Marc Benioff and his Salesforce are busy these days seeding a new generation of tools for marketers.
On the same day that visually based marketing platform Autopilot announced a new investment round led by Salesforce Ventures, San Francisco-based Brandcast is today announcing the public availability of its web publishing ecosystem for marketers working with designers and agencies.
The major investor in Brandcast: Marc Benioff.
Founded in 2012, the company has been beta testing for the past several months its Brandcast Cloud, which is intended to simplify the process of quickly building and managing the zillions of websites and landing pages many marketers must deal with.
Large marketing teams, CEO Richard Yanowitch pointed out, typically have to deal with lots of sites, far-flung teams, and lots of content.
“If you talk to any [chief marketing officer],” he told me, “no marketing team is satisfied with the website building and process,” because it requires complex team interactions that still often hop between corporate silos.
For instance, designers have to wait for marketing content, and web page builders need to wait on designers, chief technical officer Dan Lynch said.
So, instead of the typical waterfall work process, Brandcast lets teams work in parallel.
There’s a single dashboard, for instance, that organizes all web properties — desktop or mobile — by brand, site, users, or content. Far-flung teams, including outside agencies, can collaborate in real time in a process that Lynch compared to working online in Google Docs. In other words, you immediately see what others are doing.
Users get permissions based on their roles, with only a web site administrator able to publish a site. The company touts the speed and ease of building responsive sites and landing pages that automatically optimize for screen size without coding. Designs can be created with or without templates, and content can be reused across the web portfolio.
Essentially, Yanowitch told me, Brandcast wants to do for marketing teams’ website needs what Salesforce did for sales teams’ needs: make the process fully collaborative and cloud-based, with common assets that everyone can draw upon.
This next-gen content management system, however, doesn’t directly offer the sophisticated customer response mechanisms touted by many marketing clouds for websites, such as personalization for customized experiences and content. But Brandcast notes that it offers integration with a wide range of marketing tools that can offer such features, including HubSpot, Marketo, Optimizely, and, of course, Salesforce.
It also doesn’t yet have an approval workflow, raising the possibility that the director of marketing could make a webpage change that the VP of marketing hates. Lynch noted that all changes are seen instantly, although that assumes the execs are tracking things closely. And there are no chat or other built-in real-time communication tools, which would seem to be important for smooth interaction.
The company said an approval workflow and built-in customer intelligence/engagement are on its to-do list.
Brandcast currently claims more than three dozen customers. But the world has no shortage of website builders, ranging from Adobe Experience Manager in its Marketing Cloud to any number of standalones, each proclaiming to be easier than the next one.
Brandcast’s key competitors, Yanowitch told me, are both the existing CMSs and the build-your-own CMS tools that many companies have created to fill their needs.
Its biggest differentiation, he said, is that it was designed and built from the ground up for marketers’ specific needs.