IBM Watson Campaign Automation Review: "Heaps of features straight out of the box; a great little tool!"
- Very easy to learn with extensive on-demand, self-paced e-Learning, a knowledge base to query other users' learnings and responsive 24/7 support via a portal.
- Intuitive interface; work from left to right to join up data (contacts), email creative, campaign automation, reporting and integrated products.
- Great automation capability: set up and automate the easy stuff quickly, allowing you to pay more attention to the hard stuff.
- Easily import and personalise your HTML in the WYSIWYG editor, simple A/B/C/D testing process with automated execution to the winner and capacity for complex personalisation and dynamic emails creation.
- My clients are crying out for a drag and drop email editor. While the WYSIWYG editor is fine, this would be a huge win for IBM!
- The inbuilt reporting suite could do with an overhaul and to allow users to build more customised reports. Some elements of the reporting could do with better filtering options as well, or start with a filter rather than loading everything in the first instance.
- Would be good to be able to make more assets portable between databases and have an 'asset import mapping' process to re-point/configure anything that doesn't match the original source.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Review: "If you're looking for an easy email platform, look no further!"
- Very simple to use.
- Very effective results.
- Great user interface.
- I struggle with the reporting at times. The reports UI can be easier to use and interpret.
- The automation can get a tad tedious. It takes time to implement it.
- The WYSISWYG is very user friendly for new people working with the product.
- The reporting is very detailed. You have several ways to conduct reporting, and fully scope how your campaign did.
- It's great for its capabilities to create automated mailings and trigger series.
- Some of the reporting features could be grouped together. I don't like that i have to do a general report pull and a deliverability pull to see how well the entire campaign did. I would prefer if these reports were grouped together.
- I also wish that when working in a template and you want to save in the folder you are currently in, it would automatically populate to be where you are currently working not force you to find your folder again.
- Obviously, sending email is its core function and it does it well. It has all the necessary functionality to help maintain sending reputation (throttling, spam threat estimation, etc). The built in functionality that allows you to have "mail-merge" type functionality (through personalization, dynamic content, and adding data from relational tables) really adds a whole new level to email marketing -- it lets you take your marketing to as detailed a level as you can potentially go.
- Scoring models allow you to quickly and easily automate lead qualification by adding your own rulesets and criteria. Very easy to tweak and add email alerts when people meet specific ranks or scores.
- The Landing pages (form builder) allows a user to quickly add a form on a webpage that interacts directly with Engage database. You can either use their default form builder (which, honestly, is not real attractive and very difficult to alter the appearance of), or you can import your own forms and map your form fields to fields in the database.
- The Engage API is very well done, and very well documented. It is constantly evolving and being updated.
- The community forum and knowledge base are also a very excellent resource for finding answers to questions without having to call support. Of course, it takes action on the user's part to find these answers - but it's a really valuable resource for those willing to take the time to search.
- I think the Programs functionality of Engage is amazing, and you can really do a lot of awesome stuff with it -- but testing (and sometimes even updating) a program is laborious and sometimes difficult to do. I know they are aware of this and there has been much discussion regarding the topic on the community forum and within Silverpop.
- The WYSWYG editor used by Silverpop (at the time of this writing is a version of FCK Editor) isn't super great in terms of the HTML it produces. It's not going to maim your email to look terrible, but it will alter your code if you have imported it (ex, changing hexidecimal colors to rgb, adding various font and span tags, etc). Nothing super critical, and if the user is comfortable with HTML - probably won't care (or even be aware it's doing it).
- CRM Integration. Currently, Silverpop integrates with Salesforce.com (SFDC) and MS Dynamics. Salesforce integration has been available for years, and I cannot personally speak to it. We use MS Dynamics, and it is in its infancy. Current features and functionality are extremely limited. The initial introduction of the integration service was introduced mid-2013. Also, there is additional cost (setup and monthly licensing fee) for CRM integration, and - at least for MS Dynamics, requires a subscription to Scribe Online for usage (another cost, but not through Silverpop).
