How much does marketing automation cost, and what platform should I use?

For health, fitness, nutrition and wellness focused business owners & entrepreneurs.

Asking this question is a little like asking how much does it cost to get fit and healthy? Just as there are endless ways to improve health and fitness, there are endless possibilities when it comes to marketing automation.

Let’s imagine for a second that you’ve just walked into a full-service fitness and wellness studio. Yoga, Pilates, Spin, Boxing, Gym, everything is on offer. You walk up to the reception desk and ask ‘how much?’. Well, that depends. What do you want to achieve? What are your interests? What’s your current level of health? What kind of budget are you working with? How much time do you have?

As you might have already guessed, it’s hard to give an accurate estimate or even average cost of marketing automation. There are so many variables and so many differences between each platform. The good news, is you can actually get entry level access to the full spectrum of marketing automation features for as little as $20 to $50 (AUD) per month. Even better news, is that the majority of marketing automation software will offer both a free trial and month-by-month payment option.

How to pick the most suitable software or platform for your business.

There are literally thousands of marketing automation options available on the market. In order to best select the most suitable software for your business, you really need to paint a clear picture of what you are hoping to achieve. And to paint a clear picture of what you are hoping to achieve, you need an understanding of what can be achieved. We covered the basics of marketing automation Part 1. In this article, we’ll dive into the core features you need to be using if you really want to build a sustainable and successful business through marketing automation. These are the features you must ensure the software you are using provides.

Because most people aren’t aware of the full capabilities of marketing automation, they get sucked into a mediocre service never really getting a taste for what automation can do. Worse yet, many people purchase high-end automation software without ever using the features to their full potential.

If you do a quick Google search for ‘best marketing automation software for small businesses’, you will find a bunch of articles reviewing and comparing automation software.

https://www.ngdata.com/top-marketing-automation-software-tools/

http://www.capterra.com/marketing-automation-software/

https://www.dreamgrow.com/marketing-automation-platforms/

http://www.marketingautomationinsider.com/compare/

The problem with the available comparisons, is that there is just no chance the people or companies who put these guides together have used all the tools they are comparing. It’s also very unlikely they have built or managed a business like yours. For example, most of these articles will compare software like Infusionsoft (starting at $200 per month) with MailChimp (starting with a basic free plan). These are two completely different pieces of software. MailChimp is an email marketing service that now offers limited automation features. While Infusionsoft is a high-end automation service which offers a range of other lead capture features.

You’re probably going to want to find something in between. You want to find a product that offers the full spectrum of marketing automation, at a reasonable entry level price.

Here are a few examples of available software.

ConstantContact

ActiveCampaign

Autopilot

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And there is every chance that there a more suitable platforms out there for you. But just as there are core pillars of health and fitness for anyone wanting to achieve a healthier overall lifestyle, there are core marketing automation features you must be using if you really want to build a successful and sustainable business through automation. And there are a lot of platforms (in addition to the three above) which will give you access to these features at a reasonable price. So don’t get lured into a shitty product for $5 a month, or pushed toward a high-end product you don’t need and can’t afford.

So what are the core features you must use if you want to build a sustainable and successful business through marketing automation?

1. Basic CRM

Marketing automation should have an easily accessible and editable client management system. Similarly to a CRM, each client should have their own unique profile which includes information like name, email, phone number, company etc. There is a good chance that the client management system within an automation focused service won’t allow you to store and manage great deals of sales and client information. But it should cover and store the basics.

2. Progressive profiling, lead nurturing and lead scoring

Unlike most CRM’s, marketing automation software should have the ability to learn about your client, building their profile based on behaviours and actions. Purchasing actions, website visits, social media interactions, just to name a few. This data should grow progressively as your client interacts more frequently with your business, allowing you to build automated sequences and workflows based on these actions.

3. Targeted email and outreach features

Marketing automation is often confused with email marketing. This is because the final outreach or connection made with your client will be through email. There is a big difference though between an automated newsletter which is sent to all clients each month. And a unique, personalised email with a perfectly timed upsell offer triggered by actions taken by an individual client rather than a date on the calendar. In addition to an email feature, automation software should also facilitate SMS sending and site messaging.

4. Segmentation tools and user-friendly workflow design

Advanced segmentation tools are essential, allowing you to search for, group, and connect with a client(s) based on their unique characteristics and behaviours. Segmentation tools should work in unison with user-friendly workflow designs. You should be able to easily create workflows with multiple paths and actions.

5. Easy and open integration

This is perhaps the most important feature. Marketing automation software, no matter how good, isn’t going to cover all your bases when it comes to marketing requirements. Your website will be separate, you might have separate booking systems, your social media accounts, landing pages and external lead capture forms all exist independently. You want to ensure all of your main touch points can be easily connected to your marketing automation account.

Dynamic versus static information

It’s important to spend some extra time considering the importance of integration in a little more depth. You will never reap the full benefits of marketing automation unless you have connected all your online interactions (specifically a third-party CRM or booking system) and you are able to pass dynamic information back and forth.

Static information includes things like name, email, address etc. This information is great and will save you time manually exporting your lists to bring all this information into your marketing automation account. It means you can send out personalised notifications and content to your clients. But this information is only a fraction of the overall picture. When did your client last attend a class? How much have they spent with you? This is the dynamic information you need to be pulling if you really want to build a powerful marketing automation process.

Unfortunately, most marketing automation software does not provide integrations that will pull this kind of dynamic information with their most basic accounts. You will either need to sign up for a higher tier plan or hire a developer to build a custom integration. While it does take a little time to create a dynamic integration, it’s definitely worth doing in the long run.

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