Marketing automation doesn’t do all the marketing for you, but it sure helps out.
The purpose of marketing automation is to streamline repetitive, sometimes tedious tasks that take up your day. Marketing automation tools can help you save time on the following tasks:
- Creating + scheduling emails
- Creating personalized landing pages
- Integrating sales and support systems
- …and a lot more!
Marketing automation providers range from Marketo to Salesforce Pardot. These are tools that are well-equipped to help a medium-to-large task force streamline their marketing and sales tasks. The caveat is that these services usually cost several thousands of dollars per month — well outside the budget of smaller businesses.
For businesses that want to take advantage of marketing automation tools without investing a sizeable sum of money, we’ve provided a list of some marketing automation alternatives. If the tools pay off, you can consider looking for more premium options.
We won’t bother going in-depth for the following well-known tools. You should probably be familiar with most, if not all of them, already:
- MailChimp – popular free email automation tool.
- Google Analytics – you need to be using this to track user behaviour on your website.
- Google Webmaster Tools – set this up so you can review on-page SEO elements and check that your site is being crawled properly by Google.
- That being said, here’s our list of free marketing automation tools for your business to try:
Social Media Automation Tools
We use a premium HootSuite plan at Cucumber Marketing, but there are some free alternatives such as Buffer, or Sprout Social if you’re willing to a pay a little bit more.
Social media scheduling is an amazing tool for executing a monthly editorial. We recommend a 50/50 ratio of “planned” vs “daily engagement” posts for most social media accounts, and recommend planning all customer touchpoint campaigns before a month even begins.
Once your monthly editorial is scheduled, you can rely on tools such as HootSuite, Buffer or Sprout Social to execute your posts.
Website Optimization Tools
Looking into your website’s user behaviour, analyzing trends and identifying insights can take a lot of time. With these website optimization tools, a lot of the grunt is done for you, so you can focus on digesting the juicy bits of data you uncover instead of spending time digging for new information:
- Hotjar provides heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion funnel tools, form analytics, feedback polls and surveys
- Hotjar offers a 15-day free trial, but ongoing use starts at $89 per month for the basic plan
- Good for looking into how your website can be improved
- Positive reviews from industry leaders such as Unbounce and HubSpot
- InspectLet lets you “record” user sessions to see exactly how they navigate your site
- A great way to understand how users use your site, to improve your conversion rate
- InspectLet is free for 100 recorded sessions
- SumoMe provides content analytics to give you a visual display of exactly where people stop reading your blog posts.
- This information helps you decide where to place your call-to-action (CTA)
- Submit your website and a real user will review your website, and send you a 5-minute video of their navigation path.
- If you’re more of a visual learner, you may be interested in this service which provides a video of how a real user would navigate your site.
If you have a marketing department (or if you’re in the marketing department that reports to a senior manager), you already know how time-consuming drafting a visually-appealing report can be. Here are some solutions that’ll help you save time AND help you identify the most important insights:
- Simply Measured will ask for a Twitter follow or a Facebook mention in exchange for the free report. Here are some of the reports they offer for free:
- Twitter Follower Report
- Twitter Customer Service Analysis
- Facebook Fan Page Report
- Facebook Content Analysis
- Facebook Competitive Analysis
- Facebook Insights Report
- Instagram User Report
- Social Traffic Report
- Traffic Source Report
- Google+ Page Report
- This tool might be useful if you want to quickly draft a short, targeted report for a main stakeholder
- This Moz-powered tool digs into your Twitter demographics for new insights
- This tool addresses the following questions: Who are your followers? Where are they located? When do they tweet?
- This tool can help you identify new influencers within your niche
- SumAll creates social media reports for you, connecting all your social media profiles in one place
- Connects Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google Analytics accounts
- SumAll starts at $99 per month, but a free 7-day trial is available
- Segment allows you to connect with apps like MailChimp and Google Analytics, collecting data from multiple platforms
- Segment sends your aggregated data ‘anywhere’ so everything from your data warehouse to the help desk is kept up-to-date with fresh data
- Like Segment, Cyfe is a nifty tool that aggregates all your social media, PPC accounts and website tools in one place
- Their free trial limits the amount of widgets you can place on a dashboard, but this is often enough for top-level insights
Lead Generation Tools
Lead generation tools do not necessarily replace your CRM system, but they can help your sales team identify and follow up on leads. Your sales team might find some of these tools useful:
- Charlie combs through hundreds of sources to send you a one-pager on your sales lead
- These reports include recent news mentions, common connections, competitor actions…even the individual’s hobbies!
- Charlie is used by HootSuite and Groupon, and is featured on Forbes and Mashable
- Norbert will help you find anyone’s corporate email
- The tool can also track sales leads and notes amongst your sales team
- Norbert provides 50 leads for free
HubSpot provides a marketing automation tool starting at $200 for the basic package. But did you know that they have a free version?
- This tool gathers email addresses from your website to provides key data points like employer and pages your leads have visited.
- HubSpot Marketing Free is integrated to your website through a WordPress plugin
Other tools provided by HubSpot:
- Contact forms
- Lead capture pop-up forms
- Contact database
- Traffic and conversion analytics
- Integration with CMS, email, and form tools
Paid Automation Tools
If you’re interested in a “full package” of marketing automation services, most providers charge a large monthly fee (like Hubspot, above). While expensive, these tools can definitely pay off in the long run if used correctly by the right team. Some big names for paid automation tools include Marketo, HubSpot and Salesforce – but here are some lesser-known alternatives that are a little easier on the wallet:
- Azuqua starts at $67 per month
- This tool features workflow automation and CRM integration
- Azuqua offers social integration, but doesn’t support Facebook yet
- Spokal starts at $49 per month for a single user and 200 contacts
- Spokal offers a 14-day free trial
- Spokal offers the following features: Blog SEO recommendations, Title A/B testing, social publishing and analytics, link and rank tracking, social media monitoring, competitor Twitter analysis, lead scoring and email automation.
- Leadsius is free for a database of 2500 and 1 user
- Their basic package starts at $295 per month
- Leadsius features lead nurturing and qualification, email marketing, landing page creation, website visitor tracking, reporting and more
- Leadsius offers tools for the entire lead generation cycle including qualification, nurturing, management, analysis and reporting.
Did we miss anything? What tools do you use to streamline your marketing? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter, or come visit us at our marketing agency on Robson and Thurlow. We always have chocolate 🙂