Background on Free Marketing Automation
Free marketing automation systems were created as a way to “shake up” the industry. Some analysts and commentators have speculated a free marketing automation strategy was created as a “Hail Mary Pass” when no other business models were working. If this is true, it probably means the company providing free marketing automation could be struggling. It’s worthwhile to consider whether or not you want to place your bets on a struggling company who may not be around after a while.
When researching the few companies providing free marketing automation look closely at the restrictions. My momma once told me “son, nothing in life is free”. One vendor clearly puts an asterisk next to “fully functional…account” and suggests reading the full terms and conditions. Without a doubt, offering a purely free marketing automation system is not a sustainable business model for the vendor. The marketing automation vendor’s sole purpose is to get you to upgrade and pay. That means limiting things like number of contacts, users, emails per month, page views per month and more. If you’re okay using a restricted version and have no plans to exceed these limitations then free marketing automation might be a good approach.
A Product, Not a Solution
Analysts have pointed out that a free marketing automation solution benefits the industry, not the customer. It creates more exposure and awareness of the capabilities and power of marketing automation; however, it doesn’t benefit the customer as the product is not the entire solution.
For this reason, probably the single most important item to consider with marketing automation is that it’s not an off the shelf solution and a technology anyone can just pick up and start using. It’s a high-value, strategic solution that requires long term commitment. Marketing automation should be a core strategy engrained in a company’s sales and marketing DNA.
Unfortunately, free marketing automation systems are typically a technology play only. The truth is, technology is only part of the equation. To be successful with marketing automation companies must choose the right vendor who can provide support, training and consultation, which isn’t free. Integrating, using, applying and adopting a free marketing automation system certainly will have its price without proper support, training and consultation. Make sure to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a free marketing automation system.
Other Items for Consideration
- Will “Free” attract the wrong people and inundate a system with spam emails thereby affecting other accounts?
- What happens when you need to upgrade? Will pricing change or go up?
- Will community support be good enough for you?
- Is it worthwhile to save money up front when it could cost you in the long run?
- Are you a “one-man-shop” or do you have plans for growth and will you need help?
We found a quote from one of the leading analysts in the marketing automation space, Jep Castelein of LeadSloth, which sums this up:
If your company is looking to adopt Marketing Automation, count on paying for your Marketing Automation system. Either you will go over the limits of the free version, or you will require support. Instead of focusing on free or cheap, choose a vendor that you trust, that best meets your requirements, and that provides excellent support. – Jep Castelein, LeadSloth
At Lead Liaison, we consider marketing automation as a feature, not a solution. Our revenue generation software ties together sales prospecting, marketing automation and lead generation capabilities combined with best-in-breed support, training and consultation to help grow your company’s revenue. We look forward to hearing from you and getting the opportunity to work with you.
What’s your feedback on free marketing automation systems? We would love to hear it.
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