G2 Crowd Publishes Spring 2015 Rankings of the Best Social Advertising Platforms

Two platforms earn Leader status while Marin Software tops overall satisfaction rankings in crowdsourced report

best social advertising spring 2015 g2 crowd

CHICAGO – March 26, 2015 – The first Grid℠ report for social advertising platforms, published today by business software review site G2 Crowd, ranks eight products to help purchasers in their selections.

The Spring 2015 report is based on data from more than 150 reviews written by advertising professionals.

The Grid℠, which is created from G2 Crowd’s software review platform, factors in customer satisfaction reported by users and vendor market presence determined from social and public data to rank products.

Social advertising platforms include advertiser campaign management products that automate the processes by which advertisers and marketers buy, manage and place advertisements on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, these products typically offer functionality to serve advertisements across one or more additional channels such as display, video, mobile, or search or possess demand side platform capabilities to buy and serve ads in real time. This report only includes data from reviews where the reviewer specifically indicated that they use the product for social advertising.

To qualify as a Leader, a product must receive a high customer satisfaction score and have substantial market presence. Twitter Ads and Facebook for Business were named Leaders. High Performers have high customer satisfaction scores with a smaller market presence than Leaders. Marin Software, Kenshoo, MediaMath and AdRoll were named High Performers. Marin Software earned the highest overall customer satisfaction score.

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The Hidden Costs of Switching Software Vendors

Guest post written by Marc Prosser 
Disclaimer: Guest posts don’t necessarily reflect the views of G2 Crowd.

hidden costs softwareYou are close to making a decision about changing CRM solutions. The decision to change providers look like it will save $10,000 or more a year for the company, without having to sacrifice any functionality or service which is currently being provided.

Before you finalize the order, however, it’s important to make sure you’ve factored in all the hidden costs of switching to a new provider – the cost of training, lost productivity and custom integrations. Only then can you answer the question: Will this software really save my business money?

Whether you’re switching or starting out on a system for the first time, it’s important to understand how expensive an overhaul can be. To illustrate how hidden costs can skyrocket the price of a new vendor, I’m sharing our own experience when I considered switching our CRM provider at a previous company.

My Story

I currently am the co-founder and publisher of Fit Small Business. However, I previously was the first employee and CMO at a company that went public on the NYSE.

When my former company first rolled out our CRM, we had 15 seats. We needed a hosted CRM solution, which was difficult to find for small businesses at that time. A few years later, however, we had grown to about 200 seats and there were many more potential vendors in the CRM market, some about 30% cheaper than our existing provider. Despite that benefit, we never made the switch. Here is why:

Custom Integrations

Over the years, we had spent lots of money integrating the CRM with other systems in our business, such as our accounting, in-house account client onboarding software, instant chat application, etc. We had spent tens of thousands on custom developments and months working out bugs. Between the new development work and lost productivity involved with setting these up again in a new system, I estimated the added cost of switching to be $150,000.

Setup and Porting Data

While in theory transferring data from one system to another should be painless, I have always found there to be a manual component. You often need to check the data that was ported over, fill in gaps, upload certain files, and, in some cases, enter data manually. I estimated the set up and data transfer costs of switching to a new vendor to be $20,000.

Training & Lost Productivity

While many CRM systems work similarly, they don’t work exactly the same. Switching to a new provider means revising training manuals, re-training supervisors, and having them educate workers. In our case, we had to train employees in sales, customer support and accounting.

Productivity, however, does not resume as soon as the training session is over. It can take a long time for employees to get accustomed to the new system. Meanwhile, productivity can be stunted as employees shake the habits of the old system. Between training and at least 2 days of lost producing, I estimated the approximate additional cost of switching in lost sales at $50,000.

Bottom line

My estimated cost of switching was going to be around $220,000. In other other words, to make it back over 4 years, my savings would have to be $55,000 per year. However, there are always risks in changing service providers. To switch you want the savings be meaningful – around say $30,000 per year. This means the new providers would have to be $85,000 cheaper per year. With that type of cost differential, the new providers no longer looked attractive from a cost perspective.

Most vendors know about these costs. They realize that once a business implements a system it will be very difficult to switch. This enables vendors to raise prices even if cheaper, higher-quality competitors exist.

What can you do to protect yourself from hidden costs?

