Although Act-On isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of marketing automation software, Act-On offers one of the most capable and diverse tools available. Just a notch below Editors’ Choice tools HubSpot and Pardot, Act-On is a contender for best marketing automation suite, especially for those companies whose goal is to connect email operations to other lines of business such as customer relationship management (CRM), search marketing, and social media marketing. Unfortunately, there are some limitations that prevent Act-On from reaching the marketing automation zenith. But, if your company has an open mind and a thick purse, then you should absolutely test-drive Act-On before making your final marketing automation software purchasing decision.
Pricing and Plans
Act-On is the second-most expensive tool we tested. It comes in two tiers, Professional and Enterprise. The Professional plan begins at $900 per month for access to 2,500 contacts, three marketing users, 50 sales users, and up to 30,000 application programming interface (API) calls per day. The Enterprise plan begins at $2,000 and gives you access to 2,500 active contacts, six marketing users, 100 sales users, and 30,000 API calls per day. At the Enterprise level, you’ll also get access to data visualization tools, and integration with your CRM tool. For advanced social media, which includes campaign management and reporting, you’ll have to pay an additional fee, which Act-On wouldn’t disclose to us.
Act-On’s best price comparison is Pardot, which is slightly more expensive, with a Standard plan that costs $1,000 per month for email marketing, prospect tracking, lead nurturing and scoring, reporting, forms and landing pages, and standard Salesforce integration. The Professional plan, which costs $2,000 per month, includes email analytics, spam analysis, landing page A/B testing, Google AdWords integration, API access, an integrated marketing calendar, chat support, among other features. The Ultimate plan costs $3,000 per month for custom user roles, custom object integration, a dedicated IP address, and phone support. All plans give you capacity for 10,000 contacts.
On the lower end, you’ll find products such as Infusionsoft, which costs $379 per month for the Complete package and gives you access to up to five users, 10,000 contacts, and 50,000 emails per month. The Complete package also includes Infusionsoft’s four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation). If you need a product that can scale as you grow, then Zoho Campaigns offers a pay-as-you-go plan in which you buy and use email credits. These plans begin at $6 for 250 credits, $80 for 5,000, and up to $750 for 100,000. Monthly subscriptions, which include unlimited emails, begin at $5 for up to 500 subscribers, all the way to $350 per month for up to 100,000 subscribers.
Functionality and Usability
Act-On offers eight automated program templates, which is similar to what you’ll find on HubSpot, however both these tools (and indeed most of the players we reviewed) can be custommized to meet your specific needs. Everything is done via a drag-and-drop workflow editor that isn’t as attractive as Pardot’s Engagement Studio, but it’s equally easy to use. Because workflows are done in descending linear format, people who prefer text-based visualizations will have an easier time than those marketers who are visually inclined. You can run separate, multiple automated programs that run the same steps but ultimately branch off from different triggers. This lets you create a journey that is theoretically customized for every single possible journey your contact can take once he or she takes an action on your communication.
Act-On’s landing page editor is also a drag-and-drop interface with a heavy focus on making creativity easy. You simply grab “Blocks,” and drag them onto your landing page. These blocks allow you to edit text, add images, and change alignments, among many other form creation options. You can build your own HTML or create an entire HTML template from within the landing page design editor. The editor is responsive, which lets you see how your creation will be viewed on desktop, mobile, and tablet form factors. You can also see how the collateral will look in landscape and profile modes for each mobile and tablet device, which is a nice detail feature.
Segmenting, Lead Scoring, and Integrations
Act-On’s segmentation tool uses an “expression builder” to let you choose rules to segment your website’s customers based on their behaviors. This lets you segment how you send campaigns or collateral based on where people click, what they load into shopping carts, where they stop taking actions, and more. You can then save the segment for future campaigns based on future site visits. You can also segment by client accounts. For example: If you have 100 contacts who work at Bob’s Beef Steakhouse, you can add them to a list for accounts with less than 500 employees, or accounts in the restaurant vertical, or some other classification, without having to tick off a box on each contact’s personal profile. This lets you do a quick automation blast to an entire account or an entire set of employees if needed.
Lead Scoring is entirely customizable. You can set any number range for ranking contacts. You can set up any criteria to be ranked. Act-On doesn’t limit the number of scoring sheets you can create, so you can rate and segment to your heart’s content.
Your automated programs sync back to your CRM tool via every element of the marketing campaign. This gives your sales team a clear understanding of how leads progress (or don’t) through the sales funnel. This can be done via a drag-and-drop feature in your workflow builder. Act-On has an open API, so as long as you’ve got some IT or developer talent available, you can tie it to any CRM tool on the market.
Act-On offers one of the most comprehensive social media and search engine optimization (SEO)-based automation tools available, save for HubSpot, which actually lets you publish to and monitor social networks at its entry-level plan. If you do opt to add on Act-On’s social media suite, you’ll be able to prospect on Twitter, publish to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as monitor Twitter mentions for your company and its competitors. You can also run SEO audits for your site, landing pages, and forms, as well as tie the software to Google AdWords for even more in-depth reporting.
Over the rest of 2017, Act-On claims it’ll be building additional features, like “Adaptive Scoring,” which relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to develop automated and adjusted scoring for leads based on a lead’s actions, or based on how the system is viewing comparative leads. Act-On is also building “Adaptive Forms,” which will allow you to develop a form that offers different questions for different contacts based on how each person answered the initial and subsequent questions. Unfortunately, these features weren’t available in time for our testing.
The Bottom Line
Act-On does everything most businesses need their marketing automation software to do. However, because it’s such a costly tool, most small businesses and startups are going to find themselves wishing there was a lower pricing tier available. Larger enterprises, especially those with developers who are constantly tinkering with the system’s open API, will absolutely love Act-On, especially those companies that value marketing insights to drive better CRM, social media, and search marketing tactics.