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.
Unsubscribe rate. Unsubscribes are always going to happen no matter what, and that’s usually OK because those people probably would never have bought from you anyway. However, a high unsubscribe rate can indicate that you are losing potential customers. Check the following: Why did people subscribe to your list in the first place, and are you delivering on that promise? Is the content of your autoresponder highly relevant to the segment it is being sent to? Are you sending too many sales emails with too little value emails? (Recommended reading: 5 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe from Your Email List.)
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.
However, as email marketing developed as an effective means of direct communication, in the 1990s, users increasingly began referring to it as "spam", and began blocking out content from emails with filters and blocking programs. In order to effectively communicate a message through email, marketers had to develop a way of pushing content through to the end user, without being cut out by automatic filters and spam removing software.
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)
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

Getting started shouldn't be daunting. Generally, you'll know right away whether you like a user interface (UI) or not, and most of the contenders we reviewed offer free trials so you can poke around before dropping any cash. Luckily, most of these services have modern-looking graphics and uncluttered layouts. These are not the complex business software UIs of yesterday. Be careful, though, as some free trials require a credit card. This means you need to be sure to cancel your trial before you're billed if you're not happy with the service.

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.
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
GoDaddy Email Marketing provides great statistics to show you how many people are opening, engaging with and sharing your email. There’s no mystery or guesswork. You can even compare different emails side-by-side to quickly see which emails get the best response. Once you know what appeals to your readers, you can refine your emails for even better results.
However, as email marketing developed as an effective means of direct communication, in the 1990s, users increasingly began referring to it as "spam", and began blocking out content from emails with filters and blocking programs. In order to effectively communicate a message through email, marketers had to develop a way of pushing content through to the end user, without being cut out by automatic filters and spam removing software.
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.
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:
I really like that the autoresponder can be configured to very specific times. I also like that it cannot respond to other autoresponder messages because it means therefore that the process would repeat over and over perpetually. Also, the fact that it cannot send messages multiple times to the same email is important otherwise it would be very annoying to the other party.
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.
However, the term “marketing automation” has become a buzz-word, where marketers seek out marketing automation software under the impression that all of the digital marketing tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads, roll up under the hood of marketing automation. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.
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.
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?
Lead Liaison is a cloud-based sales and marketing automation solution that helps businesses accelerate sales by attracting, converting, closing and retaining more prospects. Filling a void in the small pool of marketing automation providers that focus on marketing-centric functionality, Lead Liaison gives equal focus to sales support with solutions such as a hot-lead dashboard, Buy Signals and a live ticker alert of businesses on the customer’s website. Lead Liaison blends ease-of-use, a flexible business model, deep external integration, marketing across social, web, mobile, email and offline channels and powerful functionality, all specifically tailored for small to mid-sized businesses, into a single platform, called Revenue Generation Software®. Lead Liaison offers clients the highest value per dollar of any industry provider. Additionally, Lead Liaison provides content creation services leveraged for communication vehicles such as press releases, blog posts, emails, and posts on social media platforms. Founded in 2013, Lead Liaison is headquartered in Allen, Texas, near Dallas, and employs 19 people. For more information, visit www.leadliaison.com or call 1-800-89-LEADS (895-3237).

For example, if you set up an autoresponder with an interval of 24, and you receive an email from john@example.com at 8 am on Monday, the autoresponder will respond to his message immediately. If, however, john@example.com continues to email you throughout the day, the autoresponder will not send him another response for 24 hours after his initial email (in this case, 8 am Tuesday). If he emails you again after the 24-hour interval expires, he will receive an auto response.


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.
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