About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

My first thought was how easy Ontraport was to get started with compared to another marketing automation company I had just tried. Recurring payments were to set up. There was no initial training cost, and you could sign up as a customer directly from their website. On top of this, everything was split testable without needing a strange workaround.


Proactive Lead Generation. When it comes to digital marketing, you must not only create eye-catching ads and other promotional materials; you must also create quality content to highlight your business’ presence on the internet. With TechValidate, you can collect data directly from your clients, collage the information, and publish the content on your site or on social media, boosting the chances of lead generation.
One of the first questions new (and even experienced) marketers often ask is: “What’s the best autoresponder service or email marketing tool?”  Autoresponders and email marketing tools are some of the most important parts of your business. You use it to follow-up with customers. To keep people coming back to your site. To build loyalty. To make sales. Yet the answer is often not so clear cut. Do you want the highest deliverability possible? Do you want to import offline contacts? Do you want to integrate your list management with a shopping cart? Do you want to spend $20 a month or $500 a month? The answer to these questions all yield very different answers. Here are the top 10 autoresponder tools on the market, along with who they’re for and what they’re capable of.
With that said, we still use SendinBlue to this day and consider it to be a good, stable, and relatively simple marketing automation tool. Being a French company, SendinBlue was one of the first marketing automation companies to declare GDPR compliance, and their history in transactional email has meant that they’ve been able to offer many marketing automation features that are difficult to find elsewhere, such as SMS messaging and real-time deliverability reporting.
Well, charity: water took an alternate route. Once someone donates to a charity: water project, her money takes a long journey. Most charities don't tell you about that journey at all -- charity: water uses automated emails to show donors how their money is making an impact over time. With the project timeline and accompanying table, you don't even really need to read the email -- you know immediately where you are in the whole process so you can move onto other things in your inbox.
Without a solid content marketing strategy to engage prospects across different touchpoints and stages of their buyer’s journey, marketing automation fails. Creating enough content at a reasonable cost is one of the top challenges to marketing automation, according to many marketers. Others include data quality and integration, poor marketing processes, lack of skilled staff and organizational culture. If you don’t build your marketing automation processes around the customer, just as you would do in content marketing, marketing automation is doomed to fail and it becomes even harder to close the loop between marketing, sales and customer value. Vendors have a responsibility as do marketing automation users and agencies. Change management is a must and it’s a well-known fact many organizations buy expensive marketing automation solutions while only using a limited percentage of available features and not even in the best way possible. No marketing automation without a realistic approach, a customer-centric strategy (based on touchpoints, journeys, etc.) and certainly not without a content marketing strategy.

Use demographics, behavioral data, and other prospect information to separate hot leads from “just browsing.” Route leads into nurture and drip campaigns based on their qualifications. Every company scores leads a little differently, but the main goal is to identify the most promising leads for your organization at a given time or for a given campaign. A lead score assesses the activities that a prospect has engaged with on your website, for example, downloaded a datasheet, watched a demo video, or filled out a contact form. A lead grade is assigned by demographic information, such as industry, title, company information, or market size. The combination of the lead score and grade will signal to marketing and sales who’s hot and ready to purchase, and who needs more nurturing via a drip campaign.


