Why Open-Source Makes Marketing Automation Better
Small businesses face a big challenge: Balancing a limited budget with the necessity of spending for growth.
To stay afloat, businesses need to bring in new customers and keep old customers. However, it's not enough to have a static website or send out a few emails a year.
Businesses of every size must be consistent in their marketing communications and make sure they speak to each prospect, lead and customer at the right moment — with the right message.
With a limited workforce, this is a major challenge to small businesses. It's just too time consuming.
Fortunately, marketing automation lifts the burden of marketing off of every business. Unfortunately, many of the solutions available fall well outside of the small business price range.
Small businesses need a better marketing automation solution. Perhaps it’s time we turn to the open-source community.
What are the Benefits of Open-Source Marketing Automation?
1. No Buyer's Remorse
The worst feeling for a small business owner is knowing money was wasted.
With open-source projects this risk disappears. The software is often free and there's no large overhead cost.
2. Abundant Support
The beauty of open-source projects is they are fueled by a community who’s passionate about what they’re building. They’re collaborative and want to help each other develop the best possible solution, and the support extends to those who use the software.
The vibrant community surrounding an open-source project often provides live support chat, newsgroups, high quality documentation, wikis, forums, forges and mailing lists.
For small businesses, this is essential. Many times the individual in charge of marketing may not have a ton of experience working with marketing automation platforms, and they will truly benefit from the added support.
3. Long-term Safety
Companies always run the risk of going out of business, or discontinuing products and support for them all together. This is a risk for small businesses who have invested so much of their data and resources into a single marketing automation platform.
A benefit of open-source projects is there’s an entire online community who will likely continue to update the software, fix bugs and offer support — even if the company backing the project decides to pull support.
Because of the documentation surrounding the source code, knowledge is shared, and a project doesn’t ever have to die — so long as there’s someone willing to work on it.
4. Extraordinary Flexibility
Every business is different.
Closed-source marketing automation software limits variability. You can only use it in the way it was designed, and you can’t alter the platform to better suit your needs. This can corner a company into using a marketing strategy that isn't an ideal fit for them, or feel like their hands are tied.
While some of these products do offer flexibility, they lack flexibility in the architecture of the IT infrastructure components. This means if your organization changes, as every organization does with time, the platform's flexibility may not be enough.
Open-source marketing automation platforms allow for that kind of flexibility. The source code is published and available to all, meaning not only can the code be adjusted, but it can also be molded to work well with other products.
And even if you do not have the experience or expertise, as a small business, to modify the platform to your needs, the community behind the open-source platform will provide many of the enhancements you need as a public good.
If you can think of a feature, there’s likely someone in the community willing to build it and contribute to the product — this is how the community works together to truly build the best possible solution for all.
5. Passion Behind The Product
Closed-source products are often developed by large companies who hire top talent. While this can often translate into really good products, it doesn't always translate into really great products.
The main reason for this is the developers may be highly trained and talented but it doesn't mean they have a passion for the product or its end use.
In their free time, however, many of these same developers work on open-source projects as outlets for their passions. They desire to create something that helps the world, earns admiration from their peers, and isn't subject to the rigid corporate rules.
They craft high quality solutions because they have the freedom to experiment. That means this open-source projects are often more progressive and advanced than closed-source offerings.
Which Marketing Automation Platforms are Open-Source?
There are a number of open-source marketing automation platforms available to small businesses, and each varies when it comes to feature set, community size, cost and contact / email limits.
Capterra put together this chart comparing 10 free and open-source marketing automation platforms.
When it comes to choosing one, the rules are no different than how you should choose any tool for your business:
- Consider your business needs / goals
- Consider how you can use this tool to help your customers move down the funnel
- Make sure the tool works with your workflow
At Facet, we’ve found Mautic to be the right fit for our needs. There are no fees of any kind, it’s intuitive, and the support is outstanding — they even have a slack team anyone can join to ask for help or suggest features.
At the end of the day, open-source projects push boundaries, drive innovation and work to get everyone involved.
If you’d like to contribute to Mautic or another open-source project, check out these resources: