Getting started shouldn't be daunting. Generally, you'll know right away whether you like a user interface (UI) or not, and most of the contenders we reviewed offer free trials so you can poke around before dropping any cash. Luckily, most of these services have modern-looking graphics and uncluttered layouts. These are not the complex business software UIs of yesterday. Be careful, though, as some free trials require a credit card. This means you need to be sure to cancel your trial before you're billed if you're not happy with the service.
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?
iContact Pro provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results. The iContact Pro platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outsmart the competition and grow their business. ***ICONTACT PRO INCLUDES***: BUSINESS-CLASS EMAIL: Creating effective email campaigns is easy with 650+ professional templates and top class deliverability. SEGMENTATION AND TARGETING: Target your leads based on who they are and how they interact with you. LANDING PAGES: Create great looking, mobile responsive landing pages in minutes. Drive, track, and measure action on email, social, and your website. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION: Nurture customers with the right content, at the right time, by creating custom experiences using the most intuitive workflows in the industry. LEAD SCORING: Customize scoring criteria and the software automatically qualifies your leads so you can engage with confidence and increase your marketing efficiency. CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT: Create, track, and measure your integrated marketing campaigns, from Tweets to email with powerful and easy-to-understand analytics. SALESFORCE INTEGRATION: Sync contacts and leads directly between your Salesforce.com and iContact Pro accounts, so you can quickly and effectively close your newly qualified and ready leads. SOCIAL CRM: Track and record every engagement with your prospects across email, social media, landing pages, news releases, and website visits. ***ICONTACT PRO BENEFITS*** DO MORE Nowadays, a marketer’s life is full of long hours, distractions, and beeping devices — it’s time for you to work smarter, not harder. iContact Pro was created to help companies engineer more calculated ways to send personalized communications to customers. No advanced degrees required. LIBERATE YOUR IDEAS Automation is not rocket science. But with most big enterprise solutions, getting started with marketing automation might feel a lot like planning a complicated rocket launch. iContact Pro was built to work fast for any size team, so when you say “yes” to marketing automation, you say “no” to complicated implementation. Simply login, pick an activity, and take off! TARGET YOUR MESSAGE Email marketing is at the heart of any results-driven strategy. iContact Pro is your virtual segmenting machine, helping you create individual CRM profiles to provide subscribers with the most relatable experiences for them — no matter how they engage with you. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS Bringing in more leads doesn’t always mean more revenue; prospects demand a higher quality experience from you. iContact Pro helps you nurture relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle in a way that feels personal, but is in fact highly automated. Reach out to the right people, at the right time, with the right message. ENGAGE YOUR NETWORK Get more mileage from existing content. Turn social fans into subscribers by including links to your own landing pages and invite people to download valuable content in exchange for their email address. Flexible, built-in tools allow you to schedule a calendar of social activity in advance or join in on trending conversations as they happen. CAPTURE MORE LEADS Everything you need is now easier to do. From designing professional landing pages and email templates, to setting up intuitive workflow triggers based on customer actions, our interactive tools make it easy to cross marketing tasks off your to-do list. MAKE DATA ACTIONABLE Great results come from consistently testing and drilling down into your performance data to make campaign tweaks on-the-fly. Engagement reports let you count up and compare the success of your social posts, landing pages, and emails. Ask us how you can integrate data from other tools with your dashboard for convenient, one-screen viewing. KEEP MOVING FORWARD We’re not doing our job if questions block your way to making things happen on your terms. We work hard to take the guesswork out of success. You can count on our experts and software to flatten learning curves along the way so you can just get up and get going.
Presentation is everything, or so they say. With this old adage in mind, we’ve compiled our best tips for anyone who wants to send emails that subscribers click into a handy email design guide. We cover each facet of design: content, templates, identity, color, images, layout, fonts, and calls to action. Design is as much science as it is art, and we take the guesswork out of what can seem like the most challenging part of sending good emails.

The IMfSP page is like the Matrix Autoresponder Study Guide for anybody willing to deconstruct it. The name of the autoresponder, the title of the page, super-relevant page graphic, 2nd person “you” point of view, clear call to action—repeated, social proof call-outs, bullet points using the rule-of-three, what-to-expect-next clarifications, clearly defined autoresponder frequency, etc.
However, as email marketing developed as an effective means of direct communication, in the 1990s, users increasingly began referring to it as "spam", and began blocking out content from emails with filters and blocking programs. In order to effectively communicate a message through email, marketers had to develop a way of pushing content through to the end user, without being cut out by automatic filters and spam removing software.
The huge advantage of email over social media is that prospects and customers are more likely to see an email than social media. Just posting something doesn't mean that everyone you want to see your message will see it. Your post might not even show up in your targets' social media streams. However, an email will sit in the inbox until it's read (or deleted). 
1. Pricing – While SendinBlue is one of the most affordable email marketing tools currently available, you’ll need to be on their $49/month plan or above to access unlimited automation workflows. While not a major issue, this tends to rule out SendinBlue for me when recommending a marketing automation tool to a small business that’s new to automation. After all, ActiveCampaign starts at $9!
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.
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.

