Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) firms have longer sales cycles and engage in more relationship building activities. Businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) rely more on brand and high-volume direct outreach efforts. This overview aims to improve understanding of how marketing software applications work and provide an update on trends every buyer should know.
bpm’online marketing is one of the leading cloud-hosted programs for holistic multi-channel marketing. A module inclusive in bpm’s CRM bundle, this platform allows users to to optimize both front-office and back-office tasks with ease. Equipped with lead generation tools, communication features, and content creation solutions, the software can also be integrated with AI to boost user adoption. bpm’online marketing offers quote-based and annual enterprise pricing according to the number of contacts and users who will be enrolled in the system.
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!
Omnisend - Email Marketing & Automation for Ecommerce provides the omnichannel approach for sales-driven marketers that have outgrown the generic email marketing platforms. Join more than 40,000 merchants that have trusted their e-commerce marketing automation to Omnisend. Our platform provides a complete solution for connecting your ecommerce business with potential and existing customers across multiple customer journey touchpoints. Try a more personalized omnichannel touch with your customers by email, SMS, Facebook messenger or automatically synchronizing audiences for Google, Facebook and Instagram platforms for better customers’ experience and higher conversions. Omnisend works with all e-commerce platforms including Shopify, Bigcommerce, Magento, WooCommerce and others. Drive sales at scale Email marketing automation is all about sending anticipated, contextualized and relevant messages at the right time. Capitalize on pre-built automation templates that you need to set up only once. Then sit and watch your sales growing on autopilot with Welcome emails, Cart Abandonemnt, Order updates, Customer Re-activation and Order Follow-up. Design state-of-the-art newsletters in minutes Skip the tedious and time-consuming newsletter setup process. Our drag-and-drop Content Editor is intuitive and gives you all the tools you need to enjoy great results at the speed of light. Improve your performance with beautiful email templates, the one-click Product Picker, the interactive CTR boosters and unique Discount Coupons. Choose how to grow your email list Choose how to turn your visitors into subscribers with a wide variety of signup forms. Omnisend’s forms are mobile-friendly and fully customizable. Grow your list with non-intrusive Signup boxes, welcome and exit intent Popups, the fun Wheel of Fortune, and customizable landing pages. Ready to convert your visitors into repeat customers? Try out Omnisend’s ecommerce marketing automation—every new user starts with a 14-day, obligation-free trial. After 14 days, you choose whether to keep using one of our paid plans - Standard or Pro - or continue with our Free plan, which includes 15,000 emails per month (up to 2,000 emails per day). Majority of our customers value Omnisend as a great alternative for their ecommerce businesses compared to Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Active Campaign and others. Omnisend gives you stellar support and helpful advice anytime you need it. We’re available 24/7 for all.

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.
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.
If you want to integrate your email with your shopping cart but don’t quite want to spring for InfusionSoft, 1ShoppingCart could be your answer. 1ShoppingCart is a one stop solution for payment processing and email marketing. It allows you to segregate lists and mail only buyers or your entire list. It’s one of the more reputable shopping cart services on the net.
One of the most simple and effective ways to re-engage an inactive subscriber is to tell your subscribers that you’re going to remove them from their list, but give them an opportunity to opt back in to your emails. Everyone wants what they can’t have and it might be just the thing that makes them feel like they need to start engaging with your email campaigns.

The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.[4]

Infusionsoft is a web-based marketing automation platform trusted by freelancers and small businesses worldwide. Serving 23,000 users in different countries, it provides a wide variety of options for marketing automation, CRM, and sales. Whether you need to process payments, track orders, publish content, or handle your referral program, it can do it all. The onboarding cost for Infusionsoft is $299. From there, they offer pricing plans according to the features you need and the number of people who will be using the software.

