When people talk about email marketing, lots of them forget to mention transactional emails. These are the automated emails you get in your inbox after taking a certain action on a website. This could be anything from filling out a form, to purchasing a product, to updating you on the progress of your order. Often, these are plain text emails that marketers set and forget.
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/

Netsuite is an advanced marketing automation software capable of automating various marketing specific processes, flows, and tasks. You can use the platform to create multiple campaigns and align the same with your sales team. The execution of multiple marketing campaigns driven by email, social media, event management, and others can be streamlined effortlessly using Netsuite.
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.
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.
The first thing to do, of course, is consider whether you want to include auto responders in your marketing mix. You'll need to be sure to find an email marketing provider that supports auto-responder functionality (not all of them do, though Comm100 does support auto-responder functionality). Then, when considering developing an auto responder program, you'll want to consider all of the following points:
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.

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.


Particular groups of customers can be targeted or even individuals. Offering individual customers special deals on merchandise and/or services on the customer's birthday, for instance, is one example of email marketing personalization. (A restaurant might send an email to customers on their birthday offering 50% off an entree,) Email marketing helps a business develop and maintain a relationship with a customer over time that hopefully results in increased sales and increased customer loyalty. 
SendPulse enables you to reach your customers through multiple channels be it automated emails, web push notifications or SMS. Targeted at small and midsize businesses SendPulse offers one of the most affordable solutions on the market with up to 2500 subscribers free plan and free web push notifications. Capture leads with subscription forms and nurture them with automated messages triggered by your customers’ behaviour.

Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles.


HubSpot is all about inbound marketing, and it offers a free CRM that helps businesses organize and track customers — as HubSpot says, its CRM “automates the tasks salespeople hate.” The platform tracks interactions automatically, and it compiles data about deals on a single dashboard so the entire journey is visible. Beyond its CRM, the brand offers blogging, landing pages, email, lead management, analytics, web, social media, SEO, ads, and integration with Salesforce.
If you select Custom, a small calendar will appear. Use the arrows to navigate between months and click your preferred start date. Then, enter a start time at the bottom of the calendar, and select AM or PM from the menu. Finally, click anywhere outside of the calendar box to save the configuration and close the calendar. Your chosen date and time will appear next to the Start option.
When a subscriber is sorted into a segment, it can trigger an automation to send to them. Each person’s interactions with your email campaigns or your website can trigger a sequence of follow-up emails based on their interests, allowing you to hone your message to your targeted audience. For example, if someone visits your pricing page, you know they’re probably further down your sales funnel and will want to follow-up appropriately. Or if they went to a specific product page or clicked on a link for that product, you can send additional information about the product, testimonials and more.
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.

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?
Top marketing automation tools go hand in hand with a software solution that works for company-wide automation. A CRM platform that can be used by everybody from the top down, in order to create that seamless omnichannel experience that customers are looking for. However, this just scratches the surface of the kinds of features that a marketing manager should be looking for when deciding which marketing automation tools to implement.
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.

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.
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?
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.
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.
Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.
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?”).
Optimizely is an online marketing platform focusing on website development. Having served more than 6000 companies, they optimize and streamline digital experiences for businesses and customers alike. The software offers behavioral audience targeting and analytics tools to help you take out the digital guesswork and create smarter business decisions based on hard facts. It is also backed with an enterprise-grade security system to keep your data protected. For pricing, they offer three quote-based subscription packages based on your business’ needs.
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?

Hopefully with our list of top 20 marketing automation software solutions for small business and comprehensive marketing automation software 2019 comparison, you were able to find the right platform to help you with your campaigns. If you are still undecided about investing in a program, be sure to check out our guidelines on choosing a marketing platform.


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
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.
Use it as a lead magnet/free mini-course. You can also use an autoresponder as a lead magnet to attract new subscribers to your email list. This is commonly done in the form of a free “mini-course”, or a free “challenge”, which promises to deliver a series of emails containing lessons (or other valuable information) over the course of several days or weeks. There is a high perceived value with a mini-course or a challenge like this, which makes it a very effective lead magnet.
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