Don’t expect marketing automation software to craft dazzling copy and eye-catching visuals to bring those campaigns to life for you: Human creativity and a little elbow grease still carry the day. What you should expect from a good set of automation marketing tools is the ability to manage individual campaigns, cross-channel campaigns, and personalized 1-to-1 customer journeys based on those campaigns.
HubSpot Marketing is a top-of-the-line inbound marketing software that focuses on growing traffic and increasing lead conversions. With robust tools for blogging, emailing, SEO, marketing automation, lead management, and analytics, this platform can give you the things you need to launch effective campaigns. The system also integrates with multiple CMSs, email service providers, eCommerce tools, and social networks. The vendor offers a great free trial plan for those who’d like to try out the key features of the product first. You can easily sign up for HubSpot Marketing free trial here.
It is not an easy task as there are several things that must be considered. Your choice of marketing automation tool will depend on the size and spread of your brand. While some platforms do a great job with emails, others excel in social media management and analytics. You will also have to take into account user-friendliness and the simplicity of the interface while handling the seemingly complex software.

Automation also provides opportunities for personalization. Each interaction with an email or your website can trigger a follow-up based on those activities. What’s more personalized than a user experience specifically tailored to an individual’s interests? It will make your subscribers feel like you’re completely attuned to their needs and that you care about what’s important to them.


Total Expert is a fintech software pioneer of the first modern, enterprise-level Marketing Operating System (MOS) that enables lending and financial services firms to create customers for life by blending human relationships with digital simplicity. We power marketing and revenue growth for 10% of $2 trillion per year U.S. mortgage industry, and ensure banks and lenders stay ahead of how consumers expect to communicate, shop, and manage their financial lives in the digital/social era. For more information, visit totalexpert.com.
4. Make Links Clear and Visible & Use Text Links: Make sure that all links to your product purchasing pages are clear and visible. When possible, default to blue, underlined links for easy user recognition. Though in web design it is often unadvisable to use the words "click here" in a link, in email design it typically is more effective to use the words "click here." Make sure that your links are text links and not image-based links as images may not appear in all emails.
As of 25th May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect, [4] this has had a large impact on the way marketing teams and organisations can manage their consumer data. Any organisation using marketing automation tracking is required to ask consent of from the consumer as well as provide transparency on how the data will be processed.

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.


Basic text-based email editors to fully designed HTML or JavaScript templates are just some of the features these packages can provide businesses. You can manage your contacts by simply keeping a list of names and email addresses or you can create a complex database full of subscribers segmented by demographic slices and engagement levels. Which method you choose really just depends on how much of your budget you're willing to allocate towards the email marketing software that can give your company the features it needs.
For example, if you set up an autoresponder with an interval of 24, and you receive an email from john@example.com at 8 am on Monday, the autoresponder will respond to his message immediately. If, however, john@example.com continues to email you throughout the day, the autoresponder will not send him another response for 24 hours after his initial email (in this case, 8 am Tuesday). If he emails you again after the 24-hour interval expires, he will receive an auto response.
Loved reading this! Which of these would you recommend so that I could set myself reminders on certain clients so that I can follow up with them in the future? I feel like I am doing a lot of extra steps that I might not have to do if I was using an actual marketing software. I am in the very beginning stages of getting my business out there and I would like to follow up with potential clients down the road with an email… is this a possibility or should I just keep using my excel spreadsheet!?
TechValidate is a marketing automation solution by SurveyMonkey dedicated to creating persuasive content. Offering essential features for lead nurturing, ROI metrics, and content creation, this platform also brings to the table quality market research, customer insights, and sales enablement solutions. For payment plans, TechValidate is currently available on a by-quote basis.
I do find that Ontraport seems to have great pricing overall (and yes, a lot less functions you need to get a plugin or workaround for – I wonder when you have a platform you pay a lot for and then there is a big side industry of people doing training and also developing plug ins – I think if you pay for a product that product should really keep developing and adding those plugins ‘in product’ and I can see that Landon and his team are continuing to refine and add functionality that is requested, so I can’t fault their customer service).
5. Use Personalization Fields: While always important in email marketing, because an auto-responder list can not be easily segmented, be sure to use the features of your email marketing program, such as those at Comm100, that allow you to personalize fields within your auto responder email with the subscriber's first name, handle, user name or other submitted information.

Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.
Of course, the site’s commitment to quality content was a major factor. In fact, I actually signed up for the DIY Natural newsletter as I was researching this article. My wife and I share similar views on self-reliance and sustainability as Matt and Betsy, and we already make our own laundry detergent and other household items (including ghee). As such, DIY Natural’s content is perfect for us, and exactly the type of content I’d like to see in my inbox every week.
Crafting your brand voice in your email marketing messages will let your business show some personality and create engagement. Remember to think of your emails as a conversation and simply not a place for you to blast your message through a megaphone. You’ve received permission to send to your subscribers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to nurture a relationship with them.
Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant.  It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)
The attention for and growth of the marketing automation market is driven by several evolutions in the ways people inform themselves and buy. The shift from selling to buying, along with the advent of several new digital channels, used by consumers and B2B buyers, keeps impacting the marketing automation industry and the adoption of marketing automation by organizations. However, the best is yet to come.
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.
So, despite spending most of their time actually making their products, tending to their herd of goats, and somehow managing to run an eight-child household (seriously, bravo), Jim and PJ also manage to operate highly successful email marketing campaigns that offer their customers genuine value while keeping things simple – all without a formal marketing department in sight.

Sales is all about speed. How long does it take you to respond to a customer? Was your conversation efficient while still being educational? Most importantly, did you get there before the other guy? Choosing a CRM to match the lighting speed of your sales team can bog you down in lots of calls and meetings. So we did the research for you to find the top 20 most user-friendly CRM software products. Stop shopping and start selling!
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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