To help small businesses, we have created our list of the 4 Best Free Marketing Automation Tools. Using reviews from real users, our list of free marketing automation products is ordered by highest user satisfaction as of November 29, 2017.
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Running a successful marketing campaign is difficult for businesses of all sizes. For startups and small businesses, however, the challenge is unique. Trying to enter a market and build a brand takes time, money and effort, with the first two typically being in short supply. This is where free marketing automation software comes to the rescue!
As your business grows, keeping eyes on leads, nurturing prospects and keeping messaging on brand becomes increasingly difficult if done manually. Marketing automation tools give overworked marketers a unified system, especially when linked with CRM software, that can help vastly improve marketing efforts while saving time and money.
That being said, small businesses and startups may still be asking: Why do you need a marketing automation platform and how does it help your business?
Free automation tools will help bolster your marketing department without an initial investment, but will also provide a litany of benefits as your sales and workforce begins to rise. (Source)
1. Free marketing automation software saves time
Growth hacking influencer and startup coach Ehsan Jahandarpour, along with Brian Downard of BD Ventures, published an incredibly useful infographic on how much automation software can save your marketing department serious amounts of time and money (especially if it’s free).
How marketing automation saves time and money
- On average, you save more than six hours per week on social media management when you automate your social posts and ads. This also helps with SEO best practices by keeping you content fresh and relevant.
- You can increase your reply rate by 250 percent by automating your outreach and follow-up efforts, which can lead to an increase in sales and generate more traffic to your site.
- Sixty-eight percent of B2B marketers use marketing automation platforms to segment prospect lists and use lead scoring features to help identify sales-ready leads. You can also save 80 percent more time by arranging client appointments or meetings with automation technology.
Following up on the last bullet point, the four free marketing automation platforms mentioned in this article have been rated by real users on G2 Crowd specifically on Lead Scoring and Grading features (data as of Dec. 3, 2017).
Marketing automation products based on lead scoring and grading
Vbout.com (based on 20 reviews)
HubSpot (based on 856 reviews)
Drip (based on 12 reviews)
MailChimp (based on 70 reviews)
While the list generated above is based on overall satisfaction, Vbout.com is rated the highest in terms of Lead Scoring and Grading, according to Vbout.com reviews on G2 Crowd. With nearly 70 percent using this type of functionality, it is an important factor to consider when shopping for free marketing automation tools.
If you are not currently using free marketing automation software, or the paid version, every morning likely consists of scheduling out social media posts for the day or sending multiple outreach or follow-up emails manually.
Thanks to free marketing automation, you can plan out and personalize everything you need ahead of time without paying for it. This should allow your talented team of marketers to work on more advanced marketing strategies without being bogged down by tedious tasks.
All of the free marketing automation tools included in our list will also save you time toggling between a confusing software stack, also known as all the software you use for business purposes. Constantly switching between tabs when trying to launch a thoughtful marketing campaign is more time consuming than you would think, which is why linking marketing software to a CRM can be so beneficial.
2. Free CRM and free marketing automation integrate well
CRM tools, or customer relationship management platforms, and marketing automation work well together, as long as the two systems are compatible and are implemented correctly. And many of the best free CRM tools are. Let me tell you, there are few things that can crush your excitement over the wonders of automation than having it not sync properly with your CRM.
So we’re all on the same page, a CRM system is typically managed more by the sales side of things, though lead-generation marketers are heavily involved through transactional emails and other client management tasks.
Just to add a little more context into what users think about the free marketing automation tools included in this article and how CRMs can help manage leads, below is chart of based on Vbout.com reviews, HubSpot reviews and MailChimp reviews from real users on G2 Crowd to the CRM Lead Integration feature question. Drip was not included due to lack of user responses to this specific question (data as of Dec. 3, 2017).