They also do annual user-group conferences (in various cities) that allow users to meet other local users and discuss features and do hands-on examples. Not as helpful as the conference, but good nonetheless.
- Customer support
- As someone very new to the administrative side of email marketing a few years ago, I needed a thorough onboarding to the tool. And that's just what I received. Online training, technical support, webinars, and the personal involvement of our Relationship Manager and Account Director helped me ramp very quickly and achieve proficiency with the tool. SIlverpop has robust and varied offerings that meet the needs of multiple learning styles.
- As a company with marketing teams in multiple countries, a vast product portfolio, customers in many different industries, our business is inherently complex. TI needs a partner that is flexible and can adapt to our sometimes unique needs. One example of this is Silverpop's willingness to help make connections between our database and the tool to ensure accuracy and efficiency.
- Product Development
- Silverpop is constantly evolving its offering. In an industry like ours, change is the only constant - so this makes Silverpop a very good fit for TI. Making the jump to marketing automation has been a seamless one, thanks to the capabilities available in Engage. We also greatly value the opportunity to provide input toward future development, as our needs change.
- Reporting for Programs
- Tracking results for automated programs is very manual (does not calculate open and click rates) and time consuming. It's also not possible to pull reports for multiple programs at once, as can be done using 'comparison report' for push emails.
The tools sets provided allows us to run automated campaigns and monitor the results in an effective way. Also, the integration features gives us the mechanisms to connect and ecommerce system and get insights on the performance of our campaigns.
- Marketing Automation
- Integration to CRM systems such as Salesforce.com
- Email marketing
- Database management
- The overall interface looks a bit old fashioned. However, areas of the solution have been revamped on each update with latest technologies.
- Automated Messages - we currently have over 70 automated messages going out on any particular day through feeds and API calls that we pass to Silverpop. We rely on these automated messages to communicate to our customers and can rely on Silverpop to always be up and running to get these messages out.
- Robust query building - We can target customers easily based on a combination of demographic profile data, as well as email and site behavior and purchase behavior, allowing us to finely segment our audience
- Deep dive reporting - the UI reporting, as well as the available reports to download through the API give us tremendous insight into how our subscribers are responding to email.
- Testing - The testing functionality could be a bit more robust. We would love to be able to A/B test automated messages/programs, as well as more easily test one content against another, which is currently a bit manual
- Frequency caps - while Silverpop does offer frequency caps, we would like to be able to set frequency caps depending on whether it is a promotional message or an account related message. Currently, it sets it at the organizational level, which could potentially prevent somebody from not getting an account related email if the max emails for that day went out, even if promotional. For this reason, we don't use frequency settings.
- Reporting on automated messages within the same campaign could be rolled up a little better. Using the UI today, to get to any detailed reporting of a particular campaign, you have to go into each individual mailing sent. For this reason, we typically use the API, but that might not be an option for some people due to a little more technicality.
- Selecting the group that received the email. Though it may not be intuitive to navigate it does allow for some sophisticated segmentation.
- The integration with Salesforce is very easy to manage.
- The Query building functionality it very easy.
- The navigation process is a bit bulky. For example, trying to open a "link" in a new tab or back arrowing, only opens the page you're on. Does not open the object you either want to see or were working on.
- Organization of Databases and lists can be very confusing.
- The filing of cloned queries or emails is annoying. It always defaults to the main folder regardless of your filing structure.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Review: "Silverpop, great marketing automation solution with a interesting vision"
- Silverpop has a great learning process to start using the product and features, and one of the best Support Services I've ever experienced.
- Silverpop has an easy to set-up product in order to implement simple campaigns and then you can use more sophisticated features for more complex campaigns.
- Maybe Silverpop can improve the report feature
- Scoring Model - it was easy to implement and manage
- Dynamic content - this worked well once we started using it for emails and landing pages. We used this for localized language versions of programs.
- Data syncing and errors - Silverpop does not do a great job of getting data to sync regularly with our CRM (Salesforce.com). The data had to flow back and forth several times before being added to campaigns and in some instances, it took days to update leads! Also, failed lead syncs get stuck in an alert list but it does not notify you otherwise that a lead failed the sync.
