Know the best marketing automation tools for your business

According to HubSpot, “Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions.”

Many marketing departments perform various repetitive and monotonous tasks. These tasks include, but are not limited to emails, social media, and other website actions. The marketing automation tools make these everyday jobs easier. In nonprofessional terms, marketing automation is all about optimisation. The scope of marketing automation is beyond simply automating the marketing department’s repetitive tasks. In addition, it optimises the time of your staff. It can even hint on which customers your sales team concentrates their endeavours.

Digital marketing automation has its bloodline in email marketing. However, it is way beyond email marketing. Marketing automation aids marketers to restructure various actions like generating, scoring, and nurturing leads, managing link selling, cross-selling and up-selling, customer lifecycle marketing, and others. The efficient implementation of marketing automation technology can effectively increase operational efficiency. The technology helps to grow revenue quicker by cutting your sales cycle, recovering your lead aptitude, and saving you time to focus on other important areas. However, unfortunately, these paybacks can be availed at a giant cost.

Marketing Automation

1. Infusionsoft

Clate Mask and his brother Eric Martineau, Scott jointly established Infusionsoft in 2001 at Mesa, Arizona. It caters to more than 25,000 customers. Infusionsoft is one of the most successful marketing automation tools for small businesses that already have a strong customer base and a turnover above $100,000.

Infusionsoft, a leading sales and marketing software, supports small business in getting structured, building sales, and saving time. Its user interface is very well designed. Very few marketing automation tools offer order forms, payment processing, execution, and inventory tracking directly inside the tool.  Infusionsoft is one of those automation tools. In addition, it allows worldwide tracking, which makes it easy to keep a track of a contact’s behaviour across multiple marketing channels. Besides, a lot of bloggers use this software for email marketing and creating marketing campaigns & funnels.

Infusionsoft expedites the creation and execution of a sales and marketing strategy. It centralizes customer interactions, attracts new leads, meets sales quicker, and automates recurring tasks like a follow-up, contact management, billing, and payment—all from one place.

Infusionsoft charge a unique mandatory launch fee of $1999.

infusionsoft Marketing Automation

2. ActiveCampaign

Again, this automation tool is the best-fit solution for small businesses having the strength of less than 100. This tool is very reasonable compared to others. You would be amazed to know that it costs a maximum $150 per month. ActiveCampaign provides services like unlimited email sending, CRM and sales automation, onboarding, and unrestricted access to social data.

Though it is very affordable, the automation features that ActiveCampaign provides are robust. The features include sales team notification, cart and form abandonment, visual workflow editor, and web traffic analysis. The interface of this software is so straightforward that anyone can operate it with ease. The reason why ActiveCampaign should be preferred by small businesses is pretty obvious. The platform makes lead generation and warm lead nurturing effortless by excellent CRM and mailing solutions.

ActiveCampaign Marketing Automation Tool

3. Hubspot

In 2006, HubSpot was founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was launched in December 2007. Since ages, HubSpot is one of the pioneers in automated digital marketing. It is an inbound marketing software company that helps businesses in modifying their marketing from outbound lead generation to inbound lead generation. It does it by allowing them to “get noticed” by more potential customers in the usual course of the way they shop and learn.

They “get” content marketing.

It provides a full suite of integrated marketing tools that comprise blogging, content management, search engine optimization, social media publishing and monitoring, email marketing, and more. HubSpot is a complete platform for developing marketing effectiveness and marketing competence.

Hubspot does have monthly packages of $200. However, their offerings cost $800/month package for marketing automation and CRM integration that includes only 1,000 contacts. The further cost grows based on the user’s contract requirements.

Hubspot Marketing Automation Tool

4. Marketo

Marketo, founded in 2006, launched its first product “Lead Management.” In 2012, Marketo acquired “Crowd Factory.” This acquisition resulted in the benefits of social media marketing capabilities. Finally, the company went public in 2013.

Marketo is easy and influential marketing software that suits an organization having the strength of 100+. It helps marketing and sales professionals drive revenue and develop marketing engagement. Most of the users usually compare this software with Pardot owing to their similar functionality.

Marketo overpowers Pardot in terms of implementation, usability, and design of their platform. Marketo provides the foremost cloud-based marketing software platform for companies of all sizes to develop and maintain engaging customer relationships. It has an outstanding integration with Salesforce. These two tools work effortlessly together through their syncing takes a considerable amount of time.

