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.
Personalisation in email marketing is essential because most people want a more relevant experience. Email personalisation is not just about using people’s names in an email. It’s also about making sure you send the right emails to the right people at the right time. One essential tool for email personalisation is segmentation. You can get an email marketing expert to help you set up segments so you can personalize appropriately. Done right, email personalisation results in more clicks and more business.
would it be possible to add a feature where you can connect the auto-responder to a filter? E.g. if the filter detects a msg from my mother in law, it will always respond i am on vacation or otherwise unreachable. but if msg comes it from my collegues, i could respond with a different msg (like if you really really need to reach me call this number)
3. Sending limits – My biggest pet peeve with SendinBlue is the limits they impose on how many emails you can send. Unlike most marketing automation tools that limit the number of contacts you have, SendinBlue limits the number of emails you can send. While it appears to be a monthly limit, it’s actually a daily limit (the monthly limit is divided by 30). This has caused us several issues when going over our quota has meant emails end up being put on hold until the next day.
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Conduct campaigns, prioritize and focus on the basics of conversion, optimization and customer experiences but at the same time don’t ignore the voice of the customer, the clear shifts and the channel-agnostic reality with more stakeholders than ever before because you want to stick to a channel-centric mentality. In the end that’s where social CRM – in the true sense of the word – comes in.
Where they should improve: Unfortunately, this ease of use doesn’t apply to the autoresponder editor. You can’t view autoresponders in a workflow, and they’re not very flexible (you can’t send autoresponders to send after an hour, for example, and you can’t set sending time ranges). Historically, Benchmark haven’t performed so great in our deliverability tests, either.
Loved reading this! Which of these would you recommend so that I could set myself reminders on certain clients so that I can follow up with them in the future? I feel like I am doing a lot of extra steps that I might not have to do if I was using an actual marketing software. I am in the very beginning stages of getting my business out there and I would like to follow up with potential clients down the road with an email… is this a possibility or should I just keep using my excel spreadsheet!?
Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.
Thanks Donna – I agree. There’s so much scope for integration with marketing automation software that it would literally take a team of thousands to build all of the plugins and functionality in a short time frame. Ontraport / Infusionsoft are very similar to Salesforce in a way, by using the developer community to build the functionality around their product (which adds value to both Ontraport and their products & services).

Netsuite is an advanced marketing automation software capable of automating various marketing specific processes, flows, and tasks. You can use the platform to create multiple campaigns and align the same with your sales team. The execution of multiple marketing campaigns driven by email, social media, event management, and others can be streamlined effortlessly using Netsuite.

