Act-On, a leading marketing automation tool, has just released a feature designed to limit the amount of time required for marketers to take data-based action on successful or failing campaigns. The feature, Engagement Insights, connects data from Act-On with prebuilt Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets templates in order to help marketers see and share campaign performance metrics.
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As one of the best marketing automation tools, surpassed only by Editors' Choice tools HubSpot and Pardot, Act-On is a dynamite tool for companies seeking to connect email operations to other lines of business, such as social media marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, Act-On provides one of the most comprehensive social media and SEO-based automation tools available (save for HubSpot). Coupled with an open application programming interface (API), Act-On has made it a mission to ensure that data management isn't an obstacle for marketers.
"Our belief is that, in a general sense, reporting is only as good as the action it's driving and the ease with which the broader marketing team can access it," said Adam Mertz, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Act-On Software. "We help marketers understand forms, email campaigns, landing pages, and that's great. Generally, that's accessed by a few marketers on the team. But the size of the teams get bigger; they're more spread out. Not everybody has access to the marketing automation platform. You either export reports as a PDF or take a screenshot. The big difference here is, we wanted to put the data into as many people's hands as easily as possible within the marketing team."
What Engagement Insights Does
Engagement Insights lets marketers view weekly and monthly email click-to-open rates (CTOR), top converting forms and landing pages, and content downloads—all from within Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Act-On data is exported directly to your Excel or Sheet template. The data is automatically plugged into pre-supplied templates.
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"The number [one most used] business intelligence (BI) tools used are Excel and Google Sheets," said Mertz. "We went this route because we wanted to connect our data to those pseudo BI tools. And when we did it, we wanted to make it as easy as possible. [Our customers] click a button, they put in the email addresses for who should receive it, and they have access."
The beauty of this integration is that no manual configuration is required. And because of Excel's and Sheets' collaborative features, you'll be able to share the dashboards without having to establish permissions or adding licenses to your Act-On account.
"This will drive much better collaboration around the campaigns and strategy that needs to be executed," said Mertz. "When you provide those email addresses, they're going to get a link. They're going to get an alert any time that sheet updates. They can bookmark the link and go to it any time. A lot of times, people have the wrong report or they have an old one…it ends up inhibiting collaboration."
This release isn't as groundbreaking as Act-On's artificial intelligence (AI) upgrades (more on this later), but it's a quick hack that will simplify marketers' lives. Unfortunately, only three out-of-the-box template options are available. However, anyone can go into the system and create one additional custom report template that can also be pumped into Excel and Sheets.
"We thought, if we created templates that help every single customer get their teams on the same page, we enable these [specific] templates," said Mertz. "And also give them the ability to create additional reports that are coming out of the system as well. We started out with something we know every customer needs to know and share across every team."
Speaking of AI: The company recently released Adaptive Social Posting, which utilizes AI to help marketers determine the best time to post to social media sites Facebook and Twitter based on engagement with previous posts. Adaptive Forms is another recently released, AI-based feature that lets marketers develop a survey form that offers different questions for different contacts based on how each person answered the initial and subsequent questions. Act-On is working on new features called "Adaptive Sending" and "Adaptive Lead Scoring," both of which are scheduled for general release before the end of the year.
Engagement Insights, the newly announced feature, is an add-on that requires an additional $2,400 annually. However, the feature will be available for free for current Act-On customers for one year.