Are you looking for the most exceptional email marketing software?
ClickFunnels members have access to a wide range of options when it comes to integration with third-party tools and services. These include some of the most popular software products for email marketing. Many people, however, don’t like fiddling with third-party integrations and want all of their digital marketing tools in one package.
ClickFunnels has created an email marketing manager of its own for this reason precisely: Actionetics. But is this platform expansive enough to make external email managers moot? We will deduct the answer from an in-depth analysis below. Before delving into that, there is another fundamental question to deal with first: do you even need email marketing software in the first place?
Many marketing non-specialists insist that the heyday of email marketing has come and gone and that it's all about social media today. According to Oberlo, almost 300 billion emails are sent each day across the world. This stupendous number illustrates how fundamental electronic mail still is for global communication. Digital marketing relies on email marketing as the most reliable method for lead generation, even in 2020, and that's not likely to change soon.
What is the point of email marketing in the context of the wider online marketing world?
Even in 2020, a door-to-door salesman is almost a synonym for annoyance. One of the biggest hurdles of any customer-facing sales pitch is a simple fact that people don't like being sold things. It doesn’t matter if you’re attempting to sell vacuum cleaners or SaaS software — that basic tenet stands.
Having an excellent product doesn’t change that, and neither do discounts. The first time you attempt an email blast with the right target audience, some of your leads may be wooed with a simple “here is our offer” approach. Beyond that, you are likely to cause more annoyance than good.
That's where the story of email marketing would end, as most prospective customers would opt out of your mailing list quickly. People who are serious about email marketing don't use it randomly — instead, they approach this avenue with a lot of forethought and planning. Using email as a medium for lead generation means conducting email marketing as one part of a larger sales funnel. That is the biggest reason why ClickFunnels has an email marketing platform in the first place.
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In order to fully grasp the importance of email marketing, you must understand the sales funnels. This is the marketing model around which ClickFunnels and its breed of webpage builders revolve around. This model aims to provide a firm structure for the entire interaction between a vendor and a customer. It doesn’t matter if the vendor is a brick-and-mortar shop or an online store reselling digital products. The basic principles and steps remain the same.
A funnel is also called the AIDA model:
Attention — making the members of a target audience aware of the existence of the product, generally via advertising
Interest — raising the level of interest in the brand and product by showcasing an issue that the target audience has
Desire — making the consumer want the product by showing how it could solve the problem mentioned above
Action — creating a call to action that compels the customer to engage with the vendor, most often by making a purchase
The AIDA model from above is the most generic description of a sales funnel. Most details depend on the format and the type of product. There is a distinction between:
Brick-and-mortar retail funnels
When it comes to sales objects, there are:
Email marketing has its most prominent role in online funnels, though it may be used to augment retail funnels, albeit in a much smaller way.
How does email marketing fit into the funnel structure we've outlined above? Answering that question requires providing a more accurate description of online funnels:
Online Funnel Structure
Raised through online advertising methods, such as banners ads, email campaigns, YouTube sponsorships, podcasts, etc
Sparked using more detailed descriptions of the product or service via newsletters, blog posts, free trials, and demo versions
Created by showing potential customers the value of the product through enticing offers and comparisons to inferior products
Catalyzed by sales pages and bonus offers
Email marketing has an essential role in lead generation. Newsletters and emails are often the first contact the members of the target audience will have with your brand. Most experienced marketers don't lead their pitch with the product. In many cases, the first interaction with leads makes no mention of the product at all.
The first emails in an online campaign should present the consumer with a problem and offer a solution, something firmly embedded in the niche of the product, tying in perfectly with the rest of the funnel. The process of familiarizing the consumer with the brand and product often begins only when they arrive at the sales website itself.
It is important to note that email marketing is rarely done “by hand” these days, as there are far too many leads to manage manually. Even the most niche product or service sold online is first pitched to tens of thousands of prospects in the least. That’s why email marketing software, such as Actionetics, is a highly sought-after commodity.
ClickFunnels is a SaaS platform that aims to simplify digital marketing as a whole. The parts of an online sales funnel that we’ve discussed above require the creation of a specific website, tailor-made for one product or service. This is hard work for someone not familiar with web design or web programming. Outsourcing this to other professionals is a possibility, but almost always a costly one.
Software like ClickFunnels wants to rectify that by giving interested parties the option of creating their own sales funnels without professional help. Small business owners and all sorts of entrepreneurs find this valuable, as their budgets rarely allow much leeway in terms of outsourcing work.
ClickFunnels has a visual editor that does away with all coding in favor of a visual interface. It gives marketers and business owners a graphical user interface instead of coding for page design, a more focused version of the revolution kick-started by the Xerox Alto for computing in general. There are plenty of other features found in ClickFunnels as well, but the main ones are:
Etison editor — the visual editor featuring a drag and drop interface
Backpack — a set of tools for the creation of comprehensive affiliate marketing programs
Actionetics — the email marketing platform
Actionetics is the tool for email campaign management designed by the ClickFunnels devs and built directly into the platform. The platform also contains some text message marketing features, but these are far from its main selling point.
This platform aims to achieve one goal — allowing users to stay within the ClickFunnels software environment while they conduct their email marketing campaigns.
ClickFunnels does not offer Actionetics to all users. The platform is a SaaS product, functioning based on continuous subscriptions. There are three different pricing options for a ClickFunnels membership:
Startup plan — offering essential features and a limited number of funnels, pages, domains, and simultaneous platform users
Platinum plan — offering all of the features (Actionetics and Backpack included) and a limited number of domains and users
Collective plan — offering all of the features and an unlimited number of funnels, pages, domains, and users.
