Marketing automation that drives sales with content marketing
Updated July 02, 2021

Marketing automation that drives sales with content marketing

Matthew Maginley | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with SharpSpring

We use SharpSpring to market our own services as well as for our clients. Any platform that we use has to work with B2B as well as B2C. We need to be able to scale up with a longer sales cycle using content marketing to nurture leads, whereas our clients have a shorter cycle based on promotion and advertising. The email part of the platform helps us to direct content that converts prospects to clients as we see what they are interested in by seeing what they respond to through the life of the lead feature of SharpSpring.

For our clients Sharpspring answers these questions which are problem areas for agencies:
  • What is the sequence of content that was consumed to win a sale?
  • What is the cost of getting a new customer?
  • What is the correct attribution for the lead?
  • Where is the accountability for the win or loss of a sale?
We now know the exact sequence of content to feed a contact based on the avatar. We are able to dynamically create a workflow that is personalized and reflects how the content consumed and by medium.

We know the media mix of organic and paid that converts contacts to leads, and leads to customers.

We use different attribution models to account for the lead.

With lead-scoring, only the leads that have been nurtured and primed for a salesperson are moved into the opportunity part of the sales pipeline.

  • Onboarding is easy for us as well as clients. Not a hassle for them.
  • Integrates smoothly with client CRM. This helps to close more sales and increases retention.
  • Visual flowchart for planning makes it easier to plan, communicate and implement things such automation processes.
  • Email having after the click tracking, keeps us informed of how out nurturing campaigns are working and what to change.
  • Advanced lead scoring to keep focused on the right things at the right time in the funnel process.
  • Lead funnel builder with Webex integration saves us time and money in getting a perfect funnel that integrates with the site perfectly.
  • Social activity history of the lead is something that gives us a real-time assessment of what is working in social media.
  • Onboarding can be overwhelming if you try to onboard without using materials and coaching provided. (Yes, that's me.) This is a robust platform and there is a lot of information to take in and get acquainted with to get the full effectiveness of the platform. You're going to be eager to start but take your time.
  • Patience required. There is a tendency to rush in to get started right away having seen the promise. SharpSpring provides high quality onboarding coaches for 60 days so nothing is missed.
  • Helps with ROI for our business as we are able to target the best prospects that fit our business model
  • We can deliver an end-to-end automated platfoem with lower operational expense.
  • Streamlines the proposal process for new business because we can provide specific examples using pre-built products that match the scope of work based on a strategy.
We whittled down the options to HubSpot and Infusionsoft.

Infusionsoft had some features that we had to pay extra for that was included in SharpSpring such as dynamic landing pages, dynamic content in email and RSS syndication, and 3rd party form features including Webex and GoToWebinar.

The cost of onboarding HubSpot, as well as the monthly investment, was much higher than SharpSpring for features that were not as robust. The full-year cost for Infusionsoft was lower but the initial onboarding cost was prohibitive (plus the add ons).

We compared 10 factors and the scoring for SharpSpring came out on top on the top 5 that were most important to us, as well as across all comparisons:

  1. Pricing and terms
  2. Contact tracking
  3. Landing page designers
  4. Social media features
  5. Automation features
  6. Email features
  7. Form features
  8. Blog builders
  9. Platform features
  10. Customer support
Anything that requires lead nurturing or is a longer sales cycle is well suited for this platform. Working primarily with law firms we have to generate retainers that require building trust and authority. Although we have loads of content, being able to direct the most relevant content to prospects at the right time is important. Being able to get a read on what content differentiates and segments the audience helps us focus ad spending on the right audience.

This is a great dual-purpose platform meaning B2B and B2C. It has the marketing chops of HubSpot and Insfusionsoft and the enterprise sales chops of Salesforce at an affordable price point.

