A lead magnet (a.k.a. an optin bribe) is something amazing that you give away for free in exchange for an email address. This doesn’t have to cost you anything to create; most lead magnets are digital materials like PDFs, MP3 audio files, or videos that you can create yourself at minimal or no cost. It can be absolutely anything you want, so long as it provides value to your visitors for free.


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).
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
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.

Automation is a surefire way for small businesses to save time and money, and marketing is the perfect arena for doing so: Marketing automation maintains brand messaging while reaching thousands more people than a single person ever could. The key is simply determining which platform fits your company best so you can save even more time while building your bottom line.
Email marketing is a simple and proven strategy to promote your business. It attracts new customers and helps maintain close relationships with loyal customers. There's a long list of email marketing services available today and most operate at relatively low prices, with packages to fit every business size and need. It's just a matter of determining which features and tools you need and how much you're willing to spend.
ActiveCampaign is a business marketing application designed for small companies. Used by over 100,000 people globally, this all-in-one software has all the tools you need to boost your business from marketing automation and sales CRM to smart emailing and data analysis. Should you encounter problems with their system, they also offer in-depth training and customer support. ActiveCampaign is available in four pricing plans ranging from $15 monthly to $279 monthly. They also offer yearly subscription options for your convenience.
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.
All-in-One Marketing System. As mentioned earlier, HubSpot marketing has all the necessary marketing automation features you need to launch your campaign. It lets you generate more traffic, convert leads, and track your marketing funnel without having to spend on other software to back it up. You may, however, choose from their available integrations to further enhance its performance.
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.

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.
BuzzFeed – The popular news and entertainment website earns revenue by selling advertisements on their site, so the key objective of their marketing team is to drive more traffic. With that in mind, BuzzFeed sends regular email newsletters containing links to stories on their website with the goal of increasing the number of visits they get each month and increasing the amount of revenue they generate.
ActiveCampaign offers email marketing service with third-party integration and auto-responses of various types.  ActiveCampaign can create and send out emails for different activities and purposes. The software is also designed to track website activities and events and provide real time analytics based on the results. ActiveCampaign is also useful for garnering customer data in an organized manner.
Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a revie... See Full Bio
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.
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.
Treat your list well. Remember that the people you're using email to communicate with have trusted you with their email and name; they deserve your respect. Just as you deserve as a chance to convert them from customers to fans and even evangelists for your brand, people who want to talk about and share your message and get involved in any way they can.
Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) firms have longer sales cycles and engage in more relationship building activities. Businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) rely more on brand and high-volume direct outreach efforts. This overview aims to improve understanding of how marketing software applications work and provide an update on trends every buyer should know.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was passed by Congress as a direct response to the growing number of complaints over spam emails.[citation needed] Congress determined that the US government was showing an increased interest in the regulation of commercial electronic mail nationally, that those who send commercial emails should not mislead recipients over the source or content of them, and that all recipients of such emails have a right to decline them. The act authorizes a US $16,000 penalty per violation for spamming each individual recipient.[19] However, it does not ban spam emailing outright, but imposes laws on using deceptive marketing methods through headings which are "materially false or misleading". In addition there are conditions which email marketers must meet in terms of their format, their content and labeling. As a result, many commercial email marketers within the United States utilize a service or special software to ensure compliance with the act. A variety of older systems exist that do not ensure compliance with the act. To comply with the act's regulation of commercial email, services also typically require users to authenticate their return address and include a valid physical address, provide a one-click unsubscribe feature, and prohibit importing lists of purchased addresses that may not have given valid permission.[citation needed]

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.
HubSpot heavily relies on list building to help you manage your workflows. The tool lets you shrink (or grow) your lists in the same way you would narrow down products on Amazon or eBay, a feature which is incredibly straightforward and fast. When you add a URL to a contact record, HubSpot will automatically pull in demographic information, such as the contact's company location and number of employees. You can email a contact directly from the Contact Record, and you can make a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) call if you have turned on this paid feature of HubSpot Sales. This integration lets you log and save call information within each contact record so there is a transparent history of which marketers and sales professionals interacted with contacts. You can also schedule interactions with contacts. You won't find these features on the other platforms we reviewed.
HubSpot Marketing is a top-of-the-line inbound marketing software that focuses on growing traffic and increasing lead conversions. With robust tools for blogging, emailing, SEO, marketing automation, lead management, and analytics, this platform can give you the things you need to launch effective campaigns. The system also integrates with multiple CMSs, email service providers, eCommerce tools, and social networks. The vendor offers a great free trial plan for those who’d like to try out the key features of the product first. You can easily sign up for HubSpot Marketing free trial here.
Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.
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.
Don’t expect marketing automation software to craft dazzling copy and eye-catching visuals to bring those campaigns to life for you: Human creativity and a little elbow grease still carry the day. What you should expect from a good set of automation marketing tools is the ability to manage individual campaigns, cross-channel campaigns, and personalized 1-to-1 customer journeys based on those campaigns.

