People buy to solve a problem they have and marketing problems tend to be specific and tactic related like sending an email marketing campaign or creating a landing page for an Adwords campaign.
More rarely does someone say “Hey everyone! We need to re-engineer how we do our marketing from the ground up” – to sell this kind of strategy change you need a new methodology (inbound marketing anyone?).
So if you’re building a web app, one that solves a specific problem looks like a safe bet, plus if you can monetise it with monthly plans that sit between $10 to $60 there’s a relatively low level of friction for most organisations.
So, why on earth did we choose to build marketing automation software?
We’ll it goes something like this.
Lets go back in time
We launched our web application Jumplead as a visitor identification tool back in 2011.
A website analytics system designed to work out the identity of the organisations that visit your website based upon their IP address. This information can be very useful for pro-active sales teams as they can focus upon prospects with a real requirement.
It makes sense to target organisations that have a need rather than those that don’t, right?
With Jumplead we were also entering a marketplace where existing providers were charging around $600 per month. So our $80 looked pretty good.
We grew well. Partly due to our main competitor aggressively approaching B2B businesses and quoting $600 when we had some good visibility in Google as a technically equivalent alternative service.
IP analytics isn’t for everyone
We’ve always believed in using our own product and yes we could see the organisations visiting our website and I started trying to hunt down the people within each organisation that looked like they might be a good match for us.
I found out a few things:
- People don’t like you ringing them up out of the blue. (Actually some were okay, some were rude).
- Identifying the individual person in an organisation to talk to can be very difficult.
- The people I did get to talk to were way early in their purchase cycle and didn’t necessarily have approvals or even budgets.
So, I was generating lot’s of notes and reminders to call people back in 6 months. Not a way to grow fast.
(Saying that we’ve still got plenty of early customers that just use visitor identification and nothing else, just because it’s working for them).
Where’s the secret sauce?
We needed more from Jumplead. What we needed was a way of understanding how ready a visitor is to purchase, so we didn’t throw resources at following up poorly qualified prospects.
Plus we wanted our analytics to tell us when our prospects were ready to talk to us.
Also, a way of retaining a level of engagement so that we could keep in touch with (and sales intelligence on) those that were interested.
All in a way that we could scale up without employing whole teams of people to manage the process.
We quickly realised that as great as our app was, we needed marketing automation.
Buy or Build.
After some research it became apparent that the kinds of tools we would need cost thousands of dollars per month.
But hey! We already had analytics and a CRM within Jumplead, plus if we were drooling at the window of the promise of marketing automation but hamstrung by price, other people must be too.
So we decided to go roll our own and build the features into Jumplead.
Aside from the time and resources required to build a marketing automation system we had a significant product design challenge. Because we really dislike complexity and marketing automation reeks of complexity.
Just the name conjures images of techno-voodoo and corporate “leveraging-sale-side-demand-generation-in-a-360-degree-pyjama-equity-matrix” style babble.
So we thought we’d do our best to keep it simple, and affordable.
We wanted anyone to be able to pick it up and quickly get value from it, then work into the features over time. For a traditional marketing automation system you need to buy training and maybe hire an implementation partner, that’s not us.
So if you want to send email, great! Do that, and if you want to see what your contacts do on your website after your campaign goes out – add the tracking code to your website.
Or if you want to add conversion forms and landing pages, do it! Knowing that if you want to follow up with an auto responder, send a sales team notification or even carry on profiling contacts across multiple forms – you don’t need to look around for yet more software.
Even if you just want to identify those visiting organisations, you can.
So here we are trying to build an inbound marketing automation system that’s simple enough for us all to use.
I said earlier that people buy web apps to solve a problem and large organisations traditionally buy marketing automation because it can solve their marketing problems at scale.
Our gamble is that small and medium size businesses will recognise that the immediate problems they face are better solved by a system that will allow them to grow their marketing in ways that they might not have considered already.
I’ll let you know when we’re done.