Monday, February 28, 2011

A Look at Three E-Mail Newsletter Tools

Nice review of Email marketing tools on

Review covers the usual suspects - Constant Contact and MailChimp as well as an often overlooked option of Microsoft Outlook. I will try to review MS Outlook 2010 soon for its Email marketing prowess..

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Constant Contact suddenly a CRM

Constant Contact is suddenly a CRM.. and a pretty good one at that..

Last week Constant Contact announced that they were acquiring Bantam Live - a little known newcomer on a social CRM scene (according to their site Bantam Live was started in 2009). This is an interesting development and I can think of a couple of possible explanations:
  1. Constant Contacts feels that bulk email is becoming commoditized and wants to protect their position and margins
  2. Constant Contact feels that their customers (small businesses) are not well served by integrations with existing CRMs (Constant Contact integrates with most CRMs like SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho, etc.) and is doing what's right for the customer.
Be it as it may, it's a pretty bold step for Constant Contact, likely to make other CRM players nervous and rushing to develop their own bulk email capabilities (especially since cloud-based services that support bulk email like AWS bulk email and Google App engine Email are now becoming readily available), but I think their customers are going to be happy with new functionality. If CC's stock wasn't already at sky-high valuation (310 P/E ratio) I'd consider investing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Intranet (self-hosted) Project Management, Ace Project

So say you're looking for an MS Project / Sharepoint alternative.. You have considered BaseCamp and the likes but they seem like shiny toys. You've looked at Wrike and LiquidPlanner - they seem capable alright, but you really want to own your data and be able to tweak things your way or integrate it with your inhouse data sources.. What do you do? If only there was a web-based project management alternative that came with the source code that was easy to understand and work on and data source that was portable?!

Enter Ace Project.. While not the flashiest project management tool around, it has an extensive list of modules: project management with portfolios, task dependencies, gantt charts, calendars, project templates; document management with document sharing, versioning and file locking; time sheet management; expense management with approval workflows; collaboration complete with internal mailbox; HR management, reporting, and other essentials. What's more important, it comes with a license that allows users to take over the code!

Bringing SaaS apps inhouse is a hot topic these days as rules and regulations make leaving data one someone else's servers a risk that a company must be willing to take. If you get a standards MS project suite, it will cost you a pretty penny and while it will be extensible, it will bring the MS development costs and complexities with it. Taking all that into consideration, I think products like ACE Project are going to be a good fit for many companies that are looking for real ownership of the IT products they deploy.

The self-hosted version of Ace Project for 50 users runs at $1,995. Hosted versions are available as well.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

LiveChat integrates with Zoho

This is a useful integration that creates a smooth path between chatting up with a web site visitor and creating a potential in CRM (or adding a note to an existing client).

Having said that, I think LiveChat is overpriced at $36/operator.. How long before Zoho rolls out similar functionality?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Salesforce adds light project management with Manymoon acquisition

Today SalesForce announced their acquisition of Manymoon (a light project management app that's well integrated with Google apps). This is an interesting one because SalesForce is trying to attract developers to build on a platform exactly the kind of applications that Manymoon represents. The minute they get into that treacherous territory, they are making developers think four times before plunging ahead with their development plans. Add to this that the customers that were using Manymoon are mostly small consultancies (speculation) and I'm not sure I see the point.. Wonder if the pressure from Microsoft Dynamics is getting so high that SalesForce is grasping at every straw it can get it's hands on ( I mean hosting companies, small application providers??)