I run a small business that works with consumers, not businesses. One key differentiator for you should be the “who” of who you target. If you are targeting businesses, this divides into selling the solo owner or the head of marketing who reports to the VP of etc etc.
VERY different motivations of those categories
ALSO very different need from a quantity of contacts for you!
Noticing a response mentioning hubspot, I had to chime in. I looked at hubspot among others** and the pricing was ridiculous. $800 a month just to get marketing automation?!?!
Give me a break.
You can get that in offerings that have freemium editions and can upgrade for certainly less than $100/mo. That $800/mo only includes up to 1000 contacts, requires onboarding and there are no guarantees your onboarding will complete anything. So if you need to sell to consumers, chances are you need to build your list well past 10,000 to have lifeline. If you’re selling to Enterprise, sure fewer than 1000 contacts may work.
Infusionsoft does the same shenanigans. Last time (of 2) I tested them I was required to pay $1995 upfront for a consultant who never came close to getting our framework set up. Dtiched planned calls, didn’t follow through – ordinary baloney. Infusionsoft specifically denies responsibility. You, the customer, ALWAYS lose. The monthly fee was $400–500. Total time and money sink. Awful customer service, horrible consultants, giant fraud. Their native forms don’t even talk to their native apps without serious work.
It would be like having 8 people in a house. Each one speaks 1.5 languages, one native language and kinda one extra. No one speaks the same native language. You have to pray the language overlaps work.
Does that sound like fun? That’s infusionsoft.
Other systems I’ve tested recently (February-April 2017) with basic thought about it:
- ActiveCampaign – am getting set up possibly to replace autopilothq, includes templates you can drop into your automation sequence builder, includes meta-data driven triggers (for ex: pre-clients who have visited Page X and opened at least 2 newsletters), will do some migration for you, just not quickly. There’s a lot to do here and it looks pretty out of the box which makes that part of things easier. I am paying for pro while I test it for a month, free trial is very restrictive.
- SendinBlue – includes sms automation, but not 2-way sms so you have to send it to an email that is part of the automation sequence. Basic email automation, newsblasts, etc. Inexpensive and yet customer support was very responsive. Might work for you, worth a look.
- AutopilotHQ – sigh. I am currently using Autopilot. But this is not love. I even hired a consultant to expedite the set up process. Needed someone else’s clear head on it while I was dealing with family crisis. Wasn’t really worth it, but no harm done. Newsletter blasts are a disaster. Having a regular update go out to subscribers – a pretty basic thing – is really a no-go. Are you kidding? I have to create such a stupid workaround that my adoption has been weak. I haven’t even uploaded my client list. It’s capturing new pre-clients, but that’s it. No sensible way to schedule things. No rss-to-email. no sms!! Sure they claim sms, but all that is available is one way sms out. Responses will go nowhere. VERY BAD IDEA. Your client will have no idea you didn’t get the sms. They shouldn’t even offer sms. They’d be better off facilitating the tie to twilio/clicksend/etc. via zapier. sigh. sigh. sigh. Their team writes great stuff though so at the very least, get on their newsletter list. I believe this is irony.
- InstantCustomer: hahahaha their own website doesn’t work . . . even 5 weeks after I first told them about the problems. The initial response was, “Oh, we must have been hacked.” 5 weeks later? Same problems. Not hacked, they have page template issues. Dude, you sell marketing and your pricing page shows the <html> even 5 weeks after I point out the problem. Yikes. Don’t trust them to be responsive. FAIL.
- mailchimp – bare bones, no automation until paid tier, but for basic newsletters to go out regularly they’re fine.
- sendloop – email basics, rss feed to email, some cms, but not really meant for that
- intercom – gets expensive, but loads of features. SEt up – really, not just the drop code on a page part – is tricky. You need to have a very clear vision of what you want and would be best if you abandon the idea of automated drips. Requires you to change the way you think about staying connected. Biggest problem: intercom emails stack up in such a way that at many companies using intercom for support, your email goes to hell. And never comes out. I’ve seen it happen at multiple companies over the past year. Every time I have trouble with customer support I look at the email headers. TOO OFTEN they are using intercom as their platform. It’s even a problem at intercom. Sure, dump things into company inbox so the whole team can see, but then no one does anything. Real problem for assigning responsibility. They’re all over the place; they look super popular, but I would avoid.
- interakt – seemed like mailchimp + intercom, email + cms basics, triggers with zaps
- greenrope – huge all-in-one. Responsive customer support, eager team, but not the prettiest and there’s a lot to do to get functional. That said, INCLUDES SMS AUTOMATION!! one of the very few. Everyone else needs zapier connections to run a simple sms campaign (and really, that gets clunky fast. try clicksend, textdeliver or eztexting instead)
- inboundnow – wordpress specific plugin that runs your CMS form your dashboard. CMS primarily. no sms, no scheduling newsletter, etc.
- getresponse – so tempting. It’s prettier on the surface. Became my most direct competitor for activecampaign (autopilot is almost dead for me atm), decided against for a few reasons, but mostly because they count each name on each list as a distinct entry which is madness. If I see that kind of flawed business logic before I get sucked into building cases, I have to stop no matter how pretty it is. Like dating a beautiful idiot. no good.
- vero – looks like you can created nested segments, meta data triggers, but seemed like it owuld be too onerous to set up. I need to be able to spend a few hours (i.e. under 10hrs on a Sunday) to get it operational and vero did not instill confidence that it could be fully set up that efficiently. But worth another look.
- vision 6 – email and cms basics, enough for most b2b and b2c
- m3 – newsletters only
- nimble – crm, not automation, but does tie to gmail. If you have templates and B2B sales, this can be okay. I’ve used for a few years – it’s a terrible fit for me, but not an urgent prob. Nice feature, it includes all the social info and what your contact has said recently when you look at her profile.
- sendlane – email collection, basic analytics, sparse
- clearbit – b2b focus, dropped it quickly
I am not affiliated with any of these companies. This is the list of things that made it to my list. Several – including hubspot, constant contact, etc – were discarded before I started.
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