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.
NGDATA® helps brands in data-rich industries, such as financial services, telecom, media and entertainment, utilities and hospitality, to capitalize on emerging opportunities in their customer data and to drive profitable customer experiences by supercharging analytics and campaign efficiency. The company’s Intelligent Customer Data Platform (CDP) puts people at the center of every business via Customer DNA, which continuously learns from customer behavior and context in real-time. NGDATA partners with companies around the world to drive digital transformations. NGDATA is headquartered in Gent, Belgium and has offices in the United States, Europe & Asia-Pacific.

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.


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.
Having tackled what you should look for in a program, we can now move on to discussing our 20 best marketing automation software solutions for small businesses. If you’d like a more in-depth discussion on what these software solutions can do, you may read about the benefits of marketing automation software here . But, if you’re ready to check out our marketing automation software 2019 comparisons, then keep reading this article.

Use demographics, behavioral data, and other prospect information to separate hot leads from “just browsing.” Route leads into nurture and drip campaigns based on their qualifications. Every company scores leads a little differently, but the main goal is to identify the most promising leads for your organization at a given time or for a given campaign. A lead score assesses the activities that a prospect has engaged with on your website, for example, downloaded a datasheet, watched a demo video, or filled out a contact form. A lead grade is assigned by demographic information, such as industry, title, company information, or market size. The combination of the lead score and grade will signal to marketing and sales who’s hot and ready to purchase, and who needs more nurturing via a drip campaign.


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:
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.
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.  
However, the best timing is becoming more touchpoint-oriented and triggered, and less defined by general best practices. It is already the case in marketing automation but we still have a long way to go in order to shift to the personal touchpoint perspective. Again: this doesn’t mean that today’s approaches will disappear. Marketing is not black and white.
I don’t have a lot of patience for email marketing software in my role as Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief. I need a solution that is intuitive and allows me to focus on the creative message I want to communicate, rather than technical hurdles. I’m picky, and ConvertKit helps me achieve my goals without having to make any compromises in terms of functionality. — Stefanie Flaxman, Editor-in-Chief, Copyblogger

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?
Email marketing has evolved rapidly alongside the technological growth of the 21st century. Prior to this growth, when emails were novelties to the majority of customers, email marketing was not as effective. In 1978, Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) sent out the first mass email[1] to approximately 400 potential clients via the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). He claims that this resulted in $13 million worth of sales in DEC products,[2] and highlighted the potential of marketing through mass emails.
Just one subscriber and something to say, that’s it! Don’t wait to have a “large list”. Email Marketing has no limits in size, BIG or small. When it comes to using a tool like Benchmark, the last thing you want is to have to learn something new. That’s why Benchmark Email was created with familiar tools in mind. Here is how and what you will need to get started
Through Leadformly (a lead gen tool we own) we work with a lot of Salesforce/MC users looking to integrate our lead forms into their CRM/automation environment, and the complexity is much greater compared to more intuitively-designed tools such as ActiveCampaign, Hubspot etc. However, having all of the data in the Salesforce environment does have a reporting/tracking advantage – but nothing that can’t be achieved using other tools connected via tools like Zapier.
These are just some of the amazing features you'll find when using marketing automation software. As a result, it's important for you to determine your most needed features before making a purchase decision. None of the tools we tested are bad. In fact, each of them will provide you with more power than your standard email marketing platform will. However, some are better than others, some are more expensive, and some do a better job letting you customize your workflows to suit your specific needs.

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.
A while back, we were looking for a marketing automation tool ourselves. We researched, we talked to analysts, and we had deep dives with company reps. Since then, we’ve become very involved in the industry thanks to the complementary nature of analytics and marketing automation. We’ve even formed partnerships with several companies. Now finally, we present our top picks for marketing automation tools (in no particular order).

What is email marketing? Basically the use of email to promote products and/or services. But a better email marketing definition is the use of email to develop relationships with potential customers and/or clients. Email marketing is one segment of internet marketing, which encompasses online marketing via websites, social media, blogs, etc. It is essentially the same as direct mail except that instead of sending mail through the postal service, messages are sent electronically via email.
Autopilot is simple and visual customer journey software. We help you capture and convert new leads, connect with customers, and create loyal repeat buyers. LAUNCH IN MINUTES Autopilot’s visual canvas for creating customers journeys is inspired by drawing campaigns on a whiteboard. Whether you need to follow up with new contacts, qualify and assign leads to sales, or onboard customers, you can automate your marketing simply by dragging and connecting shapes together in just a few minutes. INTEGRATE POPULAR TOOLS Connect Autopilot with tools like Salesforce, Facebook, Segment, Slack, Typeform, Twilio, and Zapier. Or plug in your own using our API. By centralizing your data, you can create a personalized experience based on interests and behavior. Instantly trigger automated journeys to assign leads in Salesforce, follow up after LiveChat conversations, or add customers to a Facebook Custom Audience. CREATE MULTI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCES Create a better experience for you customers by sending targeted emails, in-app messages, SMS, and postcards at the right time in their journey. Allow subscribers to opt-in by texting a keyword to a number. Notify active customers of a new product feature when they log in to your app. Celebrate milestones or offer a special discount by sending a postcard as easily as automating an email. TRACK AND OPTIMIZE PERFORMANCE Set a goal for every journey to get insight into which messages convert and how journeys are trending. Track your performance in real-time, run A/B test experiments, and quickly optimize based on results. Autopilot has helped the Equality Campaign in Australia win the YES vote on gay marriage. It’s helped Microsoft communicate with and onboard new developers. It’s helped Patreon connect and educate creators to give them new revenue streams. And it’s helped hundreds of startups tell their story and grow their businesses. Are you ready to launch your next customer journey? We offer a 30-day free trial so you can try it out, no credit card required.

