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.
Pretty much everything that Hubspot offers can be found elsewhere at a much lower cost. And yes, while it is true that Hubspot does offer a free version of their software, this doesn’t include any of their marketing automation features. If you’re looking to use Hubspot for marketing automation, you’ll need to cough up at least $800/month (paid annually), plus an additional $3,000 in onboarding fees. In other words, if your marketing automation budget is below $12,600/year, you may want to move on to our next suggestion.
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.
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.

At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon -- that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.

You can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.


Essentially, you can tell Office Autopilot what to do if certain things occur. For example, if a customer places an order, you can send an order to your fulfillment house to fulfill that order. Or if a customer leaves, you can send them a last minute special offer. Just select the trigger for the action, then select what list it applies to then select what to do when that action is trigger.
These metrics give you a high-level overview of how your subscribers are interacting with your campaigns and allow you to compare the success of one campaign to another. If you want to go deeper and see the exact people who opened and clicked your campaign, what links they clicked, etc. you can do so by choosing some of the other reports from the right hand side menu.
First of all, BuzzFeed has awesome subject lines and preview text. They are always short and punchy -- which fits in perfectly with the rest of BuzzFeed's content. I especially love how the preview text will accompany the subject line. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (like the one below), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it:
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.
When designed well, marketing automation solutions make your job easier. They perform the difficult, tiresome work that is a natural part of running a marketing campaign while drawing from various data sources. The software compiles information, such as the number of opened emails, abandoned e-commerce carts, and data from web forms, to help inform your marketing decisions. When you maximize the features that these solutions offer, they can truly improve your company's bottom line.
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.
The emfluence Marketing Platform was built for marketers, by marketers. We believe that usability is as important as functionality. That’s why we’ve focused the emfluence Marketing Platform’s features around what’s really important: helping digital marketers like you accomplish your goals every day. Whether you’re launching your own digital campaigns, managing a brand across a network of franchises, or creating campaigns for your book of business, you can leverage the emfluence Marketing Platform for: • Email Automation • Email Marketing • Drag & Drop Email Builders • Social Media Management • Surveys • Landing Pages • Form Builders • Automated Reporting • Website Tracking • Light Boxes and Modals • Variable Content Blocks Why do we spend so much time focusing on how you use our platform? Because we’re marketers, too, and we know that digital marketing isn’t just about sending emails and posting pictures to your favorite social media channel. It’s complex recipe of strategy, timing, response, and engagement. We believe with the right tool, you’ll be unstoppable.
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.
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.
“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.”
Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.
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).
Transactional emails are usually triggered based on a customer's action with a company. To be qualified as transactional or relationship messages, these communications' primary purpose must be "to facilitate, complete, or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient has previously agreed to enter into with the sender" along with a few other narrow definitions of transactional messaging.[3] Triggered transactional messages include dropped basket messages, password reset emails, purchase or order confirmation emails, order status emails, reorder emails, and email receipts.
It’s important to note how a number of growing trends revolve around content of value – not promotional content. Things like personalization and subscriber lifetime value, bite-sized content that’s easy to digest, stronger narratives and storytelling, richer experiences… that’s all key to crafting highly engaging emails that will grow your open and engagement rates.
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.
The multichannel view offered by ActiveCampaign gets glimpses of a small business’s website while looking at users’ email and mobile devices. Its campaign builder helps entrepreneurs design marketing collateral, and the platform consolidates customer data so these insights can impact the email, SMS, and CRM options ActiveCampaign offers. This data also allows business owners to create segments.
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.
There are a number of reasons a person may not have acted after the first email. Perhaps they still weren’t convinced to make the purchase. Or maybe they didn’t even open the email at all. People get busy. It could be that they just needed one extra nudge. Hopefully, those regretting not taking advantage of the sale yesterday are inspired to do so today.

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.
Here are some of the most interesting email marketing stats around. The Radicati Group says we’ll send and receive around 281 billion emails this year. According to Adestra, 78% of teens use email. Statista reports that 85% of US adults use email. Consumers like getting emails from the brands they love. But email senders have to respect the inbox. Email too often, or include the wrong content, and Litmus says some people will report your email as spam instead of unsubscribing.
Basic text-based email editors to fully designed HTML or JavaScript templates are just some of the features these packages can provide businesses. You can manage your contacts by simply keeping a list of names and email addresses or you can create a complex database full of subscribers segmented by demographic slices and engagement levels. Which method you choose really just depends on how much of your budget you're willing to allocate towards the email marketing software that can give your company the features it needs.

