SharpSpring – Marketing Automation Platform

SharpSpring – Marketing Automation Platform

Sharpspring is a Marketing Automation Platform which claims to be “a fraction of the cost of competing solutions” but with an entry level price of $400 for just 1500 contacts, I for one am going to take a bit of persuading.

It isn’t all about money though, and I have tried hard to see what differentiates Sharpspring from the others in the same approximate price range but I’m struggling to do so. That’s not to say is doesn’t look like a perfectly good system, it does, but there is a lot of competition in this space at this price and some of it has a very solid track record.

Sharpspring is, no doubt, a comprehensive system with everything you need to effectively run your digital marketing strategy built in as standard. Many systems offer a similar set of functions but many more offer just a few of them making it necessary for you to interface with other packages in order to get the full functionality. Not always quite as seamless as you are told.

So what’s in the Sharpspring box of tricks that makes it so comprehensive? This screenshot from their own website sums it up pretty well:

SharpSpring features

There is one feature which did catch my eye, over and above the usual suspects which include Marketing Automation, Landing Pages, CRM & Sales Automation and so on, and that is “Anonymous Visitor ID”. Now this is interesting because it is offering the same kind of information, using reverse IP lookup to try and identify your site visitors, that you would have to pay a fairly hefty sum for if you purchased it separately from vendors like Canddi or Lead Forensics.

If you want, or need, that kind of contact information then the hefty starting price for Sharpspring could well be justified.

I’d normally say that if you are in the market for a marketing automation system then SharpSpring really should be on your shortlist for a trial but it seems, even if you are willing to put the time in to do that the vendors are not – there’s no trial period available, just a demo which you have to arrange with them and isn’t the same thing as a proper in-depth trial with real data.

As I said earlier, the Sharpspring entry level account will cost you $400/month for up to 1500 contacts. This is much higher than, say, Infusionsoft’s entry level of around $200/month. and Infusionsoft is a better established and more widely used system.

However, if you like the sound of that Anonymous Visitor ID function that could well be a deciding factor, in which case go for the Sharpspring demo and see how it looks.

SharpSpring

Where To Find It
https://sharpspring.com/
Product Type
Marketing Automation Platform
Paid/Free
Paid
Free Trial Available
No
Price
From $400/month.

Act-On – Marketing Automation, Email & SEO Tools

Act-On – Marketing Automation, Email & SEO Tools

Act-On is an Oregon-based provider of a nice looking suite of Digital Marketing Automation tools.

Act-On Marketing Automation

Act-On has placed itself firmly in the Digital Marketing automation space. Marketing Funnels and sophisticated automated email campaigns are becoming the life blood of many industries. The need to find new sales leads and constantly be developing them into customers who buy – and then keep on buying over a period of time known as the customer lifetime, is now more urgent than it ever has been.

There are quite a few all-in-one marketing automation platforms emerging now, some, like Infusionsoft, have been around for quite a while and, as a consequence, have quite a foothold in the market, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for new blood, like Act-On. That is especially true when the new kid in town comes with a few toys that the older guys don’t have.

Act-On does email automation as you would expect. From what I can see, and I haven’t done a full review type test yet, it does it fairly well but without, it seems, the campaign building flow-charting tool that Infusionsoft has. What it does have, however, are some clever Website Prospecting Tools which can track the activities of your website visitors to a much greater level of detail than is the case with Google Analytics.

It even has some of the facilities that you would otherwise have to install a system like Canddi or Lead Forensics for – the ability to identify site visitors in some cases and obtain their contact details. By doing that you can really build up a picture of what your visitors are doing when on your site and how to nurture their interest using some of the CRM type tools included in Act-On.

I was also pleased to see a useful Social Media Marketing toolset in the Act-On toolbox – something that is still missing from Infusionsoft’s line-up.

Now it’s no secret that I am a seasoned Infusionsoft fan and I personally know of hundreds, if not thousands, of automated marketing campaigns that have been successfully managed with its superb campaign builder and email facilities but Act-On is pretty close, and does offer more functionality – I expect to see more people opting for its more intuitive and easy to look at interface before too long.

In most cases, I can’t see how an organisation can do a proper job of implementing a fully-rounded Digital Marketing Strategy without some kind of Marketing Automation Tool and finding the right one is not a trivial task.

The only thing that will stop Act-On from becoming mega is the cost and the sheer fire-power of the opposition. It’s fine for larger companies but completely out of the ball park for the average startup or SME who are, ironically, the ones who need it most. I’m not saying it isn’t good value for money – it’s just that the entry point is too high for it to have mass appeal yet not quite high enough to put it up there with the major players.

