Over our careers, Craig and I have been involved in the implementation of many marketing automation tools. We’ve been on the ground floor of Marketo, Pardot, Hubspot, and Mailchimp implementations, creating entire marketing automation workflows from scratch. (more…)
When you decide to invest in a marketing automation platform, you’re faced with a massive challenge figuring out which vendor will meet your needs. This Vendor Comparison Tool will show you a side-by-side comparison of prices, features, and key variables.
In a few short minutes, you’ll have everything you need to make a decision by answering a few simple questions.
- How many marketing users will need access to the system?
- How many sales users will be accessing the system?
- How many admin users do you need?
- How many contacts/leads are you currently managing?
- How many new contacts/leads will you add in the coming year?
With those questions the Comparison Tool will generate pricing for the most popular automation tools including Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, Pardot, and Infusionsoft.
The tool also includes actual reviews from TrustRadius, as well as the star ratings from Caterra, G2 Crowd and Software Advice.
We’ve included a tab with things to consider before selecting your marketing automation solution, including questions about key features, contract length, total cost of ownership, and exactly what is included with Onboarding.
When NorthIQ provisions a Sharpspring install for you, it is a true turn-key solution, we set up your templates, create your initial emails, landing pages, and automations, and you hit the ground running within your first month!
Download your copy of the Marketing Automation Vendor Comparison tool below.
In the summer of 2015, I finally made good on a promise I had made myself a long time ago and set out to start a brand new venture. This time I’d “do it right”, as opposed to all of the other times I had started a business, and I would focus on doing the things that I do best. Right from the beginning, NorthIQ was the culmination of everything that I had done before, and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for everything that had prepared us for where we are today.
On one hand, four years seems like a long time, but it feels like just yesterday that I was walking out the doors of my “sure thing”, and venturing off into the unknown. I founded NorthIQ as a sole proprietorship on August 13th, 2015, but I wouldn’t really get started for another three weeks.
Four years ago I knew one thing, I was going to rebuild All New Comics, and I would start working on Manage Comics. Other than that though, I didn’t have a clue what would be next. By November we were ready to launch Manage Comics, and All New Comics was ready to re-launch. I had a few little jobs in there, a couple of websites, I taught myself a ton about WordPress, and I started using Divi to build websites.
In October 2015, Craig Oliphant and I set out to build a complete product in one week. We succeeded in that challenge, and delivered the incredibly poorly titled – Kickstart Guide to Small Business Marketing – which we have seriously tweaked, modified, and revised this into a project called “Dude Where’s my Sales” which we will be launching wide next week.
That same week, we had a chance meeting with a company that would become my longest recurring client – Timber Block. We were hired to basically save their website, revise their SEO strategy, and improve their lead generation. I learned so much on that job, first working with Salesforce, and then later migrating them over to Hubspot. I relied on Craig to really help me out in this period, and everything we did in this first year months is the foundation for the business we have today.
When I left my previous job I thought I would build a business revamping websites. It’s grown to become mainly about lead generation. Even our SaaS – Manage Comics – has a huge lead generation component that has allowed it to grow to where it is today.
The things I didn’t know could fill a book, from simple things like accounting and reconciliation to complex things like onboarding and offboarding employees. The things I can do today are vastly different as well. I had never logged in to Salesforce in my career, but within a month of leaving my job I was logging into Salesforce daily. I have now implemented marketing automation solutions like Hubspot multiple times, and we’re a certified partner with Sharpspring. I’ve dug deeper into scary server side command line commands than I ever thought possible, and I know how to make a website sing and dance!
A ton of thanks goes out to Peter from All New Comics for that initial job that let me leave a very comfortable career and have a four-month runway of work. I also need to thank Craig, Sean Robinson, Taras Zubyak, Brent Potter, Nate Robinson, Mark Tauschek, Gord Harrison, Ryan McFadden and of course my wife Charlene for the help, leads, encouragement, and just generally being good people to bounce things off of.
I’m going to give you the secret sauce on how to make a marketing automation system for free. It has all the bells, though none of the whistles of the ridiculously expensive services where you can pay $2500 a month just for the software to run this plan. Most small businesses won’t need the whistles anyhow.
First, let me tell you a quick story.
3 years ago I had the unfortunate experience of getting passed over for a promotion to a marketing director role at the company I worked for. A role that at the time I really believed was what I wanted. It was not a great experience, and was the second time this had happened at this company. Obviously, that particular goal wasn’t ever going to happen.
It was a wake up call.
I didn’t respond how most people do in this circumstance. I did something unusual which looking back on it three years later was a bounce pad for where NorthIQ is at now – a successful and growing business.
I took an entire week off and spent it working with a former colleague (my now-NorthIQ partner Brian Garside) to begin building what is now NorthIQ.
Only we didn’t know it at the time.
That week was exciting because we launched an ebook and sold several copies within the 5 day window we gave ourselves. We hit our goal of building a database of 50, and we also landed a customer who ended up being a significant partner in our growth as an organization.
It was crazy. We barely slept. It was interesting and engaging and unlike anything I did in my 9-5.
If you’re sitting there right now unsure about how a very small change in your life can lead to huge things I will tell you right now it can be astronomical. Life changing. It can be the difference between you hitting your goals and just continuing along where you’re at now.
At the time I’d have loved to be where I am now. It was such an elephant to eat I didn’t really see how it was possible.
If you just want the How to Create a Free Marketing Automation System go ahead and grab it, but we’d love if you would continue on the story (don’t worry, we’ll remind you about the download below as well).