The packages of Marketo include three standard pricing tiers, at $895, $1,795, and $3,175 per month. Under each tier, various new features are available which may come at hefty prices of an additional $900 – $1,400 per month.

Marketo Automation Tool

5. Ontraport

Ontraport is again very good for SMBs, the affordability factor is just as important as a feature. It allows accessing the full suite, along with a money-back guarantee only at $600/month. The topmost features of Ontraport include but not limited to two way SMS automation, Landing page A/B testing, ROI tracking, custom reporting dashboard, video hosting, API access for third-party development, task management automation, and lead scoring and routing.

Ontraport holds a wide range of inspiring shopping cart features. These features comprise automatic credit card payment collections and the ability to add cross-sells, upsells, and cart rejection orders.

Ontraport allows storing 25K contacts, managing 100K contacts, and sending 100K emails per month.

Ontraport Automation Tool

Do Not Miss: to Read About Important 5 Essential Marketing Automation Tips for Successful Start-ups

6. Pardot

Pardot belongs to Salesforce. It was jointly founded by Adam Blitzer and David Cummings in 2007. In 2012, Exact Target acquired it for a reported $95 million. Later, Salesforce acquired Exact Target in 2013.

It is a full-featured and user-friendly marketing automation tool. It helps pipelines to pick up the pace and drive sales through social marketing, sales intelligence, email marketing, lead generation, lead management, and more. Other prominent features include segmentation wizard, ROI reporting, email marketing with complete branded templates, real-time sales alerts and CRM integration. It maximizes the efficiency of the sales and marketing teams and ultimately increases revenue.

The standard package provided by Pardot comes at a cost of $1000 per month. The other packages related to advanced analytics, A/B testing, dynamic content costs around $2000 per month. The ultimate package related to API access and custom user roles is of $3000 approx per month.

Pardot Automation Marketing Tool

7. GetResponse

GetResponse Marketing Automation facilitates you to devise flexible processes that sustain your unique business style. Also, can transform your marketing database into a lead scoring activist. It is highly efficient in optimizing the sales funnel. The top features of GetResponse include but not limited to drag and drop visual workflow editor, post-purchase communication, loyalty and reward programs, tracking online activities of subscribers, cutting-edge customer scoring, and others. This platform is very simple to operate; you need to have a full-time CRM manager. Its monthly payment plans are sectioned by list size which starts at $15 per month for unlimited messages to up to 1,000 subscribers.

GetResponse Automation Marketing Tool

8. MailChimp

As an email marketing automation tool, MailChimp is a preferred choice for many SMBs.

MailChimp provides enterprise-level automation tools without any hurdles. Its prominent features include but not limited to trigger emails when customers abandon shopping carts, conversion of interested subscribers into customers, re-engaging with existing customers, integration of web services with apps, and others.

There are three pricing plans offers of Mailchimp: Forever Free, Monthly, and Pay As You Go. They also have an alternative designed to fit users’ needs.

9. AWeber

AWeber is an ideal autoresponder platform for small businesses, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. This marketing automation tool is a comfortable process to automate your emails. Its new drag and drop editor is capable to support your email automation requirements. Its prominent features include lead segmentation, web activity tracking, creating invoices, split testing, generating sales reports, and others. AWeber enables you to assemble your list with their opt-in forms. It sends out automated emails to your subscribers. If you want to get started with email marketing, AWeber is the perfect key.

AWeber Automation Marketing Tool

10. Zoho CRM

Zoho Campaigns is an email marketing automation product that helps you create, send, track, and share your email campaigns. Its free services include 12000 emails/month, 2000 subscribers, pre-designed templates, real-time visitor tracking, template library, A/B testing, social sharing, merge tags, sign-up forms, and many more.

Zoho CRM provides a complete view of your sales cycle and pipeline. Zoho. Thereby it enables you to spot trends, marking opportunities, and further, lock more deals. Zoho’s shaped customer relationship management and marketing effectiveness procedures help you build your company into a customer-centric business. Its campaigns are integrated with internal services like Zoho Survey, Zoho CRM, Zoho Forms, Zoho Docs & Zoho Sites, Zoho Creator, and other services like LinkedIn, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Facebook, Twitter, Eventbrite, Google Analytics, WordPress, Google Apps, and others.

Zoho Automation Marketing Tool

Its service packages are in affordable ranges. $12/user/month package provides services of sales forecasting, reports, and dashboards. A professional package worth $20/user/month provides services of Email integration and social CRM. An enterprise package worth $35/user/month provides services of territory management and custom modules. Further, its CRM Plus package worth $50/user/month provides services of email marketing, help desk, and customer surveys.

