Let’s face it – most email newsletters are crap. Far too many companies see email newsletters as another way to push sales, even though many people who sign up for a newsletter are not looking to actively make a purchase. This can result in low sign-up volumes, high rates of subscriber abandonment, and “newsletters” that are light on news and heavy on pushy sales tactics.

Hello Sharon, thank you for this extensive article, liked it a lot!:) Could you please specify in more details the way you grouped these apps? It’s clear about email testing, list building, tracking and monitoring tools. But.. what is the difference between drip email tools, email newsletter apps and integrated marketing automation tools… All of them about automating your email marketing. Is it about different ways to automate it? Unfortunately, it is still not clear for me. Please help me get it right:)
How many auto-responder emails should be sent? It is possible that the answer to this question will be determined by the email marketing service provider that you choose. Some email marketing service providers will only allow you to send a maximum of ten auto responder in a sequence. This is typically done to reduce spam complaints and preserve the IP that the email marketing provider is using. Most studies have shown that the ideal number for an auto-responder program will be between 12 and 15 emails. Ten is often not quite enough to convert a user, but more than fifteen increases opt-outs and spam complaints as subscribers who haven't converted then begin to become frustrated. Ultimately, the number of emails that you should send should be based on your content, its engagement level and the amount of time needed to convey it.
Marketing automation is a very active segment of the CRM software market. Not only are new vendors entering the market, but existing market leaders are constantly innovating and delivering new product updates. Today, the majority of solutions can be split into business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) solutions. The two groupings are very different and so are their functional needs.
eTrigue is a cloud-based marketing automation provider featuring easy-to-use campaign building and rapid time-to-value. eTrigue’s DemandCenter helps hundreds of organizations track and nurture prospects through inbound and outbound programs. DemandCenter tracks across email, web, mobile, and social. eTrigue DemandCenter’s integrated marketing suite is particularly attractive to medium and small organizations, as well as to divisions or groups within larger enterprises.. eTrigue makes it simple for small marketing teams to can manage all online marketing efforts from a single dashboard. Full integration with major CRM, Webcast systems and ad-reporting systems. Instant real-time lead alerts are included for sales.
InfusionSoft is the tool of choice for serious marketers. If you run a six figure online business or have a list larger 50,000 subscribers, this may be the tool for you. InfusionSoft combines your shopping cart with email marketing, so you can do complex things like segregate your buyers from your subscribers or mail specific sequences to specific people. You can also send physical postcards from InfusionSoft. InfusionSoft isn’t cheap. The monthly subscription is in the hundreds, and there’s a four figure setup fee. It’s geared towards companies that are already successful and need powerful solutions, rather than startups.
The success of a marketing automation implementation does not – primarily – depend on the selected marketing automation software either and – again – certainly is not about just “automating”. If the automated workflows, interactions, offers, content, analytics, etc. don’t take the human and targeted/personalized/personal dimension into account marketing automation implementations lack important success factors.

Like any marketing strategy, building an email marketing campaign strategy relies on knowing your audience. That means checking out analytics and social media analytics for demographic information. Once you know who your subscribers are, it’s easy to come up with a lead magnet such as an ebook that will encourage them to subscribe. That also makes it easier to decide on the right content for your email. If you can, give subscribers options about how often they hear from you.


