One of the misconceptions regarding marketing automation is that it is all about automating marketing and thus reducing the personal and human dimension. This is not the case and depends on the ways marketing divisions use marketing automation. Most professional solutions offer advanced insight and analytics features, enabling a better customer view.

The most advanced email marketing services offer custom workflows where you can specify triggers based on actions (such as opening an email or making a purchase) or on inaction (such as ignoring emails). With these services, you can also set up a series of emails (such as tutorials) to be sent to segments of users, and you can pause or stop a campaign at any time. You can also move contacts into new segments once they have completed tutorials.
What is email marketing? Basically the use of email to promote products and/or services. But a better email marketing definition is the use of email to develop relationships with potential customers and/or clients. Email marketing is one segment of internet marketing, which encompasses online marketing via websites, social media, blogs, etc. It is essentially the same as direct mail except that instead of sending mail through the postal service, messages are sent electronically via email.

With that said, we still use SendinBlue to this day and consider it to be a good, stable, and relatively simple marketing automation tool. Being a French company, SendinBlue was one of the first marketing automation companies to declare GDPR compliance, and their history in transactional email has meant that they’ve been able to offer many marketing automation features that are difficult to find elsewhere, such as SMS messaging and real-time deliverability reporting.

dotdigital is a global leader in customer engagement technology and Engagement Cloud is its platform: the preferred choice for growing businesses and ambitious brands. The platform’s impressive features empower over 80,000 marketers across 150 countries to acquire, convert, and retain customers at scale. Users can connect with CRM and ecommerce systems, surface powerful data, and automate intelligent cross-channel messages that resonate with audiences. Established in 1999, dotdigital is a global company with over 350 employees, serving brands of all verticals and sizes. Our easy to use and powerful email solution enables SMBs, large enterprise and agencies to manage and grow their email strategy and more by making it easy to build your own marketing cloud, using our extensive app directory. A Magento Premier Technology, Shopify Plus and BigCommerce partner, dotdigital integrates seamlessly with many world-class ecommerce platforms and CRMs including Salesforce and MS Dynamics. Our recent acquisition of COMAPI cements our commitment to empowering marketers by providing customers with best-in-class omnichannel messaging capabilities such as SMS, live chat and social media integration. Start a free trial: https://www.dotdigital.com/trial/

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.
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.

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.

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.
Marketing automation is a very active segment of the CRM software market. Not only are new vendors entering the market, but existing market leaders are constantly innovating and delivering new product updates. Today, the majority of solutions can be split into business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) solutions. The two groupings are very different and so are their functional needs.
Drip is the world’s first ECRM–an Ecommerce CRM designed for building personal and profitable relationships with your customers at scale. Ecommerce marketers around the world are starting to see their customers in full color with Drip features like, comprehensive tracking, hyper-segmentation, and robust email marketing automation. They’re graduating from typical email platforms, bloated CRMs, or overhyped marketing automation tools, and making more money with Drip.
I think this email also makes quite a brilliant use of responsive design. The colors are bright, and it's not too hard to scroll and click -- notice the CTAs are large enough for me to hit with my thumbs. Also, the mobile email actually has features that make sense for recipients who are on their mobile device. Check out the CTA at the bottom of the email, for example: The "Open Stitcher Radio" button prompts the app to open on your phone.

