If you own a small business and have tried to broaden your reach to potential customers or wanted to build upon your relationship with existing ones, chances are you’re familiar with at least some Internet marketing companies and their products.
While Internet marketing can mean different things to different people, it’s almost always about communicating with potential and existing customers about your company, products and what you can do for them. Some tools provide just a few features, such as email marketing and/or marketing automation. Others are more robust, providing complete platforms referred to as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or tools. The primary goal of any of these offerings is typically to convert customer communications into sales, but that’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
Today’s companies don’t want to just sell their products. They want to be top-of-mind with customers, generating goodwill and engagement. Many businesses do this by creating newsletters, emails, custom landing pages, social media posts and various other forms of content on their websites and apps across a variety of platforms (desktop, mobile, social, email, etc).
Of course, generating this kind of marketing content takes time and talent. Many small businesses seek help in this arena by choosing internet marketing software solutions that help them optimize their efforts. But how to choose? There are a lot of options out there, and few of them offer the exact same services or are suited to every kind of business.
Not to worry. We’ve rounded up some of the best internet marketing services available today to help you find just the tools you’re looking for.
Best Overall Internet Marketing Software: Adobe Marketing Cloud
Adobe Marketing Cloud started out as a bunch of different marketing tools that were maintained separately by Adobe. But after Adobe acquired Omniture in 2009, the company began combining all of these tools into one suite offering that is, in our opinion, the most comprehensive digital marketing solution available on the market today.
There are five primary tools that make up Adobe Marketing Cloud:
Adobe Experience Manager
Not only can you manage your content with Adobe Experience Manager, which helps you build and manage website and mobile apps, but it also allows you to integrate content from online communities. Add to that Adobe Campaign, and you’re able to personalize and deliver different campaigns across all your channels, from web and mobile to email. Then there’s Adobe Target, which allows you to personalize your content so you can get it to the right audience on the right channel.
Adobe Primetime and Social round out Marketing Cloud’s offerings. Primetime allows you to create and then monetize videos, while Social helps you to create the social media content that is relevant to your audience and then quantify your results.
Adobe Marketing Cloud supports Windows, Linux, Mac and web-based devices.
Pros: Adobe Marketing Cloud delivers perhaps the most robust offering of digital marketing tools available today, allowing businesses to engage with customers on a personalized basis throughout the customer journey, measure those experiences and better understand their customers.
Cons: These services don’t come cheap. While Adobe offers custom pricing based on customer needs, some estimates put the cost at a minimum of $50,000 annually.
Best Free Internet Marketing Software: Hubspot
HubSpot is an especially good choice for small business owners with little or no experience in internet marketing. To start with, HubSpot offers a truly free product, in addition to more robust and affordable paid options, that allows access to a broad set of tools. That’s a major benefit when you consider that some enterprise-level marketing solutions can cost thousands per month. It’s also a complete CRM, and some of the tools it offers include:
Blogging software that help you to speed creation of relevant, conversion-optimized content while, keeping formatting consistent and optimizing for search engines.
Email templates that help you automatically personalize subject lines and content for each recipient, and even run A/B tests to improve open rates and clickthroughs.
Lead management that lets you access information for each contact and see every interaction you’ve already had, allowing you to more easily create hyper-targeted campaigns.
Social media tools that let you monitor brand mentions and relevant conversations and track
HubSpot is cloud based and supports Windows and Mac operating systems, plus mobile systems including Windows, Android, iPhone and iPad. See our Hubspot Review.
Pros: It’s just a great CRM, and there’s something here for pretty much everyone. It won “Expert’s Choice Award for 2017” from Finances Online as the Best CRM software. As Finances Online wrote: “HubSpot CRM is a smart and easy option that carries all the necessary basic features but without the often confusing complexity many other CRM platforms have. Beginners and mid-market companies will also appreciate the fact that HubSpot CRM is currently a certified, premier Google partner, and is a solution that suits well all niches and industries.”
And, we can’t say it enough: The most basic version of this CRM is totally, 100% free, which makes this a great pick for small businesses making their first foray into internet marketing. If the solution works for them, they can always upgrade to more robust versions.
Cons: As with most any CRM, HubSpot can require some effort to master, but there’s plenty of support available. As one reviewer on G2crowd.com suggested: “Take the recommended training courses, and make use of the consulting hours available to you. They are invaluable.”
Best Scalable Internet Marketing Software: Act-On
Act-On isn’t a CRM, but it is a solid choice for small and growing companies who want to provide their sales teams with information allowing them to focus on prospects that are most ready to buy. The Act-On platform offers tools to help your team with email and newsletter marketing, media prospecting, web page optimization and lead management and conversion efforts. Particularly notable is Act-On’s simple CRM integration, which can make it a good tool for businesses who want to start small, focusing on lead-management capabilities and grow their marketing efforts over time.
One user on G2Crowd said they’d “been able to run significantly more campaigns with the same staff – 10x. Better email and contact data allows us to create more targeted campaigns while updating contact data.”