Marketing automation products based on CRM lead integration
Vbout.com (based on 12 reviews)
HubSpot (based on 829 reviews)
MailChimp (based on 65 reviews)
Overall, a customer relationship management system saves contact information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and customer and prospect behavior –– all of this information is essential to maintaining an organized and successful sales department, but it is equally as important to your marketing efforts.
In addition to saving crucial contact information through access to a CRM, marketing automation tools give you visibility into where your contacts sit in the marketing funnel, what resources they’ve downloaded and what web pages they’ve engaged with.
This information is gold in the hands of a talented digital marketer, allowing them to hyper-personalize messaging toward customers through fields built-in to free marketing automation platforms and other types of marketing software.
As you can see, while free marketing automation tools and free CRM software are helpful individually, these systems thrive when working together. Housing all contact information in a central location gives you full-company visibility into your sales and marketing efforts.
There are also other types of free tools that professionals should research for integrating with a free marketing automation software, such as free email marketing tools.
3. Marketing analytics help track and target
Figuring out how much to spend on marketing efforts is always a challenge for small businesses, as nobody wants to end up wasting time and money on the wrong marketing channel or by means of an unproven campaign.
Marketing analytics help track and determine the best paths to increase ROI and ensure the success of your business. Luckily, marketing automation platforms give you access to your critical marketing KPIs, or key performance indicators, in one central location. This eliminates the unnecessary time it takes to switch between platforms and yields much more accurate insight into the metrics you care about.
Here are what G2 Crowd users rated the four free marketing automation software tools in this article in response to the Basic Reporting feature question (data as of Dec. 3, 2017).
Marketing automation products based on basic reporting
Vbout.com (based on 29 reviews)
MailChimp (based on 100 reviews)
HubSpot (based on 922 reviews)
Drip (based on 12 reviews)
A free marketing automation platform like those listed above can provide you with features to tag all of marketing activities associated with a campaign. From there, you can filter down to see comprehensive analytics of your traffic, conversion rates, social activity, landing page performance and so on. The best part? It’s all stored in one place. Thank you, marketing automation.
It also allows you to access reports and see how specific campaigns are performing in real time, which is often helped by integrating it with digital analytics software like Google Analytics and a CRM system.
By consolidating all of your marketing efforts into a connected platform designed to track how your marketing campaigns affect sales and other important metrics, you have full visibility into what is working and what isn’t.
From there, it’s up to you and your talented employees to keep what works and pivot strategies when necessary.
4. Automation assists with brand consistency
Brand consistency is something every marketing knows is incredibly important. Creating a successful brand and image for your company, however, is not an easy task. It takes more than just creativity and messaging, but years of giving your customers something they both like and have come to expect.
A big roadblock in the way of creating a recognizable brand is inconsistent design elements and messaging. Marketing automation alleviates some of the stress surrounding these inconsistencies by keeping everything in one place. This allows you to ensure that the online audience you are targeting will receive the same, consistent experience depending on how they interact with your message.
The chart below is based on HubSpot reviews and MailChimp reviews from real users on G2 Crowd in response to the Program Management feature question. Vbout.com and Drip were not included due to lack of user responses to this specific question (data as of Dec. 3, 2017).
Marketing automation products based on program management
MailChimp (based on 79 reviews)
HubSpot (based on 758 reviews)
Having useful features to manage your marketing campaigns and maintain consistent messaging is incredibly helpful, especially when you have programs running across multiple channels, such as mobile and video platforms, and even virtual environments.
To give a real-world example, if you get a new subscriber to your blog, you easily can set up a workflow that triggers a welcome email with content relevant to that individual that could even include a related offer. As already mentioned above, the more you can lean on your CRM data to help personalize your messaging, the better results you will most likely achieve.
Because this process is not done manually, thanks again to your marketing automation tool, it’s much easier to keep your brand consistent. This ensures that no matter when a user jumps into your marketing funnel, they’ll always receive the optimized messaging you’ve crafted.
