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3/1/2011
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Act-On Unveils Online Marketing Platform

Web-based software targets SMBs and small marketing groups within larger organizations while pushing enterprise-like application integration across digital channels.

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Raghavan declined to identify a target company size for his firm's sales efforts, saying that Act-On prefers to look at the size of the marketing department instead. Act-On's "sweet spot" is marketing teams with between one and 10 people, according to the CEO -- he added that departments of this size often have tight budgets and little IT support for their operations. "When the marketing department becomes large – 20, 30, 40 people – their needs and the way they look at the whole solution starts to change," Raghavan said. "It becomes much more like an ERP system."

That strategy might lead to fuzzier definitions of "small" or "midsize," but it's one echoed by other tech vendors who see familial resemblances between departments within large enterprises and SMBs.

"A good example is IBM: There are a number of field marketing groups at IBM that simply can't get the time of the day from their central marketing team," Raghavan said, noting that IBM is an Act-On customer at the departmental level. "So it tends to become a departmental sale. For smaller companies, we are the whole thing."

Act-On's online architecture -- the software lives partly in its own data centers, and partly in Amazon's EC2 cloud -- enables more rapid updates than traditional software models. Raghavan said the company has a continuous two-week release cycle so that it can incorporate feedback from its clients.

"If you look at our product and the evolution of our product, I would say very much it's been crowdsourced," Ragahvan said. "We listen very closely to our customers, very much influenced by Intuit and what they did with QuickBooks and Quicken and so on."

The service's cloud basis also enables pricing flexibility: Act-On offers month-to-month commitments with a minimum spend of $500 per month. While "cloud" is certainly a buzzword, it's backed by an increasing expectation of businesses that applications like Act-On's be delivered online. "For us, the cloud is all-important," Raghavan said. "For our customers, it's a given -- they assume that you're out there."

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