New Insightly Marketing Platform Modernizes Legacy CRM

Insightly on Tuesday announced the availability of Insightly Marketing, which integrates marketing, sales, and project management into a single platform to support dynamic customer journeys.

The company also released the results of the Insightly Marketing Study it conducted last month, probing trends and challenges in customer relationship management marketing.

Insightly offers a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based CRM solution targeting small and mid-sized businesses.

It developed its new marketing platform specifically for companies the Salesforce CRM platform does not accommodate. Tony Kavanagh, Insightly’s CMO, previously worked at Salesforce.

Insightly Marketing is built on the same platform as Insightly’s current CRM platform to provide a seamless and streamlined customer experience. Insightly’s new unified platform enables businesses to align their sales and marketing activities with a single source of truth on customer data, enjoy a consistent user interface, and eliminate the need for expensive system integration and user training.

Insightly Marketing Dashboard

Insightly’s marketing study surveyed 440 businesses. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they still used Microsoft Excel to manage marketing. Another 17 percent of the respondents said they did not use any technology. More than one-third of the businesses did not consistently measure marketing’s contribution to their business.

“Businesses today must address the complete customer, and that means understanding the intricacies and value of each touchpoint,” said Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly.

Integrating marketing with project management and sales into a single platform lets Insightly revolutionize the future of customer engagements by helping businesses deliver the right marketing initiatives with the right Return on Investment, he said.

Marketing Foundation I

The Insightly Marketing platform provides users with Advanced Analytics, Better Builds, Customer Journeys, and Data Freedom. Because all three applications are built on the same platform, there is, in fact, no need to integrate them, Insightly’s Kavanagh told CRM Buyer.

Advanced Analytics lets users easily analyze, visualize, and share customer engagement metrics — open rates, bounce rates, click-through rates, and more — as tools to discover what is working well so marketers can double down on winning campaigns.

Analytics and data visualization capabilities deliver standard enterprise-grade reports, dashboards, and shareable insight cards right out of the box, noted Kavanagh.

Better Builds provides templates for customizable emails and newsletters. The results deliver engaging experiences to a company’s customers, increase open rates, and drive more conversions.

The intuitive drag-and-drop email design tool allows marketing teams to create highly graphical and compelling email and newsletter templates by themselves in a matter of minutes and then drop them into predefined customer journeys, said Kavanagh.

“This addresses a shortcoming of many of the legacy marketing automation offerings, which force marketing teams to go to outside agencies for email design services and then to upload these designs to be used in campaigns,” he added.

Marketing Foundation II

Once the target segments for the marketing campaign are defined and messaging and content assets are created, the marketing team then needs to create the journey to bring future customers along, explained Kavanagh. They need to define the flow of the journey and the sequence of the paths a prospect will follow based on actions taken along the way.

The process involves an intuitive and visual journey builder to learn quickly about customers’ behaviors and preferences. It also allows marketing teams to assess how likely prospects are to convert to qualified leads by scoring their interactions along the way and passing those with the highest scores to sales, said Kavanagh.

Data Freedom locks all customer information into one unified platform. That eliminates the need to manage multiple sources of data. Customer data flows freely throughout so that all marketing, sales, and service teams have the exact same view of the customer.

The Insightly CRM platform is built using a metadata-driven architecture. Its foundational functionality — roles and permissions, workflow engine, analytics, reports and dashboards, security, mobile, etc. — are written once for the platform. Then all applications (marketing, CRM, project management, and all future applications) are able to leverage these technical building blocks, said Kavanagh.

“This, combined with an innovative product engineering methodology called ‘Continuous Deployment,’ allows us to release new products faster and with more confidence,” he said. “Insightly did not have a marketing tool previously.”

Big Innovative Step

Why target non-Salesforce users? Insightly’s innovation differs radically from what Salesforce’s platform offers.

When Anthony Smith built the first version of Insightly almost nine years ago, there was no CRM on the market that addressed the specific needs of small businesses, according to Kavanagh. Smith had tried legacy CRMs at small businesses. They had more functionality and were too expensive without the integrated project management functionality most small businesses needed.

So, Smith decided to build an alternative. Insightly’s business grew as its products gained functional parity with all the major CRM vendors but with prices at levels that appealed to the mid-market. As a result, more mid-market companies using legacy CRM systems are looking to replace their existing implementations, Kavanagh said.

