How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.

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.
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.
Email Marketing Automation isn’t just for big companies. Constant Contact’s powerful, yet simple tools can help your organization develop more efficient and strategic email marketing, so you can save time while growing your business. Send a single welcome email, or an automated email series that nurtures leads. Build your list with ease, then send targeted messages to specific contacts. And get more value out of each email with action blocks that encourage subscribers to buy or donate. After all, the best results come from sending the right message to the right people at the right time—automatically.
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.

One review site that provides valuable insights is G2 Crowd. They score products and vendors based on ratings and reviews gathered from the user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. They apply a unique, patent-pending algorithm to this data to calculate the customer satisfaction and market presence scores in real time.


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.
Write great subject lines. David Ogilvy once said that 80 cents of your dollar should be spent on writing headlines. With emails, the subject line is just as important. If it doesn’t catch your attention, you won’t open it. So, spend the majority of your time writing and polishing your subject line. A great email subject line entices curiosity about the content of the email. It’s also personal, and highly relevant to the recipient. To learn more about how to write amazing subject lines, we have an entire blog post on the topic: 30 Successful Bloggers Share Their Best Converting Email Subject Line.
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.

Marketing is a different world from the one that existed a few decades ago — more than that, it is different from the way it was even a few years ago. Modern technology has changed so much about the way that people go about everyday tasks that it now permeates everything that they do. As a result, when trying to reach people through sales and marketing, it should come as no surprise that technology is an integral tool to use.

Automation also provides opportunities for personalization. Each interaction with an email or your website can trigger a follow-up based on those activities. What’s more personalized than a user experience specifically tailored to an individual’s interests? It will make your subscribers feel like you’re completely attuned to their needs and that you care about what’s important to them.
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.
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.
"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."
All these evolutions also don’t mean that organizations will be passive respondents to customer signals and digital footprints. Wake-up call number two: sales is not dead despite what Gartner predicts. It all depends and it remains essential to close the loop between marketing and sales. Yet, it is also time to close the loop with other divisions and with the customers and their networks themselves.
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.
Why does email list segmentation matter? We know that beyond relevancy, list segmentation is important from a revenue perspective. Data from the DMA indicates that segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all email revenue. On top of this, our research found that marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 76% increase in revenue–and more than 76% of marketers say basic segmentation is part of their email marketing strategy.
Superior Lead Management. Reach customers at the right time by using their lead management tool. Using Pardot, you can send emails based on triggers such as time, interactions, and other custom parameters. You may also re-engage dormant leads, identify the hottest leads before your competitors get to them, and create dynamic lead category lists for better targeting.
Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?
Unified Listing Tools. No matter the size of your business, keeping tabs on the contact details of your customers is always difficult, especially when you are using multiple programs to store your data. Consolidate all contacts across different databases with the unified list-building tools of Constant Contact. This makes it easier to remove duplicate information and lessens the time spent on syncing data.
The attention for and growth of the marketing automation market is driven by several evolutions in the ways people inform themselves and buy. The shift from selling to buying, along with the advent of several new digital channels, used by consumers and B2B buyers, keeps impacting the marketing automation industry and the adoption of marketing automation by organizations. However, the best is yet to come.
The consequence is that marketers begin buying lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seems like a quick fix, it's not a long-term solution, nor does it create the fertile ground for a healthier, longer relationship with your future customers. In our plant analogy, it's sort of like using artificial chemicals or enhancers to make your plant grow faster. Sure, it seems like a good, quick fix--but it doesn't set you up for future, long-term success.  
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.
While marketing automation often looks at generating demand and new revenues by a “right time, right message, right touchpoint” approach, as we know it in content marketing and content management as well, it’s essential to also look at engagement with existing customers of course. After all, the total customer life cycle and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are essential. In this regarding marketing automation platforms are evolving and also facing competition from new vendors focussing more on customer engagement and experiences across the customer life cycle. Several vendors in the content management space have also been evolving from systems of records to systems of engagement. Marketing automation is part of an increasingly broader ecosystem and context where the customer and customer lifetime value are key. An introduction to the customer life cyle and models to calculate the customer lifetime value (CLV).
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!
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.

TechValidate is a marketing automation solution by SurveyMonkey dedicated to creating persuasive content. Offering essential features for lead nurturing, ROI metrics, and content creation, this platform also brings to the table quality market research, customer insights, and sales enablement solutions. For payment plans, TechValidate is currently available on a by-quote basis.
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.
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.

ReportGarden is a marketing automation software focusing on lead management and campaign reporting. Offering SEO audit, invoicing, and budgeting modules for digital marketing agencies, this platform comes in handy for those who are especially conscious about the accurate reporting of their progress. Easily accessed on desktops and internet browsers, ReportGarden offers four pricing plans that may be billed monthly or yearly depending on your preference. They also have a custom plan that starts at $65.

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.


Zaius is a CRM & Marketing Automation platform built for ecommerce brands. By combining a single customer view, real-time, multi-channel marketing automation, and cross-channel attribution, Zaius empowers marketing teams to drive more repeat purchases and maximize customer lifetime revenue - without any IT support. It’s the first CRM built specifically for B2C marketers.
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.
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!?
Pardot is a marketing automation and lead management platform created by Salesforce for B2B companies. Cloud-hosted and accessible on desktop and mobile devices, this software combines the power of multiple features in one interface. Among the tools included in Pardot are for email marketing, lead nurturing, and sales intelligence. To start incorporating Pardot in your business operations, you may choose from their three annual payment plans that cost from $1000 to $3000 per month.
First of all, you get unlimited user accounts with custom user permissions. You can also send an unlimited number of emails and you get your own custom mail server domain as part of the package. Another interesting feature is ActiveCampaign’s automated social data gathering, which collects social details from all of your contacts and allows you to use this for list segmentation – so you can contact all LinkedIn users under 30 in your area, for example.
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.

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.
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

Promote up-sells/cross-sells. You can even set up an autoresponder sequence for someone after they purchase and get repeat customers. Depending on the products you sell, you could offer an upsell, or cross-sell related products. For example, if someone buys a digital camera, you can offer to add a lens, a tripod, and other accessories to their order before it ships. Or, if you sell products that people buy frequently (like food or disposable items, like diapers), you can automatically send them offers for new items when you know they’re about due for another order.

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