Affordable Marketing Tools for SMBs and Agencies
Learn about SharpSpring and why it’s a strong option for your marketing automation software needs.
Includes overview videos and feature highlights, agency and end-user customer insights, pricing details and comparisons, and competing alternatives to consider.
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2020
What are Marketing Automation Platforms?
Helping Marketers Automate and Scale Digital Campaigns
Marketing automation (MA) platforms are software suites that help marketers create and run automated inbound and outbound marketing campaigns. They are often based on email outreach as the primary outbound marketing channel, though most will have strong search engine marketing (SEM) and social media capabilities as well.
On the inbound marketing side of things, MA software includes website content creation support, organic search optimization (SEO tools), landing pages, forms, and other elements designed to help convert anonymous website visitors into signups and subscribers for gated content.
Marketing automation platforms are generally cloud-based software (SaaS), with monthly subscription fees and different pricing tiers.
I’ve included more on SharpSpring pricing and vendor price comparisons below.
SharpSpring Introduction and Overview
SharpSpring is one of several contenders in the MA software segment.
Based in the US city of Gainesville, Florida, SharpSpring competes with vendors such as HubSpot, Act-On, and others.
The SharpSpring marketing automation platform is known and respected as a very cost-effective alternative to other vendors. It is also designed and priced to be attractive to marketing agencies looking to deliver MA-based campaigns for multiple clients.
How Does Marketing Automation Work?
The two short videos below provide a good introduction to the main features and benefits of SharpSpring. They also help explain how marketing automation works more generally.
SharpSpring Overview Video #1
Disclosure: I’m a SharpSpring affiliate partner and may receive compensation for software purchases made after clicking vendor links within this post. Just wanted you to know that. Thanks for your support!
SharpSpring Overview Video #2
SharpSpring Core Features
SharpSpring delivers a broad array of marketing automation features, including:
- Smart email automation and CRM tools
- Dynamic forms
- Customizable landing pages and lead funnels
- Visual automation workflow builder
- Flexible lead scoring
- VisitorID for website visitor identification
- CRM integrations (built-in and 3rd-party)
- Blogging tools
- Social media management
- Marketing analytics for performance tracking
- Numerous external integrations
- 3rd-party App Marketplace
SharpSpring for Marketing Agencies
Unlike most competing MA solutions, SharpSpring is designed, priced, and supported specifically with marketing agencies in mind.
As you’ll see in the two agency-centric videos below, SharpSpring offers agencies:
- A complete marketing automation suite that can handle nearly all client requirements
- Attractive pricing that supports decent agency profit margins
- Month-to-Month pricing (no annual lock-in)
- Unlimited users (great for multiple clients)
- Unlimited support
Of course, SharpSpring also sells directly to end-user companies who want to run their own marketing campaigns with in-house teams.
Also related: this post on marketing automation alternatives for digital agencies.
Why SharpSpring for Digital Agencies?
SharpSpring Marketing Agency Insights
SharpSpring offers month-to-month pricing, starting at just $550/month for 1500 contacts.
Digital Marketing Agencies
SharpSpring is priced to be specifically compelling for agencies. They offer all the core automation features needed by most agencies and clients, at one-tenth the cost of competing solutions.
This allows marketing firms to offer automation programs at extremely competitive price points to end clients, while keeping reasonable profits for the agency.
It’s also a month-to-month arrangement, eliminating the cost pressures and risks associated with annual contracts.
SharpSpring doesn’t publish agency pricing specifics on their website, but it’s easy to learn more and contact them for details here.
SMBs and Enterprises
Based on number of contacts, SharpSpring’s price range for SMBs and enterprises is $550 to $1,250 per month. There is also custom pricing available for large enterprises who need to manage millions of contacts and emails.
You can also expect a one-time onboarding fee of ~ $1,800, which covers an initial 60-day support period to get things started right.
Competitive Pricing Insights
For more information and expert insights into SharpSpring pricing, be sure to also check out the video further below on competitive pricing analysis.
SharpSpring User Reviews
SharpSpring has plenty of fans among digital agencies, for sure. But it also has many happy customers among its corporate end users.
Here’s one example of a B2B firm that uses SharpSpring to automate marketing activities and do more with a smaller in-house team.
SharpSpring B2B Customer Testimonial
SharpSpring's New "Perfect Audience" Product
Different Platforms for Different Needs
Marketing automation has been a big thing for many years now, so it’s no surprise to find an abundance of competitors in this segment.
There are many ways to further subdivide and categorize these tools. For SharpSpring vs. competitors, it’s useful to think about their target customers in terms of enterprise size and B2B focus.
The more enterprise-focused marketing automation vendors all got scooped up by larger software vendors.
Larger B2B Enterprises
- Marketo (now part of Adobe)
- Pardot (now part of Salesforce)
- Eloqua (now part of Oracle)
- CallidusCloud (now part of SAP)
Smaller B2B Firms, plus Marketing Agencies
SharpSpring Competitive Comparisons
SharpSpring offers their own product evaluations vs. competing alternatives as well. See links below for these vendor-specific comparisons.
SharpSpring Competitive Pricing Analysis
This video from Cliff at CliffordJones.com provides great insights into price comparisons and other considerations when shopping for marketing automation solutions.
Vendors compared in this video include SharpSpring, HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On, Pardot, and InfusionSoft.
Cliff does a great job here of highlighting the importance of understanding the “whole cost” of buying marketing automation tools, including monthly and up-front fee structures, and additional costs based on email list size (contact lists).
Since your in-house email list size is a major cost driver for marketing automation, it’s especially helpful to take time to aggressively clean your list *before* implementing an MA platform.
SharpSpring Review Wrap-Up
A Solid Option for Many
Many companies and marketing agencies have discovered that SharpSpring is indeed a strong alternative as they narrow down a list of potential marketing automation vendors.
It has all of the most essential marketing tools needed by most companies. This aspect also allows digital agencies to use SharpSpring as their one and only MA platform across all client accounts.
They are able to master one MA tool and then leverage it many times in retainer-style client engagements.
Pricing is also a huge advantage for SharpSpring, as noted in Cliff’s video above.
And now, by adding Perfect Audience, SharpSpring also allows their customers to execute good retargeting / remarketing campaigns. The further integration of these two platforms should deliver lots of interesting capabilities in the future, as well.
Getting Started with SharpSpring
If you’re new to marketing automation and are building a short-list of vendors to check out…
Or if you’re on another MA platform today but want to explore options for moving to something else…
Or if you’re a marketing agency seeking to add differentiated and more cost-effective marketing automation services to clients…
Then it makes sense to request a brief demo from the experts at SharpSpring.
This button will get you started. The video testimonials below may also help convince you to take a closer look at SharpSpring.
Comments and Feedback
Have you used SharpSpring or any other competing platforms for automating your marketing activities and campaigns?
What do you like and dislike about any of them?
Is the pricing right for delivering end-user (company) ROI… and sustainable agency profits?
What other platforms would you recommend for SMBs and small-medium digital agencies?
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing with your social networks.