How To Develop A Winning CRO Testing Roadmap

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the practice which boosts the proportion of your website visitors who perform a preferred action on your website. Primarily, it is website optimization so that larger chunk of your traffic finds it illuminating and performs your desired action.


Need for CRO testing roadmap

A number of variables need to be tested in order to achieve your conversion goal. These variables include:

  • Opt-in form placement, design, and draft
  • Opt-in bribe (or lead magnet)
  • CTA (“call to action”) color and copy

Testing such variables might lead you to cash on short-term success like increasing CTR to your landing page. However, to enjoy long-term and sustained success, you need to focus on CRO testing roadmap. These long-term goals include increasing MRR. Consequently, it is must to test CRO roadmap. This is because as a business it helps you to move from tactical testing to strategic testing. Based on positive results, you can optimize your focused areas of website. Moreover, it improves organizational resource planning.

According to Emma Travis, Senior Optimization Strategist at PRWD, having a testing roadmap “helps to communicate to the wider business what the ‘plan’ is.”

The major paybacks of developing a roadmap are better alignment of teams with brand visions and strategic goals. It sharps your testing in conjunction with the widespread organization and how you accomplish your goals.

The broad reasons why you need to develop a winning CRO testing roadmap includes the following:

1. Optimize resource planning

Few areas you need to decide based on your requirements, though trial and error may require. Such areas include hiring resources over outsourcing. Content writer, web designer, developer, and other vital resources can either be hired for temporary or full time basis. Considering costs and benefits, you may opt for outsourcing the same tasks. However, to decide – hire or outsource, a roadmap helps you know exactly when to hire resources for maximum impact. For example, if your roadmap reveals that you will not be testing copy till the next quarter, you can postpone on hiring a copywriter. Such tests if performed timely and wisely can save you from over-hiring and under-hiring. Ultimately, improves targeted results and your outcome.

2. Focus on strategic goals over tactical goals

In order to achieve strategic goals, one definitely needs to achieve tactical and operational goals. All long-term strategy should be wisely segmented into tactical and operational strategies. However, it does not mean that you should divert your mindset and only focus on operational or tactical goals. For example, if your tactical goal is to increase CTR by 40% and you achieve it as well. Still, it remains your short-term success only. This is because “increasing CTR” is a tactical objective, not a strategic business goal. You may see a drastic improvement in your CTR but is possible that you end up losing on revenue. It improves a specific, remote metric (CTR) without considering long-term goals. Here, a testing roadmap fundamentally outlines these tactical goals in outlook. You know precisely how short-term, tactical goals merge with long-term strategic goals.

3. Prioritize tests

Here, you may pick up any sample page of the website, say product/service page. On this page, you may run a number of tests. Such tests include:

  • adding “Zoom” element,
  • appending a size, fit and flex rating,
  • detailing UGC (“user-generated content”) of product images,
  • attaching “Customer Q&A”,
  • making CTA button even more prominent

4. Perform more complex tests

Often, a user restricts him with simple tests including changing font, page colour, button colour, or even tweaking a headline. Possibly, one can make the modifications in coding as well. These changes are fairly easy to work out. On the other hand, more complex tests require a number of resources working together to run the test. In larger organizations, even a team of the tester is required to sign-off on a complex test prior to running it. Such changes include modifying checkout page design to focus on free shipping, tweaking pricing table, and others.

Again, here, a testing roadmap can let you know precisely whom you need to bring on the project. For example, if you need the designer team to sign-off on a checkout page design test, you can employ them at the appropriate time.

5. Line up the rest of your business with your vision and mission

Last but not the least, especially for larger businesses, alignment of resources with organizational vision and mission is must. CRO repeatedly requires a huge amount of modifications to your business, website, and sometimes, even your business model. Undoubtedly, a testing roadmap ensures that your entire business has perceptibility into these developments.

Do Not Miss: to Read About Important How to Optimize Landing Page to Improve Conversions

How to construct a CRO Testing Roadmap

Construction of CRO testing roadmap is a subjective matter since it differs from business to business and industry to industry…

Moreover, the field of CRO has yet not fully evolved. In spite of the availability of numerous frameworks, most of the consultants use their own customized approaches to develop a testing roadmap. Experts suggest the following simple steps construct your own CRO testing roadmap:

1. Clarification of business vision and mission

As a business, it is imperative to establish your business goal. Importantly, goals need to be SMART i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and tangible. With reference to CRO testing roadmap, you need to have consent on how the goal is measured. It should be noted that goals relate to business and industry and could be completely different from one business to others. For an e-commerce company, a goal could be “reduce shopping cart abandonment,” while for a SaaS startup, it could be “reduce churn rate.”

