Online marketing plays an ever-growing role in our connected world, especially for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) – and for a good reason. Compared to other marketing venues, it is much more flexible, affordable and, in many cases, brings much greater results.
The only downside is that it entails an enormous amount of micromanagement – even if you are an expert at this kind of thing, you can only go so far without some kind of automation tool. The problem is – which one to prefer? Demand begets supply, and today there are numerous variants to choose from. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.
If you ever dabbled in online marketing, you have probably heard about GetResponse – it is one of the oldest and best-known email marketing providers, originating back in late nineties. And its expertise has by no means blunted since then.
GetResponse remains faithful to its original basic principle – providing SMBs with affordable and easy-to-use marketing automation, which is clearly seen in the platform’s approachability. When you want marketing automation, you want to make your life easier, not harder – and GetResponse helps with that. You won’t have to hire a full-time CRM specialist to work with it, nor will you have to spend days trying to figure out how everything works. You won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for its functionality. You won’t have to pay separately for additional functions – GetResponse works as an all-in-one tool including A-class landing page builder, auto responder, webinar and email marketing tools – an ideal option for an SMB, especially if you aren’t exactly sure from the get-go which functions you are going to use.
If you are not sure, you may always try out a 30-day free trial including all the features offered by the service.
At a glance, MailChimp may look very similar to GetResponse, probably even better in some respects. For example, it offers an unlimited free plan if you don’t exceed 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. However, on closer inspection, the similarities disappear, and advantages stop looking particularly advantageous. Firstly, the free plan is rather limited – it doesn’t include autoresponder and some other important features. Secondly, MailChimp lacks the visual workflows characteristic of GetResponse. Thirdly, its paid version gets very expensive very quickly for the users with bigger databases – it almost looks as if it penalizes you for success.
3. AWeber and ConstantContact
Both AWeber and ConstantContact are similar in pretty much every respect: their prices climb up very quickly with the number of subscribers (to the point that they aren’t eager to reveal their prices for larger subscription bases, probably not to scare off customers), and they both talk a lot about automation but don’t actually offer much in this respect. In addition to that, AWeber is known to suffer from clunky design and limited functionality of mail designer.
iContact is certainly on the losing end when compared to the majority of competitors. Outdated, poorly implemented interface, a number of annoying glitches (e.g., image upload), lack of automation features, and long-known bugs the service doesn’t bother to find solutions for make it an obvious outsider.
5. InfusionSoft and Marketo
These two are both excellent tools with multiple functions, a great deal of customization and tweaks. There are just two minor problems that make them a mostly unviable choice for SMBs.
Firstly, they are advanced tools. Way too advanced for the mid-market: while offering a host of possibilities, they require a dedicated specialist working full-time to operate them to fully utilize all these options. If you try to do it on your own, you will simply have no time left to run the rest of your business.
Secondly, they are prohibitively expensive: for example, InfusionSoft’s pricing starts at $199/month, covering 2,500 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Taken in conjunction with what you are going to pay the CRM expert working it, it is way too costly to be cost-efficient.
A great tool, and not as highbrow as the two previous ones, but it suffers from the same drawback: too expensive, much more expensive than you can afford to pay in your segment. Its prices start at $200/month – you should know precisely what you are doing before you spend this kind of money on a marketing tool, no matter how high its quality.
While many of these services have their strong points, GetResponse looks like the solution with the best value for money. It offers enough functionality to carry the needs of a mid-sized business while remaining simple enough to be used by a business owner without a great expense of time, empowering independent SMBs and online marketers and giving them an opportunity to run their own campaigns with significant success without resorting to costly tools and costlier marketing experts.