At the time of writing, the software versions are:
Mautic: 2.7.1 | Sendy: 22.214.171.124
I have been using various forms of marketing automation for a while now, but like most in the small business space, I am primarily interested in the most bang for my buck! Generally that means FREE!
Prior to Mautic, I was using Sendy which is where I first started looking into drip campaigns and bulk email. The muscle behind both of these platforms is Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). Whilst there are other email sending services which can be used, I am a fan of Amazon SES. The volume of emails you can send at the extremely low price point is a winner for me!
Sendy in short – https://sendy.co
I cut my teeth on Sendy. This was my first self hosted marketing automation project. It has low overheads and can run on most shared hosting platforms. Sendy is pretty cheap, about $60 for an outright purchase, with a fee of $30 for major upgrades. (v1 to v2 for example) all of the minor updates are free. The interface is easy to use and you can manage multiple brands fairly easily.
What I liked:
- Easy to Install (Basic file upload and database setup)
- Easy to navigate and manage brands
- Good support forum and setup guides for Amazon SES
- Actively being developed and new features added.
- Sendy does one thing really well, it sends out emails to email lists. This is great, but as you grow and want to expand to be more interactive and more complex Sendy is limited.
- It only integrates with Amazon SES
- No Campaign builder
- No user tracking / points system to trigger events
- No web tracking to identify user interaction
Mautic in Short – https://www.mautic.org/
After using Sendy for about 2 years, I stumbled upon Mautic. I tried for some time to get it working, but failed a couple of times in the early stages to get it setup and working as I wanted it to. The main reason for this is that it is a lot different conceptually from the simplicity of Sendy, and I was trying to set it up on a shared hosting solution (Hetzner). As mentioned, Sendy does one thing really well whilst Mautic has loads of new things, with new names and concepts! How do I just do the basics like I did on Sendy!?
After many hours of playing, reinstalling and re-configuring I eventually got it all setup the way I want it!
Mautic is definitely more complicated to setup and configure and requires more tweaking in my opinion than Sendy, but the end result is a great and robust platform to launch multiple different types of marketing automation campaigns.
What I like
- With Mautic you can send out standard Newsletter style emails, but the most important part is that you can trigger campaigns and marketing messages based on user interaction (or non-interaction).
- The campaign builder makes building email and SMS triggers quick and easy.
- You can integrate with multiple email providers, you’re not limited to Amazon SES. You can even integrate with your domain or gmail if you’re sending small quantities.
- It’s self-hosted and therefore you own your data. This can be scary too, make sure you backup regularly!
- Integrated tracking code for your website allows you to track users like Google Analytics and trigger emails / campaigns based on their actions. Did they open the last email, did they click the link? Did they then look at Product A and then Product C – BAM! Send them an email with a discount coupon for those products and try seal the deal. This is a very basic example, there are many ways in which you can interact with the potential customer, not just through email!
What you should know
- Mautic doesn’t run well on a shared host. It’s slow and difficult to get the maximum value out of it on a shared host. Ideally run it on a dedicated VPS. After all, the software is free, you might as well fork out a little $$ to run it on a decent VPS. I personally have run it on a shared host, Ramnode and Digital Ocean. Best value for money for me was Digital Ocean.
- You need to be prepared to learn a little Linux / VPS and Cronjobs. In order to get your server running smoothly this is pretty vital. But alas, do not worry, I will write up another blog post with detailed instructions that’ll make it really easy. It sounds a lot harder than it is.
I like to host my own software whenever possible. That’s probably because I am a geek and I like the sense of accomplishment of getting all setup and integrated just to my needs. Tinkering with API’s and writing code is my thing.
If you feel like this sounds way too complicated then you can always sign up for the free packages on offer by Mautic to test it out at Mautic.com or a very good alternative at hubspot.com. These cloud hosted alternatives take out all of geeky stuff and let you get on with the actual marketing, without having to worry about the servers and what the hell a cronjob is!
These alternatives are great if you’re dealing with small quantities of people / visitors, but as you start trying to stretch your wings, expect to start paying. Most of the more advanced features require you to pay, if you’re good with that, then I would suggest a more commercial approach to your marketing automation.
If you’re up for a challenge and aren’t scared to make a few mistakes now and again, I would highly recommend firing up a Digital Ocean droplet, learning a bit of Linux and mastering your marketing automation from start to finish. Oh and if you do sign up for Digital Ocean, use this link https://m.do.co/c/51a5a09c75e4 you’ll get $10 off (2 months hosting) and I’ll get $25 too, boom! Win-Win.