Sometimes small things can make a huge difference – heated handles on a snowmobile, cruise control in a car, a flask in the handle of an umbrella. It’s true that one would not likely purchase these products just because they have those features, but these extras are attention-getting and convenient.

The same is true for marketing automation platforms (MAPs). While attending recent marketing automation platform vendor briefings, I’ve noted several features that, while not groundbreaking, are innovative enough to warrant recognition. Each of these features is offered by only two marketing automation platform vendors, at most.

  • Automatic A/B testing. Most marketing automation platforms enable A/B testing but still require an administrator to manually look at the performance of the tactic (e.g. an email) to determine which performed better. Addressing this issue are two marketing automation platforms that automatically select the winner of an A/B test and use it for the remaining contacts.
  • Program sticky notes. Building marketing automation platform programs can be quite complex, requiring users to come up with inventive ways of getting the program to work as envisioned. Though most marketing automation platforms provide the ability to enter a program or step description, most don’t provide an effective way of recording the reason a program was designed in a particular way. One vendor has addressed this by creating “sticky notes” that can be added to the side of any program step to describe what the step achieves, and why it was built in that way.
  • Program resizing. Marketing automation platform programs can become quite large – to the point where it is difficult to see the entire program in one view. To address this, one marketing automation platform vendor has enabled users to increase/decrease and pan within the program’s view, interacting as one would within Google Maps.
  • Automatic contact purchase. Most marketing automation platforms can report on anonymous Web site visitors, but one MAP can automatically compare anonymous visitors to the types of companies an organization is targeting. If the visitor is with a company that falls into its targeted universe, the marketing automation platform automatically purchases contacts that match the personas (e.g. title, level) the organization is targeting.
  • In-app support. All marketing automation platforms offer training, a knowledge base and email/phone-based support. Taking it a step further is a marketing automation platform that offers in-application product support via chat.
  • Automatic script insertion. To track the amount of traffic your nurturing programs and emails drive to your corporate Web site, it is important to add code to each link in an email to display its originating source. This process is painfully manual. Addressing this pain point are two marketing automation platforms that automatically insert this code in every URL contained within an email.
  • Multiple email addresses. All marketing automation platforms, by definition, can email contacts, and most allow one usable email address per contact record. However, most contacts have multiple email addresses (e.g. corporate and personal), and one marketing automation platform enables contact records to have multiple email addresses and allows users to specify which email address to use (e.g. use the first email address, but if it bounces, use the second address).
  • CC emails. All marketing automation platforms enable emails to be sent to a specified contact, and most enable emails to be sent on the behalf of a sales rep. Taking it a step further is a marketing automation platform that enables its emails to include CC and BCC recipients.