I’m not happy at all with MailChimp. Has anyone found the same problems with MailChimp as I have? I find that many of my list members unsubscribe from my list daily. I know these people ands contact them and they say they have not unsubscribed. twice I even found my own email taken off the list. When I look into the MailChimp list Spam is the reason for the person’s unsubscription. Over the years I’ve been on MailChimp I’ve contacted support and I’ve done everything I can but nothing has changed. I’m now looking to move to another company.
Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
NAVIK MarketingAI is a cloud-hosted marketing automation platform built by absolutdata. Its aim is to help users improve the impact of their campaigns through hyper personalization, campaign simulators, dynamic micro segmentations, predicted behavior models, and other features. NAVIK MarketingAI also offers next best action recommendations, to make decision making processes are easier. As for their payment plans, they are offered on a by-quote basis, so you will have to contact the provider for their enterprise pricing information.
Higher Logic Marketing Automation Enterprise powered by Real Magnet is a leading marketing automation platform that helps businesses attract, engage and deliver better email, marketing, social and mobile campaigns. Higher Logic simplifies marketing automation with its intuitive design, seamless integration with leading CRMs and dedicated consultative team that ensures smarter engagement. Higher Logic's easy-to-use platform, intelligent productive analytics, and exceptional email deliverability helps the modern marketer navigate and succeed in a complex digital marketing landscape. We serve a wide breadth of customers including some of the largest associations, media companies and the most innovative technology companies, including the American Red Cross, Arnold & Porter, IBM, Kiplinger’s, MIT Technology Review, and Viacom.
The question then, is this: how does a marketing manager look past those good marketing automation tools, and find the best marketing automation tools? As mentioned, it starts with knowing what the customer wants, but the next step is to know which features will give them that. With that in mind, here are some features to look for in an effective marketing automation tool.
"Why aren't millennials moving?" The subject line of this email campaign reads before citing interesting data about relocation trends in the U.S. Trulia doesn't benefit from people who choose not to move, but the company does benefit from having its fingers on the pulse of the industry -- and showing it cares which way the real estate winds are blowing.

Use of two-dimensional barcodes. Two-dimensional (2D) bar codes are seen more and more often on print ads, bill boards, bus stop benches and even as tattoos. Customers can use smart phones as code readers to get information about a product or service immediately on their mobile browser. Current solutions can use 2D bar codes with third-party solutions, but new versions will have built in support.
InfusionSoft is the tool of choice for serious marketers. If you run a six figure online business or have a list larger 50,000 subscribers, this may be the tool for you. InfusionSoft combines your shopping cart with email marketing, so you can do complex things like segregate your buyers from your subscribers or mail specific sequences to specific people. You can also send physical postcards from InfusionSoft. InfusionSoft isn’t cheap. The monthly subscription is in the hundreds, and there’s a four figure setup fee. It’s geared towards companies that are already successful and need powerful solutions, rather than startups.
Why not resurrect old posts? You can bet your readers, especially new subscribers, haven’t read everything you’ve published. Consider scouring your blog for posts that remain valuable. You might batch together several that cover a single category to make it easy to create a topical and thematic series. Or, you might have written a series of posts in the past that could be ideal for an autoresponder series.
Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?

Marketing automation has shifted away from the pure automation aspect to an integrated marketing approach whereby automated workflows, pre-defined scenarios and various customer-driven triggers are set up in a connected and omnichannel way. A single customer view is essential as is a connected approach, also regarding other systems (CRM, content management, content marketing, social media tools,…), that often however start getting integrated in the offerings of some vendors.

Marketo is a marketing automation platform that includes account-based marketing, email, mobile, social, digital ads, web, and marketing analytics, allowing business owners to drive engagement through multiple channels from one platform. Its goal is to help small businesses build long-lasting relationships with customers and create end-to-end engagement. Its cloud-based infrastructure can handle hundreds of millions of activities each day, meaning it can scale with its customers.
However, the best timing is becoming more touchpoint-oriented and triggered, and less defined by general best practices. It is already the case in marketing automation but we still have a long way to go in order to shift to the personal touchpoint perspective. Again: this doesn’t mean that today’s approaches will disappear. Marketing is not black and white.
Drip is the world’s first ECRM–an Ecommerce CRM designed for building personal and profitable relationships with your customers at scale. Ecommerce marketers around the world are starting to see their customers in full color with Drip features like, comprehensive tracking, hyper-segmentation, and robust email marketing automation. They’re graduating from typical email platforms, bloated CRMs, or overhyped marketing automation tools, and making more money with Drip.

