This year, the Irish communications specialist Aquacomms plans to start laying undersea cable to connect the Republic of Ireland to the US and Scandinavia. Similarly, small business owners must stay connected to their customers.
How? With technology your competition likely already uses: marketing automation software for small business.
Sixty-seven per cent of marketing leaders already rely on marketing automation. Eighty-two per cent of marketers see serious benefits from it, and 21 per cent will add another marketing automation software for a small business platform this year.
But what if you worry about the costs associated with automation software? After all, the spend can skyrocket quickly depending on the software that you use. Fortunately, many affordable, user-friendly platforms exist.
From marketing dashboards to advanced features, we’ve explored the best options out there so you don’t have to. Read on for our marketing automation software recommendations.
Marketing automation software has changed the way the most successful companies approach reaching out to customers and following up with them.
In fact, Tourism Ireland has entered into a €1 million contract for Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to write marketing emails for the agency.
As a small business owner, AI represents overkill. But a little marketing automation could make your life easier.
How? The best software frees you up for more important marketing activities like white hat SEO and provides data-driven functionality.
Where does this data come from? Marketing automation software compiles information based on opened emails, web forms, abandoned e-commerce carts, click-through rates, and more.
Like all new tech, automation marketing software comes with both pros and cons. Once you’ve got it figured out, you can set it up and let it do its own thing. But until you reach that point, get prepared for a serious learning curve.
What’s more, when you take the time to learn the software and maximize the features they offer, you’ll see a significant uptick in conversions and sales.
After all, boasting a gorgeous, trendy company website alone is not enough to bring customers back to your site time and time again.
You must open a line of communication with them and then work hard to keep it… just like Aquacomms’ proposed undersea cables.
Marketing automation software vendors rely on the same principles as standard email marketing software vendors, workflow templates. These templates allow you to build new sequences without having to reinvent the wheel.
For example, many sequences begin with an email thanking a customer for their latest purchase or for their interest in subscribing to your newsletter.
Then, based on the actions of the customer, the software will navigate them through a pre-designed sequence.
This could mean a redirect to a landing page or one of your company’s relevant blog posts based on a specific click-through. Or, it could even mean pulling a contact from a sequence to conserve your company’s email output.
Depending on the software that you choose and your ultimate marketing goals, you can make your sequences as simple or as complex as you like.
But what if you feel unsure about whether or not you need all of this functionality? Maybe you feel comfortable with the current state of your email marketing and just don’t understand why you need to complicate things with automation.
Here’s a quick way to assess whether or not you should consider automation.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. We’ve tested the software for you. Read on to learn more about the best software for your company and how it will increase your ability to respond to your customers’ needs and questions.
Hubspot offers uber-helpful prebuilt workflows that’ll put you on the fast track to email marketing success. What’s more, workflow creation proves user-friendly, which makes this a great tool even for automation novices.
Because Hubspot represents a leader in the automation marketing realm, you’ll also enjoy plenty of extra amenities. That way, as you get more comfortable with automation, you can add new functionality to your sequences.
For example, Hubspot’s software streamlines well with customer relationship management (CRM) tools and sales tools. This makes Hubspot your one-stop-shop for customer outreach.
Hubspot serves businesses of every size, so you can find a plan custom-tailored to your business’s current needs. What’s more, plans start at a very affordable €44 per month, which includes the CRM and sales tools mentioned above.
Another giant of email marketing, MailChimp offers a clean interface. Its editor proves powerful yet simple to use. What’s more, you can use MailChimp for free while enjoying most of its tools.
In fact, you can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 customers without paying a single euro. Not bad at all! Thereafter, you’ll spend just under €30 per month for a plan with 2,500 subscribers.
What’s more, MailChimp boasts hundreds of integrations and offers an all-in-one solution for inbound marketing campaigns.
But here’s the rub. Their automations prove complicated and difficult to set up and manage. MailChimp doesn’t offer a workflow editor, which translates into a cumbersome system that will leave you scratching your head.
That said, if you don’t mind searching for “help” on a regular basis, then this might prove the most affordable option.
Pardot offers a broad-based approach to marketing software that covers everything from social media management to search marketing. It also offers some CRM modules.
Each Marketing automation tool contains a wealth of resources:
A product of Salesforce, Pardot offers an intuitive user interface (UI) and diverse functionality. It represents one of the most powerful tools available for your marketing needs.
Of course, you’ll pay for all of these resources. Pardot subscriptions start at a steep €883 per month.
This makes Pardot the most expensive product we took a look at with Act-On a close second. (See below.)
Having checked out tons of different automation products, we found it hard to wrap our minds around the huge price disparities between products.
