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Act-On Marketing Automation Software Review

 

Act-On Software's CRM Integration Capabilities

Act-On marketing software offers packaged integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, SalesLogix and SugarCRM. However, it is the Salesforce.com integration that is by far the most feature rich, mature and popular.

The Act-On / Salesforce.com integration is an AppExchange certified, bi-directional synchronization that leaves Salesforce as the system of record. The data exchange uses the Force.com API (Application Programming Interface) and transfers leads, contacts and campaign data. Act-On's process is to create the marketing campaigns in Salesforce.com (the system of record) and then push them over to Act-On (campaign integration does not work in the opposite direction). The integration can include pushing Salesforce.com custom fields into Act-On, however, does not include pushing Salesforce.com custom objects. As a workaround, the data from the Salesforce.com custom objects can be configured into a custom report and that report extract can then be imported into Act-On. This work-around is not automated so recurring imports could become laborious.

Act-On uses a configuration option to define automated synchronization and transfer of sales-ready leads to Salesforce.com. Sync intervals may be designated in hours or weeks and the data push includes lead activity so that the receiving sales person has a complete view of the lead history.

The Act-On / CRM integration is not an all or nothing proposition. As opposed to some marketing software solutions which transfer all leads between the Sales Force Automation (SFA) and marketing system, Act-On permits a potentially more flexible approach of using lists or segmentation to designate certain campaigns or extracts from the CRM software and then keeps those subsets in sync.

In addition to using lead score thresholds to designate sales-ready leads that should be forwarded to Salesforce.com for sales team follow-through, Act-On permits marketers to also override lead transfer rules by using a custom segment definition to force the push of all matching leads into the SFA system for sales assignment.

With the Act-On to Salesforce.com integration the sales team has visibility into the leads interactions with the company's marketing programs. The Act-On integration to Salesforce.com inserts what it considers to be only the most relevant marketing interactions into the lead's activity history. For those Salesforce users who want to see more activity detail, there is an "Act-On Activity History" button on the lead page which presents a modeless pop-up window that displays the detailed marketing interactions history with the lead or contact.

Sales staff may or may not have control to insert, suspend or withdraw their leads or contacts from Act-On nurture campaigns—as such control depends upon whether the campaign definition criterion are entirely within the CRM system (i.e. the lead or contact page), and whether the sales team even knows what the various criterion are for the various campaigns. For SMBs which use one or very few nurture campaigns that are based on one of few CRM lead/contact data fields, the sales person can simply change the CRM field value(s) for the lead or contact which will then insert or remove the lead from the campaign. However, for organizations with multiple campaigns based on more sophisticated conditions, it is unlikely the sales staff will know those conditions for each campaign and their ability to control their prospects becomes impaired.

Sales staff are able to send emails (with trackable links for digital activity recording) using Salesforce.com CRM or Microsoft Outlook. The Act-On system displays a "Send Act-On Email" button from the CRM software lead page in order to allow the Salesforce.com user to create a quick email distribution, and optionally apply an Act-On email template. A similar process is available to Outlook users with the Act-On Outlook plug-in. Unfortunately, this functionality is not available to POP3 email users (such as Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)

For sales staff to send mass email broadcasts, there is a "Send Act-On Email to Report" link in the CRM software which allows the sales person to create a 1 to many email distribution. These email distributions are not associated with campaigns, just one-time email broadcasts.

The strength of the Act-On integration with Salesforce.com is clearly evidenced when reading the AppExchange user reviews. In quite an impressive nature, among 60 user reviews, Act-On has an average score of 4.9 stars (of a maximum 5 star score).

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SugarCRM integration, Act-On retrieves lead and contact data, possibly including default or custom fields, and pushes back lead activity data into a 'Sales Portal'. From within the Sales Portal, the sales person can access and view summary or detailed lead history as well as configure the criterion for alert notifications (based on elements such as company, contact, email address, state, city or particular website pages viewed). Act-on forms can also be used as an import or web-to-lead process for inserting contact data into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM or SugarCRM database.

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