Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
ActiveCampaign is a business marketing application designed for small companies. Used by over 100,000 people globally, this all-in-one software has all the tools you need to boost your business from marketing automation and sales CRM to smart emailing and data analysis. Should you encounter problems with their system, they also offer in-depth training and customer support. ActiveCampaign is available in four pricing plans ranging from $15 monthly to $279 monthly. They also offer yearly subscription options for your convenience.

Essentially, you can tell Office Autopilot what to do if certain things occur. For example, if a customer places an order, you can send an order to your fulfillment house to fulfill that order. Or if a customer leaves, you can send them a last minute special offer. Just select the trigger for the action, then select what list it applies to then select what to do when that action is trigger.

As mentioned before, the type of email campaign you send depends entirely on your goals with email. If you’re looking to drive direct sales then sending marketing offer and announcement campaigns are going to return the best results, however if you are simply looking to keep your existing customers up-to-date on the latest projects, products or developments at your company, then sending a regular newsletter is going to be the best way to achieve that.

Let’s face it – most email newsletters are crap. Far too many companies see email newsletters as another way to push sales, even though many people who sign up for a newsletter are not looking to actively make a purchase. This can result in low sign-up volumes, high rates of subscriber abandonment, and “newsletters” that are light on news and heavy on pushy sales tactics.


We just started using MailChimp because it seems to be the only one that offers a free account for small or new users. The problem is that there are so many steps for a potential subscriber to go through with both double opt-in and recaptcha, that we are getting at best complaints to worst, plain nasty comments posted on our Facebook page. We don’t know how many would be subscribers we lost because of this.

Having tackled what you should look for in a program, we can now move on to discussing our 20 best marketing automation software solutions for small businesses. If you’d like a more in-depth discussion on what these software solutions can do, you may read about the benefits of marketing automation software here . But, if you’re ready to check out our marketing automation software 2019 comparisons, then keep reading this article.

Touchpoint-based marketing and customer experience models become increasingly important as the customer journey changes but most of all as the focus should not be on the channels and campaigns as is often the case in marketing automation but (also) on the longer-term (smart marketers move away from short-terminism) and most of all the customer experiences in a highly connected and integrated digital reality. Find a few touchpoint models and read Why touchpoint marketing is important.
Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.
InfusionSoft is the tool of choice for serious marketers. If you run a six figure online business or have a list larger 50,000 subscribers, this may be the tool for you. InfusionSoft combines your shopping cart with email marketing, so you can do complex things like segregate your buyers from your subscribers or mail specific sequences to specific people. You can also send physical postcards from InfusionSoft. InfusionSoft isn’t cheap. The monthly subscription is in the hundreds, and there’s a four figure setup fee. It’s geared towards companies that are already successful and need powerful solutions, rather than startups.
It’s time to integrate, connect the dots and – please – drop the ‘this channel trumps that channel’ approach. It’s time to look at the customer reality and business goals instead of at research and opinions to polarize discussions. Marketing is connected and so are customers and their journeys. Deal with it. They’re not just connected with others (and, wake-up call, always have been), they’re also connected with our businesses across several touchpoints, far beyond the reach of the single campaign.
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?
In order to reach customers with these all-important 1-to-1 journeys, a new generation of marketing automation tools has emerged. These tools take advantage of cloud capabilities in order to provide marketing teams with the ability to get to know their customers better, manage campaigns, and collaborate more seamlessly with other departments such as sales, service, IT, and more.

You can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.


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.
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.
Rob, you don’t say who ‘booted’ you from using it. A significant GDPR factor is non-profits having to consent/re-consent those on established email lists and experiencing significant proportions of lists being lost because people miss the notifications or are too busy to fill in yet more forms. However, I have found a few using a ‘one-touch’ re-subscription button that takes immediate effect, without the recipient having to do anything else. It would appear that the re-subscription rate is higher, the easier it is to activate. On enquiry, I was told that they were using mail chimp for this.
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.
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!
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.
Email automation and multichannel marketing. eSputnik makes campaign sending hassle-free through its marketing automation capabilities. Simply map your customer’s journey and utilize a drag-and-drop workflow editor to implement your processes and utilize multichannel campaigns to ensure maximum client reach and engagement. Because the platform takes into account client behavior, users will no longer have to worry about mundane tasks such as sending of product recommendations and price reduction notices.
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.)
Step Three: Following that, an average of ten to nineteen emails are then automatically sent to the subscriber, most often with several days between each email send. The further the sequence gets, the longer the space between emails is. For example, within the first three or four auto responder emails, there may only be a day or two between each email send.However, as you get into the latter emails, it is common to leave a week between email sends so as not to encourage the subscriber to become frustrated and mark you as spam or unsubscribe from future mailings.
The key to separating the best technology solutions from the lesser choices lies in properly understanding the modern customer, and what it demands. Eighty-eight percent of top marketers say a customer journey strategy is critical to the success of their overall marketing . So what do customers want? There is no one answer to that question, but perhaps more than anything else the modern customer is looking for a simplified and cohesive shopping experience. This is the type of “customer journey” that top marketers should be looking to provide.
I’m not happy at all with MailChimp. Has anyone found the same problems with MailChimp as I have? I find that many of my list members unsubscribe from my list daily. I know these people ands contact them and they say they have not unsubscribed. twice I even found my own email taken off the list. When I look into the MailChimp list Spam is the reason for the person’s unsubscription. Over the years I’ve been on MailChimp I’ve contacted support and I’ve done everything I can but nothing has changed. I’m now looking to move to another company.
We’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.

