By Zac Johnson
Marketing automation is hot. All the notable reasons for this from three years ago still remain: limited human error, nearly infinite scalability, and the opportunity to get your message out without someone always manning the controls. Marketers are continuing to take note.
In a Spear Marketing Group survey, B2B marketers were asked which marketing technologies were important to them. The results:
Content marketing was king for both now and in the future, but look down the list at marketing automation: No. 4 currently and No. 2 in the future. As we know, it’s hard to effectively manage your content marketing efforts without a marketing automation platform.
If you’re a small business, though, this presents a challenge. You need marketing automation, but you can’t throw cartoonish bags of gold at it—at least not yet. What are your different options? What are the pros and cons? Let’s take a look.
GetResponseBilled as “the world’s easiest email marketing platform” with 350,000 subscribers in 182 countries, GetResponse began as primarily an email marketing platform. Now it’s an all-in-one online marketing solution for small businesses. It has an amazing ease of use, which provides an advantage over bigger names like HubSpot and Marketo—those platforms require a full-time CRM manager, and GetResponse does not.
GetResponse also has tons of tools under one roof: It has a landing page builder, email marketing, an auto-responder, and a webinar tool. Plus, it’s better-priced than its competitors. Among the limited cons: There is a limited range of newsletter templates, and sometimes the user interface can feel clunky.
MarketoMarketo’s current slogan appears to be “If you’re going to play, play to win.” This platform offers a vast range of features and analytics, and the A/B testing and overall interface are really easy to use—those are pros, but there are cons as well. The naming conventions in Marketo are more confusing than any other automation suite, and it is extremely “Salesforce-centric.” If your sales team is on a different CRM, using Marketo poses a challenge.
SharpSpringWhen it comes to setting up automation within your business, it’s important to find a solution that can seamlessly integrate with your existing applications and business tools. This is what SharpSpring says makes it stand out from the competition.
With a powerful dashboard and marketing solution in place, it allows for businesses and brands of all sizes to zone in on their target audience and provide them with the best messaging or engagement required. Analytics provided through SharpSpring make it possible for businesses to track and analyze their audience and engagement on all levels. SharpSpring also boasts that it offers a more affordable solution over competing services.
Act-OnBilled as “marketing automation for fast-growing businesses,” Act-On offers excellent customer support in terms of training, basic tips, and strategy development. Its pricing structure can be on the high side--$2,000/month for the more advanced Enterprise Plan with 10,000 active contacts and six marketing users—and some users feel the reports are static. Act-On’s superior training and customer service, however, may help to alleviate those concerns.
InfusionsoftInfusionsoft has strong all-in-one functionality which allows you to track behaviors, actions, and purchases all in the same system. It also has a strong learning curve for responsive email marketing, whereby if customers do “X action” on your website, they subsequently will receive “Y email.” Infusionsoft is generally more expensive than other marketing automation options for small businesses, though, and oftentimes the lead tracking can be spottier than similar platforms.
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