iContact Pro provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results. The iContact Pro platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outsmart the competition and grow their business. ***ICONTACT PRO INCLUDES***: BUSINESS-CLASS EMAIL: Creating effective email campaigns is easy with 650+ professional templates and top class deliverability. SEGMENTATION AND TARGETING: Target your leads based on who they are and how they interact with you. LANDING PAGES: Create great looking, mobile responsive landing pages in minutes. Drive, track, and measure action on email, social, and your website. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION: Nurture customers with the right content, at the right time, by creating custom experiences using the most intuitive workflows in the industry. LEAD SCORING: Customize scoring criteria and the software automatically qualifies your leads so you can engage with confidence and increase your marketing efficiency. CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT: Create, track, and measure your integrated marketing campaigns, from Tweets to email with powerful and easy-to-understand analytics. SALESFORCE INTEGRATION: Sync contacts and leads directly between your Salesforce.com and iContact Pro accounts, so you can quickly and effectively close your newly qualified and ready leads. SOCIAL CRM: Track and record every engagement with your prospects across email, social media, landing pages, news releases, and website visits. ***ICONTACT PRO BENEFITS*** DO MORE Nowadays, a marketer’s life is full of long hours, distractions, and beeping devices — it’s time for you to work smarter, not harder. iContact Pro was created to help companies engineer more calculated ways to send personalized communications to customers. No advanced degrees required. LIBERATE YOUR IDEAS Automation is not rocket science. But with most big enterprise solutions, getting started with marketing automation might feel a lot like planning a complicated rocket launch. iContact Pro was built to work fast for any size team, so when you say “yes” to marketing automation, you say “no” to complicated implementation. Simply login, pick an activity, and take off! TARGET YOUR MESSAGE Email marketing is at the heart of any results-driven strategy. iContact Pro is your virtual segmenting machine, helping you create individual CRM profiles to provide subscribers with the most relatable experiences for them — no matter how they engage with you. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS Bringing in more leads doesn’t always mean more revenue; prospects demand a higher quality experience from you. iContact Pro helps you nurture relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle in a way that feels personal, but is in fact highly automated. Reach out to the right people, at the right time, with the right message. ENGAGE YOUR NETWORK Get more mileage from existing content. Turn social fans into subscribers by including links to your own landing pages and invite people to download valuable content in exchange for their email address. Flexible, built-in tools allow you to schedule a calendar of social activity in advance or join in on trending conversations as they happen. CAPTURE MORE LEADS Everything you need is now easier to do. From designing professional landing pages and email templates, to setting up intuitive workflow triggers based on customer actions, our interactive tools make it easy to cross marketing tasks off your to-do list. MAKE DATA ACTIONABLE Great results come from consistently testing and drilling down into your performance data to make campaign tweaks on-the-fly. Engagement reports let you count up and compare the success of your social posts, landing pages, and emails. Ask us how you can integrate data from other tools with your dashboard for convenient, one-screen viewing. KEEP MOVING FORWARD We’re not doing our job if questions block your way to making things happen on your terms. We work hard to take the guesswork out of success. You can count on our experts and software to flatten learning curves along the way so you can just get up and get going.
With that said, we still use SendinBlue to this day and consider it to be a good, stable, and relatively simple marketing automation tool. Being a French company, SendinBlue was one of the first marketing automation companies to declare GDPR compliance, and their history in transactional email has meant that they’ve been able to offer many marketing automation features that are difficult to find elsewhere, such as SMS messaging and real-time deliverability reporting.
Henry Procter is credited with saying, “I know I waste half of my advertising dollars. I just wish that I knew which half.” This is precisely the question that this software answers. It assists firms in developing, executing and tracking campaigns. Media buying and planning applications help with planning advertising campaigns involving traditional and digital media. Managers use these systems to automate workflows, manage collateral, track prospect behavior and qualify leads before they are passed to sales.
Auto responders present an excellent opportunity to create email marketing results with minimal effort after the initial build out. However, the key to success is to think through the process during the build out and to monitor the program carefully for the first several months in order to optimize it. We'll discuss auto responders throughout the remainder of this book when talking about email design, implementation, tracking and optimization.
Ideally, email marketing should go hand-in-hand with social media. Adding social media "Like" or "Share" buttons to your marketing emails gives an additional way for customers to connect with your brand. Snippets of positive reviews from social media fans can be included in emails, and conversely, social media postings can be used to encourage fans to subscribe to your email newsletters.
Marketo is a marketing automation platform that includes account-based marketing, email, mobile, social, digital ads, web, and marketing analytics, allowing business owners to drive engagement through multiple channels from one platform. Its goal is to help small businesses build long-lasting relationships with customers and create end-to-end engagement. Its cloud-based infrastructure can handle hundreds of millions of activities each day, meaning it can scale with its customers.
4. Make Links Clear and Visible & Use Text Links: Make sure that all links to your product purchasing pages are clear and visible. When possible, default to blue, underlined links for easy user recognition. Though in web design it is often unadvisable to use the words "click here" in a link, in email design it typically is more effective to use the words "click here." Make sure that your links are text links and not image-based links as images may not appear in all emails.

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.
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.
When thinking about the five types of email marketing described previously, auto responders are almost exclusively used for customer acquisition email marketing. Your existing customers may respond well to an auto-responder campaign, but chances are high that the best place in your marketing mix for auto-responders is when trying to acquire new customers.
Userfox is another new player in the marketing automation space, and they were actually just acquired by AdRoll. We’re hoping the combined power of the AdRoll and userfox teams means exciting things for the future of their product. And we know the userfox team has some amazing talent, because one of their co-founders previously worked with us here at Woopra.
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.

Unlimited Lead Scoring. Are you looking for a software that can easily adapt to the needs of your growing business? ActiveCampaign supports an unlimited number of lead scores, so you can easily accommodate all your leads without having to upgrade the program. On top of that, the system lets you organize your leads according to your priorities or even automatically distribute them to your sales team.


