If you are pulling your hair out while trying to figure out marketing automation, don’t worry! Not only is the right solution out there for you, somewhere, but you are also in a place that most business owners would be envious of, as you have enough revenues and process to even consider automation. Many businesses never even get there!
Marketing automation is just what it sounds like- it’s the process of automating previously manual portions of your sales or marketing process. For example, if you are paying a team of salespeople to make outbound sales calls, and you find a way to automate this, this would be an example of marketing automation. Although this might not be the very best example, as these automated “robocalls” are actually illegal to make from the US. But you get the point.
One common thing that small business owners seek to automate is their email marketing. While programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact are great if you are just starting out, there are certain things that you just can’t do unless you upgrade to a more robust email marketing platform.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at two such marketing automation platforms, Infusionsoft and Ontraport, and dive into their effectiveness and some of the pros and cons of each.
Why Marketing Automation is Useful...
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have an opt-in form on your website that users can use to sign up for your newsletter. When a user signs up, they will likely receive a second email from you asking them to confirm their signing up. This is called a double opt-in and it’s a common practice (and one we highly recommend!) for those who manage newsletters.
Now, the next step that you *should* have implemented (though I promise I won’t judge you if you don’t!) is an autoresponder. This is basically a set of pre-written emails that a subscriber to your newsletter will receive when they sign up. The name autoresponder sounds fancy, but it actually isn’t, as you can see.
An autoresponder can be as long or as short as you want. If you sell a more complex product and those who join your list tend to be “cold” prospects, you’ll probably want to do a longer (~10 email) autoresponder then if you are selling a simpler product to a more eager audience.
Where does the next step in software come in?
You may have read those last sentences and thought, “Man, the people who join my list are all over the place! Some are buyers. Some are tirekickers. Some are somewhere in between.”
This, my friend, is when a great piece of marketing automation software comes in. If you were to use something like Infusionsoft, what you would be able to do is segment your list of newsletter readers with a high degree of specificity and send them the right messages at the right time.
For example, you can set up if/then statements so that, if a reader doesn’t open 3 consecutive emails they receive what is called a “re-activation email”, that works to re-engage them with your content. You can’t do this with Mailchimp. But you can do it with a few of these programs…
Infusionsoft vs Ontraport
Both Infusionsoft and Ontraport can help you solve your marketing automation problems, but it’s a question of which one is the right one for you. For a more in-depth look at both Infusionoft and Ontraport, check out this comparison. Infusionsoft is the pricier of the two options, at least upfront, as it comes with a $2000 kickstart fee. This fee does include extensive training on how to use the software, though. From there, you can expect to pay anywhere between $199 and $397 a month for his piece of software.
Ontraport doesn’t come with the high setup fee that Infusionsoft does, but it could potentially be more expensive on a month-to-month basis. Expect to pay between 297 and 597 dollars a month for your Ontraport subscription.
Of course, price isn’t the only consideration and most business owners are willing to pay more for the features that they want. Infusionsoft comes with a great lead tagging feature, that helps you better manage contacts from within your CRM. Overall, I’d say that Infusionsoft is more feature-rich, but Ontraport has (as of November 2015) a better-designed interface.
Whatever you decide to go with, I wish you and your small business success!