Benefits of paid and free marketing automation tools
Similar to CRMs, some marketing automation systems can be be expensive and difficult to set up. That’s why we’ve have compiled a list of the 4 best free marketing automation tools! The ranking is based on user satisfaction ratings from real users on G2 Crowd.
On top of that, we have also included a list of benefits provided by the wonders of marketing automation technology. So, after you find a free marketing automation tool that suits your needs, read on to find the best ways to use marketing automation to take your marketing to the next level! Enjoy!
HubSpot has over 1,700 user reviews, with over 1,100 of those reviews coming from small-business users, and is the most popular (most-reviewed) product in the Marketing Automation category on G2 Crowd . Of the overall review count, nearly 1,400 are 5 out of 5 stars with a majority reporting they work in the advertising and marketing industry.
- Automated email responses — 91 percent
- Sending outbound emails — 91 percent
- Content authoring — 91 percent
What users say:
“Hubspot is the only tool you need for all your marketing efforts. It has blogs, emails, marketing automation, social, and many more features. What I like the most is the visitor tracking, which gives you ALL the info of what your leads do on your website (which pages did they visit, which links where clicked, which source did he/she came from).” — A small-business HubSpot review from Félix A.
Features included in free option:
- Dashboard for lead analytics
- Lead workflows
- Collected forms
- Contact activity for up to seven days
- Contact management features
- Insights into company and contacts
- Starter — $50/month: This option is still a great, cost-effective option for small businesses and startups alike. In addition to the features included in the free edition, it allows your business to customize your own forms and includes phone and email support for any questions or issues that may arise.
- Basic — Starting at $200/month: This option is billed annually, and it is more ideal for small and expanding marketing teams. This version is really where you start to see more robust analytics features, including campaign dashboards and SEO and content strategy tools. It also lets you optimize your marketing content across devices and channels.
- Professional — Starting at $800/month: The professional version of this software provides advanced marketing automation features, such as “smart content” tools designed to give your campaigns a boost, and even offers a Salesforce integration.
- Enterprise — Starting at $2,400/month: As the most expensive and full-featured package, the Enterprise option gives you the entire host of HubSpot functionality. From predictive lead scoring to event-based segmentation, this version offers a level of sophistication for all levels of marketers.
Vbout.com may only have 45 total reviews, but customers rave about this product. This all-in-one free marketing tool boasts an average star rating of 4.9 out of 5, and users notice its intuitive nature and easy-to-use interface.
- Sending outbound emails — 100 percent
- Building and personalizing emails — 99 percent
- Lead scoring and grading — 99 percent
What users say:
“Building Automations is easy and intuitive and you have a lot of options to choose from to tailor your service to your customers’ needs and engage into a new “conversation” with potential ones. The comprehensive analytics help to get the “Bigger picture” and at the same time shed light on each customer, so I have the needed insights / behavior & interests/ and visibility to successfully adjust our tactics in real-time. Excellent support. Can’t stress this enough. They care and they really listen and you know that things will be done.” — A small-business Vbout.com review from Stela N.
Features included in free option:
- Unlimited contacts
- Up to two social media management profiles
- Up to two landing page options
- Up to two customer journeys
- Powerful marketing automation and analytics
- Up to 1,000 emails per month
- Lite — $99.95/month: For small businesses ready to grow out of the free marketing automation world, this is an attractive option. This version basically ups the ante on the free edition, allowing for 10 social media profiles, 10 customer journeys, 10 landing pages and 10,000 emails per month, while still providing marketing analytics and unlimited contacts.
- Pro — $299.95/month: According to Vbout.com, this is its most popular version — it is still a good option for small businesses poised to scale, again expanding on more of the same good stuff in the free version. It provides you with 30 social media profiles, unlimited customer journeys, unlimited landing pages and 100,000 emails per month. And of course, unlimited contacts.
- Ultimate — $499.95/month: The Ultimate option offers the same features listed above but with a limit of 200,000 emails per month. This is a more advanced system for larger marketing teams and agencies.
