Any small business CEO (aka Owner, aka Accounter aka Marketer) understands the frustration of not having enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
In addition, the growth of the business is always the area that is most often neglected while the fires are being fought.
When there’s a spare moment, we might add a hurried post to Facebook, which doesn’t get engagement but makes us feel as if we’ve at least done something to promote our business.
But we’re only lying to ourselves. A social media post here and there won’t cut it. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is; if you’re not planning and implementing marketing activities, your business is likely to fail within the next five years. The statistics have spoken.
Which is why more and more small businesses are adding marketing automation tools to the budget.
But be warned: not all tools do the same thing, so it’s vital to do your homework first to see which one’s going to work best for your business.
How marketing automation tools help your business
Every online business needs to:
- Attract eyeballs
- Engage prospects
- Sustain business
As a small business owner, you want to avoid having to go out and constantly find new business because it’s so time-consuming to do so. Instead, if you want to be smart about marketing, your aim should be to get prospective customers to come to you, and then keep them engaged so that when they are ready, they choose you as their preferred supplier.
And then, because of the quality of your product and service, they keep coming back to you.
The question now becomes: how do you attract eyeballs, then how do you keep said eyeballs engaged, and then how do you make those eyeballs stick with your business over and over again? And how does marketing automation fit into this?
The basic needs of online marketing
Who’s your buyer?
If we start with the basics, then you need to know who your target audience is, and what drives them. This forms the basis of online marketing, because you can’t market effectively if you don’t know who you are marketing to. To find out these kinds of details from your customer base, you’d need a way of soliciting answers to your questions, like a survey.
Lead magnets attract
Once you know your audience persona, you’d need a lead magnet that compels your audience to subscribe to your email list.
What’s a lead magnet? Digital Marketer describes it as, “an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. The goal of the Lead Magnet is to maximize the number of targeted leads you are getting for an offer. It’s the first step in my Customer Value Optimization process.”
Ideas for lead magnets include:
- Downloading a free e-book
- Testing online software for a free trial period
- Joining a membership site for a free period of time
- Free webinar sign-ups
Landing pages encourage action
When you offer lead magnets, you need landing pages to direct traffic to. Here’s the difference between a landing page and a normal website page:
Image Credit: VirtualBusinessSolutions.Biz
Email marketing engages
Once people subscribe to your email lists, it’s important to keep them engaged with your brand, and there’s no better way to do that than by emailing them information that adds value to their lives. To do this, you need email marketing software.
Analytics shows you how to be better
Finally, to analyze the results of your efforts, you need analytics to be able to see what’s working and what should change.
All marketing automation platforms offer email marketing software as the basis of any marketing campaign, but the other features offered, vary greatly. For instance, both GetResponse and ConstantContact offer surveys that can be used to get to know your target audience, but as for lead magnets, ConstantContact offers coupon abilities, while GetResponse offers webinar software. We’ll get into the nitty gritty in a mo.
The major benefits of using marketing automation tools are:
- Saves you time because you don’t need to be a marketing guru to get results.
- Saves you effort because you don’t have to study topics like how to create landing pages that convert (for instance, with the GetResponse tool, it’s done for you, and all you need to do is tweak design and add your copy).
- Simplifies online marketing. If you don’t use marketing automation tools, life becomes hard.
A comparison of features
Marketing automation tools can be slotted into three levels:
- Level 1: Beginner online marketing. These tools only offer email marketing software.
- Level 2: Professional marketing for entrepreneurs. These tools are ideal for entrepreneurs who need to do their own marketing, or if they hire someone to do their marketing for them.
- Level 3: Professional marketing for teams. These tools are top of the line, for small to medium sized businesses who are stable and already have teams of people working for them.
Both GetResponse and ConstantContact are situated in level 2 marketing automation tools, and out of all those tools, these two tools both offer exceptional value for money, and both are priced similarly, between $45 and $49 per month. Therefore, the choice you make of which one to use should depend on:
- The functionality you need to achieve your business objectives.
- Ease of use.
|GetResponse (Pro)||ConstantContact (Email Plus)|
|Build landing pages||Yes||No|
|Marketing campaign workflows||Yes||No|
|Build landing pages||Yes||No|
|Call to action form templates||Yes||No|
|Shopping carts integration||Yes||No|
|Create a poll||No||Yes|
|Create a survey||Yes||Yes|
|Segmenting and tagging||Yes||Yes|
|Pricing per month||$49pm||$45pm|
Target audience research
Both GetResponse and ConstantContact offer survey software, which can be used for research purposes.
