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
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
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.
Advanced list management features whereby some marketing automation solutions are often ‘de facto’ also used as CRM tools since they offer so many features in this regard. However, virtually all marketing automation software also connects with different CRM systems as the list features are most often used for and by marketing whereas the CRM system is (also) used by sales (and other departments).
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
Advanced personalization, testing, segmentation and optimization features whereby insights from among others CRM and interactions across several channels, enable a more personal and more optimized customer experience and better marketing results. Potential features include A/B testing, Multi Variate Testing (MVT), dynamic content personalization, dynamic landing pages, etc.
Furthermore, personalization features can improve the customer experience. And last but not least, professional marketing automation software and processes, involve offline and/or online interactions with customers whereby triggers and scenarios are included to direct prospects and customers to personal contact moments (e.g. being called by a customer service rep). Just like any other digital business and digital marketing process or software, the success of marketing automation implementations is not (just) a matter of technology or automation.
Customer.io is great for two kinds of uses: 1. Companies that are looking to get started with marketing automation and appreciate a lightweight UI (i.e. not your typical enterprise software) and 2. Companies that are looking for some more advanced functionality that requires flexibility and customization, and are willing to devote the developer resources to implement it. We happen to fall into the second category, which is why we chose Customer.io for our marketing automation needs at Woopra.
Optimizing the experiences of people and moving from automation on the interaction level to a personalized and pro-sponsive optimization on the individual touchpoint level is, according to me, the main challenge in marketing automation for the future, as well as the integration of business processes and the business as such within its’ ecosystem beyond marketing.
This has resulted in a surge of new retail technology and the emergence of a booming new industry. With developers touting the latest hot new tech solution from every direction, the market is filled to the brim with sales, customer relationship, and marketing automation tools. The question now is: which of these tools are truly the best? Which of the many offerings will not only make jobs easier, but actually encourage a business to grow, making that all-important boost to the bottom line?
Marketing automation has shifted away from the pure automation aspect to an integrated marketing approach whereby automated workflows, pre-defined scenarios and various customer-driven triggers are set up in a connected and omnichannel way. A single customer view is essential as is a connected approach, also regarding other systems (CRM, content management, content marketing, social media tools,…), that often however start getting integrated in the offerings of some vendors.
For subscriptions, the platform is available in four monthly plans that are priced according to the number of features you will be needing for your operations. For small businesses and startups, you may opt for their Free Plan, their Starter package that costs $50. For larger businesses, check out their Basic plan, Pro Plan, and Enterprise plan priced at $200, $800, and $2400 respectively. However, these have required onboarding fees that range from $600 to $5000.

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).
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?”).

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.


A common example of permission marketing is a newsletter sent to an advertising firm's customers. Such newsletters inform customers of upcoming events or promotions, or new products.[12] In this type of advertising, a company that wants to send a newsletter to their customers may ask them at the point of purchase if they would like to receive the newsletter.
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]

The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.[4]
It’s ineffective given the effort required to see meaningful results. When done correctly, effective marketing automation takes time, effort, and resources to implement and maintain for revenue growth. Even if your database is currently filled with top-notch, quality leads, how effective will your marketing automation be when you’ve either converted all those leads into customers, or when your database begins decaying at the rate of 23% / year (via unsubscribes, job turnover and a variety of other factors.) Even when they’ve invested the time and effort to master the art of “Amazon-like” marketing automation, without enough leads to work towards purchase many marketers end up unhappy with the ROI of their marketing automation investment.
Funny timing that this post was put up today. I just had a meeting with a marketing consultant who was trying to sell my law firm on a whole new marketing package, including a new website, a social media strategy, etc. This person also said they had 10 years of experience in internet marketing. I told this person I thought each of the lawyers at my firm (who each have very different practice areas) should have an autoresponder set up. I said ideally each lawyer would have a “report” in the form of a PDF (available on their bio page) that would entice subscribers to download the report and sign up for the autoresponder.
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/

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.

In addition to satisfying legal requirements, email service providers (ESPs) began to help customers establish and manage their own email marketing campaigns. The service providers supply email templates and general best practices, as well as methods for handling subscriptions and cancellations automatically. Some ESPs will provide insight and assistance with deliverability issues for major email providers. They also provide statistics pertaining to the number of messages received and opened, and whether the recipients clicked on any links within the messages.
3. The responder should lead the reader to take ACTION! Sonia says “Paint the picture of what their life will look like with that problem solved” It’s not just about educating somebody! Don’t make your responder like a boring classroom lecture!!! Tell them a story. If you can use real stories from happy customers of your business, that’s outstanding.

