Act! CRM: Growth and Revenue Onto the Same Track
Getting new customers costs money. Keeping your current customers satisfied also costs money, but probably not as much as the acquisition of new ones.
But, what’s perhaps trickier about choosing between getting new customers and maintaining good relationships with previous ones is… precisely this either/or approach.
Why not both/and?
The platform helps small businesses and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) balance their time, effort and budget between marketing’s tasks of finding new leads, and sales’ job of converting those leads into happy and loyal customers.
Although the product is often billed as a separate CRM and marketing automation suite bundled into a package, Act! actually excels when both sets of tools are used in tandem, making for a smooth transition from leads to customers during the handoff of contacts from marketing to sales.
Before delving into the breakdown of Act!’s many features and solutions, let’s take a huge step back — all the way to the 80s — to see how Act! came about.
The place is Dallas, Texas, and a tech company called Conductor Software was trying to get ahead of the curve in the still-nascent computerized customer management scene.
The first iteration of its software came out in 1987, called Activity Control Technology. That name hardly spoke to anything specific, and soon the program was renamed Automated Contact Tracking, keeping with the original acronym. This new moniker was a bit more descriptive, prefiguring what would eventually become proper contact management software.
Both names, however, would have to give way to the simplicity and purity of the acronym (with a flashy exclamation point to boot). Act! was born.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the ownership of Act! kept changing hands. Contact Software (formerly Conductor Software) got sold to Symantec Corporation, who sold it to SalesLogix, who in turn got bought up by Sage and renaming it Sage ACT, who ultimately sold it to Swiftpage, who have been running the updates of Act! ever since.
So the question: Why were the software and the software company bought and sold over so many times? Is it because nobody wanted it? The answer to that is clear: No!
While the true business reasons may remain private, it doesn’t hurt to speculate. Perhaps the real reason for all these changing hands, is that throughout the nineties and noughties, the trajectory of business apps, automation software, and the tech world, in general, was passing through a period of growing pains and uncertainty, especially in the run-up to the dot.com crash in 2000-1.
What this possibly meant is that few companies were bold or visionary enough to see the potential of CRM and stick with it through booms and bust. And yet, with every successive company acquisition or software buyout, those holding the keys to Act! were getting ever-closer to a perfectly fine-tuned piece of business SaaS.
The result is that Act! is as impressive today in its capabilities as it’s been resilient throughout its history.
Step one is finding new leads, and Act! helps marketing teams do just that with a range of automation tools, starting with an email campaign builder which makes it simple to design attractive and effective email marketing campaigns. It’s also possible to use Act! with Microsoft Outlook.
You can build from scratch or use one of the over 170 templates, many catered to specific industries. Furthermore, there are tools for A/B testing and for setting up drip emails.
To get a good idea of how each marketing email is doing, Act! provides at-a-glance stats on opens and click-throughs. You also get overall data showing how a campaign did over a period of time in comparison with other timeframes or other campaigns.
Campaigns are also easily shareable across social media platforms, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When campaigns send the viewer clicking back to your homepage or a landing page, their activity on these pages also gets tracked and analyzed.
With emails, as well as features like surveys, there is a lead capture tool, which gathers up available data and stores it in the CRM. Meanwhile, leads who have engaged can get scored based on how likely they are to convert.
On the automation side, Act! lets you build ‘decision trees’ for a more personalized response-driven automation process. For example, after sending an email (the tree trunk), one ‘branch’ can follow the IFTTT path of: “if they don’t click it, send a follow-up email;” whereas another IFTTT branch goes: “if they clicked it, send a notification to sales.”
With this last example, one can see how powerful marketing automation connects marketing efforts to sales goals.
It all begins by having detailed customer and client profiles in your system, showing their professional, demographic and social media data, as well as giving you a detailed chronological account of all your dealings with them (calls, emails, meetings), along with their activity with your company (purchases, customer support issues).
From there you can organize your contacts into groups, or create tags for individuals which let you search for collections of contacts based on common tags. These features are quite handy for targeted marketing campaigns.
The CRM also includes calendar functions and task management tools, complete with reminders and follow-ups.
As CRM was first and foremost a tool of sales (though hardly exclusively anymore), Act! includes a lot of cool stuff for this department. You can organize and track your sales opportunities, sorting each by its priority, status, its expected value, and anticipated closure date.
Sales teams get notified in real-time when people open their emails. Intelligent call lists show you which recipients of your marketing outreach are most primed for a sales nudge based on their engagement with the campaign.
While you can get Act! CRM as a standalone for $30 per user per month billed annually, it’s the dual-synthesized powers of marketing automation and CRM where Act!’s value really shines.
Fortunately, there are several packages, with the idea being, that as companies grow, Act! can scale up right alongside them.
It’s called the Growth Suite, and it goes for $25, $37.50, $67.50 and $150 per user per month billed annually. Still, for even more flexibility, one can get the basic CRM package (on-premise rather than the cloud) and then add on marketing modules.
Something must be said for Act!’s customer support as well: It’s great. From resources like knowledge bases and user communities, a very responsive ticketing system, to one of the most comprehensive video tutorial pages we’ve ever seen, the people at Act! and Swiftpage really want to make sure people get the most bang for their software buck.
Act! like a pro
From leads to sales to five-star reviews: That’s how Act.com by Swiftpage demonstrates the value in store for users of this CRM software.
It’s a full-circle, fully-integrated marketing and sales system that makes sure that, in the dual quest between finding new leads on one hand, and deepening existing customer relationships on the other, no one goal gets overshadowed by the other.
So stop dithering in the idle-zone of figuring what your company needs — more leads or more sales. Act! now, and do both.