Back to the story.
We decided let’s just do one small thing at a time. Set the bar so damn low we’d have things to accomplish, over and over.
Brian had already done the brave thing and taken the plunge – he quit his day job to start NorthIQ. He had provided what would be the foundation for what we’d build. I always joke “What took you so long to quit.” but that’s a very brave move to take. We didn’t have the dollars or customers to pay for both our salaries so I went back to work and patiently supported NorthIQ as an evening job.
Another big game changer for us occurred that week, and thinking back on it it’s a funny story.
During day 1 Brian had mentioned to me that he had a prospect who was wanting a new website but also more – a lot of marketing work. At the time it wasn’t his area of expertise but I talked him into providing a proposal. We barely knew how to make proposals of this kind. We weren’t sure how we’d get the work done, since I had a full time job and he was still learning the marketing side.
They accepted. To this day they are a top customer. The impact this company has had on NorthIQ, and the relationships we built from this is vast.
Two seemingly minor things in the space of 2 days that changed our lives.
The simple fact is that just getting out there, doing, executing is so valuable. You can accomplish anything if you just get in and try.
A lot has happened between now and then. We moved into an office. We have awesome staff. Great customers. During the ride we’ve accomplished so many things that seemed outside my safety zone. I dare say it…we’ve even become (uggghhh) sales people.
No road is too steep for somebody who is determined and patient.
Let’s get back to marketing automation…
I learned marketing automation on Marketo, then Pardot, then Hubspot, then I built my own free version and NorthIQ used that for awhile. Finally, last month we partnered with Sharpspring and I implemented a full system for us. I have thousands of hours of experience in all the platforms combined.
Automating your marketing is incredibly powerful. Even a simple automated email nurture when somebody fills out your form can prove extremely useful. Add in lead capture forms, lead magnet, lead scoring, lead routing, CRM, sales pipelines, reporting and you get a tool that most companies should really invest in at some point.
When I see the reasons for saying no to using this type of service I am frustrated.
Don’t I need to be a marketer?
The honest truth is that any small or medium business owner needs to wear…not just a lot of hats but every hat. All of the hats need to be worn. Chair falls apart? Fix-it hat. Somebody didn’t get paid? Finance hat. Need more friends (customers)… yeah… marketing hat.
You don’t need to BE a marketer, you just need to act like one long enough.
My company is too small.
Too small to engage and delight future customers so they love you before they even spent a cent?
Isn’t it expensive?
You can build a solid system for free. NorthIQ used it for a couple of years. There are even paid options that fit inside the budgets of small companies. It’s no longer just for big companies. That has ended. The industry has changed and nobody has told the small businesses.
Don’t let the big boys snap up every prospect while you rail against the unfairness of it! You can compete! If anything automation just evens the playing field. It’s enabling David’s everywhere.
We’re already doing good business.
Yeah, that’s awesome. What if you could be doing even better? When you are doing well you likely have more money to invest in ways to make your sales more predictable and take less effort.
It’s complicated! We’ll never be able to take advantage of all the features.
Implement a piece at a time and before you know your system will be humming along.
I don’t have the time.
Of all of the excuses, this one I understand the most. Time is the one resource that none of us seem to have enough of. The thing is, you can start today with a little bit of time, and build it small, piece by piece. Each piece will add incremental improvements, which multiply exponentially. It is amazing how a series of small changes can have major impacts.
The NorthIQ Free Marketing Automation System
I initially figured this out because NorthIQ needed a budget solution for our own business. Then we ran across other companies who also needed a budget system. They were all at a point in growing their business where it would help them grow but the dollars and internal knowledge were not there. They could not afford to pay NorthIQ to implement for them, but we’re really passionate about seeing other companies succeed. That’s why I built this as a free download.
The “How to Build a Free Marketing Automation System” does not give you all the advanced features that a fully paid program gives you but it does give you the most basic ones that a small or medium business will need.
The more important features for a small business:
- Collect prospect data via forms
- Automate nurturing emails to those prospects
- Store prospects in a CRM for optimizing sales funnels
So from very small organizations (I’ve implemented this easily with 1-2 person companies) to medium organizations with limited budget and limited experience this is actually a really good solution. It gives you the basics of a marketing automation platform and is easy to learn.
- A free CRM that is actually really good for both sales and marketing
- An email tool that is as good as the pro tools
- Automation that is just limited enough to make it easy
- Forms to collect your leads
- Simple behavioural based triggers
- Flexibility in terms of customized properties and values that your
internal team might require
- Real time web tracking
- Reporting for you to understand what’s going on
- And it’s all free, if you’re smart and careful about the whole thing.
You won’t get:
- Extremely detailed workflow capabilities
- Advanced behavioural based triggers
- A content strategy
- A large database (if you’re working with more than 2500 leads, this becomes cumbersome)
- An all-in-one tool
Last Paragraph: Let me Put on my Sales Hat
NorthIQ has implemented professional Marketing Automation solutions across many organizations, and works with most of them monthly to generate leads and boost revenue. We’re proud of the work we do and the companies we get to do it with. The companies that we work with have doubled, triple, and even quadruple their revenue in one year of working with us.
If you want to explore having NorthIQ implement this free version for you or a service with more functionality (we offer this at surprisingly reasonable rates) you can book a time to talk to us here. No pressure, no pushy sales promotions, just a chat where we’ll find out a bunch of things about you and tell you if we can help you out.