GetResponse is a web-based, all-in-one marketing platform that helps business owners to build permission-based mailing lists, maximize conversion ratios, increase profitability and build customer confidence. GetResponse serves more than 350,000 active users from 182 countries, engages more than 1 billion subscribers every month, and delivers 10 billion permission-based emails per year with an average deliverability rate of 99.3 percent. GetResponse platform includes: Email Marketing With GetResponse Email Marketing, send beautifully-designed, responsive emails. Increase your sales and subscriber engagement through comprehensive email marketing campaigns. In just a few easy steps you can have an entire campaign up and running, whether you’re an experienced marketer, or just starting out. Use newsletters to send updates or announcements to your list, autoresponders to nurture and educate, forms to grow your list, and 99% deliverability to ensure your messages always reach your subscribers’ inboxes. Features: Newsletters, 99% deliverability, autoresponders, mobile-responsive email templates, dynamic content, advanced segmentation, responsive design, perfect timing, advanced analytics, AB testing, forms, list building apps Landing Pages With the simple to use drag and drop landing page creator, create 100% responsive landing pages and web forms. GetResponse landing pages include hundreds of professionally designed, ready-to-go templates. Create top-notch web pages for opt-in, thank you, sales, webinars, and more in less than ten minutes without touching a single line of code. Features Video integration, 150 responsive templates, mobile design, custom domain, image editor Webinars Nurture your leads with complete webinar marketing solution. GetResponse is the first email marketing service to provide a complete webinar marketing solution. With GetResponse Webinars, you can not only acquire new leads but also nurture existing customers, thanks to an advanced integration with GetResponse email marketing. Use GetResponse Webinars to host trainings, product announcements, trainings, demos, and more. Features: Desktop sharing, polls, presentation sharing, chat, moderation tools, VOIP camera and voice capabilities, attendee management. Marketing Automation Scalable workflows based on customer journeys. Create marketing automation workflows in an easy drag-and-drop creator to track subscriber behaviors in real time. React to completed purchases, abandoned carts, key web page visits, message engagement, and much more. Features: Email marketing automation, lead scoring, web traffic tracking, cart abandonment, automation segmentation CRM Create customizable, drag-and-drop sales pipelines to nurture your leads and turn them into repeat customers. Spot opportunities using deals and stages that fit your sales process. Add notes and comments to your deals to easily keep up with daily activities and smash your sales and marketing goals. Features: Pipeline view, deals, stages tasks, notes, reminders.

Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.

ActiveCampaign offers email marketing service with third-party integration and auto-responses of various types.  ActiveCampaign can create and send out emails for different activities and purposes. The software is also designed to track website activities and events and provide real time analytics based on the results. ActiveCampaign is also useful for garnering customer data in an organized manner.

For subscriptions, the platform is available in four monthly plans that are priced according to the number of features you will be needing for your operations. For small businesses and startups, you may opt for their Free Plan, their Starter package that costs $50. For larger businesses, check out their Basic plan, Pro Plan, and Enterprise plan priced at $200, $800, and $2400 respectively. However, these have required onboarding fees that range from $600 to $5000.
While marketing automation often looks at generating demand and new revenues by a “right time, right message, right touchpoint” approach, as we know it in content marketing and content management as well, it’s essential to also look at engagement with existing customers of course. After all, the total customer life cycle and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are essential. In this regarding marketing automation platforms are evolving and also facing competition from new vendors focussing more on customer engagement and experiences across the customer life cycle. Several vendors in the content management space have also been evolving from systems of records to systems of engagement. Marketing automation is part of an increasingly broader ecosystem and context where the customer and customer lifetime value are key. An introduction to the customer life cyle and models to calculate the customer lifetime value (CLV).
NGDATA® helps brands in data-rich industries, such as financial services, telecom, media and entertainment, utilities and hospitality, to capitalize on emerging opportunities in their customer data and to drive profitable customer experiences by supercharging analytics and campaign efficiency. The company’s Intelligent Customer Data Platform (CDP) puts people at the center of every business via Customer DNA, which continuously learns from customer behavior and context in real-time. NGDATA partners with companies around the world to drive digital transformations. NGDATA is headquartered in Gent, Belgium and has offices in the United States, Europe & Asia-Pacific.
“Mailchimp was great when I just had a blog. Now that I have my book, I’m starting to have products, it’s more of a business. I didn’t think that Mailchimp could handle me. I needed something a little more versatile that could target the people that I sent things to depending on what list they were on or what they clicked. It needed to be a little more sophisticated for me. That’s why I needed to switch over.”
3. Email converts better. People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than those who do not receive email offers. In fact, email marketing has an ROI of 3800%. That’s huge! And if you are wondering if social media converts even better, think again: the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media.
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