Act-On’s professional services start at $900/month and enterprise services start at $2,000. Onboarding is $500 standard or $3,000 for premier. Support is offered at three levels – standard, which is free, provides phone and tech support during business hours; premier is $5,000 per year and includes 24/5 phone and tech support; premier plus is $15,000 per year and comes with 24/7 phone and tech support.
Pros: Act-On offers enough tools, and has enough flexibility and simple integration that it can grow right along with your business.
Cons: It’s not a single solution, so as you grow and your needs change, you may need to find other tools that can help you do that, but Act-On tends to integrate easily with CRMs especially.
Best Email Only Internet Marketing Software: iContact
If you’re interested in a simple solution that allows you to reach customers primarily through email, iContact is our top pick for email marketing tools. This is a straightforward, easy-to-use product that focuses solely on email marketing, marketing automation and the ability to segment your audiences based upon how they found you (Google versus Facebook, for example). On top of that, there’s a thorough help center and quality customer support.
While it’s a simple solution, that doesn’t mean iContact isn’t robust. There are two tiers of service: Essential and Professional.
The Essential service offers drag-and-drop editing, A/B testing, list management, campaign tracking and social media sharing and posting tools. You’ll also receive Google Analytics so you can track your results, onboarding advice and API support. All of this is available to multiple users and there’s live customer service.
iContact’s Professional level of service also offers workflows, triggered messages, engagement tracking, behavioral targeting, social monitoring and numerous other tools.
“iContact does a great job of separating different sub-accounts so you can easily keep track of and manage email marketing for multiple clients,” one user wrote in a review on G2Crowd.com.
Costs for iContact vary based upon the volume of emails you’re sending. Essential is $14 per month for 500 subscribers and $117 for 15,000 subscribers. Professional costs $99 per month for 500 subscribers and $249 per month for 15,000. You’ll need to call for a quote if you have more than 15,000 subscribers.
Pros: It’s a simple, straightforward way to help you manage your email marketing, and many users report that iContact improves their ability to manage multiple email marketing accounts from a single platform. Support is also noted as being very good.
Cons: If you want to branch out from an email only solution, you’ll have to find another product. Also, some users report iContact’s lack of geolocation as a feature is problematic for their purposes.
To find the best internet marketing tools for small businesses, we began by talking to business owners themselves, as well as some of the professionals who advise them. Due to the highly strategic nature of marketing, however, none would speak on the record about the products they use or how they use them. Off the record, though, we did get some helpful details about their choice of internet marketing software, what features are most important, how they go about choosing a provider, what they like about their internet marketing software, and what they would change. It turns out that cost, scalability, ease of use and customization are the things they consider most important. Customer support and robust help desk performance also were key factors in their choices.
The top features many business owners and marketing professionals look for include reporting analytics, email marketing capabilities, pipeline monitoring, tracking customer interactions, scheduling and reminders, and integration with other platforms.
Along with talking to professionals, we did our own extensive research, reading hundreds of online consumer and professional reviews. We then narrowed our list to the eight most commonly mentioned brands, scrutinizing each to compare and contrast the options offered. We watched tutorial videos and reviewed customer resources, among other things.
Based on this research, we developed these criteria, which we used to evaluate each product:
More Internet Marketing Software Options
In addition to those we’ve covered, here are the remaining companies we looked at during our research:
Callidus provides a broad selection of tools and four levels of service that can meet a wide range of marketing needs for your business. It all starts with a basic bundle providing marketing automation and enablement, and builds to the company’s Sales Performance bundle, which helps to ensure that your sales reps are properly motivated through their compensation plans. There’s even an incentive for customers through the company’s “Badgeville” feature, which offers rewards and gamification for customers.
Pricing is available by contacting the company.
This cloud-based marketing platform is a good choice for both small and medium-sized businesses. It not only allows users to run social media advertising campaigns, and analyze digital marketing performance, but its UXi websites feature can help create branded web pages. You’ll also find ad listings, localized ads, relationship management, social targeting and a whole host of other tools that can help with both organic and paid traffic efforts.
There’s no set price for Marketing 360’s services. They customize their quotes based on client needs, website size and marketing goals. Of note: Asking for a quote online results in an email saying you’ll be contacted by a marketing consultant for a free consultation to determine your needs.
This Salesforce-owned, B2B platform provides email marketing solutions, CRM integration, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting. It’s a straightforward product designed to manage all aspects of the customer relationship for mid-sized to large companies with a B2B business model.
There are three tiers of service: Standard for $1,000 per month; Pro for $2,000; and Ultimate for $3,000. You can also purchase additional services such as B2B marketing analytics and Salesforce Engage for additional costs.
If you want to start small with a pretty basic email marketing software that will give you some room to grow, this could be a good fit for you. Campaign Monitor offers a free trial and then a basic service that costs as little as $9 a month for the ability to send 2,500 emails to 500 different recipients. Once you reach the level where you’ll need the Premier Plan it starts to get more expensive, though. You’ll be able to send unlimited emails to 50,000 recipients for a monthly charge of nearly $1,000. For more recipients than that, you’ll have to get a custom quote.
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