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?
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.
Uses tracking codes in social media, email and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior - following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market. Due to its interactive nature this has been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.

Email marketing is a simple and proven strategy to promote your business. It attracts new customers and helps maintain close relationships with loyal customers. There's a long list of email marketing services available today and most operate at relatively low prices, with packages to fit every business size and need. It's just a matter of determining which features and tools you need and how much you're willing to spend.
Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) firms have longer sales cycles and engage in more relationship building activities. Businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) rely more on brand and high-volume direct outreach efforts. This overview aims to improve understanding of how marketing software applications work and provide an update on trends every buyer should know.

Both HubSpot and Pardot offer a vast array of functionality that should suit your business regardless of how intricate your marketing strategy might be. We found HubSpot to be better equipped for small businesses that are steadily growing their marketing activity, whereas Pardot is ideal for large enterprises with complicated marketing plans already in place. In total, we tested 10 marketing automation tools, each of which offer some unique features that make them stand out from the field.

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.
Not only is InVision's newsletter a great mix of content, but I also love the nice balance between images and text, making it really easy to read and mobile-friendly -- which is especially important, because its newsletters are so long. (Below is just an excerpt, but you can read through the full email here.) We like the clever copy on the call-to-action (CTA) buttons, too.
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.
Don’t expect marketing automation software to craft dazzling copy and eye-catching visuals to bring those campaigns to life for you: Human creativity and a little elbow grease still carry the day. What you should expect from a good set of automation marketing tools is the ability to manage individual campaigns, cross-channel campaigns, and personalized 1-to-1 customer journeys based on those campaigns.

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.
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.
The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes — and marketing is one area ripe for automation. The key for small businesses is finding a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, and these seven platforms take different approaches to automating marketing processes to make entrepreneurs’ lives easier.
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).
Great article here. Pls. I’m a little bit confused. All I just need is a vendor that has a Landing page feature, allows for autoresponder, allows for promotion of genuine mlm and affiliate business, and cost effective for beginner. I tried Mailchimp but got suspended just within two weeks with them, and the customer care pretty bad and arrogant. Please advice
Hey Sonia – Admittedly, I don’t have an autoresponder. I do have a welcome message for folks, but not an ongoing drip-drip-drip autoresponder series like you mentioned. Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, I’m not sure how to best integrate it into the other emails they’re receiving from me (blog posts and/or monthly e-letter) without overwhelming them as others have mentioned. Any thoughts?
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.

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?


Frequency matters, and how often you send emails can have a significant impact on your revenue and email engagement (and unsubscribe) rates. Send too much and subscribers can suffer email fatigue causing them to disengage and unsubscribe. Send too few and you lose the attention of your audience. They may even forget why they signed up leading them to unsubscribe.
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.
That means we should treat them like a real person, not a fragmented self across different tools like email, social media, etc. If we can leverage all the marketing tools, channels and behavioral data possible to paint a complete picture of a person, we can nurture them based on their unique challenges and interests, not based solely on the emails they open or click through.
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.
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.
Through Leadformly (a lead gen tool we own) we work with a lot of Salesforce/MC users looking to integrate our lead forms into their CRM/automation environment, and the complexity is much greater compared to more intuitively-designed tools such as ActiveCampaign, Hubspot etc. However, having all of the data in the Salesforce environment does have a reporting/tracking advantage – but nothing that can’t be achieved using other tools connected via tools like Zapier.

In our email marketing software review roundup, we test the top email marketing tools available based on how easy it is to create emails, build subscriber lists, set auto-responders, and pull in other communication-based tools, such as social media management and web analytics software. To that end, we selected Campaigner and MailChimp as the best pure-play email marketing services. If you need a more complex tool that can build comprehensive workflows designed to automate the email marketing process, then we recommend HubSpot and Pardot, which are better served as marketing automation tools.


“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.”
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
2. Deliverability – Deliverability is always a hot topic, and I’m aware there are a million caveats at play here. That said, several notable studies on the topic have turned out quite unfavourably for SendinBlue. Fortunately, we actually use SendinBlue for one of our ventures and I can confirm that our deliverability rates are nowhere near as low as indicated in suggested in the linked article, but equally, they’re not the best I’ve seen.
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.
NGDATA® helps brands in data-rich industries, such as financial services, telecom, media and entertainment, utilities and hospitality, to capitalize on emerging opportunities in their customer data and to drive profitable customer experiences by supercharging analytics and campaign efficiency. The company’s Intelligent Customer Data Platform (CDP) puts people at the center of every business via Customer DNA, which continuously learns from customer behavior and context in real-time. NGDATA partners with companies around the world to drive digital transformations. NGDATA is headquartered in Gent, Belgium and has offices in the United States, Europe & Asia-Pacific.
“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.”
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.
How do you minimize unsubscribe requests and spam complaints for your auto-responder program? The best way to minimize the risk of unsubscribe requests, spam complaints and non-opened emails with your auto responder program is the same way to minimize those risks with all email marketing. Provide useful, engaging content and good offers that your subscribers will care about. You can also use the best practices for managing unsubscribe requests, opt outs and spam complaints that we'll discuss later in this book and which include: prominent and easy-to-find placement of the unsubscribe link, proper opt-out and opt-in messages and asking users to "white list" you in your initial email.
Seamless Integrations. Flexibility is key when it comes to marketing. So, it is best to choose a platform that can seamlessly integrate with software solutions you are currently using or applications you are thinking about using in the future. This way, you minimize the disruption to your business operations and avoid having to implement a new software each time your company’s needs change.
“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.”

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.
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.
Send new subscribers a “welcome” sequence. This is the message that you send to people right after they subscribe to your email list. It could contain a link to your lead magnet for an easy download, a thank you for subscribing, or maybe a call-to-action to check out your most popular blog posts. Every email list needs a welcome series: don’t miss this chance to “woo” your new subscribers and turn them into loyal fans!
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