Yes, you did read that correctly!
In what one writer called a disruptive move to the world of inbound marketing automation services, there are today now two free solutions available. It’s strange that I touched on this in my last post, Crossing the Chasm, in that this is a step towards that goal. I’ll tell you why I believe that at the end of the post.
Two vendors recently announced “freemium” versions of their solutions. You start off using the software for free, and as your usage volumes grow to exceed the free version’s limits, you begin paying a monthly fee. The Loopfuse (www.loopfuse.com) and Genius (www.genius.com) announcements of these free services have generated a great deal of interest and in this post we’d like to explore the concept for you.
Genius’s product is based around using gURL’s, which is the Genius URL shortening service. Like bit.ly in other words, and you embed these gURLs into more or less anything: Tweets, emails, web-pages, etc. While I like the idea behind this of one day being able to fully integrate Social Media into Marketing 2.0, the current implementation lacks real power. But it is interesting and I will keep my eye on the company and its solution.
Loopfuse’s system, on the other hand, is a fully functional Inbound Marketing Automation system. As I see this as a potential first step into the Chasm, we are in the process of becoming a certified Loopfuse Partner. And I believe the first step is critical: It’s the every journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step thing.
The introduction of these free services does raise some interesting possibilities, however. For example, here’s how Gossamar has, until this event, taken on a new customer.
- We start by helping you define your online marketing strategy
- Do an SEO sub-project to define keywords and site renovations
- Conduct a content sub-project to build and make available in the right way, all that thought-leadership content
- Help you launch a Social Media Marketing campaign to boost traffic even more
- And finally, we install the marketing automation and design and implement the lead-handling strategy, and lead nurturing campaigns.
And we did this to ensure that our clients didn’t pay fees for an automation solution until it was able to run “flat out”, and not be idling, waiting for the traffic to build and for the campaigns to pick up speed, etc. Saving money until it pays to spend it, in other words.
But with the software now free, it makes sense to install the marketing automation solution much sooner. Start with a quick review of the existing strategy and website. This will benchmark current performance as a yardstick for future progress as well as educate everyone involved about the content on the site now and the site’s navigation. And then, albeit with a vague sense of what the new, on-line marketing strategy will dictate, we can install the system and switch it on. Let it start tracking traffic patterns and visitor preferences immediately. This data can illuminate your online marketing strategy reviews with deeper insight into individual behavior as opposed to the aggregate-only data produced by Google Analytics.
Capturing the prospect data like this enhances the design of the remainder of the inbound marketing automation system because the focus is narrower. Instead of working in a vacuum or within the large box of your whole marketing strategy, you are able to analyze just those elements which are not working well. To “see” where the site and or the strategy need adjusting.
As for using the advent of free IMA systems to help cross the chasm, I see it this way. Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation are, as stated in the previous post, still in the Early Adopter part of the adoption curve. The early majority see the pair as a risky endeavour requiring budget approval, raising the level of risk yet further. What better way to reduce it than by making it free? Now as I know already from doing some calculations, the limits on these systems are such that if you run anything less than a tiny business, you’re going to exceed them and start paying a fee. But it’s a gradual entry and that should make it easier. And easy is the big bridge across the chasm.
Bit-by-Bit # 37 from Eric.