Introduction to Ontraport

Haven’t we already read many reviews of other automation software solutions that combine CRM with email marketing? How's Ontraport any different?

Here’s an amazing fact thing about Ontraport. While its developers understandably advertise it as an email marketing service, this doesn’t operate like a traditional email marketing solution. It, instead, often feels like a CRM solution that also happens to feature email marketing tool capabilities. Hence, most people might see it as a CRM service first, and then a marketing automation tool.  

While most top tools that supplement marketing automation with CRM have pretty solid email marketing features, the supplementary CRM functionalities are comparatively weak. Hence, they can’t possibly match up to the functionalities of dedicated CRM solutions. The best most software solutions can do is basic CRM. 

However, Ontraport has been lauded for combining advanced Customer Relationship Management with marketing automation. It’s the type of tool you would consider when building complex CRM workflows that align with your marketing strategies are required.  

But this platform reliable, when it comes to that?  Well, let’s find out! Read along as we explore a comprehensive review of Ontraport’s capabilities, functionalities, and standout features when it comes to user experience, campaign building, contact management, automation, and CRM. We’ll also analyze Ontraport’s pricing schedule. Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

  • Overview
  • What do businesses gain from Ontraport?
  • Main marketing automation tool features
  • Pricing
  • Pros and Cons
  • Final thoughts

Overview

As you may have probably guessed, Ontraport was developed by a group of CRM professionals. This software was created because Landon Ray, Ontraport's founder, and CEO had tried fruitlessly to find a comprehensive CRM software. He was frustrated by the idea of being forced to run his small company on multiple tools, simultaneously.

So, in 2006, he birthed the idea of developing an all-round CRM and marketing automation platform. Ontraport was then launched and released in 2008 to offer businesses what he referred to as “the best of both worlds.”

With this approach resonated with a section of the e-commerce industry, Ontraport has managed to grow geometrically over the past decade. They currently provide support to thousands of businesses worldwide.

What Do Businesses Gain From Ontraport?

Ontraport precisely describes itself as “An ‘all-in-one automation software’ that provides ‘all your tools’ and ‘all your data in one place.” Though primarily advertised as an email marketing software, Ontraport fundamentally offers a complete-cycle CRM system with graphical campaign maps for scheduling and tracking your customer interactions.

Essentially, Ontraport’s service goes beyond marketing automation to provide additional tools for membership site creation, payment management, affiliate management, task management, event management, lead generation, leads nurturing, etc.  Such capabilities make the software an asset to both sales and marketing teams.  

While you might have already realized that email marketing is the main focus here, it’s not the only marketing channel that Ontraport supports. 

The marketing side of Ontraport is also optimized for SMS texting, website forms, and landing pages.

Combining all these functionalities, Ontraport transforms into a super-powerful marketing and CRM tool. Imagine the endless possibilities that it will present. However, this bundle of functionalities in a single automation software presents a major drawback. The overall user experience of the tool becomes compromised because of its complex framework.

Most “all-in-one” solutions have a relatively steep learning curve, giving beginners a hard time getting acquainted with their multiple tools. Interestingly, the Ontraport team understands this and claims that they’ve thoroughly tweaked the entire platform to make it as seamless as possible.  

How true is this though? Can this software possibly cater to your automation, email marketing, and CRM needs in a nice and systematic approach? What are the capabilities to expect from each of these essential functionalities?

Main Marketing Automation Tool Features 

Ease of Use and Learning Curve

Looking at it critically, free plans are relatively common with email marketing solutions. No one might be able to tell the origin of this trend but it does tip the scale when you’re comparing your options. That’s one of the reasons why companies like MailChimp keep growing at exponential rates.

Unfortunately, Ontraport doesn’t offer such benefits, which makes it squarely lose out to its competitors in terms of package generosity. However, Ontraport offers a 14-day free trial with no request for credit card details. You’re free to use this tool and explore its features for two weeks without committing long-term.

Now, after you’ve signed up and logged in, your first impressions of the Ontraport system might be a bit confusing. Since it reportedly advertised itself as an email marketing tool, you would expect to find options like “Automation” or “Campaigns” on the menu bar. Surprisingly, you wouldn’t find them here.

Furthermore, only three out of six of its main menu options are consistent with typical email marketing solutions: “Campaigns,” “Contacts,” and “Dashboard.” The other three (“Pages,” “Sales,” and “Tasks”) are more commonly related to CRM tools.