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)
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’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.
Netcore Smartech is a leading cloud-hosted campaign management and marketing automation program focusing on business growth. It aims to help users deliver unparalleled customer experiences through its customer journey mapping, cross-channel automation, funnel analytics, and messaging tools. The Netcore Smartech platform is offered through a quote-based payment system. For estimates, contact the vendor.
Netcore Smartech is a leading cloud-hosted campaign management and marketing automation program focusing on business growth. It aims to help users deliver unparalleled customer experiences through its customer journey mapping, cross-channel automation, funnel analytics, and messaging tools. The Netcore Smartech platform is offered through a quote-based payment system. For estimates, contact the vendor.
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.
ActiveDEMAND is a flexible marketing platform for digital marketing agencies and marketers. ActiveDEMAND packages range from the full-featured call tracking application for the small business marketer to the powerful Marketing Agency Portal designed for digital marketing agencies with multi-client management needs. Engage and track prospects using the integrated, comprehensive call tracking module, do more with built-in email templates, landing pages and social media. Convert leads and prospects into customers using automated marketing to manage nurture campaigns, auto-replies and more. Retain customers and grow your repeat businesses with powerful newsletters, special promotions and more.
The best email marketing automation tools depend on your budget and email campaign goals. Here are some to consider. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2000 subscribers, so it’s a popular email marketing service to start with. Alternatives to MailChimp include Constant Contact and Aweber. If you need to include more features, try an email marketing software such as Hubspot or Infusionsoft, which many larger and small businesses use. Whichever you choose, you can easily hire an email campaign marketer to help you set up your personalized email address and create an email newsletter template.

I think this is the trickiest part of email – it’s like a tangled web that you really have to think through in terms of timing, delivery and most importantly, content! I know with your Internet Marketing for Smart People list, you promote the series at the sign-up. If you’re offering a cookie (i.e. ebook) for sign-ups, does it muddy the water too much to talk about the series as well?
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.

Customer.io is great for two kinds of uses: 1. Companies that are looking to get started with marketing automation and appreciate a lightweight UI (i.e. not your typical enterprise software) and 2. Companies that are looking for some more advanced functionality that requires flexibility and customization, and are willing to devote the developer resources to implement it. We happen to fall into the second category, which is why we chose Customer.io for our marketing automation needs at Woopra.
In case of doubt: the customer is expected to be more in control than today. Gartner, for instance, predicted that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of the relationship with a company without even talking to a human. Whether this will happen or not: fact is that the marketing industry and marketing automation continue to evolve and move towards an even more people-centric model, responding to digital signals and customer interactions, rather than heralding a campaign approach. We’ve been moving to a more buyer-driven buying reality for years now and it’s a channel-agnostic phenomenon.

The multichannel view offered by ActiveCampaign gets glimpses of a small business’s website while looking at users’ email and mobile devices. Its campaign builder helps entrepreneurs design marketing collateral, and the platform consolidates customer data so these insights can impact the email, SMS, and CRM options ActiveCampaign offers. This data also allows business owners to create segments.

As of mid-2016 email deliverability is still an issue for legitimate marketers. According to the report, legitimate email servers averaged a delivery rate of 73% in the U.S.; six percent were filtered as spam, and 22% were missing. This lags behind other countries: Australia delivers at 90%, Canada at 89%, Britain at 88%, France at 84%, Germany at 80% and Brazil at 79%.[8]


Transactional emails are usually triggered based on a customer's action with a company. To be qualified as transactional or relationship messages, these communications' primary purpose must be "to facilitate, complete, or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient has previously agreed to enter into with the sender" along with a few other narrow definitions of transactional messaging.[3] Triggered transactional messages include dropped basket messages, password reset emails, purchase or order confirmation emails, order status emails, reorder emails, and email receipts.
To help entrepreneurs determine how successful their efforts have been, the brand delivers weekly reports and customized engagement scoring; it also spotlights the outcome of A/B tests. Delivra’s Drag & Drop Editor and Image Editor can lend a helping hand to less-than-artistic entrepreneurs who need to design and package their messaging. And for small businesses wanting to tie their marketing efforts directly to their e-commerce stores, Delivra integrates with multiple systems to enable small businesses to segment shoppers and re-engage them.
Autoresponders were built for you to send a single email based on a contact's action. Mailchimp's newer marketing automation feature offers many more options, including the ability to schedule multiple emails based on many trigger activities. Although we strongly recommend you take advantage of this powerful tool, you can continue to use legacy autoresponders in your account.

