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May - 2013 - issue > siTech10 2013
Act-On PRACTICAL MARKETING Automation for the Fortune 5,000,000
Vignesh Anantharaj
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Act-On Software, a cloud-based integrated marketing automation provider, recently recorded a whopping 247 percent revenue growth in Q1 2013 over the same quarter in the prior year. Fueling this torrid growth is a strong demand from marketers in mid-sized companies and departments of large enterprises for a solution to help them effectively market online. And that's no surprise. According to Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo, most buyers go online to start their buying journey and are typically anywhere between 67 percent and 90 percent into their purchase decision before contacting a vendor.

Act-On Founder and CEO, Raghu Raghavan, is no stranger to this phenomenon. He co-founded SaaS-based email marketing pioneer Responsys in 1998 when eCommerce was just getting started and has carefully followed the changing trends as all companies have effectively become "e" companies. As he eloquently put it in our conversation: "I was convinced that there was a tremendous opportunity to bring online marketing to not just the Fortune 500, but the Fortune 5 million. In fact, this market is not only much larger, but also grossly under served and in need of a solution."

Act-On's market traction is living proof of his assertion. With over 1,500 customers ranging from small and midsized companies to divisions of large multinationals, Act-On is helping marketers efficiently acquire new customers and effectively retain them. A good example of this is Rapid Notify, an emergency mass notification services provider; that uses Act-On to identify, nurture and convert prospects into customers.

Rapid Notify had outgrown its email marketing solution and wanted to tap into all that digital marketing could offer. The email marketing point solution offered almost no scalability, no automation, and most importantly, no ability to build sophisticated multi-channel marketing campaigns using the web and social media. Since adopting Act-On, Rapid Notify has seen a 50 percent increase in opportunities generated and a 20 percent higher closure rate. Examples like this are commonplace among Act-On customers.

Simplicity, Attention to the Customer and Changing the Rules

Small and mid-size businesses and marketing departments of large enterprises need a simple, intuitive and affordable system without the complexity or additional IT resources typically required to run traditional marketing systems. According to Raghavan, the entire company is centered on three overarching principles. First, provide customers with a simple solution that they can start using and seeing value in immediately. Too often, technology solutions take months to implement and legions of IT people to support. Second, focus on the success of the customer. Every Act-On customer is assigned a customer success manager who is tasked with ensuring that the customer is successful. Just having a success manager to call on is reassuring say many customers. Third, Act-On is changing the marketing automation game by allowing customers to sign a month-to-month contract with the ability to cancel with just a thirty day notice. This move proved to be the masterstroke for the organization as it gave the customer complete control and trust over the software platform – where Act-On proves its value month after month. "The motive behind this model is far deeper than the sales perspective of attracting the customer, it is more about giving the customer complete control over the solution they invested in, and fundamentally change how you look at your business," adds Raghavan. "We have to win our customers’ business every month!" This strategy, though unorthodox, is highly effective. Customer retention is over 90 percent annually, a metric unheard of in the SaaS business.

Gaining Momentum and Shattering Records

Act-On's marketing automation suite is one of the most widely adopted today and the company is growing faster than any other in its industry. To accommodate its steep growth in revenue, it is also actively hiring, and has increased headcount by 100 percent over the same period last year. With the adoption and usage of the Act-On platform having tripled within the last year, it is no surprise that research results show that Act-On customers experienced better revenue performance, did not cut or freeze budgets as readily during the recession, and are more sophisticated online marketers and social media users. The common denominator for Act-On customers' better than expected performance, is their adoption of marketing automation. All of these facts could only mean that the company is poised to move further up the ladder of conquests. The best way to highlight their growth would be the entry of Act-On into the Forbes list of "America's Most Promising Companies." Moving forward, under Raghavan's unconventional leadership, Act-On looks to dominate the entire SME marketing automation space in the coming years with its unique solutions and out of the box innovations.

Since its commercial entry in 2009, the company has always caught the eye of investors. Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, with offices in Roseville and Menlo Park, California, and Bangalore, India, it is backed by venture capital firms Norwest Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners and Voyager Capital. The total funding stands at $32 million to date.
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