1. Build an extension in your contract that gives you the right to renew at the same rate or even a lower one if the business expands the number of seats. The downside of this approach is that the company may not be willing to go lower than the negotiated price, even if market conditions push prices lower.

2. Make your vendor believe that you have options. One ways of doing this is starting negotiations 6 months ahead of a contract. This gives your company the realistic opportunity to switch vendors. If you start the negotiation 6 weeks out, they’ll know you don’t have time to switch.

3. Research the pricing policy and history of the vendors that you choose. While not always possible, go with vendors that have a history of modest price increases or at least a clear philosophy of why and how they change prices.

Conclusion

Though you may only be in a month-to-month or annual contract with your provider, the hidden cost of changing software can make it seem like a lifelong commitment. Fortunately, you can put yourself in a better position by looking closely at the pricing policy of vendors and negotiating carefully. (Ed. note: This information is available on hundreds of products listed on G2 Crowd.)

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marc prosser fitsmallbusiness g2 crowdAbout the author: Marc Prosser is Publisher of Fit Small Business, a site dedicated to providing practical guidance to small business owners and managers.

G2 Crowd Publishes Spring 2015 Rankings of the Best Social Media Monitoring Platforms

Brandwatch earns Leader status and tops overall satisfaction rankings in crowdsourced report

best social media monitoring spring 2015 g2 crowdCHICAGO – March 24, 2015 – The updated Grid℠ report for social media monitoring tools, published today by business software review site G2 Crowd, ranks 12 products to help purchasers in their selections.

The Spring 2015 report is based on data from more than 400 reviews written by business and marketing professionals.

The Grid℠, which is created from G2 Crowd’s software review platform, factors in customer satisfaction reported by users and vendor market presence determined from social and public data to rank products.

Social media monitoring platforms are designed for marketing departments and organizations to listen to social media platforms. Marketing departments, agencies, and consultants benefit by being alerted to keyword usage, being able to respond to customer inquiries instantly, and understanding customer sentiment as it relates to their own and competitors’ brands.

Social media monitoring tools have grown in recent years from purely offering listening features to include rich analytics, dashboard creation, and powerful queries with semantic analysis.

To qualify as a Leader, a product must receive a high customer satisfaction score and have substantial market presence. Brandwatch was the only Leader named. High Performers have high customer satisfaction scores with a smaller market presence than Leaders. Viralheat, Geofeedia, Mention, Digimind Social, Crimson Hexagon, Synthesio and Radarly were named High Performers. Brandwatch earned the highest overall customer satisfaction score.

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The 4 Things You MUST Consider Before Investing in Marketing Automation

Guest post written by Patrick Biddiscombe
Disclaimer: Guest posts don’t necessarily reflect the views of G2 Crowd.

marketing automation new breed

In recent years, the need to invest in a CRM platform has become accepted as a basic practice for nearly all businesses looking to manage a sales force and grow their business.

However, as marketing automation has gained increasing prevalence and adoption over the past five years — exemplified by the growth of Marketo, Pardot and HubSpot, among others — questions still remain for many businesses as to when it makes sense to invest in marketing automation.

Here are four key considerations you need to make before pulling the trigger on a marketing automation platform:

1. Your sales cycle

Marketing automation tools can be extremely advantageous when used to nurture a prospect over the course of a long sales cycle (more than three months), or one that involves a more complex purchasing decision and/or the involvement of multiple stakeholders. This is because, as Daniel Pink wrote in “To Sell is Human,” we have entered an age in which the relationship between a salesperson and a prospect is one of information parity instead inequality. Today, prospects begin their buying cycle online and are increasingly educated around a potential solution before making an investment.

Marketers can capitalize on this new paradigm and provide relevant information at the appropriate time during the buying cycle with marketing automation.

2. Time to value

Marketing automation can undoubtedly be an ROI-positive investment. However, these platforms are also complex to implement and leverage to their full capabilities. Does your company have the resources for making an automation program successful? Here are the key elements you should consider that will influence time to value:

•    Inbound lead velocity: If you have 10–20 leads per month, marketing automation probably doesn’t make sense (yet). However, if you’re generating 10 leads a day from your website, it’s time to invest. Also, consider what your potential inbound lead velocity will be at scale, as it can be easier to implement marketing automation to grow with your company if you anticipate a higher volume over the coming months.