Talking of pricing, the starting point for a chopped down version of the system and capacity for up to 1000 contacts is $600. The next  step up, where you get to play with all the toys, is a cool $2000 – much higher than Infusionsoft and, frankly, as far as email marketing goes at least, not as good, as far as I can tell although we haven’t has the opportunity to carry out a full Act-On review at the time of writing. If you did upgrade to the $2000/month advanced option that would still only buy you space for 10,000 contacts and as you may know, that’s small potatoes when it comes to serious marketing lists.

A final note on pricing is that Act-On seem to expect you to pay for a year in advance but offers no discount in exchange for you doing so – not very helpful to SME’s with their limited marketing budgets and constrained cashflows but great for Act-On‘s own cashflow, of course.

If, on the other hand, you are in an organisation where there is a decent marketing budget and you’re looking for a solution that stops short of the silly money options like Hubspot, Pardot, (Salesforce’s product) & Marketo, then Act-On could be the one for you. They don’t mention a free trial but if you dangle a purchase order in front of them, who knows?

Act-On

Where To Find It
https://www.act-on.com
Product Type
Digital Marketing Automation Platform
Paid/Free
Paid, Various Options
Free Trial Available
No
Price
From $600/month for up to 1000 contacts.

Drip – Email Marketing by LeadPages

Drip – Email Marketing by LeadPages

Bringing marketing automation to the masses – that’s one of the stated aims of Drip and with their impeccable pedigree as an off-shoot of LeadPages, I believe they are equipped to make that happen. If email marketing is part of your digital marketing strategy then this is a product that you should spend a little time in getting to know.

Everyone who has ever tried to create a landing page from scratch will have heard of LeadPages, they are almost certainly the market leader when it comes to those but what of other things they might turn their hand to? Well, now’s your chance to find out because Drip is a full-featured email and marketing automation platform from LeadPages and it certainly seems to cover most, if not all, of the bases for a small to medium sized organisation wishing to move their email marketing up a notch.

Leadpages acquired Drip earlier this year and intends to use it to provide a more complete and sophisticated marketing automation platform for users of Leadpages.

Leadpages founder and CEO, Clay Collins said, “The addition of Drip brings sophisticated marketing automation and a visual campaign builder to the Leadpages catalog,””This acquisition will help our customers convert more leads into customers.”

So what’s in the box? Here’s a snapshot of how Drip could snuggle up nicely with the rest of the activities in your digital marketing strategy:Drip email automation

This is the kind of joined-up automation and integration that you would expect from a much more sophisticated package like Infusionsoft or Marketo but here it is, albeit in an entry-level format, as part of a package that is available for a lot less money.

It’s early days and, so far, Drip hasn’t featured much on the main Leadpages site but I expect that to change soon as this is clearly a major strategic move by Collins and his team.

As to pricing, there’s a free Drip account for up to 100 contacts. This should let you try it out and get a feel for it. After that it’s a starting point of $49/month, which gets you most of the features and up to 2500 contacts with unlimited email sends. As yet Drip doesn’t appear in the Leadpages price tables and there’s no hint of a way as to purchase them both as a composite package, not yet anyway.

Drip has a good reputation in the marketplace, so too does Leadpages and I have been using Leadpages for several years now – their WordPress integration is top notch. If I were starting out looking for a marketing automation package I would definitely consider the LeadPages/Drip combo but I would feel more comfortable if the vendors were themselves presenting it as a joined-up package and not as two different systems stitched loosely together. A composite pricing structure would also help.

Drip

Where To Find It
https://www.drip.co/
Product Type
Email Automation
Paid/Free
Paid, Various Options including free entry-level account
Free Trial Available
Yes –  21 Days
Price
From $49/month.

Drip

Instabuilder 2.0 – Sales Funnel Builder & Marketing Automation

Instabuilder 2.0 – Sales Funnel Builder & Marketing Automation

Instabuilder 2.0 is a Marketing Funnel Builder WordPress Plugin that provides sales funnel builder, landing page builder and marketing automation resources to your WordPress site.

Its other big selling point is that, unlike many other marketing funnel builder platforms, it does not have a monthly subscription charge – just one initial payment and you’re done!

Instabuilder 2.0

The interface is drag and drop and includes a wide range of marketing funnel builder tools including; Landing Page builder, Scarcity builder, Design Tools, Analytics, Content Locking and many more. It doesn’t have its own email transponder but simple integrations are provided for all the popular ones like MailChimp, Aweber etc.

The convenience of having all your sales funnel building tools available from within your WordPress site by way of a fully integrated plugin has a lot going for it. Most marketing automation tools actually require you to host the funnel with them which is normally OK but there’s always the concern that, in the event of them going out of business, your funnel could disappear. With Instabuilder 2.0 that’s not a problem – so long as your website is hosted, your marketing funnel is intact.

