Marketing Automation Analyst Review – David Raab

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LeadLife Bundles Services with Marketing Automation

Post written by David Raab

LeadLife released a completely rebuild version of its marketing automation system last month.

The new system features a cleaner interface and revised capabilities that reflect what LeadLife has learned about the needs of small to mid-size companies since its original product launch in 2008. This involves a careful balance between complexity and power.

The best example of this balance, and the most notable change in the system, is campaign design. LeadLife originally used a linear sequence of steps, while the new system uses a branching flow chart. This is a somewhat unusual choice for a small business-oriented system, whose clients tend to find flow charts difficult to work with. But LeadLife – like many other marketing automation vendors – found its clients tend to design campaigns as flow charts. It therefore chose to build the flow chart interface but to exclude the more confusion-inducing features, like the ability to send leads back to previous steps in the same flow or to start new flows in the middle.

On the other hand, the system does include some features not usually found in small business systems. These include rule-driven, dynamic content blocks within emails, which LeadLife found many clients applied fairly easily. The system rule-builder also combines power with simplicity: for example, rules can reference specific links within an email (powerful) and the system automatically presents a list of links within the specified email (simple).

Probably more important, LeadLife has also bundled marketing services with its software. For example, vendor staff will design the campaign flows for the client, further reducing the risk that the flow chart will cause confusion. Vendor staff will teach the client best practices such as building several small campaigns instead of a single complicated one.

Services are provided with every level of the product, including the lowest price of $750 per month. Specific options include marketing strategy, content creation, design, lead nurturing campaigns, lead process definition, and analytics. Most are performed by LeadLife’s internal staff although copywriting and design may be sent to subcontractors.

Bundled services are LeadLife’s solution to the skill gap that keeps so many companies from adopting marketing automation or using it fully. Other companies have taken a similar approach. Still others have tried alternatives including keeping the system very simple, providing extensive training to use more complex systems, and using automation to handle complicated functions. Although most vendors apply them in combination, their emphases do vary. It’s not clear which choice will prove most effective — but a lot of money is riding on the outcome.

Back to LeadLife. The scope of the new product includes typical marketing automation functions: campaigns, email, landing pages and forms, lead scoring, behavior tracking, CRM integration, sales alerts, segmentation, and reporting. Reports and some other features are still a work in progress but the basics are in place. LeadLife is migrating its existing 70 customers to the new system over the next few months. The system is sold on a month-to-month basis (no long-term contract) and prices are based on email volume and services. Clients at all levels get the full set of system features.

About David Raab

David Raab, Raab Associates Inc. (www.raabassociatesinc.com), is a consultant specializing in selection of marketing systems and vendors. Clients have included major firms in financial services, retail, communications, and technology. Mr. Raab has written hundreds of articles for industry publications. Many of these are available without charge at www.archive.raabassociatesinc.com. Mr. Raab can be reached at draab@raabassociates.com.

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