SharpSpring earned a slot in The Angles Report™ top-ten list because of a strong landing page and email follow-up with leads. The rest of its online marketing program is mediocre, at best, and limps along with a search budget that’s a sliver of what its competitors are spending.
To be more competitive, SharpSpring must spend more. Money isn’t the sliver bullet for successful search programs, but it is an issue for SharpSpring since the average monthly budget among its competitors is $119,000. SharpSpring spends $8,440. Only one of the 21 companies surveyed spends less.
A budget increase would be worthwhile since SharpSpring already has made smart moves by sticking with a category focus in its keyword selection and invested in technologies that demonstrate excellence compared to many of its competitors.
Eight of the 10 top keywords bought by SharpSpring include some variation of “marketing automation.” That category focus carries through to ad copy, making it easy for a prospect to spot what he’s searching for. (See below.)
These keywords are so expensive that SharpSpring is spending almost 50 percent more than the average company only to have its ads display in the middle of the pack. It’s going to have to invest much more and bid higher to compete.
The lack of aggressiveness in the scope of the SharpSpring search program translates into well below average performance. While the average number of clicks per month among its competitors is 26,375, SharpSpring scrapes together a mere 665.
Along with a bigger budget for more than 194 keywords, additional A/B testing of ads would help SharpSpring. (The average number of keywords purchased by the 21 companies researched is 1,546.)
It’s too bad more potential leads don’t see the SharpSpring landing page. It’s a good one, ranking No. 6 overall. (See below.) Responsively designed for the mobile market and with few exit paths to lure visitors away from a short embedded form, the landing page copy and design are solid, relevant and engaging.
The landing page also is noteworthy for its use of advertising, retargeting, analytics and optimization applications that make SharpSpring marketers smarter and the user experience better. Curiously, however, there’s no evidence of any marketing- automation software being used, not even its own.
As good as its landing page is, that’s how bad the SharpSpring confirmation page is. (See below.) It has an obligatory thank you, more links for the visitor to explore, and an explanation of next steps, but there’s nothing engaging to start building a relationship with a prospect. There’s not even any personalization, a baseline demonstration of marketing-automation capabilities.
SharpSpring wasted an opportunity with its confirmation page to impress a prospect. Social proof − links to customer case studies − would be an easy, but important, way to improve this page.
SharpSpring email follow-up is appropriately persistent with a sequence of five email. The copy, however, is poorly written with misspellings, punctuation mistakes and syntax errors. Additionally, in the example below, the marketing rep fails to point out that there’s an attached PDF, content laying out SharpSpring benefits that may actually help nudge a prospect to schedule a demo. (It’s generally a bad practice to attach a PDF to an automated email for two reasons: 1) it’s more likely to trigger a spam complaint and 2) it’s easier to track a linked PDF than an attachment.)
SharpSpring is missing another opportunity to differentiate itself from its competitors: phone follow-up. A friendly, informative voice with a relevant message is a rarity in an industry focused on generating inbound activity − and could be an important differentiator.