Hence, Ontraport might appear as a CRM solution at your first glance at its dashboard. A plus to the company is their noticeable attempt to develop a clean interface with minimal design, which makes it easier to navigate the platform. 

The primary dashboard might feel somewhat clustered because of the many default figures. But look on the bright side – at least Ontraport lets you customize the dashboard! It provides a drag and drops editor for arranging your dashboard layout and specifying the report types you would want to view.

Now that you’ve begun to grasp how the platform works, it becomes increasingly apparent that the platform isn’t as simple as you might have imagined and requires a bit of learning and mastery. Ontraport is an extensive automation tool with numerous capabilities, features, and functionalities that could overwhelm you.

Even experienced marketers may require some time to master the ropes here. Although salespersons who’ve worked with complex CRM tools before might find it easy, beginners are bound to encounter a steep learning curve. Just give yourself one week to one month to grasp the operation of every single function.

Contact Management

One of the best things about comprehensively provisioned CRM software solutions is that they always possess powerful contact management features. And Ontraport isn’t any different. Since each of its CRM operations is directly synchronized with the corresponding contact database, you’ll get every critical management privilege.  

The contact addition process is also incredibly flexible. If you wish to generate a contact base from scratch, Ontraport can assist you with some of its features including landing pages, SMS, and forms. Otherwise, you can import your pre-existing contact list manually or via direct import.

Also, the contact data type that you can save is limitless. Ontraport allows you to customize your contact fields according to the information you would want on your profiles. Furthermore, to help you target desirable contacts in your marketing campaigns, Ontraport provides supplementary information like account activity, appointment history, engagement history, purchase history, lead score, etc.

Furthermore, for the most favorable campaign results, consider grouping your contacts based on mutual parameters. Ontraport provides tools to help you set up dynamic groups using custom rules. You can set list rules that automatically qualify or disqualify a lead based on demographics, interests, behaviors, etc.

However, if you have a large contact list, you might require some assistance from your team members. Leverage Ontraport’s Lead Router automation tool to assign leads evenly to team members. Don’t have a team? Don’t worry! Ontraport still covers you. You can tweak Ontraport to automatically apply contacts to campaigns. The whole framework is flexible enough to accommodate the qualification criteria you might choose.  

Designing Emails, Landing Pages, and Sign-in Forms

Apart from emails, Ontraport can help you create signup forms and landing pages. . Although these are different marketing channels, this platform has combined their respective customization tools into a single central editor.

Consequently, the email editing process is essentially the same one you’ll be using on your landing pages and its accompanying website forms. That can save you the hassle of learning how to tweak each one individually.

When it comes to the real creation process, Ontraport’s block-based editor lets you start from scratch, or proceed with any of its pre-built templates. We can guess that you wouldn’t be going for the former because it seems tedious. 

Not to worry, Ontraport offers numerous building blocks that make your work easier. It offers an array of well-designed templates to pick from based on your preferred marketing campaign objectives. 

Building from scratch, therefore, doesn’t ultimately mean creating every single item from the ground up. All you need to do is select the appropriate blocks, organize them systematically, and then customize their appearance accordingly. Simple, isn’t it?  

And speaking of simplicity, using templates is easier and faster. Thankfully, the platform provides a decent collection of well-designed templates to choose from according to the objectives of your marketing campaign. Also, all of them are free, highly responsive, and extensively customizable.  

Once you’ve chosen a good email, landing page, and form template, you can commerce work on it directly from the template editor.

Building Campaigns and Automation 

After customizing your emails, forms, and landing pages, it’s then time to switch to Ontraport's campaign builder. The campaign builder is the primary and most important tool on Ontraport. Since everything revolves around it, you’ll possibly be spending most of your time on this tool.

The campaign builder combines marketing automation and CRM through an intuitive visual flow. You can look at it as your regular automation builder with built-in CRM functions. The campaign builder tries to simplify a somewhat sophisticated campaign framework by offering a birds-eye overview of the whole strategy. 

Simply put, the campaign builder features tools for designing visual automation workflows. The resultant chart then provides graphical representations of the interactions between all segments, tags, rules, and corresponding campaign messages. This lets you see your campaign roadmap and its corresponding progress statistics in real-time.

This is probably a good time to mention that Ontraport offers three different types of views. Campaign building occurs in the editing mode. When you’re not building campaigns, you could switch to the live view mode to track workflow in real-time. Then the “projection” and “performance” modes are quite useful when you require a contextual view.

Note that as a very extensive software, Ontraport’s campaign builder can accommodate not just simple linear workflows but also the extensively complex ones that contain multiple layers of rules.