This brings us to Campaigner, a great automation tool, that offers a free trial and starts at subscription rates of €18 per month for 1,000 contacts. Of course, Campaigner doesn’t begin to boast all of the tools offered by Pardot.
But, quite frankly, depending on the size of your business and the size of your contact list, Pardot might prove intimidating anyway.
So what can you get for just €18 per month? Campaigner offers all of the tools of other advanced email marketing software including Salesforce.com contact uploads and some CRM interfaces.
It comes with many easy-to-use email workflows and excellent reporting capabilities. This includes a feature that lets you see which email platform each of your contacts uses.
What’s more, it offers 24/7 live support, so you’ll never feel bewildered by a foray into automation.
After you feel amply comfortable with automated marketing and want to explore the full breadth of tools available, consider upgrading to Act-On. At €795 per month, it represents a major investment like Pardot.
But when you know how to harness its data-driven tools, your company stands to make major profits.
Act-On boasts organic plug-ins with social marketing and social media tools. Because of its user-friendly workflow creator, designing automations proves a breeze.
Moreover, because it’s open to API, you can bring in whatever you need to render your emails and workflow savvier.
Act-On excels at cross-channel intelligence, a major trend for automation marketing in 2019.
But you’ll pay even more for these additional resources. That said, it remains the most capable software that we tested, sitting just a notch above Pardot.
As the name suggests, this software allows you an easy means of staying in constant contact with your customers. An aesthetically pleasing option, it boasts loads of different templates and access to free and paid stock photos.
You’ll come to relish its intuitive editing module and enjoy its free six-day trial period. And should you choose to opt-in, plans start as low as €18 per month for 500 contacts.
The software offers everything from email autoresponders for birthdays and anniversaries to email sequences you can craft for specific lists of contacts.
You do this by organizing contacts into different folders and then matching them with the autoresponders you’d like to send out.
That said, Constant Contact continues to suffer from odd, unexplained technical problems. Without these problems, Constant Contact would have easily surged to the top of our recommendations.
But until these get sorted, Campaigner remains the better option.
CRM represents a crucial part of a business’s ability to acquire, grow, and engage with customers, no matter what size your business. Infusionsoft offers a powerful suite of CRM tools.
What’s more, this intuitive, straightforward software comes custom-tailored for small enterprises employing between 25 and 100 individuals.
It offers widget-based dashboards and customizable autoresponders. Its “My Day” dashboard will help you stay on track, and it provides efficient lead scoring and management.
That said, it comes in at a hefty €88 per month. But it’ll provide you with a solid footing in CRM for small to mid-sized businesses.
Zoho Campaigns doesn’t boast the best templates and its user interface could use an update. But small business owners appreciate its affordability and simple set up.
At less than €5 per month for up to 500 contacts, it still provides a quality selection of email workflows and autoresponders. And if you feel loathe to spend even that on marketing automations, start with the free version.
While it falls short of the capabilities offered by Campaigner, Zoho Campaigns remains a great entry-level software option for those new to automation marketing.
What’s more, you can opt for a pay-as-you-go plan that allows you to purchase and use email credits.
Like Zoho Campaigns, Active Campaign offers excellent online support. It boasts many autoresponder options and third-party integrations. But all of these marketing features lead to one of the most cluttered marketing dashboards we’ve seen.
If you’re new to automation marketing, you could feel intimidated or bewildered by the setup. That said, they offer a 14-day free trial, which gives you time to explore its functionality and whether or not you can deal with the complicated dashboard.
Just keep in mind, during the free trial, you’ll have access to CRM and other features that you may not ever use.
Active Campaign also boasts loads of on-boarding services and online support resources including a large library and live chat help.
Subscriptions start at less than €9 per month. Good luck manoeuvring that Space Age dashboard!
GetResponse remains an efficient email marketing platform that’s easy-to-use and reasonably priced. It offers strong, user-friendly third-party integrations. And you’ll appreciate its convenient documentation and email tracking.
It offers a 30-day free trial that lets you bring in 1,000 contacts without submitting credit card information. And it boasts a nearly endless selection of integrations.
But its templates could use an update, and it lacks the ease and features offered by other software like Campaigner. That said, a subscription will cost you less than €15 per month.
When it comes to automation software, you’ve got a treasure trove of options to choose from. This will allow you to start out with very little monetary investment while gaining loads of knowledge and better customer communication.
Software like HubSpot and MailChimp remain industry leaders, and their software options provide fully functional, affordable ways to get your feet wet when it comes to marketing automation.
That said, you may feel frustrated trying to set up automations in MailChimp.
When you feel ready to take a huge step up into the world of CRM, consider upgrading to Pardot or Act-On. While both software solutions come with hefty price tags, they’ll take your marketing to the next level.
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