This has resulted in the rise of omnichannel retail. That is to say, a complete, unified customer experience from start to finish. In order to find success in the current market, companies must meet their customers where they are — whether in-store, online, on social media, or wherever — and provide the same high quality experience every time. This is what separates the best marketing automation tools from the rest.
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:)
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.
A common example of permission marketing is a newsletter sent to an advertising firm's customers. Such newsletters inform customers of upcoming events or promotions, or new products.[12] In this type of advertising, a company that wants to send a newsletter to their customers may ask them at the point of purchase if they would like to receive the newsletter.

Are you frustrated that you don't have enough control over your website and marketing? Foster Web Marketing has built the solution for you and it is called DSS (Dynamic Self-Syndication). DSS is inbound marketing software with CMS/CRM capabilities that allows you to take control of your marketing and get your business to the next level. DSS has everything you need to manage your marketing easily and effectively. Manage your website, clients, email marketing, client feedback, reviews, social media posting, lead tracking and follow-up campaigns in one easy to use tool! Stop taping solutions together and use one smarter tool. One of the most compelling features of DSS is the built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which gives you the power to manage your leads and contacts, build follow-up campaigns and email marketing blasts, and create and send email newsletters. No need to pay for separate tools or software! This is why DSS is not just a CMS like WordPress, but actually, a fully operational marketing software that will put you light years ahead of your competition!
If you’re not leveraging interactions across every marketing channel like social media, your website, or the content your leads are consuming, it’s as if you’re only listening to your leads 30% of the time. Have you ever been on the phone with a sales rep who doesn’t answer your questions and reads straight from a pre-generated script without taking your specific needs into account? Did you end up buying from that company?
When you create a Mailchimp account, we automatically set you up with a no-cost Forever Free plan. This option allows you to experiment with our tools and figure out how to best use our platform. So if you’re just getting off the ground, this is one less cost you have to consider. You can remain on the Forever Free plan as long as you have 2,000 or fewer subscribers across all lists in your account.

Constant Contact is an email marketing software serving over 650,000 small businesses and startups. Known for its intuitive yet user-friendly features, this platform is packed with tools for emailing automation, social media management, and contact tracking. Constant Contact has two monthly payment packages: Email starting at $20 and Email Plus starting at $45. For your convenience, they offer a free 60-day trial.


The main reason we love Customer.io is its flexibility. This is a tool that will really let you get what you want out of it. While it’s not all out of the box, if you’re willing to put in some developer time, you can really customize your Customer.io experience. Another great thing about this tool is its lightweight UI and fast, personal customer support. Customer.io is one of the newer players, but they’re growing very quickly and are definitely a company to watch. Unlike most of the older tools, Customer.io is built to trigger emails based on events, rather than just pageviews.
Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.
We founded Blueshift to address problems we encountered first-hand as marketing & machine learning leaders. Our team previously founded Groupon Goods (Mertado), and were early team at WalmartLabs (Kosmix). As marketers ourselves, we noticed that it’s becoming increasingly harder communicate with customers on a 1:1 basis in the era of the perpetually connected customer. Using patented technology, Blueshift’s AI enables consumer marketers at leading consumer brands to launch 1:1 engagement on every channel. ● Visual campaigns & Journeys: Build multi-touch campaigns with a simple visual interface; include advanced testing, content recommendations & filters with just a few clicks. ● Behavioral Segmentation at scale: Segments that update dynamically based on a real-time stream of customer interactions ● Predictive Segmentation: Machine learning based scores for user affinities and propensities ● Product & content recommendations: Build multiple recommendation schemes for merchandising products, categories and content ● Full-funnel measurement with attribution: go beyond opens & clicks, and track custom conversion goals with customizable attribution. ● Cross-channel orchestration: Orchestrate cross-channel campaigns between email, mobile app notifications, SMS, website, Facebook retargeting and more. ● Testing & Optimization: Leverage advanced testing capabilities, including a-b tests, as well as measurement against holdout groups. ● Best-in-class deliverability: Scalable deliverability infrastructure and services.
HubSpot is all about inbound marketing, and it offers a free CRM that helps businesses organize and track customers — as HubSpot says, its CRM “automates the tasks salespeople hate.” The platform tracks interactions automatically, and it compiles data about deals on a single dashboard so the entire journey is visible. Beyond its CRM, the brand offers blogging, landing pages, email, lead management, analytics, web, social media, SEO, ads, and integration with Salesforce.
Established in 2008, Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool designed to offer a complete suite of applications, including email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and analytics, as well as integrations with webinar and event planning. With Act-On's email marketing, businesses can segment their customers into a variety of categories, allowing marketers to focus on a particular target market within that email group. The software offers core website tracking feature, which gives complete visibility into the types of customers that are visiting their site as well as their activities and the time spent on different contents while they are on the website. Act-On offers tools to build and optimize campaigns, generate leads, score and prioritize prospects, among others. The solution is capable of integrating with almost any leading CRM available in the market. Act-On is ideal for small marketing teams needing a marketing automation tool with minimal IT involvement. Platform features include: • Best-in-class email engine • One-click integration to leading web conferencing and CRM solutions • Tools for website visitor tracking • Lead scoring and lead nurturing • Automated programs; trigger & drip campaigns • Social media listening, prospecting & publishing • Design tools for web forms, landing pages and emails • Inbound tools for advanced SEO, Google AdWord tracking, and blog integration • Act-On Anywhere - a business productivity tool • Account- and contact-based marketing capabilities
I think this email also makes quite a brilliant use of responsive design. The colors are bright, and it's not too hard to scroll and click -- notice the CTAs are large enough for me to hit with my thumbs. Also, the mobile email actually has features that make sense for recipients who are on their mobile device. Check out the CTA at the bottom of the email, for example: The "Open Stitcher Radio" button prompts the app to open on your phone.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $5 per month to as much as $20 per month for a range of features. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few offer also money-back guarantees.
Hey Sonia – Admittedly, I don’t have an autoresponder. I do have a welcome message for folks, but not an ongoing drip-drip-drip autoresponder series like you mentioned. Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, I’m not sure how to best integrate it into the other emails they’re receiving from me (blog posts and/or monthly e-letter) without overwhelming them as others have mentioned. Any thoughts?