- Design issues - we use custom HTML to build emails and landing pages, and we were unable to render background images on our campaigns. Also, once you toggle between design and source (code) view to make edits, it often broke the code and threw off the design.
- Administrator alerts - when sync fails altogether between systems, there is no email alert sent to the system admin (me/my team) so we at times have found that we have gone 18 hours until we stumble across the fact that the system sync has failed.
- Reporting - it is not very comprehensive and we had difficulty generating the level of reporting that we need to have.
- Support - there are a few gems in the support team who know what they're doing, but largely calling support is a lesson in frustration.
- Product bug fixes - in two instances, my open support tickets were identified as product bugs. One related to incorrect cookie tracking which was causing our leads not to be scoring properly. They determined that this wasn't critical enough to build into their product fix road map. This is core to an automation system working properly.
- Very powerful tool for mass mailings, combining queries and only emailing against one record
- Very good at testing email before sending - health of email
- Cannot query on lead source description - a big need for SafeNet
- Templates are kludgey and buggy - fonts will be all one but are mailed looking completely different. It is difficult to fix unless you know html code.
- Syncing between SFDC and SP is slow. not sure if it's an SP issue.
- Customer Support
- Partnerships with data, marketing, social media and other companies that can beef up your marketing in connection to email. (They understand that we don't work in a silo!)
- Reliability - Glitches are very rare and handled right away. We never worry that our data will be safe or that our emails will be delivered. You can trust the product and company.
- SilverPop Survey is outdated, but it's not a main focus of the company. It worked for small projects but we had to find a different company when we started surveying on a large scale.
- It's been difficult to fully sync our data with SilverPop, but I think this is more a lack of time/resources on my company's end that SilverPop's. It definitely takes some effort to take full advantage of the product though. My job is just more manual that it could be at times because of this.
- Great for creating emails and easy to use WYSIWYG.
- Very easy to load lists and segment databases or queries.
- I love the spam check feature, it helped us prevent so many problems.
- The schedule feature is great, easy to use and goes through every single details to ensure we do not make any mistakes
- The ability to select multiple lists when sending an email instead of having to create a query to combine both
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Review: "Silverpop - very powerful but it's own complexity does let it down..."
- Integration with Salesforce is very good, our sales team can obtain contact engagement insight from Engage without having to move outside of Salesforce
- Support is very good, always quick to respond and willing to resolve.
- Contact list management is very good, including the management of unsubscribes.
- Reporting is complex, just getting access to the detail of who has opened or clicked emails can be challenging
- The email and landing page template editors are very weak, creating good design within them is difficult. Easier to create HTML in an external tool and import. Defeats the objective of non-programmer email creation
- Online training is not great. Always best to signup for live webinars which are much better
- Automation programs are not straightforward to create and test. More online help is required to ensure users can be confident that programs created will act as expected.
- Silverpop Engage is an ever-changing platform., which is certainly one of my favorite things about it. In my one year as a user, multiple new programs have been launched. Not to mention they are constantly improving upon their current platform.
- Silverpop provides an abundance of training and support. As a new user or an experienced one, you will find that you have most all of the resources that you need. My favorite would have to be the online support portal where you receive one-to-one help on any issue you may have.
- Silverpop provides every customer with its' own relationship manager. This is important for not only on-boarding but providing additional support throughout a company's lifespan with the product. Often times with products like this you find that once you purchase, you are left to fend for yourself, but Silverpop does quite the opposite.
- When new products or features come to fruition sometimes the support with on-boarding is lacking. Aside from video training, I have found it hard to receive additional training at no cost making the barrier to entry with those products difficult.
- Some of their features are a bit outdated for how forward thinking of a company they are. As they have even said before, a little 'face-lift' once in a while would be nice in terms of the look and feel of their user-interface.
- I think more in-person training events would be great. I am confident that customers would be willing to pay to receive in-person training.
