Marketers can’t ignore digital marketing. Understanding how digital marketing contributes to the overall success of a company, marketers know just how important it is to invest in email marketing automation tools. They help to take the tedium out of your work, not only to make it easier for yourself but to make sure you’re creating a personalised experience for your audience as well as give you more time to work on more pressing things.
In other words, if you’re not already using marketing automation software, you’re simply wasting valuable time (and nerves). Time that you could use for working on your primary marketing tasks such as increasing awareness of your brand and products or increasing the ROI of your campaigns.
Just like any other software, there are open source options out there so that you don’t absolutely need to buy. The open-source marketing automation platform Mautic is used by more 200K+ companies and it certainly plays among the usual suspects in marketing automation.
Mautic comes with features that are equal to and in many cases superior to marketing automation services as a software, so-called marketing clouds. It includes
- Drip campaigns
- Lead nurturing
- Social media marketing features
- Tracking across digital properties including pages views, time spent on website, specific interests
- Email marketing
- Integration with external CRMs, tools, etc
Pros and cons of Mautic
Similar to WordPress, you can get the self-hosted, open-source version and the hosted for your marketing cloud Mautic. You can find the open source version on mautic.org. The commercial version was acquired in May 2019 by Acquia https://www.acquia.com/blog/acquia-acquires-mautic-qa-founders-dries-buytaert-and-db-hurley. This is why mautic.com forwards you to Acquia’s site.
Both the hosted and self-hosted (open source) versions are very similar. Of course, the hosted for you tool comes with a price tag. The self-hosted version is unrestricted. Since it’s open source, you’ll “only” be footing the bill for your hosting provider and other services to keep the software running such as an email delivery provider in addition to your hoster.
For this review, I’m going to look at the self-hosted version.
- It’s free to run since it’s open source (there’s also the hosted version which is not so different from the traditional marketing cloud)
- You can tailor the self-hosted version to your needs
- Extensive feature set out of the box but you can further extend it with third-party plugins and/or extensions
- Large community of users and developers
- Intuitive workflow builder, form builder, and email builder
- You need technical skills for the self-hosted, open source version, although it’s not too complicated
- Like the open source WordPress, updates might break things
- Can have a learning curve
Who is Mautic for?
If you like to have a feature rich marketing automation tool but without the price tag, Mautic helps you with your daily marketing tasks. It takes a lot off your hands since it automates repetitive marketing tasks including marketing campaigns, lead generation, segmentation, and lead scoring.
It lets you communicate not only on your primary channel – email – but also includes text messaging, focus items and social.
If you don’t shy away from technical stuff, installing and configuring Mautic is not really that hard, but technical knowledge is definitely required. If you just want to play around to get a feel of Mautic, just google for Mautic demo. If you want to use it in production, it’s best to have someone who knows their way around stuff like MySQL database, email server, cron jobs, webhooks, body tag, etc.
Mautic user interface
Once Mautic is up and running, it’s not so different from any other marketing automation service. This also means, if you know other automation tools, you’d find your way around easily.
It’s easy to create emails with Mautic’s email builder. You also get some templates to help you along the way.
Campaign building and managing are at the core of all marketing automation tools. Mautic is leading the way in how you can build your campaigns. You can set out to build a simple newsletter campaign or you can realise complex user journeys from when they sign up to adding points.
A workflow can consist of as many actions, decisions, and conditions as you want. An action is something like sending an email or text message or modifying a contact’s info. When a contact takes an action, this triggers a decision. It can be something like opening an email or visiting a page. Conditions are what you’d expect. You can set a condition to when a contact’s information changes or from results.
For Mautic to work properly, especially for campaigns, you or your technical person needs to set up the cron jobs correctly. The cron job are needed when information of a contact changes for segments and the actions are triggered.
Forms and landing pages
As a full-stack marketing automation tool, Mautic provides you with tools such as forms and landing pages to grow your list.
For Mautic, you can create forms as a standalone or as part of a campaign (aka user journey). The forms can den be embedded into a Mautic landing page or into your website. Very cool is Mautic’s dynamic profiling. Your forms get smart and do not ask for all infos at once, especially not infos Mautic already knows. This is a great way not to annoy your contacts and to improve your form conversion rate.
For landing pages, Mautic gives you a landing page builder at hand. It has multi-lingual support and you can create variants for AB-testing.
List management, segmentation, and personalisation
The other part that makes out Mautic is its contact management. It has a basic CRM with which you can start building and managing your contacts. If you’ve installed its tracking script to your digital properties such as your website, you can learn about user behaviour. Mautic will keep a history of the pages they visit and what actions they take. It can even identify an anonymous user when they download or submit a form. All these actions can be used for scoring a contact or creating a segment.
If you understand your audience, you can create segments to target them. You can appear at the right time and channel with personalised content in the hope they can relate to it.
To further personalise the content, Mautic lets you show dynamic content not only in your emails but also on your website. Just imagine, if a known contact does to your site and you can show them content specifically designed for them. For dynamic content, you have to create versions of certain content and then allow the default content to be overwritten based on campaign actions and triggers. The best is that you can show dynamic content to both known and anonymous users and it also supports translated content.
You can connect Mautic with external CRM and email providers such as Hubspot and Mailchimp. You can integrate it with different platforms such as for your online store. Mautic and its community are constantly developing new features and plugins.
Your dashboard shows you what has been going on. You can fully customise your dashboard by removing or adding widgets.
If you want to take a deep dive, you’ll find a separate tab in the left menu for reports. You’ll start with several preconfigured reports. The cool thing is that you can create your specific reports based on your marketing automation strategy.
Since Mautic is released under the GNU General Public License and also available on Github, for the self-hosted version, you’ll have to rely on self-help resources or work with a third party tech team that understands Mautic. Don’t worry, there’s a growing ecosystem of IT companies that help clients to use the open source version.
As open source, you don’t pay for Mautic itself but you have to factor in costs such as your time to set it up (or a third party IT company), costs for your web and email server, etc.
Is Mautic right for you?
If you don’t mind tackling the installation by yourself or getting someone qualified, Mautic is a reliable and full-featured marketing automation alternative to the traditional software as a service marketing cloud.
Mautic comes with a visual automation builder that’s easy to follow and understand. In general, it has a simple and clean interface. Once set up properly, Mautic is in no way inferior to commercial options. On the contrary, it’s very good at tracking what visitors do on your digital properties. It’s also great in tagging, lead scoring, and nurturing. And lastly, Mautic has the decisive advantage over commercial tools in terms of the privacy of visitors to your digital properties. If that’s your priority, then there’s no alternative.