An auto responder campaign is one of six campaign types and is used to send a one-time email to contacts after they subscribe to your list. You can use this campaign type to send a "Welcome" message to contacts as soon as they subscribe to your list, or use it to send a "Check in" message a certain number of days/hours after contacts subscribe to your list.  
HubSpot is a leading growth platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 52,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better. HubSpot Marketing Hub has everything you need to run successful inbound marketing campaigns that make people interested in your business and happy to be your customer.

Pardot is a marketing automation and lead management platform created by Salesforce for B2B companies. Cloud-hosted and accessible on desktop and mobile devices, this software combines the power of multiple features in one interface. Among the tools included in Pardot are for email marketing, lead nurturing, and sales intelligence. To start incorporating Pardot in your business operations, you may choose from their three annual payment plans that cost from $1000 to $3000 per month.
3. The responder should lead the reader to take ACTION! Sonia says “Paint the picture of what their life will look like with that problem solved” It’s not just about educating somebody! Don’t make your responder like a boring classroom lecture!!! Tell them a story. If you can use real stories from happy customers of your business, that’s outstanding.
Think about those questions in the context of the above email. Postmates likely has location data of their subscribers. If they can target their lists in cities where this delivery deal is offered and a time they’re likely to order, they’re delivering on value and promise. It gives them a special offer and solves the problem of what to order for lunch. It’d be especially helpful to those needing to work through lunch or for those not watching to shlep young ones to the restaurant for dinner.
SendInBlue 9,000 emails per month (daily limit of 300) for an unlimited number of subscribers. You can have a maximum of 2,000 subscribers in your automated campaigns at any time. A good range of advanced autoresponders is offered on the free plan, including welcome, anniversary, page visits and ecommerce (such as product purchase or abandoned cart). You also get an allowance for free transactional emails. SMS can also be added for an extra cost. (Full review)
From A/B testing of messages to SEO and social listening, automated campaign management handles the gathering and processing of marketing data, so you can focus on strategy. From qualifying leads and managing nurture campaigns, to analyzing ROI data across multiple channels, automated campaign management systems allow you to design, deploy, and monitor marketing activities without having to manually tend to every last step in the process.
Because of the constant influx of marketing emails to their inboxes, buyers have begun to block out many  of these communications, whether through inbox filters or a subconscious disregard for irrelevant messages. Instead, these buyers are doing Google searches, and asking their friends for recommendations. They’re tapping the social media community for advice and browsing your website to see if your business offers a solution fit for their challenges. If you’re only communicating with these leads through email, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to reach your leads via multiple channels during various parts of the decision process, you’re also ignoring a slew of behavioral data points they’re giving you about their needs and interests.
Userfox works primarily with tech companies, so if you’re in the industry, you’ll be in good company. Like Customer.io, userfox has a lightweight interface and is designed to trigger emails based on events (rather than just pageviews), so if that’s important to you, userfox is a great choice. You might also consider userfox if you’re already using AdRoll, as the acquisition likely means a tight integration between the two products in the future.
If you select Custom, a small calendar will appear. Use the arrows to navigate between months and click your preferred start date. Then, enter a start time at the bottom of the calendar, and select AM or PM from the menu. Finally, click anywhere outside of the calendar box to save the configuration and close the calendar. Your chosen date and time will appear next to the Start option.
We’ve identified a range of leading marketing automation tools offering robust features and capabilities to simplify many otherwise time-consuming marketing activities. While the following tools and apps aren’t listed in any particular order, this list represents 57 tools worth taking a look at if you’re seeking ways to streamline one or more marketing functions.
He is the owner of jeffbullas.com. Forbes calls him a top influencer of Chief Marketing Officers and the world's top social marketing talent. Entrepreneur lists him among 50 online marketing influencers to watch. Inc.com has him on the list of 20 digital marketing experts to follow on Twitter. Oanalytica named him #1 Global Content Marketing Influencer. BizHUMM ranks him as the world's #1 business blogger. Learn More
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.