- Salesforce integration - Clunky at best. Also, since the database in Engage has to be keyed off the Salesforce CRM ID, it allows dupe records.
- Support - Generally good and responsive. Only a few times did I have more product knowledge than the person on the phone.
- It sends email - Except when you're queued behind someone's large send or there's a product issue.
- UX - Despite joining their customer UX council (and having very little ability to steer the product team), the usability of Engage needs the most attention. From not officially working in several common browsers - Safari, Chrome, to cryptic notifications and cumbersome processes (manually having to recalculate list totals or going through a confusing process to send an email), the product is just really dated. Old-style drop down menus and annoying in-between pages greet you when logging in. Even the recently updated homepage of data widgets (an attempt to make it feel newer), is really limited in functionality and customization.
- Email creation engine - Other ESPs like Bronto and dotMailer (yes, I realize these are different level tools) have advanced Ajax or jQuery based creation engines that allow significant flexibility in layout design without having to hardcode each email. Do you want three stories instead of four or two columns on one row? Easily done in these other tools, but a manual HTML process in Silverpop.
- User profile controls - We were never able to isolate users from gaining access to the core database. An inexperienced user could have easily sent an email to the entire database by accident. Also, users were often locked out and were not able to reset their own passwords. The password reset function never worked, so the admin had to handle each one. Additionally, if a user creates a list or query and leaves the company, not even the super admin can edit or delete it.
- Reporting - Overall reporting in Silverpop is very weak. Confusingly, there are two different reporting engines, one legacy, one new. You could edit the links after an email was sent in the legacy, but not the new. They were not flexible, and despite hundreds of users asking Silverpop via its customer community to remove Test sends from the list of emails in the reporting tool, they're still there. If you want to see the contact info for opens/clicks to provide to your sales team as an FYI, it's buried on one of the reports.
- Forms - Signup forms are part of the 'landing pages' functionality, which is one of the more buggy parts of the product. On several occasions while editing a form, my browser would lockup and I'd have to reopen it. The usability also suffers here. If you want a list to be available to allow people to opt-in, you have to exit the landing pages section, find the list in the Data section, and then buried on a tab is the "allow opt-in" checkbox. There are also significant limitations for the forms including styling, no adoption of existing CSS, and it uses an old school table-based layout.
- Auto-reply handling - We all know that despite telling recipients 'please do not reply', people still do. We found no way of reviewing those replies.
- Services and Account Management - As a fairly large ESP, we had expected a more comprehensive implementation services offering in-house. We were only offered a quick start program. In the last several years, I can say that I've spoken to the ever revolving list of assigned account managers less than five times.
- Asset library - More than a year into using the product did Silverpop finally add the ability to upload and link to PDFs in your emails. The asset library does not provide thumbnails of the images you upload while browsing (only have file names to go on), and it does not offer an image resize tool. Additionally, there is no notification or auto-renaming if your filename contains spaces. Something that they do alert you to only just before you hit the final send. But even then they don't tell you which image has the issue!
- Automation was a big plus for us. Allowing us to set daily record uploads freed up resources and added integrity to our customer service.
- Throttling the emails allowed us to relieve the load on our website on high traffic days without having to cancel email campaigns.
- A/B testing gave us invaluable insight into our customer response rates.
- Programs allowed us to control a sequence of emails to customers based on trigger points such as their profile, purchase behaviour, site behaviour, etc.
- The reporting functionality falls short of my expectations. The API with our web analytics tool is sufficient so we use it instead of Silverpop.
- I was disappointed that mobile marketing is a separate module from email marketing. Considering the growing trends, we wish to tie them together on campaigns but will have to pay more for the features.
- Ease of adding and updating contacts
- Captures a contacts use of email and website in a way that is easy to interperate
- Canned reports
- Easy to toggle between HTML and Design views
- Can view email output on multiple devices types
- Newly added features for test emails makes getting the email right, that much easier.
- Ad-hoc reporting
- Spellcheck capabilities
- Tracking personalized links
- Ability to edits images already uploaded in Silverpop
- Ability to upload multiple items at the same time
- It goes through a thorough examination process of the email before it is sent in order to make sure it doesn't get stuck in junk mail, renders properly on different plaforms, etc.
