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.

We’ve been part of both the technical and creative implementations, as well as creating all of the nurturing paths, workflows, and sales automations that connect with the Customer Relation Management (CRM) systems attached to the marketing automation systems.

I don’t want to bury the lede – we updated our Marketing Automation Vendor Comparison grid with pricing for 2020, download it now and book a demo with NorthIQ today.

We have been using SharpSpring for our own business since September 2018. Very quickly we realized that this tool had everything we needed in a marketing automation system, and all of the capabilities we needed in a CRM.

In the 18 months since we started using SharpSpring, we’ve watched the platform grow, adding new features such as sales optimization, incredible reporting, and more trendy features like a Chatbot.

SharpSpring is the marketing automation solution that small to medium sized businesses should be looking at.

The Price is Reasonable

Compared to any of the marketing automation platforms out there, SharpSpring is the most affordable solution with the most comprehensive toolset.

The base price for SharpSpring including 100,000 contacts, 25,000 emails a month, and unlimited end users is $950(USD).  This includes a full featured CRM, email system, landing page builder, blogging tools, social media content calendar and posting, marketing automation, sales optimization, reporting, and integrations with other platforms.

Unlike other platforms, SharpSpring isn’t a “plus, plus, plus” situation where you keep on adding extra features and get nickel and dimed to death, all of their basic features are included.  You pay extra for email synchronization (you get 3 for free with the package), and integration with Salesforce ($150/month for Salesforce sync).

That’s where the extra pricing ends though.  Other platforms can easily get you into the thousands very quickly.

Marketing automation can help you to warm your leads, identify hot prospects, and improve sales. If you’re doing e-commerce, marketing automation can help with cart abandonment and improve your overall sales. A marketing automation tool will pay for itself tenfold.

The Tools are Very Good

No tool is perfect. There are frustrations with every single system out there, no matter how great their ratings are.

SharpSpring’s tools are made so that an average marketer can build end-to-end solutions without getting a coder deeply involved.

While this means that things are simplified, they are also robust enough that you can make them do very interesting things.

From an automation perspective, we haven’t run into any examples where an idea we’ve come up with can’t be executed.

Every marketing automation tool has limitations, there are only a finite number of triggers, and there are a finite number of actions you can take.

However, the reasons that SharpSpring uses the triggers they do, and allows the actions they do are backed up by very solid logic.  We’ve had instances where we wanted to do something specific, and after consulting with SharpSpring’s fantastic support agents, we were told why our request was not built into the system, and their logic was good.

Hiring Experts

In large markets, you could advertise for a “Hubspot Expert”, and get a ton of people replying to your ad. Is hiring a tool specific person the right solution? In other industries you don’t hire a “Sherwin Williams painter” do you?

Looking for marketing automation experts is a better idea. If someone understands marketing automation and CRM tools, they can apply that knowledge to SharpSpring’s easy to use and simple to understand platform, what’s more, you can do things inside of the tool without deep technical expertise.

Companies shouldn’t be hiring tool experts, they should hire marketing experts who understand the in’s and outs of marketing, not how a particular tool works.  Tools change, but the fundamentals of marketing will always be the same.

The CRM Features are Very Good

SharpSpring’s strength is its integration of Sales AND Marketing. You get deep insights into customer behaviours, as well as great note taking tools, appointment setting, meeting tools, built-in integrations with Zoom, and much more.

SharpSpring’s Smart Mail feature allows your marketing team to develop great sales collateral which your sales team can send with one click, they can also customize the email that they send, and even schedule it for a specific time.

The sales pipeline is fully customizable, allowing sales management to create custom deal stages to track the progress of an opportunity from the beginning to end of the sales cycle.  Opportunities also allow you to create deal forecasts, and a full pipeline view.

When combined with SharpSpring’s powerful Sales Optimizer tools, you can create events, tasks, capitalize on lead engagement, keep your team accountable with powerful reporting, and close more deals.

SharpSpring’s CRM tools out of the box are better than any we’ve seen in other solutions (outside of Salesforce itself).

Constant Development, New Features and Improvements are Regular

We’ve been impressed with the rapid changes that have happened in just the past year.

We have seen major updates to the Email system, a complete Task Manager system, an online meeting booking system, an entire Sales Optimizer solution built in,

They just rolled out a sales dialer feature in January, and there are many new features in the pipeline.  Later this month they will be releasing a brand new Chatbot which will integrate with the Life of the Lead and the powerful automations already built in.

The Downsides of SharpSpring

Lack of Deep Customization

If coding up custom templates is something that you really want to do, then SharpSpring isn’t right for you.

We’ve had no problem making SharpSpring look and feel like our clients’ websites, but there is no templating language for SharpSpring, which means you need to build things inside of the editors provided.

Likewise, if you really like configuring Salesforce and creating your own Salesforce objects, you’re not going to have that ability in SharpSpring.

Again, we’ve had no problem creating very advanced optimization routines for sales, but if you’ve got your heart set on digging into some code, these are not the droids you’re looking for.

Mobile Tools are Not Great

If mobile is a show stopper for you, then SharpSpring is not the right tool for you. The mobile app is only available on iOS, and mobile is a lower priority development goal for SharpSpring currently.

With the SharpSpring iOS mobile app you can:

  • View, edit, and add leads, pipelines and opportunities
  • Place calls and send emails
  • Browse and edit your contacts
  • Take notes on contact records
  • View life-of-lead events
  • View lead scores
  • Set task notifications

Brand Recognition

The old IT saying was “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM.” The same goes for Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot.

However, you pay for those brand names, and we have found that the more functionality you require, the more you will pay.

To be truly useful, you’ll be paying $3,200/month for Hubspot, plus $300 for CRM, plus onboarding fees, plus setup fees, plus training fees, plus, plus, plus.  It is easy for the first year of a Hubspot account with 90,000 contacts to hit $62,000(USD), and they require a minimum one year commitment.

We can have you up and running in your first month!

We’re confident about this one because we’ve done it multiple times. We’ll get your system turned on, build your first email template, your first landing page template, and show you the nuts and bolts of how to use the system in days, not weeks, not months.

Check out our recently updated 2020 NorthIQ Marketing Automation Comparison.  This tool will help you figure out what capabilities you need, and aid you in your selection. If you have any questions, please book a demo with NorthIQ and we’ll answer any questions you have.