10 Cool Marketing Automation Startups to Watch

Marketing automation can help can help businesses better target prospects, find and test new products and services. These 10 startups can help businesses plug gaps in their marketing strategy and offer solutions to problems companies might not even know they have.

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3. Community Elf

What they do: Community Elf provides content generation and curation services, while also developing software that automatically identifies relevant, authoritative, and shareable content for multiple digital platforms.

Headquarters: Pittsburgh, Penn.

CEO: Scott Rogerson. Prior to joining Community Elf, Rogerson was the founder and Managing Director of the private investment fund Oakhill Equity.

Founded: 2010

Funding: The company is currently backed by friends-and-family funding, but intends to seek venture funding in Q1 or Q2 of 2015. They are also on track to generate more than $1 million in revenue this year.

Problem they tackle: Businesses are beginning to realize that it’s important to establish your company as a thought leader to gain the best possible position in the market. Yet, while many try to do this, most fail.

According to Pew Research Center, 46 percent of adults rely on social media to help them make purchasing decisions. Thus, the ability to position oneself as a reputable organization that is knowledgeable about consumer pain points and desires not only helps to convert leads into sales, but also significantly reduces the company's total marketing spend by increasing emphasis on inbound marketing, which according to HubSpot costs 61 percent less than outbound marketing.

Carving out a niche as a thought leader is a labor-intensive, content-driven proposition, but most businesses skimp on even elucidating important insights that help people solve actual, pressing problems. Fewer still invest in creating a steady stream of actionable content to promote those ideas.

Why they're on this list: Community Elf began as a services business that helped companies execute their online presence management (i.e., content creation and curation, social media engagement) strategies. Shortly after the startup was founded, the team realized that it was spending a great deal of time simply searching for relevant and engaging content that could be posted on behalf of clients. In other words, low-margin activities were consuming too much time and resources.

To address this problem, Community Elf developed a content curation engine, UpContent, which sifts through relevant content results by layering on a clustering analysis tool to separate heterogeneous topics, determine the content’s authority and shareability, and remove spurious results, as well as removing results that do not have the characteristics that will encourage engagement.

UpContent is currently in beta and is scheduled for G.A. in early 2015.

Customers include: GNC, Heinz, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and UPMC.

Competitive Landscape: For the services side of the business, Community Elf competes against freelancer writers, as well as against content creation service bureaus. Their content curation engine is more uniquely positioned, but other potential competitors include Boxter, ContentWriters.com, Shareist, Swayy, and Triblio.

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