Automated email marketing is a natural outgrowth of marketing automation. Marketing automation refers to software platforms that automate repetitive or generic marketing tasks. Once you generate a large contact list, nurturing those leads until they finally convert involves several touches. Email is not used exclusively, but many marketers do use it as a lead-nurturing tool. When you can automate some of those messages based on certain predefined parameters, you can shed time off of your overall marketing efforts.
Managing email drip campaigns without software (unless you are doing it for a handful of prospects) is a complete nightmare. Not only do you miss out on a lot of tracking opportunities, there is also no automation. We’ve compiled some of the leading automation software on the market to show you what’s available and how it can help improve your efficiency with automated email marketing.
Silverpop is a marketing automation software company with a web-based platform. It has a lot of different services that come with its plans, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on email marketing.
Silverpop’s email feature is called Engage Email, and it is basically a combination of email marketing software like Constant Contact or iContact and marketing automation software. Here are some of the highlights of its email marketing software (excluding automation features)
- WYSIWYG editor that enables you to make pretty attractive emails
- Dynamic content
- Personalization features (like importing first name last name from an Excel document)
So that stuff is pretty generic, and you can get it without paying through the nose from any email marketing provider. The powerful part of Silverpop’s service comes in with its automation software. You can define customer behaviors, for example, that trigger specific preloaded email messages (crafted by you, of course) to be sent to the prospect as soon as he or she completes a particular action on your website.
For example, if you have a site that sells auto parts, you can set up a form where visitors fill in their name, email, phone and some other basic information. Silverpop uses information from that email, including keywords, options selected and other data to send an automated, personalized email to the visitor.
Naturally, if you just have one or two people per week filling out the form, this functionality may not be very exciting (or valuable). If you are getting dozens or hundreds of inquiries from your website every week, though, this automation can save you a lot of person hours sifting through and responding to basic email inquiries.
Silverpop has two basic plans for pricing on its website. You can go with the basic one (called Automated Essentials) starting at $800 per month. The Enterprise plan is about double that amount. The company offers a ton more services than described above; however, this is a significant investment for a smaller business just starting out. If you are looking to make more of an impact in online and email marketing, and have the budget for it, Silverpop looks like a pretty good company to investigate.
We may be a little biased about HubSpot as we use it on this website and often mention the company in examples on our blog. That being said, we aren’t offered any consideration for mentioning them and we feel that they have a very innovative and useful product.
Like Silverpop, HubSpot has an email nurturing feature. HubSpot has the Workflow tool that allows you to nurture and manage leads from when they come into the system until they become customers. Some of the tasks you can perform include:
- Configure lead-nurturing campaigns to drive prospects further along in the buying cycle
- Construct and schedule auto-response emails based on visitor behavior (i.e. enrollment time, calendar date, or specific behavior like demo view or contact form submission)
- Re-segment lists based on where prospects are in the buying cycle
If you are just starting to use automation programs and automated email marketing, HubSpot is slightly more affordable for the functionality you get with the platform. Like Silverpop (and many other automated marketing programs), price is based on database size.
Plans on HubSpot start at $200 per month, and go all the way up to $2,400 for enterprise plans. With the $200 per month plan, you can manage 100 contacts at any given time — not a bad deal if you are converting prospects within 30 days and each one is worth at least five bucks to you. On average, a company’s prospects are worth much more than that.
Marketo Automated Email Marketing
You’ve probably noticed a theme here. Most of the platforms mentioned here are moderately priced and have similar features. A lot of that has to do with who our readers are. Also, the majority of online marketers are either small outfits or solo marketers. If you are interested in corporate-level software programs, there is a great review post here.
Marketo has a lot of similar automated email marketing features as the other two companies mentioned here, but there was one thing I really liked about their platform. They have a built-in a/b/n testing feature for emails that automatically picks a winner for the campaign and sets it into action.
You can see pretty much everything the company’s automated email program offers in the video below.
Marketo is at the higher end of the pricing scale for the marketing automation software mentioned in this post. Their plans start at just under 2K per month, and you have to call for enterprise pricing. In other words, if you have to call, it probably costs a lot.
Marketing automation — and especially automated email marketing — can save a ton of time (and hence money) for your business. The key takeaway here is that you have to weigh the cost of not having the software against the price of whatever you choose to go with. Spending $2,000 a month on marketing automation may sound like a lot, but if it saves you $1,300 dollars per month in person hours and enables you to maximize those same person hours to make an additional $5,000 per month, then the investment is probably worth it.
What automated email marketing programs have you checked out? Do you use one platform that you really like right now? Let us know by leaving a comment below.