For a category with dozens of products, marketing automation’s adoption rate among businesses — about four percent — is woefully low.

The reasons, as noted by VB Insight and others: lack of budget, skills, and time.

Today, San Francisco-based Autopilot is formally releasing a new multi-channel marketing platform that it hopes addresses all three issues. The company wants to fill what CEO and cofounder Mike Sharkey calls “the empty space” between basic email software like MailChimp and more expensive marketing platforms like Marketo.

“It’s difficult [for marketers] to graduate out of email marketing,” he noted.


VentureBeat is studying social media marketing.
Answer our survey now and we’ll share the results with you.


Sharkey told me that his company, previously known as Bislr, “realized it wasn’t filling the gap” with its 2013-released platform for launching marketing-optimized websites that quickly integrated with marketing tools like customer relationship management and marketing automation. So, Bislr performed the movement known as “a pivot.”

After a month-long beta with about 500 participating companies, Autopilot is billing its newly launched Autopilot platform as easy, affordable, and powerful enough to offer the essentials of lead nurturing, customer personalization, and campaign management.

A drag-and-drop interface provides what Sharkey called “Lego for marketers.” To address what he describes as “the thing that’s missing” for many marketers — where to start — guides offer step-by-step “recipes” for hundreds of common marketing situations.

A guide might provide step-by-step instructions, something like: “When a form is submitted on my website, start a lead nurturing program.” Users can also create and save their own recipes.

Autopilot offers a drag-and-drop Canvas for creating automated marketing.

Above: Autopilot offers a drag-and-drop Canvas for creating automated marketing.

Image Credit: Autopilot

Pricing begins at $4/month for up to 500 contacts, with no limit on users.

The platform’s capabilities are enabled or complemented by what the company says is “partnering with best of breed technologies you’re already using.”

There’s task management, lead nurturing, reports, email marketing, the ability to create and print physical postcards, form generation and management, website tags for personalization, trigger-based actions, and more.

Reports with business intelligence (BI) insights are powered by BI provider GoodData, SMS messaging is enabled through cloud communications company Twilio, and postcards are printed through print/mail service Lob.

Contacts management is integrated with Salesforce CRM, and contact intelligence is powered by market intelligence provider InsideView and contact management software vendor FullContact.

Even in the gap between Mailchimp and Marketo, there are a growing number of competitors — V12 Launchpad, InfusionSoft, and OutboundEngine among them. But Sharkey told us he is “predominantly declaring war on email marketing,” with the intention of moving marketers beyond simple email tools.

Despite Autopilot’s low pricing and apparent ease of use, however, it remains to be seen whether the platform’s reliance on other systems — Twilio, Lob, Salesforce, GoodData, and others — simply confederates the complexity problems that many smaller marketers are trying to avoid.