Oracle Eloqua, part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, provides best-in-class lead management, campaign management, and sales tools that help marketers deliver the most connected and personalized experiences from first impression to customer advocacy. Eloqua's marketer-friendly platform enables organizations of any size to execute advanced marketing strategies, at scale, using the industry's richest dataset and adaptive technologies. Some of the top reasons customers choose Oracle Eloqua include: * Most Comprehensive Platform Built for B2B Marketers * Industry’s Richest Dataset * Marketer-friendly UI * Powerful Lead Management & Acceleration * Adaptive Campaign Management & Nurturing * Sophisticated Targeting & Segmentation * Broad 3rd Party Data Enrichment * Market-leading Extensibility & Integrations * Enterprise Scale Performance & Security
As a growing business, you may also be looking for a CRM solution, and you'll find that the more advanced email marketing services have begun to crossover into CRM. It makes sense: Both types of software deal with managing and communicating with customers. A handful of these services are one-stop shops, either offering both email marketing and CRM out of the box or as add-on services.

It opens the door for irrelevant, spammy, automated messages. Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. The consequences of list-buying are numerous, but most importantly this spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
Zaius is a CRM & Marketing Automation platform built for ecommerce brands. By combining a single customer view, real-time, multi-channel marketing automation, and cross-channel attribution, Zaius empowers marketing teams to drive more repeat purchases and maximize customer lifetime revenue - without any IT support. It’s the first CRM built specifically for B2C marketers.
In-Depth Analytics. Evaluation is an important aspect of any marketing campaign, but the process of collecting and organizing data for the task can be overwhelming. This is why it’s important to choose marketing automation solutions that have built-in analytics tools. With these, you can get complete insights on your marketing campaigns effortlessly.

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.
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.

SharpSpring is an all-in-one marketing platform for small and medium-sized businesses. Providing you with features such as custom deal stages, point-and-click editors, call tracking, email analytics, and lead management automation, this software solution can smoothly combine your marketing and sales operations. To purchase SharpSpring, get in touch with the vendor to request a quote.
Aritic PinPoint, a fully integrated permission-based marketing automation platform, is more popular for its advanced automation and customer engagement features. It enables businesses to nurture anonymous and identified visitors based on their browsing activities. Following this, features like ad targeting and behavior tracking help to fill in the sales-marketing pipeline. Dynamic segmentation, multichannel marketing, advanced filters and tags, progressive profiling, SEO and analytics, and a huge list of integrations have helped Aritic PinPoint make a strong digital foothold despite strong competition.
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.
The post is very informative and the list you have shared with is great, but the Constant Contact is good I think to start the company as the live chat features are powerful in it can solve the one query on time. But it’s chargeable that to $20 at least it should be $10, I don’t know much about its but I’ll try for that free package and check it. Thank You.
You can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.

Thinking and acting in a customer-centric way and not falling in the trap of automating for the sake of it. Marketing automation is not a holy grail. The business goals and the customer are what it’s all about. Without a customer-centric culture, supported by management, marketing automation often results in sheer auomation with little added value.


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.
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 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).
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.
These are just some of the amazing features you'll find when using marketing automation software. As a result, it's important for you to determine your most needed features before making a purchase decision. None of the tools we tested are bad. In fact, each of them will provide you with more power than your standard email marketing platform will. However, some are better than others, some are more expensive, and some do a better job letting you customize your workflows to suit your specific needs.

While marketing automation often looks at generating demand and new revenues by a “right time, right message, right touchpoint” approach, as we know it in content marketing and content management as well, it’s essential to also look at engagement with existing customers of course. After all, the total customer life cycle and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are essential. In this regarding marketing automation platforms are evolving and also facing competition from new vendors focussing more on customer engagement and experiences across the customer life cycle. Several vendors in the content management space have also been evolving from systems of records to systems of engagement. Marketing automation is part of an increasingly broader ecosystem and context where the customer and customer lifetime value are key. An introduction to the customer life cyle and models to calculate the customer lifetime value (CLV).
MailChimp allows you to send automated emails based on customer behavior and preferences. Although, MailChimp offers a free trial, but their autoresponder feature is only available in paid accounts. It allows you to create an autoresponder email easily, and you can set the event to trigger this autoresponder, also select the day and accurate time to send it to your subscribers.

First of all, you get unlimited user accounts with custom user permissions. You can also send an unlimited number of emails and you get your own custom mail server domain as part of the package. Another interesting feature is ActiveCampaign’s automated social data gathering, which collects social details from all of your contacts and allows you to use this for list segmentation – so you can contact all LinkedIn users under 30 in your area, for example.


ConvertKit has been incredibly useful to me. I can use it to create complex automations and branching message sequences to deliver the exact right message to the right people. And I can do that without spending an entire weekend trying to figure out how it works. Trust me, if I can figure it out, literally anyone can. ConvertKit is a terrific tool, even if your list is still small. And it will grow as you do. — Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer, Copyblogger
Why does email list segmentation matter? We know that beyond relevancy, list segmentation is important from a revenue perspective. Data from the DMA indicates that segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all email revenue. On top of this, our research found that marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 76% increase in revenue–and more than 76% of marketers say basic segmentation is part of their email marketing strategy.
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