The Instabuilder 2.0 user interface is drag and drop and it is very easy to build a new marketing funnel complete with landing page(s), sign-up forms, questions/surveys, links to email auto-responders and everything else you might need to build your highly-effective sales funnel.

There are lots of sales funnel builders on the market, some of them are very good – and very expensive with monthly fees running into hundreds of $ but Instabuilder 2.0 takes away all the pain of monthly payments – just one up-front fee of $77 gives you a licence for up to 3 sites that you own, $97 is for unlimited sites and the Developers version which lets you install onto client sites is only $197. All of the above are free from monthly fees for the first year after which they are optional and only payable if you want the update service.

Instabuilder 2.0 would be a great addition to your WordPress site and give you funnel building capabilities that are right up there with the best dedicated systems. If a marketing funnel is part of your digital marketing strategy and you need a sales funnel builder then you should take a look at Instabuilder 2.0.

Instabuild 2.0

Where To Find It
http://instabuilder.com
Product Type
Marketing Funnel & Landing page builder
Paid/Free
Paid, Various Options
Free Trial Available
No
Price
From $79 one-off payment.

Marketing Automation – The List

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The Digital Marketing Directory List of Marketing Automation Platforms

Marketing can be a real chore and often involves using software and services from several different sources with data that is not fully compatible between departments.
All of that is changing however as we enter the age of the Marketing Automation Platform but finding the right one for you can be a challenge.
Here's our quick reference list of the Marketing Automation Platforms that we have included in the Digital Marketing Directory for you to make your own shortlist from.

Sep 29, 2016 - marketo.com - 3
Award-Winning Marketing Automation Software - Marketo

Marketo's marketing automation software gives you the tools to easily create, automate, and measure engaging campaigns across all your marketing channels.
With Marketo you can find and engage the right customers for your business. You can help them find out about your products as they begin their journey with you. Marketo includes search marketing, landing pages, web personalisation, forms, social media, and behaviour tracking.
As your relationship with the customer progreses you can nurture them and develop them in order to maximise spend over the lifetime of the relationship.
Marketo is well-established and widely used so why not take a look to see if it meets your business' marketing requirements.

Sep 29, 2016 - infusionsoft.com - 3
Build better connections with leads and customers with Infusionsoft

Use Infusionsoft to automate your small business sales and marketing, while combining your CRM, email marketing, lead capture and e-commerce in one place.
Infusionsoft is well established, especially in the email marketing community and is a powerful tool for building response-driven email marketing campaigns. It is widely supported by way of integrations with many other platforms such as e-commerce, analytics and accounting and should definitely be on the shortlist of any business looking for marketing automation.

Sep 29, 2016 - activecampaign.com - 3
Grow your business with marketing automation and Active Campaign

Active Campaign is an Integrated email marketing, marketing automation, and small business CRM.
It enables you to send beautiful newsletters, setup behavioral based automations, and with its help your business can really start to benefit from sales automation.
The interface is clean and uncluttered making it easy and intuitive to set up and run marketing automation from any size of business in almost any industry niche. Reporting and analysis features are also very easy to get to grips with.

Sep 29, 2016 - pardot.com - 3
Pardot B2B Marketing Automation by Salesforce

Salesforce pretty much rule the roost when it comes to CRMs and the addition of their Marketing Automation Platform Pardot to their toolkit can only make their position even stronger.** Pardot enables Salesforce** users to make Marketing Automation easy.
You can make sales and marketing teams the best of friends with their no-hassle marketing automation platform. Gain greater insight into ROI, increase marketing accountability, and more. If you are already using Salesforce, or even if you're not, now could be the time to automate your marketing with Salesforce Pardot.

Sep 29, 2016 - act-on.com - 3
Act-On - Marketing Automation For Fast-Growing Businesses

Act-On is an integrated marketing workspace designed to align inbound and outbound marketing campaigns across the customer lifecycle. From brand awareness and demand generation through to customer retention and loyalty, the Act-On platform includes everything needed by marketers to make their businesses stand out from the competition and drive better results.

Ontraport – Marketing Automation Platform

Ontraport – Marketing Automation Platform

ONTRAPORT is an all-in-one marketing automation system that helps you to keep everything together, each element of your campaigns seamlessly integrated and working as one.

Harmony at last.

Trying to manage a number of different SEO, Analytics and Marketing Automation tools to run your digital marketing strategy can lead to a frustrating mess that just won’t give you the results you need.

Ontraport

Where To Find It
https://ontraport.com/
Product Type
Marketing Automation Platform
Paid/Free
Paid, Various Options
Free Trial Available
No
Price
From $79/month.