We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed us with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.
Automation is a surefire way for small businesses to save time and money, and marketing is the perfect arena for doing so: Marketing automation maintains brand messaging while reaching thousands more people than a single person ever could. The key is simply determining which platform fits your company best so you can save even more time while building your bottom line.
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?
Auto responders present an excellent opportunity to create email marketing results with minimal effort after the initial build out. However, the key to success is to think through the process during the build out and to monitor the program carefully for the first several months in order to optimize it. We'll discuss auto responders throughout the remainder of this book when talking about email design, implementation, tracking and optimization.
Use personalization. Personalizing the content of your emails (depending on your segment from Chapter 3) will make it so much more relevant and valuable to them. Personalization goes beyond sticking your subscriber’s first name into the email. You need to tailor the actual content of the email to address their needs. For instance, an online retailer will find it much more valuable to read an email with the subject line, “How to build backlinks to your eCommerce store” than just a generic subject line, “How to build backlinks.”

A while back, we were looking for a marketing automation tool ourselves. We researched, we talked to analysts, and we had deep dives with company reps. Since then, we’ve become very involved in the industry thanks to the complementary nature of analytics and marketing automation. We’ve even formed partnerships with several companies. Now finally, we present our top picks for marketing automation tools (in no particular order).
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.
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.

On the lower end of the pricing spectrum, you'll find products such as Infusionsoft, which costs $379 per month for five users, 50,000 contacts, and unlimited emails per month. The Complete package also includes Infusionsoft's four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation) at no extra charge. SendinBlue and Zoho Campaigns both offer free plans for anyone who is unwilling to spend even a dime for marketing workflows. Both tools scale upward for added capacity and complexity, and each offers pay-as-you-go plans for companies just dipping their toes into email marketing and marketing automation.
This brightly-branded email provider prides itself on creating ‘delightful customer experiences’. They’re serious about it too, with an almost dizzying array of automation workflows and rules on offer. As a bonus – Drip also includes free autoresponders triggered by events that happen in third party tools such as Shopify, Facebook, Stripe, Unbounce and many more.
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.
AI powered Business Growth Platform that offers a unique and in-depth integration with Salesforce, SugarCRM and SuiteCRM. INBOX25 unleashes and connects every digital engagement channel to build a truly data-driven marketing and sales program. The platform enables the deployment of a wide range of digital tools to Attract, Capture, Nurture & Analyze a firm's marketing database throughout the entire lifecycle; from prospect to brand loyalist. Delivering personalized customer experiences through complex and robust automated journeys has never been easier.
Been a while so I thought you might want to update this popular list. These tools you mention are great and Ive used many of them and will now try the rest. 🙂 When its time to update this list and article Id suggest you consider these newer tools: Email Personalisation = Altaire.com/Tech – Email Data = Competitor.Email & Edatasource.com – GDPR RePermission = Decco-Engine.com – Rich Email Content = Polymerse.com. Thanks again for a great list!
SALESmanago Marketing Automation provides an easy to implement next generation solutions that redefine the way traditional marketing tools are used. Every day we are going above and beyond the expectations regarding the capabilities of email marketing, dynamic & personalized website content, social media marketing, anonymous marketing automation, online advertising and mobile marketing. Our main goal is to create a product that empowers its users to implement any kind of marketing processes they desire and gets their business to the next level.
Aritic is full stack automation software platform for digital business. Aritic platform for business help business with full-stack marketing automation, communication automation, CRM application, service desk application and business automation stack. At present there is more than 1800+ business globally. Aritic PinPoint is a full-stack marketing automation software platform for the digital marketing team at SMBs. It helps to build the relationship with leads, automate marketing campaigns and convert leads to paying customers easily. It has features such as landing page builder, lead scoring, lead tracking, lead nurturing, email marketing, email marketing automation, marketing campaign builder, a/b testing, web site tracking features with marketing file and library management. PinPoint integrates natively with Salesforce, SugarCRM, Zoho CRM and Social platforms like, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Foursquare, Instagram. Aritic Mail is transactional email relay system which helps in delivering email to the mailbox of the recipients. Aritic CRM and Aritic Desk are state of the art, full-stack customer relationship management and service desk application which efficiently helps business to maintain a continuous relationship with their end customers. These application suites are perfect for sales and support team for small and medium businesses.
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.
When thinking about the five types of email marketing described previously, auto responders are almost exclusively used for customer acquisition email marketing. Your existing customers may respond well to an auto-responder campaign, but chances are high that the best place in your marketing mix for auto-responders is when trying to acquire new customers.
2. Deliverability – Deliverability is always a hot topic, and I’m aware there are a million caveats at play here. That said, several notable studies on the topic have turned out quite unfavourably for SendinBlue. Fortunately, we actually use SendinBlue for one of our ventures and I can confirm that our deliverability rates are nowhere near as low as indicated in suggested in the linked article, but equally, they’re not the best I’ve seen.
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.

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We were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car (if, for example, you were a car manufacturer).

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.

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.

Hi. thank you for the great information. I currently have Mail Chimp and it is set up to sync between my WordPress site and Mail Chimp. the problem is it isn’t and new subscribers to my blog are not being updated onto the list on the Mail chimp end. I have tried several fixes and nothing is working. I am unsure what to do now after endless googling it may be time to quit Mail Chimp. Seems others are having this problem also.


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.

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.

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.
If things go as planned, your email autoresponder series will build trust with your prospects. Your messages will make regular appearances in their inboxes. And, you’ll be sharing useful lessons and progressively gaining mindshare. If your content is well received, you’ll essentially be training the reader to open your emails, visit your website, and ideally, do business with you.

One product sheet does not fit all. Draft copy, design emails and social media posts, and craft customized assets, all within your marketing automation platform. Content management systems also handle tagging and organizing of assets for repurposing across multiple formats and locations, so that you only need to upload an image or an asset once, and it runs everywhere. A content management system within your marketing automation platform also makes updating assets a breeze: Replacing the existing file with an updated one ensures that images and assets will be up to date across all campaigns, no matter how old or recent, so that links and images don’t render broken.

Optimizely is an online marketing platform focusing on website development. Having served more than 6000 companies, they optimize and streamline digital experiences for businesses and customers alike. The software offers behavioral audience targeting and analytics tools to help you take out the digital guesswork and create smarter business decisions based on hard facts. It is also backed with an enterprise-grade security system to keep your data protected. For pricing, they offer three quote-based subscription packages based on your business’ needs.
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.
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.
SXSW, Inc. – This lean organization organizes some of the most well-known events in the world, including the SXSW film, music and interactive festivals held every year in Austin, Texas. The goal of their marketing team is to increase ticket sales and attendees at these events, so they use email marketing to keep subscribers up to date as new artists and speakers join the lineup.
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