- It syncs with Salesforce
- It's easy to update photos and hyperlinks
- The process of creating a text email from HTML is pretty wonky, it creates an illegible text email that takes quite a lot of time to go through and edit.
- The ability to update the layout of emails is pretty time consuming and not "user friendly"
- There are little things like, when you copy an email it takes you all the way out to main list, instead of instinctively knowing where you are in the databases. "Ease of use" is something that Silverpop could definitely work on, the platform not very "user friendly" or instinctive.
- The reporting functionality is my LEAST favorite part of Silverpop. You can not pull reports based on many different factors, that should be a "no brainer" when setting up a reporting system. You can't customize your own report, you can't pull based on a title, you can't pull based on send date etc. Maybe I just haven't figured it all out, but it is complicated, time consuming and not easy to use.
- Dynamic Content - Silverpop's dynamic content system is the best I've used in my career with multiple systems.
- Salesforce Integration
- Automated Campaigns
- Updating automated messages, you have to disable the automation > make the changes > reconfigure > reactivate
- WYSIWYG editor is horrendous. We hand code all of our HTML, but if you simply open a piece of dynamic content it adds unnecessary code that you have to rip out if you make tweaks
- Working with support can be tedious and nerve racking. Too often rather than investigating an issue they try to blame it on something else and waste time. Also you have to give them permission to enter your account. Which is also a good thing security wise, but it adds additional time to figuring out any issues. Very problematic when facing something urgent.
- The program (or drip campaign) tool could use greater functionality so that you can better create paths. Similar to how Aprimo has it setup within their system. Instead everything is very linear in Silverpop.
- Inexpensive to implement: Our inexperienced team was able to begin utilizing the toolset very quickly and the starting price was very low.
- Constant improvements: The regular upgrades have addressed many usability challenges
- Helpful Support: The support team is knowledgeable, repsonsive, and attentive.
- Training Materials: The basics are easy to learn using their on-line video library
- Usability for non-technical marketers: While I believe all marketers should strive to be highly technical, the level of user-friendliness, especially around data management is quite low
- Documentation Deeper Usage: Even after years using similar tools, there are some features I don't understand and that aren't well documented.
- Error messages: There are some common use cases that fail and present users with an entirely unsatisfactory error message.
- The reporting package and real-time data provided are extremely useful and drive decision making.
- The Silverpop Engage platform is simple to learn and easy to use.
- There are a wide array of resources and tools within the platform to help achieve a company's goals.
- While there is a ton of data collected, it takes a certain amount of manual effort to see the pertinent information. (For example, why would anyone care about the metrics on "Test Emails" and why are those included in the report?) A report that automatically removes these tests or a function that would allow that would be most helpful.
- When there is an issue with Silverpop, it often takes a few hours for support to address it, leading to some downtime.
- One of the primary databases we use in the sourcing of candidates is not yet supported by Silverpop, meaning we have to upload each and every target list manually. While this is a simple, straight forward process, we are essentially managing relevant information in 2 places.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Scorecard Summary
Feature Scorecard Summary
About IBM Watson Campaign Automation
IBM Watson Campaign Automation, formerly IBM Marketing Cloud, is a highly scalable SaaS-based, cross-channel, digital marketing platform providing digital marketers the ability to implement and manage email, mobile, social and lead management campaign processes. It powers the delivery of consistent experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating cross-channel interactions.
Digital marketers have the ability to understand and leverage real-time customer behaviors from a variety of sources to inform and promote personalized interactions. Through the solution, marketers can create a single customer identity, understand channel preferences and deliver a consistent customer experience across channels.
Pricing models vary, based on the size and complexity of the deployment, and scales based on the number of customer records and/or volume of messages. A range of packaged editions are available to facilitate the matching of product capabilities to organizational requirements.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Screenshots
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Integrations
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Competitors
IBM Watson Campaign Automation Technical Details