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).
Granted, SendinBlue’s visual marketing automation builder may not be as beautiful as ActiveCampaign’s, but it’s no less powerful. In fact, SendinBlue’s automation builder is so free of bells and whistles that it’s actually quite refreshing to use after using some of the tools that require contacting support or reading documentation just to complete basic tasks.
This does not mean campaigns are not important. People want to receive those promotional emails from brands they trust and buy from. Email works, basics work and new ways to interact with customers or improve the experiences across those interactions, shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore the essentials we have known since so long. It also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use a proper channel mix, depending on what works best in any given context. But it’s not because someone claims “this or that” doesn’t work that it really doesn’t work. The truth is that many businesses don’t know yet in what context specific tactics work.
Are you one of the 63% of marketers who say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads? If so, then you already know how taxing the process can be. You’ll need to find ways to draw people towards your site, regularly generate content that piques their interest, be active on social media, and create innovative tactics to engage new leads. With a limited budget and small staff at your disposal, where will you find the time to do all of that while you manage your business on a daily basis?
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.
Issues with MA software often results from unrealistic expectations and poor implementations. For example, this software cannot make a bad service or product into a good service or product. If the collateral is bad or misses the point, MA will simply deliver a bad message more efficiently. Finally, if the wrong target market is selected, effective delivery to that target market will not help the bottom line.
Yes, screens are getting smaller. And yes, an ever-expanding percentage of email is being consumed on mobile devices. Understood. But all that said, readers are entirely accustomed to scrolling and will appreciate a tidy and uncluttered look. Use headers, bulleted lists where appropriate, captions, and any other tactics to help go easy on the eyes and communicate effectively with the skimmer.
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).
Drip is the world’s first ECRM–an Ecommerce CRM designed for building personal and profitable relationships with your customers at scale. Ecommerce marketers around the world are starting to see their customers in full color with Drip features like, comprehensive tracking, hyper-segmentation, and robust email marketing automation. They’re graduating from typical email platforms, bloated CRMs, or overhyped marketing automation tools, and making more money with Drip.
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?
Touchpoint-based marketing and customer experience models become increasingly important as the customer journey changes but most of all as the focus should not be on the channels and campaigns as is often the case in marketing automation but (also) on the longer-term (smart marketers move away from short-terminism) and most of all the customer experiences in a highly connected and integrated digital reality. Find a few touchpoint models and read Why touchpoint marketing is important.
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.
Office Autopilot plans all start at above $200 a month. These are the top 10 autoresponder and email marketing tools on the market today. You have options all the way from free to several hundred dollars a month, from basic functionality to complex analytics and shopping cart integration. The one you pick depends entirely on where your business is and what it needs.
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.
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.
"Ok I have been wanting an Autoresponder for years ok and I have had a few they were free but they came nowhere close to what Listwire does every Newbie out here needs this period! When your starting out cash poor and in between blessings (LOL) You need all the breaks you can get well for what listwire can do, it's like getting a car for free but not just any car one with all the bells and whistles. Once I started seeing all Listwire can do "OMG" I started crying because I knew I'd arrived."
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.
You can integrate your external data with this automation software. Campaigner can select specific customer addresses and manage email communication efficiently. It can also integrate email messaging with leading social media sites to boost the chances of success of any email campaign. Campaigner can also track activities such as specific purchases to create shopping data and create an effective email campaign to be sent to the user.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Talk of the South is also a source of revenue for Garden & Gun. As you can see in the screenshot above, the newsletter features advertising, just as the print and online editions of the magazine do. However, the ads aren’t intrusive and are highly targeted and relevant to Garden & Gun’s readership. I’d be very interested to see the CTR data of these ads, as I suspect it would be high in comparison to traditional website banners.
Userfox works primarily with tech companies, so if you’re in the industry, you’ll be in good company. Like Customer.io, userfox has a lightweight interface and is designed to trigger emails based on events (rather than just pageviews), so if that’s important to you, userfox is a great choice. You might also consider userfox if you’re already using AdRoll, as the acquisition likely means a tight integration between the two products in the future.
If you have written a custom script using our contact_add() or contact_edit() API functions, and you find that your new contacts are not receiving instant auto responders, a common problem is that the API function’s variables are not set correctly. Double-check your script, and make sure that the “instantresponders” variable is set to 1 (NOTE: This would not work with Free plans). Also, make sure that the “noresponders” variable is not set, or is set to 0.

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.


One of the misconceptions regarding marketing automation is that it is all about automating marketing and thus reducing the personal and human dimension. This is not the case and depends on the ways marketing divisions use marketing automation. Most professional solutions offer advanced insight and analytics features, enabling a better customer view.
Infusionsoft has found that its automation platform saves users about 28 hours per month when it’s integrated with users’ other systems. That platform automates lead capture and follow-ups based on user activity and collects data about customers to enable personalization. Its analytics reports shine a light on what’s working, what’s not, and what the current ROI is for any campaign.
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.
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