Both HubSpot and Pardot offer a vast array of functionality that should suit your business regardless of how intricate your marketing strategy might be. We found HubSpot to be better equipped for small businesses that are steadily growing their marketing activity, whereas Pardot is ideal for large enterprises with complicated marketing plans already in place. In total, we tested 10 marketing automation tools, each of which offer some unique features that make them stand out from the field.
SendPulse is a versatile platform that offers not only email, but also web push notifications, SMS, Viber and transactional emails. It’s no surprise then that they’d also include autoresponders as part of its offering. These are available to use on SendPulse’s free plan, which allows for 15,000 emails per month for up to 2,500 subscribers. Impressive!
Behavior-Based Email Marketing. Email blasts have the tendency to come off as impersonal, so more often than not, they get ignored or overlooked. Make the most out of your emails using SharpSpring’s behavior-based marketing feature. Unlike fully automated email marketing tools, this lets you create personal messages that your leads will appreciate.
Netsuite is an advanced marketing automation software capable of automating various marketing specific processes, flows, and tasks. You can use the platform to create multiple campaigns and align the same with your sales team. The execution of multiple marketing campaigns driven by email, social media, event management, and others can be streamlined effortlessly using Netsuite.
One of the more current developments on the email marketing front is the use of auto responders, or automated emails, that happen in a set sequence after a user's email address is captured. Typically the end goal of an auto responder email series is converting that user to a purchaser or customer. In this section, we'll introduce you to what an auto responder is, how to use them, the pros and cons, and some basic best practices for auto responder. Auto responders offer unique benefits in that they can produce results with a limited amount of effort on your part after the initial build out of the program. However, auto responders also present some challenges and best practices that should be considered when determining the role of an auto responder in your email marketing mix.
Next up is building an email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a pre-designed template. Most of these services have drag-and-drop UIs that let you choose exactly the elements you want to include, as well as image libraries in which you can store assets such as your logo or company photos. Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential since there are some seemingly innocuous terms that may send up red flags and drop all of your hard work into your subscribers' junk folders or, worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach their recipients.
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?
If you’re not leveraging interactions across every marketing channel like social media, your website, or the content your leads are consuming, it’s as if you’re only listening to your leads 30% of the time. Have you ever been on the phone with a sales rep who doesn’t answer your questions and reads straight from a pre-generated script without taking your specific needs into account? Did you end up buying from that company?
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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.
MailChimp is another popular email marketing service in the industry. It allows you to create and send email newsletters to your customers, manage subscriber lists, track campaign performance and much more. It also offers responsive email templates that look great on mobile devices and different screens. MailChimp automatically takes care of your sign-ups, un-subscribes, and bounce-back cleaning.

Netcore Smartech is a leading cloud-hosted campaign management and marketing automation program focusing on business growth. It aims to help users deliver unparalleled customer experiences through its customer journey mapping, cross-channel automation, funnel analytics, and messaging tools. The Netcore Smartech platform is offered through a quote-based payment system. For estimates, contact the vendor.
ClickDimensions is the only marketing automation solution natively built in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our solution includes essential marketing tools like email marketing, campaign automation, web intelligence, surveys, web forms, social marketing and more to help Dynamics 365 users attract more leads, close more sales and more effectively engage customers.
Through Leadformly (a lead gen tool we own) we work with a lot of Salesforce/MC users looking to integrate our lead forms into their CRM/automation environment, and the complexity is much greater compared to more intuitively-designed tools such as ActiveCampaign, Hubspot etc. However, having all of the data in the Salesforce environment does have a reporting/tracking advantage – but nothing that can’t be achieved using other tools connected via tools like Zapier.

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.
Yes, screens are getting smaller. And yes, an ever-expanding percentage of email is being consumed on mobile devices. Understood. But all that said, readers are entirely accustomed to scrolling and will appreciate a tidy and uncluttered look. Use headers, bulleted lists where appropriate, captions, and any other tactics to help go easy on the eyes and communicate effectively with the skimmer.
Use it as a lead magnet/free mini-course. You can also use an autoresponder as a lead magnet to attract new subscribers to your email list. This is commonly done in the form of a free “mini-course”, or a free “challenge”, which promises to deliver a series of emails containing lessons (or other valuable information) over the course of several days or weeks. There is a high perceived value with a mini-course or a challenge like this, which makes it a very effective lead magnet.
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