Updated for 2017 – Marketing Automation is on the rise, helping companies large and small reduce their sales costs whilst building up their client base, automatically. Online success often starts with web subscribe forms to build up an email list, linked to an email marketing system like Mailchimp, Aweber etc. CampaignMonitor is the one we use, which starts from $9/mth for 500 subscribers. It now includes simple email automation tools, which may be fine for startups. Then there’s various add-on tools for all these systems like optinmonster or Popupally Pro that helps boost signup rates.
The other overlooked option for startups is Mailpoet which allows email campaigns to be done within WordPress itself! It has some significant, little-known benefits in the early days over mainstream systems like Mailchimp. It’s the little things I love, like allowing signed up subscribers to be automatically emailed and sent excerpts of new articles you’ve posted. Surprisingly, this little ‘feature’ is not easy to do using external systems.
Entry Marketing Automation options
But even more automation delivers real, tangible results. Done well, automated emails combined with smart followup workflows get far higher open rates, produce up to a 200% increase in click-through rates plus generate 2-3x more revenue than standard promotional emails. Ideal for bloggers, course creators, YouTubers etc. Almost any service-based business selling online or offline products or services. Even small retailers and those in the tourism sector could benefit…
Active Campaign is my preferred option for most clients. Their lite $9/mth option almost identical to Campaign monitor, with basic email automation tools. However from here you can upgrade to more workflow features and simple CRM functions, from US$49/mth. Add in Popupally Pro too. Note their SMS feature doesn’t work in NZ. However new tools extend their integration with WooCommerce, providing a clean picture of customer sales history. Their recent deal owner tags another nice innovation.
A popular competitor is Convertkit who are also doing some nice updates. It’s probably the simplest to learn and use of the group. From just US$29/mth for 1,000 subscribers is good value, easily upgraded to cover a lot more subscribers. Like many other systems, we recommend adding in PopupAlly to enhance the forms side.
For more serious bloggers, content marketers, or trainers running courses, needing more complex sequences, then consider Drip at $49/mth. Drip was once accurately labelled as a lightweight marketing automation system that doesn’t suck. Incredibly powerful for the money spent and the most powerful of this group.
Recommended High-end Marketing Automation Systems
For those with thousands of contacts and several salespeople employed, you will need a smarter system to track prospects, as well as salespeople workload and sales targets. You need a multi-user, fully-featured system, complete with a built-in CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) to better track clients, manage and help qualify leads. From the hundreds of providers, below are our 4 picks for NZ users running a WordPress website.
Marketo is the industry standard and most popular worldwide, but is not particularly cheap to setup or maintain. They do provide a WordPress plugin, but then again, so do most others. They, like all others in this group, also link into most third party CRM offerings like Salesforce, MS Dynamics etc. If you want a ‘safe’ option and money is no object, then Marketo is ideal.
Hubspot is somewhat better value, starting from $200/mth, although you may quickly need their $800/mth Pro upgrade, making it similar to Marketo entry pricing. Although a big fan, I still get confused over the Hubspot offerings and various add-ons. My impression is they’ve tried to be all things to all people, including their own website offering which is really weird. As such there is considerable duplication of the tools WordPress already offers, like a blog, company pages etc.
Infusionsoft is better priced, more focused and somewhat easier to run too. I found them ten years back and fell in love. Content marketers and trainers love them too, helping them monetise their site, with advanced CRM, subscription, automated mailouts and tracking tools. It’s hard to fault this system.
Last but not least is Ontraport. It’s easily the best value option for larger businesses and the rising star in marketing automation, getting great reviews. Ideal for those with larger sales teams from 2 to 20 people. Running sub-teams or multiple affiliates is also possible. Ontraport provides users a well-featured selling platform, with good lead scoring tools, advanced analytics, SMS messaging and CRM functionality too. This alone can eliminate the need to run a separate Salesforce, Goldmine, SugarCRM or the clunky MS Dynamics system.
WordPress integration is the best, with tools for the building of subscriptions, memberships, even a mini shopping cart for donations, private training or virtual products. Yes, WordPress does have great options around membership and subscriptions using Woocommerce. But sometimes, especially when you’ve over 10,000 members, it makes more sense to migrate this to an external, more powerful system like Ontraport – Let each technology do what it does best. WordPress (or any website platform) is not good as a ‘business system’ or building large, complex sales workflows – But WordPress is superb as a website that can really engage, entice and track visitors.
Lastly, the other reason that makes Ontraport unique, is they don’t do a hard sell, or try to lock you in to long term contracts for a year or more. This slashes the business risk, providing peace-of-mind.
p.s. It could double what your business is worth
Nobody expects you to fully appreciate what this technology can do from one small blog post like this. And setting up an effective marketing automation system takes considerable planning, skills and effort. Paying for the software each month is the easy part. But, we’ve seen businesses who take on and expertly implement more automation around sales, go from strength to strength. These customer-focused business systems help run the company and as such can add huge value and goodwill. This is especially obvious when it comes time to sell the business or retire. It’s the quality and the data within your business system, not just your products or services that will enhance, sometimes double your selling price.
N.B. These are not magical systems that work with the click of a button or payment with a credit card. You’ll still need to learn how to set it all up properly and then tweak to your needs. Hundreds of manhours can be spent over several months getting these larger systems to where they work well, specifically for you. Many are more developer tools, rather than consumer-configured items. Please give us a call using the form below if you need help. We can usually do in a day or two, what can take newcomers weeks, even months. As is often the case with technology, it’s not the tools, but how we use them that makes the biggest difference.