•    Employee or vendor resources to manage the platform: This could mean hitting a milestone such as hiring a director of marketing, having $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue and a minimum sellable product with more than 10 customers.

•    The size of your contact database: If you have 5,000–10,000 contacts that could be nurtured, marketing automation could be a powerful tool.

•    Your current website traffic: If you’re generating more than 3,000 unique visits per month or have a database of 5,000–10,000 contacts that can be emailed and nurtured, marketing automation may be a good fit.

•    Investment in content marketing: Content is the fuel that feeds the marketing-automation engine. If you’re not planning to invest in content creation, an investment in marketing automation will likely be less successful.

•    A real understanding of your target audience: If you don’t fully understand it, your marketing efforts might be driving an increase in unqualified traffic only. Take the time to research and understand your audience first.

3. Expected marketing contribution to pipeline

According to the Aberdeen Group, companies who use marketing automation tools convert 53 percent more leads to marketing qualified leads, and report revenue growth 3.1 percent higher than non-users.

Additionally, 67 percent of B2B marketers cite lead nurturing and lead scoring endeavors (marketing automation features) increase sales opportunities throughout the funnel by at least 10 percent; 15 percent of marketers are seeing opportunities increase by 30 percent or more.

Marketing automation drives the most value at the middle and bottom of the funnel. If your organization expects your marketing department to drive a substantial percentage of your pipeline, without an incredibly strong referral system it will be very difficult to do so without marketing automation.

Pipeline marketing can be greatly accelerated with effective lead scoring and nurturing workflows. Beyond this, reporting to your board or investors and forecasting revenue growth will be much easier with the analytics and insights granted by a marketing-automation platform, allowing you to build a predictable revenue machine and lower customer acquisition cost.

4. Existing platform (CRM, etc.) and process integration

Marketing automation makes the most sense in an inside sales model. Is your sales organization infrastructure in place to handle an increased lead flow? Or alternatively, are your reps overworked with unqualified leads that need to be further qualified by the marketing team before being handed to sales?

Regardless, having a clearly defined sales process and service-level agreement in place between the marketing and sales teams is crucial to the success of a marketing-automation effort.

Finally, is your CRM data clean and organized? If not, take the time to cleanse this data before layering on the additional data inflow from the marketing platform. Otherwise, data cleansing after the fact becomes increasingly costly and resource-intensive.

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At the end of the day, implementing a marketing-automation platform is a huge commitment. But for any company with aspirations for achieving high growth in 2015, leveraging marketing automation is becoming table stakes. But before you go and buy a platform, make sure that you have the necessary personnel, processes and data structure in place to make the investment a success.

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patrick biddiscombe new breed marketingAbout the author: Patrick Biddisombe is CEO of New Breed, which is a marketing and sales agency that specializes in supporting B2B tech and software companies grow and scale their businesses by delivering quality traffic and leads. Follow him on Twitter at @pbiddiscombe.

G2 Crowd Publishes Spring 2015 Rankings of the Best Social Media Management Tools

Three platforms earn Leader status while Sprout Social tops overall satisfaction rankings in crowdsourced report

best social media management tools spring 2015 g2 crowdCHICAGO – March 18, 2015 – The updated Grid℠ report for social media management tools, published today by business software review site G2 Crowd, ranks 14 products to help purchasers in their selections.

The Spring 2015 report is based on data from more than 600 reviews written by business professionals.

The Grid℠, which is created from G2 Crowd’s software review platform, factors in customer satisfaction reported by users and vendor market presence determined from social and public data to rank products.

Social media management software is designed for marketing departments and organizations to publish to social media platforms. Users can post to many social media platforms at once, respond to customer inquiries quickly, and work in teams without creating any duplication of efforts.

Social media management platforms have grown in recent years from purely offering publishing features to including social media monitoring and analytics integrations bundled into their products, though there are many standalone social media monitoring products on the market.

To qualify as a Leader, a product must receive a high customer satisfaction score and have substantial market presence. Sprout Social, Hootsuite and TweetDeck were named Leaders. High Performers have high customer satisfaction scores with a smaller market presence than Leaders. AgoraPulse, Sendible, Viralheat, Buffer and GroSocial were named High Performers. Sprout Social earned the highest overall customer satisfaction score.

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