“Nearly always, the burden of integration and successful implementation is left up to the customer,” he told CRM Buyer. “For mid-sized businesses, this is not a luxury they can afford. With Insightly, there are no integration requirements, as all applications are built on the same unified platform.”

More Survey Findings

Seventy-seven percent of businesses participating in Insightly’s study viewed marketing as very important to their business growth, according to Kavanagh. Nearly one in five respondents reported they could not run their business without it.

That said, 11 percent of the businesses did not integrate marketing and sales initiatives. A solid 42 percent of the businesses only integrated marketing and sales on occasion.

Marketing is one major tool for running a successful business, and companies perform a wide range of activities as part of their marketing strategy, the survey shows. These activities range from public relations to website management and email marketing. However, 52 percent of participating companies said their marketing budget was less than 10 percent of their annual revenue.

How Much Is Enough?

A majority of businesses report having less than five people in marketing. As a result, businesses are largely under-resourced, with fewer people and dollars invested in this key part of their business operations.

The amount of resources to spend is a moving target, noted Kavanagh. It depends on a range of factors, including industry, market maturity and competitiveness, and growth targets for the business.

Marketing is expected to execute a wide range of activities, including email marketing, website management, PR, digital marketing, content marketing, and events. Effectively managing a wide range of marketing activities with minimum resources is one of the leading challenges many companies face, he asserted.

“In short, marketing teams in mid-sized businesses are spread very thinly across a broad range of activities and are increasingly trying to find ways to be more and more productive,” said Kavanagh.

Challenging Marketplace

The biggest challenge for CRM today is having all marketing campaigns in one place or platform, according to Nicole Hovey, marketing manager at BestNotes. For example, there are great CRMs on the market that track marketing campaigns but are not an efficient email service.

“CRMs should be built for specific fields and the challenges that field faces. For instance, the addiction treatment world has important HIPAA-compliant information that needs to be customized too heavily with available CRMs. One size does not fit all when it comes to CRMs,” she told CRM Buyer.

Kavanagh pointed to three other critical challenges:

  • Aligning sales and marketing around common goals and objectives;
  • Creating and deploying highly effective marketing campaigns to retain existing customers and find new ones;
  • Measuring marketing’s contribution to revenue and ultimately to profits.

“The key challenge for any CRM today is properly integrating customer and prospect data and providing meaningful insights from that data. Most marketers use a wide variety of tech tools and software to manage comprehensive campaigns across email, social, and company blogs,” observed Emma Valentiner, SEO content manager at Leadcrunch.

Valuable data about who we are really selling to is collected in each of those portals. The CRM that can best integrate and translate all that collected data into clear, actionable steps will win the day. It also will win its place in your next quarter’s budget, she told CRM Buyer.

About the Survey

Insightly surveyed its CRM customers in the United States and abroad. The customer base represents a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, consulting, education, healthcare, advertising and media, technology and IT.

The 442 survey respondents included C-suite executives, mid-level managers, and CRM administrators, according to Insightly. The majority of survey respondents owned or worked at U.S.-based companies with up to 500 employees. The online survey was distributed via email from Aug. 9 to Aug. 19.

Will They Come?

Insightly Marketing is available in three editions. The Plus version is US$299 per month. The Pro version is $599 per month. The Enterprise version is $1,299 per month.

Existing CRM customers likely will ignore new product launches, as their systems tend to be the company backbone and single source of truth, suggested Darryl Praill, CMO at VanillaSoft. Most companies will consider an upgrade only when they need more sophisticated capabilities.

“The primary segment of customers who would show interest in a new platform would be startups who are looking to maximize the capabilities and features for their investment,” Praill told CRM Buyer.

Startups typically have not deployed their CRM systems substantively. They have no massive data repositories in place. Hence, transitioning to a more affordable or a more fully featured offering for a comparable price to what they are paying would be very attractive, he explained.

New CRM Trends Not Yet Reflected

There are developing CRM marketing trends that are not reflected in this new report, Praill noted. New vendor products will need to have a product capability dramatically better than the market leaders to gain share.

Some of these trends will include capabilities around artificial intelligence, sales engagement, full-featured mobile support, conversational intelligence, and chats and bots, he pointed out.

New features also need to cover the entire revenue creation aspect, Praill said, from marketing automation to sales development to pipeline management.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.Email Jack.

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