Technology's Worker Bees: 7 Marketing Automation Tools for Startups

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Walk through a list of marketing automation tools that are sure winners for startups and small businesses alike. Get ready for results!

In the startup world, an entrepreneur wears a lot of hats.

From business operations to sales to marketing to customer communications, it’s a busy task especially for smaller lean teams that may not have the budget or revenues to support additional manpower.

And that’s why automation is a great way to help minimize the workload, if just for a bit (or with some other tools, pretty substantially).

We’d like to walk through a list of marketing automation tools that are sure winners for startups, but as small businesses, they’d be great for you too.

Related Article: Using Sales and Marketing Automation to Improve Your Bottomline

1. Autosend

Autosend is an engagement platform that sends email, SMS, or push notifications based on user behavior within your app. This methodology, called “trigger-based messaging,” simply works to monitor behavior, and based on what a user does, a response is “triggered” by Autosend to act on the app owner’s behalf to convert or retain the user in some way.

The interface is “dead simple,” as they describe it. You create a rule based on some action and then the user receives some sort of notification as indicated below.

Autosend screen shot

Pricing: Autosend has three pricing plans: a $50/month starter plan for 500 active users and 500 SMS messages, a $250/month growth plan for 10,000 active users and 10,000 SMS messages, and a $600/month pro plan for 30,000 active users and 30,000 SMS messages.

They also have a free plan to get users started: 50 users, 25 SMS messages, and 50 email and in-app messages (all paid plans have unlimited emails and unlimited in-app messages).

2. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign’s strength is based on marketing automation through email.

This email marketing platform gives you the ability to send newsletters based on behavioral data (that’s where the marketing automation comes in).

Put simply, a funnel is defined as seen below, and is predicated on certain conditions being met. If a user has visited a certain page, you can subscribe them to a newsletter, for example.

Or you can send an email acknowledgement several days after a purchase is made online, or after a user signs up for a trial of your service.

The possibilities are endless, but it’s all based on user behavior.

Active Campaign screenshot

Pricing: Pricing at ActiveCampaign is either paid monthly or annually. The monthly pricing starts at $9/month, with an intermediate plan at $49/month and an enterprise plan at $149/month. The $9 plan supports up to 500 contacts, whereas the $149 plan supports up to 2,500.

There are enhanced features, like CRM, a custom mailserver domain, custom branding, and free social data, with the higher level plans.  

3. Vero

Vero is yet another email automation tool that is focused on automating workflows with real time event tracking and user segmentation.

Similar to ActiveCampaign, a user can trigger an event, such as a welcome email that would arrive 10 minutes after the user signs up to a new service. The service offers A/B testing, timezone targeted emails, reporting and more.

Vero screenshot

Pricing: Vero is priced on the higher side, with pricing that ranges from $99/month to $1,049/month and then some:

  • Starter: $99/month for 12,500 customers and 25,000 emails a month
  • Growth: $299/month for 100,000 customers and 250,000 emails a month
  • Pro: $599/month for 175,000 customers and 400,000 emails a month
  • Enterprise: $1,049+/month for 175,000+ customers and 400,000+ emails per month

4. Nudgespot

Nudgespot is what you’d call an in-app messenger for all kinds of customer communication. A user signs up, you send him a message welcoming him to the site.

A user signs up from California, you send him a message that’s targeted to his geography. A user hasn’t logged into the site in three months, you ask him where he’s been hiding.

But that’s what a lot of the aforementioned tools do, and interestingly enough, I wouldn’t consider them competitive.

The beauty of Nudgespot is beyond these standard automation features, there’s also the ability to communicate in real time with customers, addressing their needs as they arise.

Messages can be sent in email, SMS, and push notifications. The screenshot below encapsulates the triggered messaging you can offer for the marketing automation part of things:

Nudgespot screenshot showing real time usage

Pricing: Nudgespot is a freemium product. Its free tool for up to 100k users gives you simple features such as unlimited team members, a shared inbox, discussions with anonymous visitors, and real time notifications.

An engage plan for up to 100k users is offered at $49/month and adds triggered messaging, segmentation, analytics, and up to 50k messages.

A retain plan also for up to 100k users is $199/month and adds behavioral targeting, email/SMS/push marketing, A/B testing, and can support up to 100k marketing messages.

A prime plan for more than 100k users adds multiple inboxes, supports APIs, has team reporting, and builds on internal support features.

5. Outreach

While Outreach might be more of a sales automation tool, I know the creative marketers among us could find some marketing automation use cases for this.

The tool by far is an amazing way to reach out to prospects or customers and follow up with them until they respond. Inviting someone to try your product?

Related Article: 9 Web Tools That Make Marketing Automation a Breeze

You don’t have to manually drop them a line everyday. You can, instead, send an email on day one, and then if there isn’t a reply in three days, follow up again, and then if there’s still no reply, you can follow up again, and then set up time for a phone call. You name it.

The cadences are fully customizable to your business’s needs, and the automation saves time from your sales (or marketing) teams.

Outreach screenshot

Pricing: Outreach doesn’t advertise its pricing, but the last time I checked, the cost is per user of the service and is usually less than or about $100/month per user.

6. GoChime

GoChime is a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram marketing automation tool that helps businesses find their existing customers on Facebook by anonymously matching their email addresses to their Facebook profiles for segmentation and for targeting the right kind of ad.

The product lets brands target offers based on social media data and CRM data, and integrates with most other automation tools and CRMs to always ensure the messages remain appropriately targeted.

GoChime screenshot of marketing campaigns

Pricing: Pricing starts at $199/month for a small business plan that supports 20,000 records and 2 advertising channels.

A growing business plan at $799/month supports 200,000 records and 3+ advertising channels. An enterprise business plan is $2,399/month and supports 2 million records and 3+ advertising channels.

7. Frederick

Frederick is for the local brick-and-mortar business down the block, catering to anything from fitness centers to spas to salons and auto body shops.

It’s a simple product that lets businesses connect their existing appointment book to grow local businesses through targeted email and text campaigns, talking to customers who already know you and would be most likely to convert.

The tool helps these local businesses fill slots in their schedule by utilizing data-driven marketing based on data already within the business’s CRM/POS system to determine the most appropriate marketing, the most appropriate audience, and the most appropriate time to send a campaign. 

Frederick screenshot example on mobile device

Pricing: US/Canadian pricing starts at $59/month for zero to 499 contacts all the way up to $299/month for more than 10,000 contacts.

An international pricing plan ranges from $79/month to $349/month.

Related Article: The Full-Time Funnel: Improving B2B Lead Nurturing with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a great way to streamline businesses and make the business owner more efficient, giving him time to focus on the work that needs to be done: the face-toface work, the phone calls, and the stuff that simply cannot be automated.

After all, why would you want to do the manual labor if you don’t have to?

Fortunately, in the past few years, a wide variety of tools have launched that can really speak to the needs of super small (and larger) businesses, giving them what it takes to be successful so they don’t have to worry about all that other stuff.

What are your favorite marketing automation tools?

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