on the grey menu bar just above the keywords.  Then you select “edit in table” where you can change it to “exact match.”  You need to manually perform this operation for every keyword in your campaign.  While having your keyword on “exact match” will decrease your clicks, it will increase your quality and therefore your cost per acquisition.

Now, why does Google require you to manually turn on exact match for every keyword?  It’s clearly a way for them to make more money and provide you with more clicks, but not necessarily the right choice for your business.  For some companies with very large budgets, the broad match may make sense, but it would still need to be evaluated on a keyword-by-keyword basis…

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged
Recent comment in this post Show all comments
  • Danielle MacInnis
    Danielle MacInnis says #
    Great information. Exact match and value for dollar is information that small businesses need to consider. Also is the call to act...

Gunning for Facebook, Google+ Adds Business Pages

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 08 November 2011
in Online Marketing

The battle of the social networks for the hearts, minds, and wallets of users escalated as Google introduced Google+ Pages for businesses. With a stranglehold on search and paid search, Google is trying to extend its search-engine hegemony into the social sphere dominated by Facebook and Twitter.

Just as having a web site is mandatory for businesses today, having a Facebook and Twitter presence has become de rigueur for organizations. While Google’s initial social foray, Google Buzz, was a dud, Google+ is gaining traction, and the obvious next step was to allow businesses to create Google+ business pages.

Google’s search business, where users actively look for products and services, gives it an advertising advantage vs. Facebook’s social networking business, where there is an aversion to overt marketing and selling. Thus, although Facebook has a huge lead in mindshare and users in the social media space, it trails Google in total users and advertising revenues by a large margin.  

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, Facebook’s $70 valuation is based on its ability to attract advertising, and it is fighting an uphill battle to grow those revenues. According to eMarketer’s projections, Facebook is expected to take in $2 billion in U.S. ad revenues this year (up from $800 million last year), while Google is expected to take in $12.8 billion from 184.6 million U.S. users, based on ComScore data.

With Google+, Google hopes to draw away users and revenues from Facebook, while tying social networking more closely to search. To grease the process, Google introduced a Direct Connect feature to its search engine, which allows users to search for the Google+ Pages of companies and brands by typing a “+” before the company or brand name.

Since Google+ debuted, Google+ and Facebook have mimicked and stolen one another’s looks and features. For example, Facebook has “Likes” and Google+ has “+1s.” Google+ Pages and Facebook Pages also have a lot of similarities, and some differences. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages does not grant universal public access, rather requires you to add a business page to one of your “circles.”  Also unlike Facebook, Google+ limits page administration to one administrator.

Like Facebook Pages, Google+ Pages allow businesses to post images and videos, but Google+ also sports a new feature called Hangouts that enables visitors to invite people and engage in video chats.   

To create a page Google+ Page, go to the Create a Page tool and follow the prompts.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

Google Launches New AdWords Partner Program to Lure Small Businesses to Paid Search

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 03 November 2011
in Online Marketing

Google has introduced a new program aimed at helping SMBs with limited online advertising experience manage AdWords campaigns through the help of hand-picked partners.

Called the Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner Program, or PSP, the service “connects experienced AdWords partners with businesses that want expert help in creating, managing and optimizing their online advertising campaigns,” said Google.

Google will act as the middleman, organizer, and promoter of the service, with the obvious aim of boosting AdWords revenues by engaging SMBs that are now sitting on the paid search sidelines.

Like almost every major technology vendor, Google sees the SMB market as a vast reservoir of untapped riches. Most vendors have been stymied, however, in their attempts to capitalize on it. IBM, for example, has targeted the SMB market repeatedly with little success.

Google will fight a similar uphill battle to induce SMBs to spend more on paid search. Surveys show SMBs are more interested in spending their ad dollars on other forms of online advertising like display ads and social media. A study by Borrell Associates, for example, showed that paid search spending in 2011 will decrease 28.7% to $5.43 billion from $7.62 billion in 2010.

SMBs interested in Google’s new PSP service can hook up with authorized partners that Google has made available via a “Find a Partner” link. The partners are being carefully chosen and vetted, says Google.

Google says partners must meet a strict list of criteria to participate, including:

  • Large existing customer base of small/medium-sized businesses
  • Tele/field sales force with the ability to sell Google’s advertising products
  • Commitment to provide phone and/or email customer support to their advertiser base
  • Existing operational infrastructure (billing, reporting, etc.) to service thousands of customers

So far, there are 13 partners listed, including Advance Internet, Cobalt, Dealer.com, Dex One, Driven Local, Hearst, Moore & Scarry, OrangeSoda, ReachLocal, Scripps, TopSpot Internet Marketing, Web.com, and Yellowbook. Each of these partners has issued a press release trumpeting their inclusion in the program.

Google says advertising agencies who are accepted into the program will receive access to new Google technologies; technical, marketing, account, and product support from Google; access to joint promotions; and performance incentives.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

Facebook Comments Now Captured by Google: Big Ranking Implications for Businesses

Posted by Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth
Michael Neubarth is Vice President of Marketing for Comparz.com and founder and Director of eMatrix Media Comm...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 02 November 2011
in Online Marketing

Google is now searching and indexing public comments made on Facebook.  This is a new and significant development, not only for people who may have left embarrassing comments, but for businesses whose Facebook pages could not previously contribute to their rankings on Google via SEO (search engine optimization).

Google’s spiders, called Googlebots, previously could not penetrate Facebook’s iFrames coding and read comments within Facebook’s confines.  New technology allows Googlebots to read publicly made Facebook comments by searching AJAX and JavaScript, accessing the comments via third-party sites that siphon off public Facebook comments via the Facebook Connect add-ons, such as the Facebook plug-in for Wordpress.

Private Facebook pages apparently will remain impervious to Googlebot’s spidery reaches.  However, publicly made Facebook comments and people’s names attributed to those comments will now be searchable on Google.

The good news for businesses is that positive comments made publicly on Facebook about those businesses will now be considered in Google’s rankings. This will open up new SEO possibilities and cause many organizations to focus on Facebook, an area that was fallow ground because of its exclusion on Google.

The new Googlebot searches will also be able to index comments from other sites that were previously omitted, such as Disqus and Intense Debate.

Google did not announce that it was now reading and indexing Facebook comments. Rather the  discovery was made by Digital Inspiration and then confirmed by Google employee Matt Cutts who launched a tweet yesterday that read:

"Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JS to index some dynamic comments http://goo.gl/F9et1"

 

Tags: Untagged

Enter your email address below to get the best insights on how technology can help you grow your business.




contributor ad