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 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]

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.
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.

The question then, is this: how does a marketing manager look past those good marketing automation tools, and find the best marketing automation tools? As mentioned, it starts with knowing what the customer wants, but the next step is to know which features will give them that. With that in mind, here are some features to look for in an effective marketing automation tool.
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.
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.
Iterable is the growth marketing platform that enables brands to create, execute and optimize campaigns to power world-class customer engagement across email, push, SMS, in-app and more with unparalleled data flexibility. An integrated, cross-channel solution—built for marketers, trusted by engineers, designed with intelligence. Lifecycle Marketing Made Simple Engage your customers at each touchpoint of their buying journey—from sign-up to check-out and beyond. Drive user activation, nurture, and reactivation with relevant cross-channel messaging. Warmer Welcomes Activate consumer attention and interest with stand-out content that makes an impactful first impression. Get new customers acquainted with your products and services with personalized welcome, trial and onboarding campaigns. Next-Gen Nurture Captivate customers to build rapport for the long term and strengthen their relationship with your brand. Stay top-of-mind with targeted sales, promotions, announcements and product updates across all the channels that matter most to your audience. Robust Re-Engagement Keep customers coming back for more by reactivating their interest to drive retention and loyalty. Deploy cart abandonment campaigns to complete more checkouts, then trigger post-purchase or renewal sequences when the time is right.
This article is informative, but it does not offer distinguishing features between the services covered (other than mailchimp is free). You seemed to go to great lengths to say good things about each – although I’m sure each services has positive aspects. I would have benefited much more from a rating of some sort of the various features of each service, or at least the pros & cons of each.
When your marketing is automated, it’s easy to capture tons of data. Let your marketing automation platform take the next step and crunch the numbers for you, yielding insights and alerts to help you tweak active campaigns and more effectively plan new ones. If your marketing and CRM are integrated, it’s also a snap to tie ROI directly back to campaigns and other marketing activities using closed-loop reporting.
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 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.

VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.

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.
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.
Meet Pardot: B2B marketing automation on the world's #1 CRM. Pardot empowers marketing and sales teams to work together to find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize return on investment. Pardot's lead management features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting to help marketing and sales teams work together to generate and qualify sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and track marketing ROI. Track all prospect interactions on your site — from downloads to page views — then score prospects based on parameters you set. Put time back into your sales reps’ day with automated lead nurturing and real-time sales alerts, which allow reps to prioritize their time. Then, measure the true ROI of your marketing efforts with closed-loop reporting. Accelerate pipeline, drive revenue, and align marketing and sales with Pardot Marketing Automation. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1yhEwPa
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.
An auto responder campaign is one of six campaign types and is used to send a one-time email to contacts after they subscribe to your list. You can use this campaign type to send a "Welcome" message to contacts as soon as they subscribe to your list, or use it to send a "Check in" message a certain number of days/hours after contacts subscribe to your list.  
Infusionsoft has found that its automation platform saves users about 28 hours per month when it’s integrated with users’ other systems. That platform automates lead capture and follow-ups based on user activity and collects data about customers to enable personalization. Its analytics reports shine a light on what’s working, what’s not, and what the current ROI is for any campaign.

Infusionsoft is the only drag-and-drop tool we tested, which is a nifty feature for marketers who may wish to work on touchscreens or don't have time to deal with lengthy drop-down menus. It also provides unique tag removal that automatically pulls contacts from campaigns if they perform a certain action. For example, if contacts don't open three emails in a row, then you can set the tool to remove all such contacts from the workflow. This way, you're not sending messages into a vacuum. The tool also gives you the most useful real-time alert dashboard of any that we tested in this class. It lets you see every contact interaction with anyone in your database. So, if you sent an email to someone a week ago but they just opened it this second, then you'll see their name pop up at the top of your dashboard. From this tab, you can send a follow-up email or adjust the contact's standing within the specific workflow.


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.
MailChimp is a fantastic place for beginning marketers to get started. Their “forever free” plan allows you to create a list on MailChimp for free as long as your list is under 500 users. When you’re just starting out, that’s more than enough. If you don’t want to start paying for autoresponders yet, go ahead and give MailChimp a shot, it is a great first step as an email marketing tool.
Be sure to look at the tech support offered by each of these companies, as we felt many weren't as available as we would have liked. You'll find that some offer 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email help, while others leave you to rely on online documentation and limited live support hours. The best services offer a combination of self-serve help resources—where you can search FAQs and articles to find your own answers—as well as live support via chat or phone when you can't solve an issue yourself. We cover all of these concerns in our reviews, plus you can get an overview in the feature chart above.
NAVIK MarketingAI is a cloud-hosted marketing automation platform built by absolutdata. Its aim is to help users improve the impact of their campaigns through hyper personalization, campaign simulators, dynamic micro segmentations, predicted behavior models, and other features. NAVIK MarketingAI also offers next best action recommendations, to make decision making processes are easier. As for their payment plans, they are offered on a by-quote basis, so you will have to contact the provider for their enterprise pricing information.
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The adagio in marketing automation, content marketing, inbound marketing, content management and even email marketing is ‘providing the right information to the right people at the right time across the right channels’. Overlapping umbrella terms that in practice mainly focus on the message dimension, often even when it concerns timing (“What is the best time to xyz?”).

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.
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.
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.
In addition to linking to Letter Shoppe's designs (available on merchandise that is ultimately sold by Redbubble), the email campaign includes an endearing quote by the Featured Artist: "Never compromise on your values, and only do work you want to get more of." Redbubble's customers are likely to agree -- and open other emails in this campaign for more inspiring quotes.
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