Your business goal would be the course of action behind every test you run. Any test that does not help meet your goal in some way should not be run.

business vision and mission

2. Drill down strategic goals to meet the business goal

Your business goal needs to be drilled down to the level of your strategic goal. For instance, if your e-commerce business goal is to “improve the shopping cart acceptation rate”, your strategic goals could be:

  • Augment checkout completion rate
  • Boost product prices
  • Enhance cart recovery email conversion rate

Enlisting such strategic goals with the help of various mind-mapping tools will ease your process of developing CRO testing roadmap.

3. Collate tactical goals to accomplish strategic goals

You need to achieve your tactical goals to accomplish your strategic goals. For example, suppose you own a digital marketing firm, your strategic goals and tactical goals could be as follows:

Business Goal and strategy

These tactical goals form the foundation of your testing idea brainstorming session.

4. Document on hand performance and set a baseline

Prior to moving towards brainstorming testing ideas, you need to set a baseline for your existing performance. It means you need to conduct a CRO audit to understand the areas which need either attention or improvement. At least, for your online business, you should be aware of the bounce rate, primary CTA & CTR, and exit rate. Such statistics should be noted down on the excel sheet or any other convenient application.

For example:

Performance CTA & CTR

5. Devise testing thoughts

Once you reach till the previous step, your next suggested move is to come up with ideas to meet each of your tactical goals. These ideas should be accurate and precise. For example, be clear if you want to change CTA copy on your product page or you want to change the design and look of your product page. Each goal should be tested using various mind mapping tools. In case your tactical goal is to attach social proof on your product and services page, you might come up with solutions such as:

  • Demonstrate live purchases in numeric terms
  • Provide Klout / Moz score
  • Attach testimonials

6. Prioritize tests

Now it is time to identify which tests to run first. Experts suggest the following two approaches for the same.

Resource-first approachUnder this approach, first of all, a user takes stock of existing resources and identify which tests could be run with them. For example, if you have an in-house designer, you can prioritize testing product page and thank you page prior to testing other elements.
Results-first approachUnder this approach, first of all, a user prioritize the tests based on desired results and accordingly arrange resources.

Regardless of the approach that is being considered, the following two areas need to be measured:

Simplicity of executionThis measures how easy the test would be to put into practice. It is based on existing organizational resources, the capability to acquire future resources and technical complexity of the test.
ImpactThis measures what is the expected impact of the test on your target metric. It is based on historical data, case studies of similar industries, and test target

Once this data is in place, you can use a colour-coded scale (Red = high priority, Green = low priority) to denote the priority.

7. Build up your testing hypothesis

A hypothesis is an assumption made from facts that serve as the starting point for any experiment or examination. Every flourishing A/B test typically has a hypothesis associated with it. This hypothesis has three components:

  • Assumption: what is assumed is true on the basis of past experience and available data
  • Experiment: what is being experimented is focused on a single variable and is logically consistent with the assumption
  • Expected outcome: need not to be precise but should be able to reveal the expected trend

For example, the assumption is CTR for the button given on the website is low since it is not prominently placed. It can be experimented by modifying the size, style, or colour of that button to test its impact. The results of the experiment could be measurable like changing CTR button resulted in a 2% lift in conversion rates.

8. Collate all in one place

In case, you have successfully travelled across the above-mentioned seven points, you would have a strategic goal, various tactics to accomplish that strategic goal and prioritized testing thoughts for each of those tactical goals. Now it is the perfect and right time for you to collate them into a testing roadmap.

At the very least, you should note the following:

Strategic goal

Apart from the above-mentioned checkpoints, you can also consider your baseline and target for the metric you are testing (such as CTR or bounce rate).

For ease of data and derived information, it is advisable to note all of this in a separate spreadsheet at the end of your exercise. It is worthwhile to keep this document practically open-ended and flexible.

9. Plan your tests

Once the entire data is filled up in your spreadsheet along with testing ideas, it would be easy for you to implement CRO testing roadmap.

Now you know how to devise a winning CRO testing roadmap. For your online business, you now need to run a CRO audit, list your strategic and tactical goals, prioritize tests based on execution ease and at last, RUN the test!