SharpSpring Feature Ratings

WYSIWYG email editor
10
Dynamic content
10
Ability to test dynamic content
10
Landing pages
10
A/B testing
10
Mobile optimization
10
Email deliverability reporting
10
List management
10
Triggered drip sequences
10
Lead nurturing
10
Lead scoring and grading
10
Data quality management
10
Automated sales alerts and tasks
10
Calendaring
10
Event/webinar marketing
10
Social sharing and campaigns
10
Social profile integration
10
Dashboards
10
Standard reports
10
Custom reports
10
API
10
Role-based workflow & approvals
10
Customizability
10
Integration with Salesforce.com
10
Integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
10
Integration with SugarCRM
10

Using SharpSpring

5 - We have sales, marketing and social media staff working with SharpSpring. Sales are tasked with lead scoring and new business development. Marketing does the dual duty of working with internal sales as well as client funnels. We help our clients push the right content in their social media channels as well as our own. We are able to do more with fewer people.
1 - Just one. SharpSpring really does the heavy lifting once the platform is set up. It is low maintenance and easily managed. Most of the work is done on the front end in onboarding and setting up email, building landing pages, and importing lists. Once that is done we haven't seen an overwhelming need to add support people. We take initial calls and then if need it to request additional support form SharpSpring.
  • Funnels and lead scoring. We know how far out a sale is by how people enter the funnels and what content they are responding to. This feature is excellent for our law firm clients.
  • Landing page and funnel design being integrated using our client's CSS maintains the look and feel of their brand and it keeps things looking professionally designed.
  • We are able to track social media through the life of the lead. This is essential for our retail and ecommerce clients.
  • We can create automation rules based on social media activity
  • Sales can interact with leads through social channels
  • Repeating this but it is innovative - tracking social activity through the life of the lead
  • We have reduced our core business offers to be higher value, and higher margin.
  • We are able to scale our business model by providing B2B and B2C marketing services.
I know that by using SharpSpring I can access automated marketing services at a lower price point than my competitors for my business as well as my clients. I can stand by the platform because I use it to build my business, and am confident it the platform to deliver for my clients.

With SharpSpring Certification we have another revenue stream that we didn't have before that is very exciting.

Evaluating SharpSpring and Competitors

Yes - I had been using HubSpot since early 2019 and eventually upgraded from Starter to Pro in December 2019. There are so many features unavailable in Starter that it was hard to get a full view of the platform until we went Pro. Once I got a full view of the system, we started looking for clients with a need for HubSpot management.

We had a very good contract with a business intelligence company and they were having teething pains in preparation for integrating HubSpot. The CEO was never on-board with the expense of the on-boarding. Then their design agency was not playing well with HubSpot to begin with on email and landing page design. The CEO pulled the project right when the COVID 19 pandemic hit. The CEO gave up on HubSpot after we invested in using the platform ourselves.

Our recommendation would have been to use SharpSpring through our agency rather than HubSpot. We would have flexibility to work with them with pricing.
  • Product Features
There was a clear line from design to analytics and performance. It was easy to see how the features of the platform worked together to provide an automated marketing solution that could be sold to clients based on results. We could see the B2B use and the B2C use as well.
I would have moved on the decision immediately instead of delaying it. I felt I had to look at all the options. I am having an easier time focused on new clients able use the platform, that trying to make something work that is not good for my business or my clients.

SharpSpring Implementation

Overall I would say to be patient and bring everyone who will be touching the platform to the onboarding sessions. The Virtual Classroom lets you onboard as quickly or slowly as you want. Sales, marketing, design, account management, get 'em all in on it. For the most part, they will be happy to use this platform. I recommend getting as many people as possible to see the SharpSpring demo.
Yes - 
For our firm:
  • Domain integration - site tracking and DNS.
  • Platform configuration - creating customer fields, importing leads, adding new users, connecting social media.
  • User account setup.
Basically the same for a client. The only difference is that we are building a marketing campaign for them as well.
Change management was a major issue with the implementation - We had been involved in making platform recommendations to clients as a core function of our business. It has always been a cost vs. value discussion, with a long term commitment plan as a deal-breaker e.g. 12 months. They didn't have confidence that their investment in the platform was the holy grail.

Once the COVID 19 pandemic started we saw businesses essentially shutting down marketing as an expense and trying to unwind as much of the overhead as they could. What we know now is that businesses want flexibility, price controls, and a measurable and predictable path to growth with a platform that is automated that is managed. We provide exactly that solution. We provide the platform and marketing and implementation. They only have to commit to the results, not the platform. In other words, if we don't deliver they are free to change without worrying about a longterm commitment to a platform. When we do deliver, they are happy to be on the platform.

  • Clients had no idea who was doing what, finding credentials was an issue for some.