The email marketing software giant also offers a great free marketing automation option for the small business looking for a familiar face. Out of its 149 reviews, 92 users gave it a 5 out of 5 star-rating with the majority of the reviews coming in from the marketing and advertising industry. Over 110 MailChimp reviews also came from small-business users, meaning almost 75 percent of reviews for this product came from the small business segment.
- Sending outbound emails — 92 percent
- Performance and reliability — 91 percent
- Manage email deliverability — 90 percent
What users say:
“Love that they have eliminated the necessary double opt in and have made the autoresponders so much easier to set up. Love the drag and drop functionality and having the ability to code a design directly on the platform. Setting up our lists is easy. Their support section is easy to use and simple to follow. They really lay out their content that can be useful for a novice or expert.” — A small-business MailChimp review from Marli E.
Features included in free option:
- Up to 2,000 subscribers
- 12,000 emails per month
- Automatic email and ad triggers
- Built-in signup forms
- Newsletter templates
- Performance reporting and analytics
- No expiring trial, contract, or payment information required
- Growing business — Starting at $10/month: This easily scalable option lets your marketing automation grow with you, starting at $10 a month for unlimited email sends and up to 500 subscribers. This version also allows for CRM integrations into systems such as Salesforce and SugarCRM to help put your data in action. It also has more advanced segmentation options and more robust campaign reporting and tracking.
- Pro marketer — Additional $199/month: This is essentially an add-on to the Growing Business option, giving users more integrations, including access to Mailchimp’s API, allowing for further customization. Additionally, this subscription gives you the most advanced testing and analytics MailChimp has to offer.
Although Drip has the lowest review count compared to the other products on the free marketing automation software list, it still gets plenty of love from users. Twenty-five out of the 26 Drip reviews are from small-business users, and 17 of those reviewers gave the product a star rating of 5 out of 5. It has a smaller subscriber list than other products, but users note Drip’s ability to scale and free options as big advantages to this tool.
- Segmentation — 95 percent
- Marketing lead database — 94 percent
- CRM lead integration — 91 percent
What users say:
“Drip is that rare tool that genuinely works well for both small as well as huge businesses. Super intuitive user interface means there’s almost no learning curve, but powerful features are just around the corner when you’re ready for them. I’m also a huge fan of the team. They’re very candid about what’s going on and there’s a degree of transparency and humility that is rare with Saas businesses. Engaging with them, you have the sense that they genuinely want your business to succeed. Support team, especially, is extremely helpful. Finally, there’s a super active and supportive Facebook group associated Drip where lots of people share ideas about making the most of the product. I’ve introduced multiple clients to Drip and they marvel at what they can do with it. It’s literally the beating heart of my digital marketing efforts — the rest of my stack hooks into it in one way or another — and it’s pretty much where I’m planting my flag for the long term. I can’t see myself looking for an alternative for a long, long time.” — A small-business Drip review from Emmanuel Q.
Features included in free option:
- Up to 100 subscribers
- Unlimited email sends
- Unlimited users
- Opt-in widgets for email
- Access to its API
- Automated email marketing
- Third-party integrations
- Lead scoring features
- Basic — $41/month: This affordable option gives you the same features as the free package, but bumps the the number subscribers allowed to 2,500. All paid options also allow you to remove Drip branding and customize to your heart’s desire.
- Pro — Additional $83/month: The Pro edition gives you the same features as the free and basic versions, but the number subscribers allowed moves up to 5,000.
- High volume — Contact sales: The mysterious High Volume edition gives you an unlimited amount of users and email sends, but if you want to find out more, you’re going to have to contact them!
There are so many benefits of paid versions and free marketing automation software. If you are interested in finding out more about the feature ratings, buyer’s guides and additional benefits of marketing automation platforms, please visit our Marketing Automation Software category page or speak to a Buying Advisor!
* Please note: Reviews have been edited for spelling and grammar.