Marketing Automation Tools for a Small BusinessWondering if you should be thinking about implementing a marketing automation tool?

If I said that you could easily double your revenue online with the right tool, would that get you to read this article?

If you’re marketing online and are not thinking about marketing automation, you’re losing out on revenue.

This article will help you make the decision over what type of tool you need and if you need one!

So… Ian… show me the money!

Why implement a marketing automation tool?

According to VB Insight, 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase.  Marketo reports that 91% of those using marketing automation software say it is ‘very important’ to their marketing success. And 75% of companies using marketing automation see a return on their investment in just 12 months.

Once implemented, these tools save time and avoid repetitive tasks, they allow brands to carefully target their prospects, and improve customer engagement. What’s not to like?!

When to consider implementing a marketing automation tool

Some people wonder whether their business is at the right stage to start using one of these tools.

You probably want to consider marketing automation when:

  1. You’re already making money online
  2. You are shouting at your email marketing tool most days because it won’t do the automation you need.
  3. You like new tools and you want to splash out!

The blurring lines of what a marketing automation tool is

When you think of a marketing automation tool, you might think about tools like InfusionSoft and Marketo.  But now, marketing automation functionality is creeping into email marketing tools such as MailChimp.

Using MailChimp, you can build marketing automation email sequences… So, is MailChimp a marketing automation tool or an email marketing tool?

The lines are blurring…

The Marketing Automation Stack

There are various levels of automation available in marketing automation tools.  The following stack shows the typical functionality you’d expect to find in a comprehensive marketing automation tool.

  • Email marketing
  • Email sequence builder
  • Landing page builder
  • Marketing lead database
  • Analytics
  • Reporting
  • Payment integration
  • API for third-party access
  • Program management (e.g. manage marketing campaigns across multiple channels)
  • Lead nurturing
  • Online behavior tracking
  • Lead scoring
  • Forms.

What type of tools are available?

There are too many tools in this space to review everything so we’ve picked some of the most well known and popular ones.

Email Marketing Tool with Automation

There are many email marketing tools that are sneaking in some marketing automation functionality.  When you move to a fully fledged marketing automation tool it’s quite complex, so it’s not for everyone.

As a stepping stone into marketing automation, you should use the functionality that is available as part of the tool or as an add-on to the tool.

Here are three examples:

MailChimp Marketing Automation

MailChimp is an excellent email marketing tool with some really great functionality at a very competitive price. They have some simple automation you can set up to trigger events based on actions.

For example:

  • Send an automated email when a subscriber visits a certain page on your website
  • Send a series of emails when someone joins your list
  • Send an email on particular events e.g. your subscribers’ birthdays.
Mailchimp marketing automation
Some of the functionality available within MailChimp

AWeber + AWeber Pro Tools

AWeber is a popular tool amongst internet marketers but it has very limited marketing automation functionality.  However, there is a tool called AWeber Pro Tools, which is developed by a different company and can be used to add marketing automation functionality to AWeber.


GetResponse – Email marketing veterans GetResponse recently launched a new marketing automation tools especially built for SMBs. With a super simple “drag and drop” functionality, GetResponse claim to be the easiest and most affordable marketing and email automation tool out there.

drag and drop
Drag and drop functionality

GetResponse provides: email marketing, landing pages, forms, inbox preview, some automation etc.

Reasonable pricing for good functionality.

Simple Marketing Automation

This is in the middle of advanced/complex automation and very basic automation. Some tools in this category are:

Product & Website Tagline Pricing
Getdrip Website automation that doesn’t suck $49 to $149 +custom pricing. No annual pricing
Active Campaign Grow your business with marketing automation Free, $19 per month + $40 per month for additional modules.
Sales Autopilot Put your sales on autopilot once and for all Free to $199 per month
Jumplead Turn visitors into customers $95 to $3000
Nurture  All in one marketing automation software Free to $490 + custom pricing
Automizy small business marketing automation platform (the claim to have the simplest automation) Free to $490 + custom pricing

Here’s some additional details on each of these tools.

Getdrip –

Pricing Structure: Subscriber, emails and functionality. Getdrip branding is on $49 and $99 version. 75,000 email broadcasts and 12,500 subscribers for the $149 version.

Features: Reporting, split testing, broadcast, templates, custom redirect, GA integration, localization, lead scoring, web hooks, goal tracking, automation based on trigger events, team support, cross domain tracking, WordPress plugin for optin, integration to payment/landing page tools,dashboard reporting.

What help do they provide? Context sensitive videos, help documentation (searchable knowledge base), they provide you with email fill in the blank templates

Summary:  These guys understand that you need to provide customers with help building things like emails.  That’s why they provide templates.   Good functionality provided and fairly straight forward to use.