Auto-responders are an excellent offer or follow-up when someone gives up their email address. A short, topical sequence of 3-6 emails that deliver value to the reader are particularly effective. Linking back to your website or blog for ‘read-more’ achieves good tracking opportunities too. There are many email systems that will support and deliver this. The challenge is to identify the trigger event, and create engaging messages. Great discussion. Good luck.

The latest version of IBM Campaign brings many innovations to the sophisticated marketing team enabling you to work smarter and faster, and to keep your customers more engaged and loyal than ever. Marketers use IBM Campaign to maximize revenue and responses via personalized and optimized campaigns and offers. Increase results with powerful segmentation against the largest data sources and provide the right offers to the right contacts at the right time in the right channel. Boost ROI by optimizing contact communications and marketing spend. Choose to deploy fully to the cloud or on premise. Improve engagement and ROI: Easily integrate with the rest of your marketing ecosystem to seamlessly execute personalized, offline and digital campaigns to take your customers on targeted journeys. Work smarter and faster: With AI-powered Watson Assistant available with IBM Campaign, work smarter and drive to insights more quickly than ever. Save time, make better decisions and drive customer engagement. Optimize ownership for your enterprise: Choose the deployment and ownership approach that works best for your organization. Deploy on premise or via subscription and fully to the cloud — managed and hosted.
Paid Plan – The paid plan consists of multiple sub-plans & starts from $10/month for 2000 subscribers. The list of features includes advanced list segmentation, 3rd party integrations, custom opt-in forms, removal of Moosend branding etc. Take a look at some of the other cost schemes with different number of subscribers & unlimited email campaigns:-
If you’re managing a list in the hundreds, thousands or low tens of thousands and you only collect leads through the internet, then there’s no better service than Aweber. Aweber doesn’t really allow you to add leads from offline sources. However, for online lists, Aweber sports the best deliverability ratings on the market. If you’re primarily using online opt-in forms, use Aweber. Your emails will get delivered, opened and clicked on.

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.
“We sent some newsletters where we gave customers a choice of which special they wanted,” said PJ. “Either a 20% discount or free shipping. What we discovered was that some people always choose the discount, and some always choose the shipping—it’s not necessarily which special saves them more money. So we took that information and now we alternate our specials.”
HubSpot Marketing is a top-of-the-line inbound marketing software that focuses on growing traffic and increasing lead conversions. With robust tools for blogging, emailing, SEO, marketing automation, lead management, and analytics, this platform can give you the things you need to launch effective campaigns. The system also integrates with multiple CMSs, email service providers, eCommerce tools, and social networks. The vendor offers a great free trial plan for those who’d like to try out the key features of the product first. You can easily sign up for HubSpot Marketing free trial here.
Oracle Bronto is the premier cloud-based marketing platform for commerce. With an advanced marketing automation engine and solutions for browser and shopping cart abandonment, recommendations, post-purchase campaigns and powerful ecommerce integrations, the Bronto Marketing Platform helps marketers maximize engagement and drive revenue by automating targeted, personalized email and cross-channel marketing campaigns at scale. Bronto offers a full suite of enterprise features and an extensive array of partner integrations to help commerce marketers accomplish more, while saving time and resources. Over 1400 brands worldwide rely on Bronto, including a client roster of high-growth brands, including Rebecca Minkoff, Lucky Brand, Theory, Timex, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks. For more information, visit bronto.com.
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).

We’ve identified a range of leading marketing automation tools offering robust features and capabilities to simplify many otherwise time-consuming marketing activities. While the following tools and apps aren’t listed in any particular order, this list represents 57 tools worth taking a look at if you’re seeking ways to streamline one or more marketing functions.
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]
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.
When you create a Mailchimp account, we automatically set you up with a no-cost Forever Free plan. This option allows you to experiment with our tools and figure out how to best use our platform. So if you’re just getting off the ground, this is one less cost you have to consider. You can remain on the Forever Free plan as long as you have 2,000 or fewer subscribers across all lists in your account.
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