As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.
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.
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:)
Optimizing the experiences of people and moving from automation on the interaction level to a personalized and pro-sponsive optimization on the individual touchpoint level is, according to me, the main challenge in marketing automation for the future, as well as the integration of business processes and the business as such within its’ ecosystem beyond marketing.
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.
I recently had my MailChimp account suspended. One of my sites is in the ‘make money online’ space. It’s a completely legitimate website, but apparently if your emails contain keywords they don’t like, they will suspend you. I would not recommend using them. Contacting support I just get form responses that are completely unhelpful. There’s no phone support- just account termination. Really bad experience. Luckily, this is a very new site- but imagine if you have thousands of emails and they just shut you down without ANY recourse.
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.
Are you one of the 63% of marketers who say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads? If so, then you already know how taxing the process can be. You’ll need to find ways to draw people towards your site, regularly generate content that piques their interest, be active on social media, and create innovative tactics to engage new leads. With a limited budget and small staff at your disposal, where will you find the time to do all of that while you manage your business on a daily basis?
Conduct campaigns, prioritize and focus on the basics of conversion, optimization and customer experiences but at the same time don’t ignore the voice of the customer, the clear shifts and the channel-agnostic reality with more stakeholders than ever before because you want to stick to a channel-centric mentality. In the end that’s where social CRM – in the true sense of the word – comes in.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
GoDaddy Email Marketing provides great statistics to show you how many people are opening, engaging with and sharing your email. There’s no mystery or guesswork. You can even compare different emails side-by-side to quickly see which emails get the best response. Once you know what appeals to your readers, you can refine your emails for even better results.
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.
An auto responder is generally more similar in content to a newsletter than it is to a direct sales email, though it combines many of the elements of both. The content can vary wildly though based on your industry segment and what you've promised subscribers. The most common type of auto responder content will be tips or advice, but you can also do great things with recipes, serial fiction pieces, inspirational quotes and a variety of other topics. Essentially, you are looking for content that will engage users over a period of time while also providing a platform to encourage sales of your product or service or visits to your website.
Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
High performing marketing teams are 3.3 times more likely than underperformers to use CRM tools extensively, and 34.4 times more likely to say that they are excellent at creating personalized omnichannel customer experiences across all business units. The evidence is clear. If a business hopes to excel in marketing, its focus must be on facilitating customer journeys, and finding the tools with which to do so. Salesforce is a good place to start. Using Salesforce, you can create these kinds of 1-to-1 journeys, and connect to customers in a whole new way. Check out the tools that you can add to your arsenal today.
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.
GoDaddy Email Marketing provides great statistics to show you how many people are opening, engaging with and sharing your email. There’s no mystery or guesswork. You can even compare different emails side-by-side to quickly see which emails get the best response. Once you know what appeals to your readers, you can refine your emails for even better results.

Uses tracking codes in social media, email and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior - following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market. Due to its interactive nature this has been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
Social media capabilities – Some marketing automation tools integrate with Facebook and Twitter, enabling you to control social advertising or build social apps from within the service. Some also offer social media monitoring, to pull comments made on social media platforms into your CRM. These features are usually nice-to-haves, but it might be worth considering whether or not they would be useful for you or not.
Many marketers have been seduced by social media advertising, perceiving it to be not only “cooler,” but also more effective than email marketing. There’s no denying that social media gets a lot more media attention than email marketing. However, claims that email marketing is no longer effective are simply not true (check out these email marketing stats that prove it). Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that email remains a cornerstone of their campaigns.
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.[4]
Oracle Bronto is the premier cloud-based marketing platform for commerce. With an advanced marketing automation engine and solutions for browser and shopping cart abandonment, recommendations, post-purchase campaigns and powerful ecommerce integrations, the Bronto Marketing Platform helps marketers maximize engagement and drive revenue by automating targeted, personalized email and cross-channel marketing campaigns at scale. Bronto offers a full suite of enterprise features and an extensive array of partner integrations to help commerce marketers accomplish more, while saving time and resources. Over 1400 brands worldwide rely on Bronto, including a client roster of high-growth brands, including Rebecca Minkoff, Lucky Brand, Theory, Timex, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks. For more information, visit bronto.com.
Granted, SendinBlue’s visual marketing automation builder may not be as beautiful as ActiveCampaign’s, but it’s no less powerful. In fact, SendinBlue’s automation builder is so free of bells and whistles that it’s actually quite refreshing to use after using some of the tools that require contacting support or reading documentation just to complete basic tasks.
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.
Personalisation in email marketing is essential because most people want a more relevant experience. Email personalisation is not just about using people’s names in an email. It’s also about making sure you send the right emails to the right people at the right time. One essential tool for email personalisation is segmentation. You can get an email marketing expert to help you set up segments so you can personalize appropriately. Done right, email personalisation results in more clicks and more business.

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.
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.
The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.[4]
iContact Pro is a marketing campaign management suite built for small startups to medium-sized companies. It offers simple yet email marketing, segmentation, social posting, and workflow automation features that let you cut through the digital noise. Mobile-ready, it is also equipped with reporting and lead scoring tools for data analysis. To purchase iContact Pro, you may opt for their monthly billing plan or annual prepay that are priced according to the number of subscribers. You may also choose their Premier plan which is available by-quote.
ONTRAPORT’s mission is to “support entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology.” It aims to do this by allowing companies to get a complete visualization of the customer journey. Knowing that many small businesses struggle to gain a clear understanding of how their marketing efforts are paying off, ONTRAPORT is built to help them see how customers respond to messages — via SMS, email, postcards, and landing pages — through data. This information, in turn, can be used to build compelling campaigns within the platform.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:)
MailChimp 12,000 emails per month (daily limit of 2,000), for up to 2,000 subscribers. MailChimp’s autoresponder range is comprehensive. It includes basic autoresponders (welcome, date-based, RSS etc), as well as more advanced options (e.g. ecommerce, tag-based). The main drawback – their autoresponder editor isn’t the easiest to use. (Full review)
As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.
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