Active Campaign –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts with $149 allowing 2,500 contacts. All plans allow unlimited sends. With 75,000 contacts it’s $349 and after this you need to contact them for larger number of contacts

Features: Full email marketing tool, trigger based automation, realtime insights into campaigns, segmentation of emails, loads of integrations, GUI builder for automation, quite advanced automation based on website activity, CRM functionality.

Summary: This has far too many features/options and is too complex for a small business. I didn’t know where to start. They also cater for enterprise customers and this is where the problem is. They have built too much functionality to support the enterprise customer which has resulted in a system that is too complex for a small business.

What help do they provide? Get started free webinar. 30 minutes training session (not sure if it’s paid), Forum and community chat with slack. Dedicated rep with Enterprise.

Sales autopilot –

Pricing Structure: Complicated pricing structure which changes depending on the modules you want and emails you send.

Features: Email marketing, marketing automation, eCommerce, sales CRM, affiliate, Helpdesk, Multi channel communication (e.g mobile text messaging etc), polls, questionnaires, split testing, API – My head is starting to hurt with all the features they have!!!

Summary: Poor UI, far too many features, dated looking website and application.

What help do they provide? Video tutorials, searchable text

Jumplead –

Pricing Structure: Mainly based on website visitors, contacts and emails

Features: Collect leads from website, track leads that visit website again, display details of any visitors, add contacts to CRM and track all activity, set up twitter feed for keyword monitoring, categorisation of contacts e.g. subscriber, lead etc, create conversion form, nice visual reporting,  With Smart forms you can alter questions automatically based on what the same person answered on a previous website visit.  They also provide interactive chat, keyword rank tracking, broadcasts with advanced segmentation etc.

Summary: I was very restricted to what I could do because I didn’t add the tracking code to the website. But it looks like it’s quite a simple UI.

What help do they provide? Intercom

Nurture –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts and users if you want CRM integration. The price goes from $95 to $295 if you go from 1,000 to 5,000 contacts so you’re going to be paying big money pretty quickly

Features: Broad range of optins (e.g. popup, slider), email broadcast, automation sequences, set up goals (e.g. link click), create email template – no help given, summary dashboard. Campaigns are either email, sequences or RSS – I assume RSS means campaigns are triggered based on new items in the RSS feed e.g. blog post.

Summary: Ok functionality but design could be better. Too many fields to fill out. Very expensive for the solution they provide.

What help do they provide? Context sensitive help, and you can email support. No standard templates (e.g. email ones)

Automizy –

Pricing Structure: Based on active contacts – 2,500 = $49, 5,000 = $99, 10,000 = $149

Features: They have the following – email marketing, lead capture forms, lead scoring, lead nurturing, social media marketing – This appears as if it’s a module which enables your contacts to auto share your content.

Summary: Not impressed with the product, poor UI.

What help do they provide? Intercom

Small Business Advanced Automation

These are quite comprehensive functionality with a lot more complexity.  They typically start at a higher price range.

Some tools in this category are:

Website Tagline Pricing
InfusionSoft Organize, automate,grow $199 to $599 pm + 1,500 onboarding
Ontraport  Build a better business – Publish, market, sell, organize $297 to $597
Leadsius  Marketing automation for SMB’s $0 to $1195 pm
Leadsquared Land more leads sell more homes, get more enrollments, close more deals $125 to $750
Hatchbuck Simple sales and marketing software for small business $99 to $299 with discounts for 10% discount for semi annual plan

Here’s some additional details on each of these tools.

InfusionSoft –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts, emails, users

Features: CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, storefronts and payments.

Summary: Powerful solution but very expensive.  Make sure you have your consultant lined up because you’ll need them.

What help do they provide?  Standard support but with more advanced help you’ll need to get out your cheque book.

Ontraport –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts, emails, users

Features: Pretty similar to Infusionsoft

Summary: The product is improving. Their recent addition for landing page creation (ontrapages) is quite good. Even though it is less complex than Infusionsoft it’s still a big jump from an email marketing tool and also a big jump in pricing.

What help do they provide? Help system, videos and their support team is very responsive. They also have a Facebook group.

Leadsius –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts and features and users

Features: Marketing automation, email marketing, web forms, landing pages, lead analysis and reporting, marketing dashboard, website tracking, WordPress integration

Summary: Restricted on functionality as I need to install tracking code but from what I seen it looks good and worth investigating more.

What help do they provide? Knowledgebase FAQ

Leadsquared –

Pricing Structure: Users, contacts and functionality

Features: Landing pages, lead capture, email and SMS campaigns, tasks reminders, API+ webhooks, mobile app

Summary: No trial available.

Hatchbuck –

Pricing Structure: Based on contacts and users

Features: CRM, Marketing automation, build online forms, website visitor tracking, lead scoring, ecommerce integration,

Summary: No trial available.


Marketing is complicated and time consuming.

As you build your audience, online automation is essential… but you need to be at the right stage to implement it.

There are many companies paying expensive money for marketing automation tools and using them as a pure email marketing tool.

What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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