Customer Relationship Management 

Based on the features highlighted so far, it’s pretty clear that Ontraport is more CRM than a marketing software solution. It provides a well-optimized CRM system that helps both marketers and salespersons to maintain favorable long-term engagements with their customers. 

Using various tools, you can personalize the messages you forward to customers, address customers’ concerns, compile previous and recent customer interactions, track customers’ progress from their respective workflows, import new contacts and update existing customer data, monitor customers’ behaviors, create sales workflows, and so much more.

Then in its campaign workflows, the platform displays your customers in well-organized cards for easy tracking. Ontraport further organizes them according to their progress along the sales funnel, allowing you to pinpoint your core priorities.

Additionally, salespersons can leverage the drag and drop layout to create simple and complex pipelines as well as manage leads as they sail through various stages. Ontraport also offers tools for writing conversation notes, creating tasks, setting up email sequences, etc.

Pricing 

Basic Plan

This plan costs $79 monthly and offers:

●     Lead capture

●     Lead nurturing

●     Contact segmentation

●     Automated follow-up

●     Goal-based automation

●     Landing page personalization

●     Automated re-engagement

You’ll also get 1,000 contacts and unlimited emails. 

Plus Plan

This plan costs $179 monthly and offers:

●     Custom metrics dashboard

●     Automated partner payments

●     Lead routing and scoring

●     Cart Abandonment automation

●     Free WordPress hosting

●     Payment gateway integration

You’ll also get 2,500 contacts and unlimited emails. 


Pro Plan

This plan costs $297 monthly. You’ll get all Plus plan feature and:

●     Custom Objects

●     Lead source tracking

●     First and last-click attribution tracking

●     Campaign performance projection

●     Free email consultation

●     UTM link generator

●     UTM tracking

●     Marketing ROI tracker

You’ll also get 10,000 contacts and unlimited emails. 

Enterprise Plan

This plan costs $497 monthly. You’ll get all the Pro plan features and a dedicated account representative. You’ll also get 20,000 contacts, however, the corresponding emails sends aren’t unlimited. Ontraport restricts Enterprise plan subscribers to 200,000 emails per month.

Pros and Cons 

Pros 

●     Unlike most other email marketing software, Ontraport offers full CRM capabilities. This makes the platform an asset to both sales and marketing teams.  

●     Ontraport features a host of functionalities for enhancing e-commerce sales. 

●     Ontraport provides great customer support.

●     Ontraport generates accurate campaign performance reports and then proceeds to segment the data extensively for quick interpretation. Consequently, you shouldn’t have a hard time establishing your customers’ lifetime values, the corresponding CPA, your best-performing campaigns, etc. 

●     Ontraport uses dedicated IP addresses for all sent emails. This increases the overall email deliverability while reducing the possibility of messages ending up together with junks. 

●     Ontraport supplements email marketing with text marketing, plus landing pages and forms. Hence, you can design automation sequences that engage your customers across multiple channels for maximum effect. 

●     Ontraport’s CRM functionalities aren’t only highly scalable but also extensively customizable.

●     The drag and drop editor feature on the main dashboard helps to configure its layout to display only the most important statistics while hiding the rest. 

●     Ontraport’s block-based editor can handle emails, landing pages, and forms. The customization process is the same for all three. 

●     Ontraport provides a decent collection of professionally designed email, landing page, and form templates that are highly responsive and customizable. 

●     The campaign builder is flexible enough to support complex automation involving an extensive range of parameters and variables. 

●     You can sign up for a free trial. Also, there’s no requirement for your credit card information.  

Cons

●     Ontraport can be expensive for startups and small business owners on a budget. The cheapest plan costs $76/month and it’s not very scalable.  

●     While the dashboard is well organized and features a minimal design, it’s not quite intuitive, making it look bland and uninviting.  

●     Although Ontraport provides numerous integrations, the range of supported applications is fairly limited.  

●     Ontraport can present a fairly steep learning curve. Due to its unique approach, and its bundle of multiple advanced tools, it might take you quite a while to master everything in it.  

Final Thoughts

Ontraport’s flexibility is sufficient to accommodate almost all business types. Marketers and salespeople across over 63 countries use Ontraport to drive smart automation and customer relationship management.  

However, one thing currently holds this platform back – pricing. While understandably, developing and maintaining its advanced functionalities is very expensive, Ontraport could consider tweaking its pricing schedule a bit. A cheaper, exclusive plan for beginners and startups would be a great start.