Before we go to that famed list, let us revisit the term automation. In simple terms, automation means finding a way of simplifying a task that needs repetition – which can not only save time and effort but also make the whole process less stressful.So what does marketing automation imply? Marketing is the process of selling products and/or services. So, marketing automation obviously means automating the process or actions involved in marketing.
Henry Procter is credited with saying, “I know I waste half of my advertising dollars. I just wish that I knew which half.” This is precisely the question that this software answers. It assists firms in developing, executing and tracking campaigns. Media buying and planning applications help with planning advertising campaigns involving traditional and digital media. Managers use these systems to automate workflows, manage collateral, track prospect behavior and qualify leads before they are passed to sales.
A call to action (CTA) is a word or phrase that encourages readers and subscribers to do something specific. Examples of calls to action include “subscribe”, “shop now”, “get the free ebook”. You use CTAs on email signup forms, landing pages, in email newsletters, and more. When someone does what you want as a result of your call to action, that’s called a conversion. In email marketing, a conversion often means following a link in a email newsletter to visit another resource.
Issues with MA software often results from unrealistic expectations and poor implementations. For example, this software cannot make a bad service or product into a good service or product. If the collateral is bad or misses the point, MA will simply deliver a bad message more efficiently. Finally, if the wrong target market is selected, effective delivery to that target market will not help the bottom line.
Thinking and acting in a customer-centric way and not falling in the trap of automating for the sake of it. Marketing automation is not a holy grail. The business goals and the customer are what it’s all about. Without a customer-centric culture, supported by management, marketing automation often results in sheer auomation with little added value.
First of all, you get unlimited user accounts with custom user permissions. You can also send an unlimited number of emails and you get your own custom mail server domain as part of the package. Another interesting feature is ActiveCampaign’s automated social data gathering, which collects social details from all of your contacts and allows you to use this for list segmentation – so you can contact all LinkedIn users under 30 in your area, for example.
Mailchimp offers a forever free plan which allows you to send 12,000 emails for up to 2,000 subscribers. This plan is fairly limited because you don’t features like send-time optimization, advanced segmentation, multi-variate testing, etc. You are also required to display their branding in your email. Last but not least, support is restricted to email only, and you may find it not as helpful.
Pretty much everything that Hubspot offers can be found elsewhere at a much lower cost. And yes, while it is true that Hubspot does offer a free version of their software, this doesn’t include any of their marketing automation features. If you’re looking to use Hubspot for marketing automation, you’ll need to cough up at least $800/month (paid annually), plus an additional $3,000 in onboarding fees. In other words, if your marketing automation budget is below $12,600/year, you may want to move on to our next suggestion.
In-Depth Analytics. Evaluation is an important aspect of any marketing campaign, but the process of collecting and organizing data for the task can be overwhelming. This is why it’s important to choose marketing automation solutions that have built-in analytics tools. With these, you can get complete insights on your marketing campaigns effortlessly.
AdRoll is a high-performance digital marketing software focusing on retargeting. Founded in 2007, it is packed with features for segmentation, cross-device reach, predictive buying, and social targeting. These tools are what allows the software to collect, analyze, and act on customer data with just a few clicks of a button. AdRoll offers four monthly pricing plans for new businesses, emerging businesses, evolving businesses, and expanding businesses ranging from $300 to $10,000.
Marketing is a different world from the one that existed a few decades ago — more than that, it is different from the way it was even a few years ago. Modern technology has changed so much about the way that people go about everyday tasks that it now permeates everything that they do. As a result, when trying to reach people through sales and marketing, it should come as no surprise that technology is an integral tool to use.

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?
Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It usually involves using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations, and is meant to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness. Marketing emails can be sent to a purchased lead list or a current customer database. The term usually refers to sending email messages with the purpose of enhancing a merchant's relationship with current or previous customers, encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business, acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately, and sharing third-party ads.
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.
“We sent some newsletters where we gave customers a choice of which special they wanted,” said PJ. “Either a 20% discount or free shipping. What we discovered was that some people always choose the discount, and some always choose the shipping—it’s not necessarily which special saves them more money. So we took that information and now we alternate our specials.”

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.
All these evolutions also don’t mean that organizations will be passive respondents to customer signals and digital footprints. Wake-up call number two: sales is not dead despite what Gartner predicts. It all depends and it remains essential to close the loop between marketing and sales. Yet, it is also time to close the loop with other divisions and with the customers and their networks themselves.
First of all, BuzzFeed has awesome subject lines and preview text. They are always short and punchy -- which fits in perfectly with the rest of BuzzFeed's content. I especially love how the preview text will accompany the subject line. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (like the one below), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it:
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