Anyone who has ever used an email management service will find Actionetics intuitive and easy to use. It works much akin to most competing third-party tools. It provides options for lists, contact management, email automation. The tool even contains lead scoring options, that are dubbed Action scores in ClickFunnels. This allows you to rate all of your contacts according to engagement levels.
Actionetics is an integral part of ClickFunnels and not available outside the platform. It lacks some basic options you'd expect from MailChimp, Drip, etc as a result.
There are no options for WordPress integration and no Actionetics plugins that allow you to create forms on WordPress websites. You can create a form in the ClickFunnels page editor and then import the entire page into WordPress — but that defeats the purpose of WordPress integration somewhat.
Actionetics doesn't work with external lead generation software either, so you can forget about integrating it with OptinMonster or similar tools. You will need an outside SMTP service for actual email automation as well.
The Actionetics tool entails the following features:
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Most email management services intended for marketing purposes allow for list segmentation. It is a way to diversify your email campaign and fine-tune it for specific segments of your target audience. Lead contacts are categorized into lists that can receive different content automatically.
Actionetics has features in this vein, too. The feature that sets this email tool apart is the “Smart Lists” option. You can automate not only the differences in content that your contacts receive but also the categorization of these contacts. It’s easy to use, as all you need to do is to check the Smart Lists toggleable option when you first create a list.
The option allows for the creation of a dynamic list that removes and adds leads according to the rules you set forth when you create the list. The ClickFunnels devs have come up with a wide range of rules to choose from, allowing for plenty of micromanagement and diversity. You can even mix these rules to form a rule group, further streamlining the process. Some of the main rules are:
Contacts that have interacted with a particular email in your campaign
Contacts who have previously bought a specific product or service
Contacts that have reached a designated part of your overall sales funnel
Contacts with specific personal information, tags, and lead scores
These rules offer enough variety to make email segmentation more straightforward than ever. All you need to do is to finish the initial rule setup, and all of your contact lists will be created automatically.
Image source: clickfunnels
Email segmentation is incredibly crucial to marketers, as it allows them to gauge which contacts have been the least engaged and amplify the campaign accordingly. You can also use this feature to make a list of premium-level consumers who have bought a lot of your products already.
A majority of email marketing management tools aren't a part of a larger platform, such as ClickFunnels. The fact that Actionetics is dependent on a broader software ecosystem has its positive and negative sides. A massive bonus for the pros column is the fact that it doesn't have separate pricing, making most of its features free and unlimited.
Competing software akin to ActiveCampaign limits the number of contact interactions you can have at specific subscription plans. Their pricing schemes are often progressive, meaning they become more expensive as your email campaign gathers steam. Actionetics is not on that list. This tool allows interaction with unlimited contacts and scaling a campaign up and down according to your needs.
Actionetics can do this because its users pay for the tool through a ClickFunnels membership. It isn't available at the lowest ClickFunnels subscription plan, and its versatility does not come for free — but it's still more affordable than most competing services.
The term "action funnels" might not sound familiar to even the most experienced email marketers who haven't used ClickFunnels before. This is nothing new in the world of email marketing and no cause for alarm. It's just the name that Actionetics gives to its email automation system — stemming from the overall funnel-building brand.
They're called action funnels because they, similarly to sales funnels in general, depend on specific steps that trigger particular lead interactions via email. It is a part where Actionetics does not fall behind the competition when it comes to third-party integrations. The tool allows for actions that depend on external software as well. More specifically, Actionetics can integrate with:
Facebook — combine Facebook friends and Actionetics email lists to create targeted audiences for Facebook ads
Twilio — interact with users via SMS as well
Shopify — reach a Shopify store via email links and send information regarding product purchases
ClickFunnels intends to expand on the number of third-party applications that Actionetics can interact with to more closely resemble the expansive list of overall ClickFunnels integrations.
We have mentioned that Actionetics requires a third-party SMTP for sending actual emails. Most competing software suites have their SMTP services. That may seem to be a downside at first, but it is an excellent thing for people who want to choose their SMTP for more flexibility.
The external SMTP requirement widens the playing field when it comes to the kind of email marketing that you want to employ. The mainstream email management tools akin to MailChimp dislike affiliate marketing campaigns, for instance. This isn't an issue with Actionetics, as it cannot influence which emails you send.
There are problems with deliverability that Actionetics avoids due to its SMTP freedom. Most competing tools force you to use a communal SMTP that you share with other users of their respective platforms. When the emails of another user get blocked, this could influence your emails as well. There’s no chance of that happening with Actionetics, as you can change your SMTP easily.
Does Actionetics provide enough value, considering all of the above?
The answer can be both yes and no, depending on two crucial factors: your finances, and your relations with ClickFunnels.
There are people who want to create a small email marketing campaign and reach out to a minimal target audience. Other email management platforms may be a better choice in this case, because Actionetics sets you back $297 per month. The tool itself costs nothing, but you still have to pay for an Actionetics membership.
This is also one of the most significant downsides of Actionetics — its complete dependence on ClickFunnels. Many people who are using ClickFunnels may not view this as an issue. It's worth noting that you might not want to use this platform forever and that leaving ClickFunnels also means leaving Actionetics. The upside is that Actionetics has an option for contact exporting, so your hard work will not be lost if you transit to another tool.
Actionetics is an excellent option for people already using ClickFunnels, and intending to keep using it. Others who consider getting a ClickFunnels membership solely for Actionetics should look for more cost-effective options elsewhere.
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