GetResponse survey feature screenshot:
ConstantContact survey features screenshot:
Only GetResponse offers an easy-to-use and adapt email automation workflow planner. Plan an entire process that uses triggers, filters and conditions:
As previously discussed, a lead magnet is something that attracts people to sign up as a subscriber to your email list. The following features can be used as lead magnets:
Only GetResponse offers webinar software which allows you to plan the whole webinar process, from sending out invitations, to building a dedicated webinar landing and registration page, to making the webinar engaging with polls, questions and answers, file sharing, video sharing and a whiteboard.
With ConstantContact, you can run three different Facebook promotions to get more fans:
With ConstantContact, you can offer coupons to attract people to subscribe to your list, and promote them on social media or by email:
They also offer a way to collect donations, which is brilliant if you’re a charity.
ConstantContact offers event marketing ability: send invitations, register and manage responses and publicize your event on social media:
Landing page builder
Only GetResponse offers a landing page builder. Since every marketing campaign needs a landing page, this may be a deal breaker for ConstantContact, although if you selected ConstantContact as your marketing automation tool of choice, you could use it with a 3rd party landing page builder service, but it would cost you double the amount.
GetResponse offers a plethora of landing page templates, in various categories, and which make it easy to set up:
Sign-up form templates
ConstantContact offers sign-up form functionality – where you can add sign-up forms to your website – but they don’t offer templates and you can’t customize the appearance of the form very much:
GetResponse offers a host of sign-up form templates, and you don’t need any additional plugins to make them look the way you want them to look:
Both GetResponse and ConstantContact offer email marketing and automation, although GetResponse does offer more ways (scoring, segmenting and tagging) of segmenting lists to make email open rates higher and to provide your subscribers more value, based on their specific interests.
Both tools offer email templates. There is not much difference between the tools with regards to this particular function.
Only ConstantContact offers polling-making software. Add a poll to your website or send traffic to the poll link:
Website traffic tracking
Only GetResponse offers this feature to check the behavior of your ecommerce website visitors, including what went wrong when customers abandoned shopping carts.
Both tools offer analytics for email lists. Get an overview, or dig a little deeper to find out information like:
- Who opened your emails
- Who clicked the links in your emails, or what links were clicked
- Bounce rates
In addition to email marketing analytics, GetResponse also offers analytics for the webinars you host, and your ecommerce website. Other analytics functions by GetResponse include:
- Time metrics, such as which days and times are the best to send emails
- Email comparison
- Email campaign ROI
- Autoresponder statistics
- Set up reports to be emailed to you at certain times
- Track social media statistics of the emails you send
Both tools offer A/B testing: test versions of landing pages and emails to see what does better, and why.
Both marketing automation tools allow integrations with other 3rd party services.
Ease of use
Before it became a complete marketing automation platform, GetResponse was always known as the “world’s easiest email marketing software”, and they still are, and since becoming a complete marketing automation provider, have carried the simplification throughout their offerings. They use bright, bold colors and use a logical thought process to make it easy for their clients to set up campaigns.
Which tool is best for your business?
By now you should have a good understanding of the differences between GetResponse and ConstantContact. Every small business is different, with different needs, so the choice you make should depend on the functions you need to implement your online marketing strategy.
ConstantContact is an excellent option if you regularly run events or if you’re a fundraiser or non-profit organization. The major differences between these two tools are:
- GetResponse offers intelligent workflow planning, website traffic tracking, webinar software, landing page builder, sign-up form templates and intelligent analytics which ConstantContact does not offer.
- On the other hand, ConstantContact offers polls-making software, Facebook promotions, coupons, donations and event marketing which GetResponse does not offer.
If you’re still not sure which tool to select, this beginners guide to marketing automation should do the trick.
Not every small business owner can be an online marketing guru too. Marketing automation tools allow you to initiate activities without the need to master marketing as well as your core business.
They also save an enormous amount of time. But the tool you select needs to be based on the functions your business needs to achieve it’s goals. Ease of use is also vital, to further save time.
Oren Rofman – is a senior technology writer. He’s particularly interested in information technology, big data and the cloud. You could connect him via Twitter.