Can you please provide a brief description of your company and the role that you play there?
I am a principal advisor. We help small business owners to grow their business, specifically professional creative service firms, so marketing, advertising, PR, architects, engineers, those types of companies. I lead the organization, and I do direct service with our clients.
What was the business challenge your company was facing that incited the need for this platform?
We were already in the Copyblogger universe, so we decided to double down on what we liked and save some money by dumping HubSpot.
How does your company implement this platform or software?
I have my company's site, which is Anchor Advisors and then I have a content marketing membership site called EnMast. At EnMast, we had a WordPress site built on Genesis, and we bought HubSpot to help drive traffic. We've bought Rainmaker in November of last year , we moved the site from Genesis to Synthesis in July of this year.
Was your company considering other platforms? Why this platform?
What we liked about Rainmaker was that it's integrated. At HubSpot, we weren't using their content management solution, we were just using the marketing automation portions of it. At Rainmaker, for probably two-thirds the cost that we were paying at HubSpot, we had a completely integrated content management system, plus hosting, plus marketing automation. We are just getting a lot more bang for our buck.
HubSpot made me feel like their target market was bigger than our company, whereas I felt like Rainmaker was focused on the kind of company that we were. HubSpot didn't have any LMS [learning management system] forums, or any of the tools that you need for managing communities, whereas at Rainmaker all those things are baked right in. It felt like a better fit for what we were doing, and at a better price point. HubSpot has a social media management tool in it, and Rainmaker does not, at this point, so I have had to add HootSuite and SocialOomph.
On an annual or monthly basis, how much does your company spend to utilize the platform?
HubSpot is around $200 a month, but I paid it annually. Rainmaker is about $100 a month. With HubSpot, I still needed to buy hosting, and I was paying $50 a month for the Scribe SEO [search engine optimization] tool. So, all in, I was probably paying $350 a month, whereas with Rainmaker it's my hosting platform, and Scribe is already built right in. I still need MailChimp with Rainmaker, because HubSpot has an email platform but Rainmaker doesn't, so I needed to add MailChimp for $25 a month.
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your implementation of this platform?
I really liked HubSpot. It did a great job of helping us to see how we were moving our traffic, and their reporting is phenomenal. At Rainmaker, we've only been live on the platform for six weeks. I will say that getting live on the platform was very painful for us. I think if you're starting a brand new site, Rainmaker is a piece of cake. They make it easy to get a site up.
However, because we had a complex site already, getting all of that functionality in Rainmaker was very difficult. They obfuscate a lot of WordPress. You can't get to the theme style sheets easily. There are a lot of things that you just can't get to, and that made it very complicated for us to get our site moved over. If you're starting from scratch, then you can just use one of your templates and go, it's phenomenal, but getting it moved over was very painful.
In terms of results, at this point we can't report on that. We've just gotten our landing pages moved over. I think the landing pages look a lot better. I don't have comparisons yet to say how they're doing performance-wise. The site itself performs better, in terms of site speed, and I think our search rankings have improved a bit. There's good indicators there, but I don't have anything really to report on as far as results.
Were there any software features or tools that really impressed you?
The design in Rainmaker is beautiful. The landing pages come out great, and because it's a Copyblogger product, they're good at helping you to write a good landing page. They have a lot of hints about what you need to do along the way as you're building the landing page, and those are great. It has very nice, built-in analytics; I mean, it's just pulling data from Google Analytics, but it gives you a nice dashboard that tells you how the site is performing at a glance.
There's definitely some rough edges to be polished off of it yet. I click on something that seems like it's going to do what I want, and it doesn't quite, or it doesn't go anywhere. The LMS [learning management system] is nice. We really like it. Building out a course – which is really what Rainmaker is built for – is straightforward. They're producing some new themes for the LMS section, so that you can style it really nicely. We really like the LMS. We haven't used the forum yet, but I've heard from other people that the forum is nice.
Looking back, are there any areas of the software upon which you feel could be added or improved?
The user interface needs a little bit of work, especially in the landing page section. I can't always figure out how to edit something, which should be easy. Even when I do, when you edit the text and then you push "Save," you still have to update the landing page. Sometimes, I forget to do that, I lose my changes, and that's frustrating. There are little user interface things that I don't really like, and then how hard it is to style the pages. Again, if you can live with their template it's fantastic. But, when you want to change the CSS [cascading style sheets], it's difficult. Their support is great, and has helped us out in a lot of places, but there are just certain things that I still can't get to look the way I want it to look. Those have been the biggest challenges.
Have you had to interact with the platform's support team or reference their support resources?
At Rainmaker, we know all of their support team on a first-name basis. We've used them a lot, and I feel like they're great. I feel like they bend over backwards to smooth the rough edges in the tool. They've been helpful.
However, when dealing with their support materials, if the use case is "I'm starting from scratch" they have a nice walkthrough about how to get started. The problem is, as soon as you get off of that path, like "moving a pretty complicated site over to Rainmaker," that process doesn't work anymore, so you have to go back to support. I feel like the documentation is great for a simple use case, but for any kind of complicated use case, you have to go to support. Which is fine – the support people are great.
We have a few quick questions and, for each question, we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What would you give the software for functionality of the features available?
What would you give the software for ease of use or ease of implementation into your business?
For support, as in responsiveness of the team or helpfulness of the resources available?
Overall, satisfaction with the platform?
Three and a half.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague or similar business?
Three and a half. For the right situation, I'd give it a five. Overall, I'd probably give them more like a three and a half.