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.
In a post at the MailChimp blog, Goat Milk Stuff cofounder PJ Jonas said that while she and her husband Jim (and their eight children, who also help run the company) diligently collected emails during trade shows, they wanted to expand without compromising their business’ approachable, family-friendly values. Surprisingly, email marketing allowed them to do both.
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.
Most marketing automation software is sold as a platform — an integrated suite of tools with a feature set. The automation tools, and the specific capabilities of each tool, of course vary from platform to platform. That said, you can expect most marketing automation platforms to have tools and features to assist or automate the management of the following:
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.
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.
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.)
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.
At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon -- that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.
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.
Automation also provides opportunities for personalization. Each interaction with an email or your website can trigger a follow-up based on those activities. What’s more personalized than a user experience specifically tailored to an individual’s interests? It will make your subscribers feel like you’re completely attuned to their needs and that you care about what’s important to them.

That means we should treat them like a real person, not a fragmented self across different tools like email, social media, etc. If we can leverage all the marketing tools, channels and behavioral data possible to paint a complete picture of a person, we can nurture them based on their unique challenges and interests, not based solely on the emails they open or click through.


Thanks Donna – I agree. There’s so much scope for integration with marketing automation software that it would literally take a team of thousands to build all of the plugins and functionality in a short time frame. Ontraport / Infusionsoft are very similar to Salesforce in a way, by using the developer community to build the functionality around their product (which adds value to both Ontraport and their products & services).
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.

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

Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.
Marketing Automation is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) or customer experience management (CXM) that focuses on the definition, segmentation, scheduling and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible. Marketing Automation can be defined as a process where technology is used to automate several repetitive tasks that are undertaken on a regular basis in a marketing campaign. A tool that allows an individual to design, execute and automate a time-bound marketing workflow can be called a Marketing Automation platform.[citation needed]
We also love how consistent the design of Uber's emails is with its brand. Like its app, website, social media photos, and other parts of the visual branding, the emails are represented by bright colors and geometric patterns. All of its communications and marketing assets tell the brand's story -- and brand consistency is one tactic Uber's nailed in order to gain brand loyalty.
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.
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.
How complicated and how deep your campaigns run is determined by which vendor you choose. For example, HubSpot and Pardot both offer unlimited email and unlimited sequencing options. This means you can create a workflow with multiple branches for each stage of the sequence, and you can create an unlimited number of sequences (not that you would). Conversely, Zoho Campaigns is mostly designed for users who want to follow customary workflows that guide users on basic sequences. As a result, Zoho Campaigns doesn't offer unlimited sequencing or branching. This tool is perfectly suitable for marketers who just want to make an offer after a welcome email or for marketers who want to wish people a happy birthday once a year.
Marketing Automation platforms allow marketers to automate and simplify client communication by managing complex omni-channel marketing strategies from a single tool. Marketing Automation assist greatly in areas like Lead Generation, Segmentation, Lead nurturing and lead scoring, Relationship marketing, Cross-sell and upsell, Retention, Marketing ROI measurement.

Quality Features, Powerful Integrations. TechValidate is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to have flexibility in their marketing endeavours. It is packed with a plethora of scalable features that improve your content, streamline your workflow, and increase the efficacy of your marketing campaign. It can also support a multitude of powerful integrations.

In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
One of the first questions new (and even experienced) marketers often ask is: “What’s the best autoresponder service or email marketing tool?”  Autoresponders and email marketing tools are some of the most important parts of your business. You use it to follow-up with customers. To keep people coming back to your site. To build loyalty. To make sales. Yet the answer is often not so clear cut. Do you want the highest deliverability possible? Do you want to import offline contacts? Do you want to integrate your list management with a shopping cart? Do you want to spend $20 a month or $500 a month? The answer to these questions all yield very different answers. Here are the top 10 autoresponder tools on the market, along with who they’re for and what they’re capable of.
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.
In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
Multi-Channel Marketing Support. In today’s marketing landscape, you need to use various communication platforms to stay competitive. Luckily, ReportGarden can support multiple channels in one convenient interface. Whether your social marketing campaign involves, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other sites, you can boost it without having to leave your marketing software.
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.
Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.

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


Of course, the site’s commitment to quality content was a major factor. In fact, I actually signed up for the DIY Natural newsletter as I was researching this article. My wife and I share similar views on self-reliance and sustainability as Matt and Betsy, and we already make our own laundry detergent and other household items (including ghee). As such, DIY Natural’s content is perfect for us, and exactly the type of content I’d like to see in my inbox every week.

When thinking about the five types of email marketing described previously, auto responders are almost exclusively used for customer acquisition email marketing. Your existing customers may respond well to an auto-responder campaign, but chances are high that the best place in your marketing mix for auto-responders is when trying to acquire new customers.
Propsect.io does one very specific part of marketing automation (finding cold leads and engaging them to become warm), but it does it very well. One particularly good feature about Prospect.io that’s not easy to find elsewhere is that the automation emails can be triggered directly from your mail server (e.g. G Suite or Microsoft Exchange) so your emails appear identical to if you had sent them manually.

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?
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.
Newsletters can be sent to the email list you've built from the people who provided the necessary information on your website, for instance, providing these potential customers with news updates about your company, upcoming events and/or special offers – and, of course, reminding them that your business exists and that maybe it's time for another visit.
Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.
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