Overall, the easiest way to see if a marketing software company is worth your cold hard cash is to determine their affordability, ease of use, functionality, and how well their customer support responds. Through various projects over the past couple months I’ve had the chance to try out three of the more well known services available and detailed some of the features and noticeable takeaways below.
All three of these services, Marketing 360, Act-On, and SharpSpring, are some of the bigger players in the field, and for the purpose of this article I also made note of their ratings from Software Advice. You can check out the comparisons below!
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Let’s first take a look at the SharpSpring. On Software Advice, the overall customer review sets at 4.5/5.
One big plus to SharpSpring is that they have an integration tool that syncs up with any CRM available without losing your data and without having to create a new database of information. This allows you to start off with the system almost right away. The Visitor ID Tool is a great tool to have in your bag of tricks as it tracks anonymous site visitors and is able to track their information based off of their IP address. This give you access to information such as their name and contact information.
The lead nurturing and scoring tool identifies key information from the lead, like their individual page visits, demographics, and how much their engagement level. They also have the tools and templates available to quickly and easily build landing pages and blogs for your site, if you need something like that, as well.
SharpSpring is certainly highly celebrated because of the transparency of the analytics and reporting. One customer said that SharpSpring “allows me to look at the lifetime value of the leads we bring in, and tie specific sales, and revenue amounts, back to my ad campaigns to see real ROI for clients. This is critical for profit-driven marketing.”
It should also be noted that SharpSpring is ridiculously easy to use, so even novices should feel right at home in no time.
Ok, now let’s glance at Act-On. Also, rocking a 4.5/5.0 overall customer review, Act-On has some system similarities to SharpSpring, for sure, but also has its own style, as well.
The main tools they carry are: email marketing, visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and analytics as well as Webinar and event planning. The program is easy to set up with other 3rd party platforms and is simple to integrate with services like Salesforce, BigCommerce, and transportation management systems like 3PL.
The layout is intuitive and it doesn’t take long to feel right at home with the different services available to you. Multiple customers have reviewed how the price point is probably one of the most reasonable in the industry, as well as the customer support being incredibly helpful and efficient. One productive criticism I would offer is to identify your business’ needs prior to the service. There are two different payment programs available, one that seems catered for enterprise and one that would be ideal for smaller businesses. Essentially, one of them allows for additional marketing and sales profiles and a couple of add-ons not included in the cheaper package.
It really is up to the individual business to decide which one will be more beneficial to them, but obviously, the “Enterprise” package is meant for big business and might be considered overkill for small-scale operations.
The final piece of marketing software we’re going to look at is one that is currently rocking a perfect 5/5 on SA.
Marketing 360 offers an extremely robust set of tools for your marketing needs and it can honestly get a little overwhelming at times. They have a really nice cloud based system that can run social media campaigns, analyze performance, not to mention help you easily to create web pages if you’re still in the early stages of development. Not only do they offer you your own SEO analyzation, tracking keyword volume and ranks, but they can also track competitors’ SEO to see how you stack up.
With the Social Targeting tool, you have access to visitor details, which allow you to graph your inbound visitor traffic and tailor your tactics. These are but a few of the tools I found most interesting, but the Retargeting and Local Listing Ad placement tools also seemed to be extremely helpful.
Hands down, the best reason for getting this software is the customer service, however. This company is not just a program, it is a program/service hybrid that grants you an account manager walking you through the process from day one, always there to help you out with your goals and technical questions. It was a nice touch and for the most part completely welcome during my time with it.
If you’re an enterprise company looking for marketing software, there are better options available, but if you’re just starting out or still consider yourself a mid-sized business, Marketing 360 gets a lot right.
There are a lot of marketing services available on the market – the key is finding one that fits all aspects of your business. You should take into account general need, pricing, and how much of the work you’ll be dealing with yourself. For large businesses this will be of no issue, but if you’re still a SMB or entrepreneur that is just getting boots to the ground, understanding exactly what you’re getting will help ensure you get it right the first time, without wasting money or time.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.