Hey Sonia – Admittedly, I don’t have an autoresponder. I do have a welcome message for folks, but not an ongoing drip-drip-drip autoresponder series like you mentioned. Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, I’m not sure how to best integrate it into the other emails they’re receiving from me (blog posts and/or monthly e-letter) without overwhelming them as others have mentioned. Any thoughts?


Constant Contact is an email marketing software serving over 650,000 small businesses and startups. Known for its intuitive yet user-friendly features, this platform is packed with tools for emailing automation, social media management, and contact tracking. Constant Contact has two monthly payment packages: Email starting at $20 and Email Plus starting at $45. For your convenience, they offer a free 60-day trial.
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.
Proactive Lead Generation. When it comes to digital marketing, you must not only create eye-catching ads and other promotional materials; you must also create quality content to highlight your business’ presence on the internet. With TechValidate, you can collect data directly from your clients, collage the information, and publish the content on your site or on social media, boosting the chances of lead generation.
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.
ThriveHive is marketing platform that empowers small business owners to grow their businesses through better marketing. The platform includes all of the essential online marketing tools and guidance necessary to get small business owners online and to succeed with marketing. ThriveHive is guided marketing for small business. Features Include: Better Website (optional) - Professionally built or DIY Customized Marketing Plan - Plans that work for small businesses Marketing Platform- All of your marketing in one place Contact Manager - Manage leads & customers Email - Send & track emails & newsletters Blog & Social Media - Create blog & social media posts Insight Emails - Marketing & lead notifications Marketing Coach - One-on-one expert marketing help Managed Advertising - Google AdWords & More
Delivra is an email marketing software platform that has helped organizations execute effective marketing campaigns for more than 15 years. Known for its industry expertise and unrivaled customer service, Delivra helps businesses engage in meaningful conversations with customers that produce tangible results. Delivra empowers organizations to achieve business goals through a suite of professional services, including strategic campaign consulting, email design, content strategy and more. Delivra has implemented dynamic marketing solutions for more than 1000 companies representing varying industries. Delivra makes it easy to build and send impactful email marketing campaigns, offering an easy-to-use drag and drop editor to customize content. The software’s marketing automation capabilities also allow users to strategically plot out an entire email series, determining which mailings are sent based on a variety of subscriber actions, inactions or time. For companies with an e-commerce component, Delivra’s Commerce Package enables email marketing tactics specific to customer re-engagement, cart recovery, automation, and customer retention. Online merchants get all the powerful features of the Delivra platform in addition to custom integrations designed for e-commerce. Delivra works with a wide variety of CRM’s, e-commerce platforms, and web analytics tools so all marketing data is available in one place. The software either plugs right into the technology a company is already using, or Delivra builds out a custom integration to ensure that it does.

The brand’s goal is to scale with businesses as they expand so they can see true growth without the hiccup of finding other tools. And its marketing analytics tool spurs some of that growth by showing business owners the outcomes of their historical efforts and projecting how their future attempts will pan out. These insights, combined with ONTRAPORT’s Campaign Builder — which allows entrepreneurs to set goals and base their automation on achieving those goals — give small businesses the opportunity to customize.


What should be the time frame between sends? At the beginning, you want to ensure that you do not take too long between sends. Your subscribers have just signed up and are enthusiastic about receiving your communication, so take advantage of that enthusiasm.While once daily is too frequent, you can begin by spacing your emails out with only a day in between. After that, extend the time between to three days. As you get to the tail end of your auto responder, meaning that you are getting to the least engaged customers who have not converted and may mark you as spam or opt-out of the email, begin to stretch things out by five days or even a week. Many email marketing service providers will allow you to also mark days of the week that you don't want your auto responder to send, so you may want to eliminate weekend email sends of auto responders. Email open rates are lower on weekends.
Promotional emails are one of the most economical ways for any business to connect with customers. Research shows a message is five times more likely to be seen through email than on social media like Facebook or Twitter. That’s why musicians use email marketing software to share their performance schedule with their fans, non-profits use it to get donations and photographers use it to promote their portrait services. It just works.
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.”
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