As of mid-2016 email deliverability is still an issue for legitimate marketers. According to the report, legitimate email servers averaged a delivery rate of 73% in the U.S.; six percent were filtered as spam, and 22% were missing. This lags behind other countries: Australia delivers at 90%, Canada at 89%, Britain at 88%, France at 84%, Germany at 80% and Brazil at 79%.[8]


It opens the door for irrelevant, spammy, automated messages. Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. The consequences of list-buying are numerous, but most importantly this spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
1. Pricing – While SendinBlue is one of the most affordable email marketing tools currently available, you’ll need to be on their $49/month plan or above to access unlimited automation workflows. While not a major issue, this tends to rule out SendinBlue for me when recommending a marketing automation tool to a small business that’s new to automation. After all, ActiveCampaign starts at $9!
Marketo is great for companies who are going to make use of the tool’s many features that go beyond basic marketing automation. It’s not the most expensive tool, but it’s certainly not the cheapest either. If you’re not going to use the advanced functionality of the system, you can get similar results with one of the less expensive tools. However, if you want to start with the basics and move into the more advanced functionality in the near future, it could be a good idea to start with a tool like Marketo so that you don’t have to switch over all your data and campaigns down the line. We also like that Marketo has a very large and active knowledge base, which is a great resource for new users.

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.
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.

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.


Multi-Channel Marketing Support. In today’s marketing landscape, you need to use various communication platforms to stay competitive. Luckily, ReportGarden can support multiple channels in one convenient interface. Whether your social marketing campaign involves, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other sites, you can boost it without having to leave your marketing software.


A call to action (CTA) is a word or phrase that encourages readers and subscribers to do something specific. Examples of calls to action include “subscribe”, “shop now”, “get the free ebook”. You use CTAs on email signup forms, landing pages, in email newsletters, and more. When someone does what you want as a result of your call to action, that’s called a conversion. In email marketing, a conversion often means following a link in a email newsletter to visit another resource.
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.
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.

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.

Basic text-based email editors to fully designed HTML or JavaScript templates are just some of the features these packages can provide businesses. You can manage your contacts by simply keeping a list of names and email addresses or you can create a complex database full of subscribers segmented by demographic slices and engagement levels. Which method you choose really just depends on how much of your budget you're willing to allocate towards the email marketing software that can give your company the features it needs.
"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."
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.
The question that goes around in a small group I’m in is do you hit the email subscriber up with a hard sell immediately after they sign up for your newsletter (and presumably get a free ebook download or mini course), or do you hit them up with educational for the first few emails in order to build a little more trust in you and what you can do for someone.

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?
So, despite spending most of their time actually making their products, tending to their herd of goats, and somehow managing to run an eight-child household (seriously, bravo), Jim and PJ also manage to operate highly successful email marketing campaigns that offer their customers genuine value while keeping things simple – all without a formal marketing department in sight.
Quality Features, Powerful Integrations. TechValidate is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to have flexibility in their marketing endeavours. It is packed with a plethora of scalable features that improve your content, streamline your workflow, and increase the efficacy of your marketing campaign. It can also support a multitude of powerful integrations.
It opens the door for irrelevant, spammy, automated messages. Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. The consequences of list-buying are numerous, but most importantly this spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
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.

As far as I’m concerned, Hubspot doesn’t offer enough to justify its enterprise price tag. While Pardot isn’t much cheaper at this level, it does have the added benefit of integrating directly into Salesforce and Marketing Cloud – while I’ve never been a fan of these tools myself, they do tend to be popular in larger businesses, giving Pardot an edge here.

It’s important to note how a number of growing trends revolve around content of value – not promotional content. Things like personalization and subscriber lifetime value, bite-sized content that’s easy to digest, stronger narratives and storytelling, richer experiences… that’s all key to crafting highly engaging emails that will grow your open and engagement rates.
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