How to choose a marketing automation tool

In this post, we’ll focus on the entry level and professional marketing automation tools most suitable for small businesses.

Your small business is growing, and as such, it may be time to start sourcing the best marketing automation tool to boost your efforts and save you valuable time.

But there are so many to choose from, so how do you decide which one’s going to be right for you?

That’s what we’ll cover in this post.

First have a vision

If your business is in its growing phase, it’s doubtful you’ve made it this far without a vision. But there are many owners of small businesses who are under the impression that a marketing automation tool is going to boost them to their billions.

That would be a mistake. Because a tool is just that: a tool that helps implement a strategy. If your strategy is bad, the tool will simply amplify the badness. If however, your marketing strategy is good, it will amplify the goodness.

The other aspect to consider, is that you can’t select the right tool without a clear picture of the business vision.

Because as you’ll see, although they all share some common ground, each tool boasts vastly different features.
The top marketing automation tools
Once you’ve created a marketing strategy, you can start doing your homework about which tool will make it work.

In this post, we’ll scrutinise each of the following most popular tools, specifically in relation to small to medium-sized businesses:

1. Aweber
2. MailChimp
3. GetResponse
4. ConstantContact
5. iContact
6. HubSpot
7. InfusionSoft
8. Marketo

How the tools differ

There are three levels of online marketing:

Starter marketing – when an entrepreneur or small business just starts out marketing online.
Professional marketing – when the small business is growing and more marketing is being done.
Marketing teams – the business is bigger, and has a whole team of people working on marketing, customer relationship management and sales.

And so it is with the top marketing automation tools:

Aweber and MailChimp would slot into starter marketing, because they only provide email marketing.

GetResponse, ConstantContact and iContact would fall under “professional marketing”, because they offer more functionality than Aweber and MailChimp.

Marketing teams would benefit most from HubSpot, Marketo and InfusionSoft, who offer additional features meant just for teams, like CRM and sales.

IMAGE
Image Credit: Virtual Business Solutions

Features of each marketing automation tool

In this post, we’ll focus on the entry level and professional marketing automation tools, because these are the tools most suitable for small businesses.

Starter marketing: Aweber features

Email marketing
Aweber’s primary service is email marketing, and included is the email auto responder service.

Templates
Aweber includes an enormous amount of templates to simplify your life. Find any type of template for any category email, and templates for sign-up forms.

Analytics
Get reports on anything you need with regards to email marketing.

Segmenting and tagging
Segmenting and tagging is essential to having more of your emails opened, because they’re targeted at those people you know will be interested in the content of a particular email. Aweber offers this feature.

Price
$19 per month.

Outstanding features

Ease of use: The way Aweber works just makes sense. It is very easy to use.

Starter marketing: Mailchimp features

Email marketing

MailChimp offers email marketing and auto response emails for paid options. They have a free option, but it does not include the auto response service.

Templates

MailChimp provides a good selection of email templates, but not sign-up form templates.

Analytics

Get reports on anything you need with regards to email marketing.

Segmenting and tagging

Segmenting and tagging is essential to having more of your emails opened, because they’re targeted at those people you know will be interested in the content of a particular email. MailChimp offers this feature.

Price

Starts from $10 per month, and gets more expensive the larger your lists become.

Outstanding features

E-commerce automation

Automate retail email processes.

Purchase credits as you go

If you’re not a frequent user, you can purchase credits as you go and get charged per email sent instead of being billed monthly.

How easy is it to use?

It was easier using Aweber than MailChimp.

Professional marketing: GetResponse features

Email workflow planning
GetResponse is the only marketing automation platform in the professional marketing level to offer this exceptionally helpful feature.

Plan the entire email marketing process with this feature, eliminating the need to manually keep track of your actions.

Email marketing
It goes without saying, that GetResponse offers not only email marketing, but auto responding as well.

Templates
GetResponse offers a large variety of email and sign-up form templates, for any category business.

Analytics and A/B testing
Get reports on anything you need with regards to email marketing. Do variations on emails and landing pages with A/B testing.

Segmenting, tagging and scoring
Segmenting, tagging and scoring is an advanced, but essential method to having more of your emails opened. GetResponse offers this feature.

Surveys
Conduct online surveys right from your GetResponse dashboard.

Web traffic tracking
Learn what’s working on your website with the web traffic tracking feature. GetResponse is the only marketing automation platform on it’s level, to offer this feature.

Webinars
Conduct webinars as a lead magnet to grow your email list. GetResponse is the only tool on it’s level to offer this benefit.

Landing page builder
Build landing pages from templates or from scratch. If you were to choose one of the starter marketing tools (Aweber or MailChimp), you will still need a way to build landing pages. If you use another service that only provides a landing page builder, you’re looking to pay about the same amount as the full package GetResponse offers.

Cart abandonment

Automate cart abandonment processes.

Price
$49 per month for their Pro package.

Outstanding features

More features than any other tool
GetResponse offers surveys, web traffic tracking, webinars, landing page builder and cart abandonment.

Unlike all the other tools on the same level, GetResponse provides sign-up form templates without the use of plugins.

It has everything you’d need to implement an entire online marketing strategy.

How easy is it to use?
GetResponse is the simplest marketing automation tool to use, with it’s bright colors and simple logic, saving you time and effort.

 

Professional marketing: ConstantContact features

Email marketing
ConstantContact offers email marketing and autoresponse features.

Templates
Find a good selection of email templates, but you’ll need to use a plugin to make sign-up forms look good on your website.

Analytics
Get reports on anything you need with regards to email marketing.

Segmenting and tagging
ConstantContact offers this advanced feature.

Surveys
Conduct surveys online right from ConstantContact’s dashboard.

Coupons
A very handy feature for those who often make use of coupons, or would like to. ConstantContact is the only marketing automation tool that offers this feature.

Donations
Excellent if you’re an NGO. Get donations from your emails. ConstantContact is the only platform to boast this feature.
Price
$45 per month.

Outstanding features

Coupons and donations
Offer coupons and collect donations from the emails you send.

How easy is it to use?
Pretty easy to use, but GetResponse takes the cake as far as aesthetics and simplicity go.

Professional marketing: iContact features

Email marketing
As do all of the marketing automation tools, iContact offers email marketing and autoresponse features.

Templates
Find a good selection of email templates, but you’ll need to use a plugin to integrate sign-up forms on your website.

Analytics
Get reports on anything you need with regards to email marketing.

Segmenting
As do all the marketing automation tools, iContact offers this feature.

Landing page builder
Build landing pages straight from this tool. What’s unique about this feature is that you can select to build a hosted page, Facebook app or get the embed code for your website.

Social media management
Unlike any of the other tools in the professional marketing category, iContact offers social media management.

Price
$129 per month.

Outstanding features

Social media management
With this feature, you’ll save by not having to use another independent service.

How easy is it to use?

Easy to use and uses logical sequence.

In conclusion

As you can see, all of the professional marketing level tools offer:

  • Email marketing and auto response
  • Email templates
  • Segmentation
  • Analytics

But each differs in their unique offerings, which include:

  • Webinars (GetResponse)
  • Landing page builder (GetResponse and iContact)
  • Sign-up form templates (GetResponse)
  • E-commerce functionality (GetResponse and MailChimp)
  • Workflow planner (GetResponse)
  • Social media management (iContact)
  • Donation collection (ConstantContact)
  • Coupons (ConstantContact)
  • Surveys (GetResponse and ConstantContact)
  • Web traffic tracking (GetResponse)

This is why it’s absolutely essential to have developed a marketing strategy before selecting the marketing automation tool that will work for your small business.

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