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.
From A/B testing of messages to SEO and social listening, automated campaign management handles the gathering and processing of marketing data, so you can focus on strategy. From qualifying leads and managing nurture campaigns, to analyzing ROI data across multiple channels, automated campaign management systems allow you to design, deploy, and monitor marketing activities without having to manually tend to every last step in the process.
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.
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).
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.
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.
We were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car (if, for example, you were a car manufacturer).
Purchased lists are ineffective, and they impact everyone else who uses Mailchimp, too. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact info you bought, many of the emails will get identified as spam. Some spam filters will flag a campaign if anyone with the same IP has sent spam in the past. When you use Mailchimp, your email is delivered through our servers, so if one person sends spam, it could prevent other users’ emails from reaching inboxes. But by forbidding Mailchimp users from using purchased lists, we increase deliverability for everyone.
Marketing activity involves many repetitive tasks such as sending out bulk emails, managing campaigns, social media marketing, website analysis, and more. Managing these tasks manually is not only tedious and time-consuming but can also create scope for manual errors. Marketing Automation can help in making these tasks much easier and this, in turn, can help business prosper. It is a part of Customer Relationship Management or CRM.
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

As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
Crafting your brand voice in your email marketing messages will let your business show some personality and create engagement. Remember to think of your emails as a conversation and simply not a place for you to blast your message through a megaphone. You’ve received permission to send to your subscribers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to nurture a relationship with them.

ONTRAPORT’s mission is to “support entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology.” It aims to do this by allowing companies to get a complete visualization of the customer journey. Knowing that many small businesses struggle to gain a clear understanding of how their marketing efforts are paying off, ONTRAPORT is built to help them see how customers respond to messages — via SMS, email, postcards, and landing pages — through data. This information, in turn, can be used to build compelling campaigns within the platform.
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.

There are plenty of benefits to be had when you utilize marketing programs; you can improve message targeting, get better leads, and increase conversion. A study by HigherLogic found that most businesses use marketing automation mainly to leverage the technology with their primary business goals. These basic goals include enhancing their overall business efficiency, advance event turnouts, and increase membership. 
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.
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.
If you’re producing effective inbound marketing content, you’re generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your successful efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers. Below are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business.
There are plenty of benefits to be had when you utilize marketing programs; you can improve message targeting, get better leads, and increase conversion. A study by HigherLogic found that most businesses use marketing automation mainly to leverage the technology with their primary business goals. These basic goals include enhancing their overall business efficiency, advance event turnouts, and increase membership. 
Fundraising software is a variety of tools developed to make fundraising efficient, effective and easier for your organization and donors. This is utilized by organizations to streamline fundraising efforts and ease logistical challenges to focus on establishing stronger donor relationships and driving more donations. It comes in various types depending on the campaigns you are…
What we liked: MailerLite’s ease of use makes it an ideal tool for getting started with autoresponders – even beginners can master setting up emails and campaigns fairly quickly. And it’s great that you can use most of the features completely free of charge (as long as you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers). If you do need to upgrade, it’s one of the most competitively priced providers on the market – so it’s a great way to set up cheap autoresponders.
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.
If rounds of split testing, segmentation, and resends still result in low engagement scores for some of your subscribers then don’t be afraid to clean your list. Review subscriber data regularly to monitor activity and engagement ratings. Remove or further segment those who aren’t engaging in order to improve the overall open rates of your primary subscriber segments.
Companies considering the use of an email marketing program must make sure that their program does not violate spam laws such as the United States' Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM),[10] the European Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, or their Internet service provider's acceptable use policy.

Before doing a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons, or the pricing comparisons, it’s important to know what to look out for. It is common to come across complaints about automation tools being incompatible with CRM and performance issues reported one month down the line. That can be painful. Companies that do not carry out a detailed research and miss out the fine print can end up burning their fingers by the sliding scale pricing structures and unexpected additional costs.
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.
Hello Sharon, thank you for this extensive article, liked it a lot!:) Could you please specify in more details the way you grouped these apps? It’s clear about email testing, list building, tracking and monitoring tools. But.. what is the difference between drip email tools, email newsletter apps and integrated marketing automation tools… All of them about automating your email marketing. Is it about different ways to automate it? Unfortunately, it is still not clear for me. Please help me get it right:)

It is not an easy task as there are several things that must be considered. Your choice of marketing automation tool will depend on the size and spread of your brand. While some platforms do a great job with emails, others excel in social media management and analytics. You will also have to take into account user-friendliness and the simplicity of the interface while handling the seemingly complex software.
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.
No matter how effective the subject line you’ll always have subscribers who don’t open it for a variety of reasons. Send your email again specifically targeting a list segment of those who didn’t open the first time around. Not only is this a second chance in case they just missed the first email, it’s another opportunity to further split test subject lines as well as send times.
Similar to standard email marketing software vendors, marketing automation software vendors have created workflow templates that help guide you through the automation process. This way, you don't have to build new sequences from scratch. These templates usually start with a basic interaction, such as a "Welcome" or a "Thank you for making a purchase" message. Once a contact receives the initial email, he or she is guided through a sequence based on his or her actions. For example, if John receives a welcome message and he clicks a link to an offer, then that action automatically pulls him onto a distinct email marketing journey. Conversely, if Sally deletes her welcome message, then she may automatically be pulled off the workflow to conserve your email output.
Behavior-Based Email Marketing. Email blasts have the tendency to come off as impersonal, so more often than not, they get ignored or overlooked. Make the most out of your emails using SharpSpring’s behavior-based marketing feature. Unlike fully automated email marketing tools, this lets you create personal messages that your leads will appreciate.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.

Constant Contacts is an email marketing service, created to strengthen email marketing practices of small businesses, associations, nonprofits organizations, etc. It offers WYSIWYG editor to create an email campaign, secure contacts list management, social stats reporting tools, images/texts import feature, real-time tracking of your email campaign, etc.
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.
Whether you already have a list of subscribers or are starting from scratch, email marketing services can help. All of the services we cover let you add contacts manually using copy and paste or by uploading CSV or Microsoft Excel files. Some integrate with third-party software enabling you to import Gmail and other webmail contacts, Salesforce.com and other customer relationship management (CRM) data, or other software where you might have contacts stored. Depending on the size and location of your list, third-party integration could be key. Verify whether you can export contacts as well (and how easy it is to do so) should you leave the service. Managing users who unsubscribe should also be easy so you're not accidentally contacting anyone who has opted out of your newsletters.
Klaviyo is a modern marketing platform that lets ecommerce brands build an unlimited number of high-value customer relationships. Unlike other software, Klaviyo does not force you to trade off between ease of use and powerful functionality—and that means merchants can take advantage of the most impactful email and Facebook strategies without slowing down. That’s why over 10,000 innovative ecommerce brands like Brooklinen, Bonobos, and Outdoor Voices power their marketing with Klaviyo.
Yes, we update it once a year to keep it relevant. We’ve actually updated it twice in 2018 due to some of the bigger changes in the marketing automation landscape this year. Notably, we’ve included a few new vendors that have become quite popular (Prospect, SendinBlue) and removed some of the older ones that were declining in popularity (e.g. Eloqua).

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business, whether your goal is to build your brand or sell more stuff. Our field guide provides everything you need to know to make the most of this platform. Learn how to create an email marketing plan, design effective emails, and test them. Then discover the power of automation and how to measure the success of your emails.
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