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.
If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you have now learned how to grow your email list to epic proportions, you’ve segmented your list so that your emails are highly relevant to each individual subscriber, and you’ve learned how to send amazingly effective emails that have a high open-rate. Now you are ready to automate the process and turn your campaigns into money-making machines!
I don’t have a lot of patience for email marketing software in my role as Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief. I need a solution that is intuitive and allows me to focus on the creative message I want to communicate, rather than technical hurdles. I’m picky, and ConvertKit helps me achieve my goals without having to make any compromises in terms of functionality. — Stefanie Flaxman, Editor-in-Chief, Copyblogger
Advanced list management features whereby some marketing automation solutions are often ‘de facto’ also used as CRM tools since they offer so many features in this regard. However, virtually all marketing automation software also connects with different CRM systems as the list features are most often used for and by marketing whereas the CRM system is (also) used by sales (and other departments).

Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.
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.

Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing[2] especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by a customer.
"Why aren't millennials moving?" The subject line of this email campaign reads before citing interesting data about relocation trends in the U.S. Trulia doesn't benefit from people who choose not to move, but the company does benefit from having its fingers on the pulse of the industry -- and showing it cares which way the real estate winds are blowing.
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?
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)

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.
One of the more current developments on the email marketing front is the use of auto responders, or automated emails, that happen in a set sequence after a user's email address is captured. Typically the end goal of an auto responder email series is converting that user to a purchaser or customer. In this section, we'll introduce you to what an auto responder is, how to use them, the pros and cons, and some basic best practices for auto responder. Auto responders offer unique benefits in that they can produce results with a limited amount of effort on your part after the initial build out of the program. However, auto responders also present some challenges and best practices that should be considered when determining the role of an auto responder in your email marketing mix.
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.
Use personalization. Personalizing the content of your emails (depending on your segment from Chapter 3) will make it so much more relevant and valuable to them. Personalization goes beyond sticking your subscriber’s first name into the email. You need to tailor the actual content of the email to address their needs. For instance, an online retailer will find it much more valuable to read an email with the subject line, “How to build backlinks to your eCommerce store” than just a generic subject line, “How to build backlinks.”
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