Entrepreneur - - By Anja Skrba

How to Get Started with Marketing Automation for Free

Automation

It’s one thing to get leads from your website, but it’s another to expect them to suddenly become customers. This is where marketing automation can automatically nurture your leads and close them as customers. Marketing automation systems convert existing leads into customers with relevant, targeted messages that get results. 

Once you’ve collected and nurtured those leads, marketing to different groups based on demographics, preferences, and behavior can be quite challenging. This is where marketing automation systems come in. You build a strategy for each group that is supported by the right tools to put your marketing automation in action.

But is marketing automation the right system to improve your results? Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you have an established lead generation funnel?
  2. Do you have a steady flow of new leads?

If your answers to both questions are “no,” consider developing an inbound marketing strategy — one that will help you attract visitors to your website and convert them into the leads you need to do marketing automation effectively. 

Consider also that people change jobs and email addresses as well as unsubscribe. So the question still remains… how will you continue to renew and grow your database? There are many free kinds of marketing software on the market but some cause headaches and just aren’t effective. Choosing a free and open source option is a good way to go, but which one will be most effective for your strategy and budget? Read on for six different types of free marketing automation systems and how they can grow your business effectively.

SalesAutoPilot

One of the more established marketing automation systems spearheaded by online marketing expert extraordinaire Alexander Scholingloff, SalesAutoPilot provides a comprehensive professional solution including Free and Starter packages. Market to each of your segmented lists with marketing-focused software that includes e-mails, text messages for the purposes of market research, automated processes, and online CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software services.

Each extra or add-on option increases the cost of the starter version so it’s best to price the free version against the total price of all the extras and commit to the exact marketing services you need to grow your business.

Note: An ecommerce module is offered with the free version, but if you are looking to upgrade an older ecommerce platform, do your research to see if all the newer marketing software can be integrated in your new ecommerce platform.

Jumplead

Jumplead offers a variety of free strategies that will help you nurture those paid leads into customers. This will give you a taste of how their marketing automation software can help grow your business. With 100 emails to choose from, you can target your list by defining the topics and the tone of the emails you send based on their industries.  

Leadsius

If you’re looking to scale your business with real-time strategies, consider Leadsius, one of the most comprehensive and robust automation systems for free. Leadsius also offers strategies to help segment the needs of your audience such as planning a content strategy. For example, if a number of your subscribers are drawn to blog content, you might create more blog content in an effort to draw more people to your website.

If you need to segment to more than 2,500 contacts, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription model which starts at $295 a month, but the difference in premium and free accounts is limited to the number of users, not the number of contacts in the database.

InTouch

If you’re a business evaluating the opportunities with marketing automation, consider the free version of the InTouch system whose mission is to “put business on autopilot.” They even offer a business accelerator test to help you evaluate what kind of marketing automation services will put you on this path.

Although the free version is a bit limited with 100 emails, 2 users and 1 web form, you have unlimited contacts which is great for marketing to those leads being captured by your website. If you opt for more customized fields, emails and other marketing tactics designed for creating consumer interest and inquiry into products and services, consider subscribing to their next level up — the $15 paid model.

Mautic

You can set up a free hosted account with Mautic that includes email and social media marketing, which you can also download on your own site and customize for any group or segment. Social media and email marketing can be integrated into your campaigns which are also trackable. There is a community forum so you can get to know more about various applications of the product, which gives you the feeling that you are signing up to be a partner and not just a user.

Open EMM

Open EMM is one of the more established email marketing tools, developed in 1999 and used by tech giants such as IBM and Baur. It can easily be set up as a single server. It is one of the few open source systems that doesn’t cap the number of users or contacts, and offers lots of helpful support on the process for mailing campaigns, and what kind of emails are best suited for various segmented lists.

Customer.io

Another open-source solution, Customer.io‘s marketing automation system “triggers rules-based, multi-channel messages based on customer behavior data from your app or product.” Sounds pretty cool, and it is — but you have to make sure the 30 day free trial or the four price point packages cater to the functionality you’re looking for.

Important Features to Look For

The old saying “you get what you pay for” doesn’t necessarily apply to these systems, but not all free and open source solutions have all the features needed to cater to a growing business. And although this list represents some of the most effective and free marketing automation solutions on the market, many of these systems do not include the following:

  1. High volume emailing (100K – 1M email campaigns)
  2. Unlimited number of active users
  3. Unlimited number of contacts

Bottom line: do your research carefully, taking in account what you really need from a marketing automation system in order to grow your business. Remember to test free or demo versions before signing up for a paid subscription and even then, only purchase those functions that will help you segment the right marketing needs to the right contacts.

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