By Emily Taibl, Sweeney Conrad, PS
We’ve all been there: you get one campaign rolling, and it is on to the next. You are bringing in leads and increased traffic to your website, but how do you follow up and make sure you are nurturing those leads when they come in? With so much to do, and prospects and clients at all different stages of the buying process, it is nearly impossible to manage it all yourself. This is where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation is your “virtual assistant,” letting you set up campaigns that will nurture themselves.
I dug in to some of the best marketing automation platforms of 2019, and here is what I found:
- Pros: I personally use HubSpot, and I find it to be a fantastic tool for marketing automation. HubSpot is a one-stop shop for your CRM, website calls-to-action, pipeline, e-mail marketing, analytics, and marketing automation. Having it all in one place is great. HubSpot is a robust platform where you can create marketing automation drip campaigns that feed right into your CRMs. Insiders claim that HubSpot is a great platform for small business marketers with no coding ability (right up my alley!).
- Cons: HubSpot offers a lot of different features, which can be overwhelming at first. Give yourself time to get used to the program and how it all integrates. HubSpot has a free program, but if you want to get the most out of this platform it is on the expensive side.
- Pros: Act-On is a great program for freelancers and businesses alike. The platform offers user-friendly marketing automation solutions. With Act-On you can “point, click, drag, and drop your way to a well-built marketing machine.” You can build segmented lists, nurture, score, and distribute lists for much less than HubSpot.
- Cons: According to experts (full disclosure, I have never personally used Act-On), there is limited customization of the reporting dashboard, and it can be difficult to navigate and sort through contact lists.
- Pros: ActiveCampaign makes it easy to nurture your e-mail marketing campaigns and manage your marketing through automation by sending targeted campaigns and automating your sales processes. Like other marketing automation platforms, you can create subscription forms and dynamic content, segment e-mails, and do split testing.
- Cons: ActiveCampaign is not a WYSISYG HTML editor, so design can be a little tricky. It does not integrate social media, ads, or other channels.
- Pros: There is no doubt Salesforce is a force to be reckoned with (it is in the name!). Much like HubSpot, Salesforce is an extremely robust platform, offering marketing automation along with lead nurturing, campaign management, content management, CRM integration, and great analytics and reporting.
- Cons: Salesforce is an expensive tool. Setup can be complex and time-consuming. With so many functions, Salesforce has a cluttered interface, and it can feel like the learning curve is endless.
- Pros: Designed for medium to large businesses, SugarCRM offers customizable marketing automation solutions. SugarCRM is known for having great options for the entire sales process with forecasting and help desk capabilities.
- Cons: Some report that the design is a little “clunky” and requires more clicks than necessary.
There are many other platforms you can use for marketing automation including Mailchimp, Constant Contact, SharpSpring, and Marketo to name a few. The reality is every firm has different goals and needs with their automation. Start small (with one of the free platforms) and see how it works for you. Most, if not all, of these will make your job easier – and there is certainly something for everyone.
Using a marketing automation tool that you love? Let us know on the AAM comment board. We would love to hear what is working for you.