Next up is building an email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a pre-designed template. Most of these services have drag-and-drop UIs that let you choose exactly the elements you want to include, as well as image libraries in which you can store assets such as your logo or company photos. Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential since there are some seemingly innocuous terms that may send up red flags and drop all of your hard work into your subscribers' junk folders or, worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach their recipients.
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 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.
One of the most simple and effective ways to re-engage an inactive subscriber is to tell your subscribers that you’re going to remove them from their list, but give them an opportunity to opt back in to your emails. Everyone wants what they can’t have and it might be just the thing that makes them feel like they need to start engaging with your email campaigns.
Build your audience and manage your contact groups. Install our opt-in widget on your website to capture email addresses and automatically sync to contact lists in your account. Upload your own contact lists as either a CSV, TXT or XLS files. Our system will seamlessly integrate into your CRM acting as your second pair of eyes, filtering out unsubscribes and possible errors.
If you’re not leveraging interactions across every marketing channel like social media, your website, or the content your leads are consuming, it’s as if you’re only listening to your leads 30% of the time. Have you ever been on the phone with a sales rep who doesn’t answer your questions and reads straight from a pre-generated script without taking your specific needs into account? Did you end up buying from that company?
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
Optimizely is an online marketing platform focusing on website development. Having served more than 6000 companies, they optimize and streamline digital experiences for businesses and customers alike. The software offers behavioral audience targeting and analytics tools to help you take out the digital guesswork and create smarter business decisions based on hard facts. It is also backed with an enterprise-grade security system to keep your data protected. For pricing, they offer three quote-based subscription packages based on your business’ needs.
How complicated and how deep your campaigns run is determined by which vendor you choose. For example, HubSpot and Pardot both offer unlimited email and unlimited sequencing options. This means you can create a workflow with multiple branches for each stage of the sequence, and you can create an unlimited number of sequences (not that you would). Conversely, Zoho Campaigns is mostly designed for users who want to follow customary workflows that guide users on basic sequences. As a result, Zoho Campaigns doesn't offer unlimited sequencing or branching. This tool is perfectly suitable for marketers who just want to make an offer after a welcome email or for marketers who want to wish people a happy birthday once a year.
AdRoll is a high-performance digital marketing software focusing on retargeting. Founded in 2007, it is packed with features for segmentation, cross-device reach, predictive buying, and social targeting. These tools are what allows the software to collect, analyze, and act on customer data with just a few clicks of a button. AdRoll offers four monthly pricing plans for new businesses, emerging businesses, evolving businesses, and expanding businesses ranging from $300 to $10,000.
From A/B testing of messages to SEO and social listening, automated campaign management handles the gathering and processing of marketing data, so you can focus on strategy. From qualifying leads and managing nurture campaigns, to analyzing ROI data across multiple channels, automated campaign management systems allow you to design, deploy, and monitor marketing activities without having to manually tend to every last step in the process.

This has resulted in the rise of omnichannel retail. That is to say, a complete, unified customer experience from start to finish. In order to find success in the current market, companies must meet their customers where they are — whether in-store, online, on social media, or wherever — and provide the same high quality experience every time. This is what separates the best marketing automation tools from the rest.
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.
Marketo, an Adobe company, offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to build brand value, grow revenue, and prove impact. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit www.marketo.com.
The key to separating the best technology solutions from the lesser choices lies in properly understanding the modern customer, and what it demands. Eighty-eight percent of top marketers say a customer journey strategy is critical to the success of their overall marketing . So what do customers want? There is no one answer to that question, but perhaps more than anything else the modern customer is looking for a simplified and cohesive shopping experience. This is the type of “customer journey” that top marketers should be looking to provide.
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.
Behavior-Based Email Marketing. Email blasts have the tendency to come off as impersonal, so more often than not, they get ignored or overlooked. Make the most out of your emails using SharpSpring’s behavior-based marketing feature. Unlike fully automated email marketing tools, this lets you create personal messages that your leads will appreciate.
“Mailchimp was great when I just had a blog. Now that I have my book, I’m starting to have products, it’s more of a business. I didn’t think that Mailchimp could handle me. I needed something a little more versatile that could target the people that I sent things to depending on what list they were on or what they clicked. It needed to be a little more sophisticated for me. That’s why I needed to switch over.”
Proactive Lead Generation. When it comes to digital marketing, you must not only create eye-catching ads and other promotional materials; you must also create quality content to highlight your business’ presence on the internet. With TechValidate, you can collect data directly from your clients, collage the information, and publish the content on your site or on social media, boosting the chances of lead generation.
As a growing business, you may also be looking for a CRM solution, and you'll find that the more advanced email marketing services have begun to crossover into CRM. It makes sense: Both types of software deal with managing and communicating with customers. A handful of these services are one-stop shops, either offering both email marketing and CRM out of the box or as add-on services.
The best email marketing automation tools depend on your budget and email campaign goals. Here are some to consider. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2000 subscribers, so it’s a popular email marketing service to start with. Alternatives to MailChimp include Constant Contact and Aweber. If you need to include more features, try an email marketing software such as Hubspot or Infusionsoft, which many larger and small businesses use. Whichever you choose, you can easily hire an email campaign marketer to help you set up your personalized email address and create an email newsletter template.
Has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and receive targeted content and messaging, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale. Commonly used in business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), or longer sales cycle business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles, Marketing Automation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.
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.
In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
LeadSquared looks interesting – although I can’t quite figure out what differentiates it from other small business marketing automation software. Out of interest, what separates B2C vs. B2B marketing automation from a software vendor’s point of view? I.e. what’s different about the software that gears it towards B2C companies opposed to if you were targeting B2B clients?
Marketo, an Adobe company, offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to build brand value, grow revenue, and prove impact. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit www.marketo.com.
As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.
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