How to create a full stack automated marketing system for less than $20/month

Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small businesses need highly efficient, cost-effective marketing programs that leverage automation. The reason for this is simple: there is simply too much to do in order to run a business effectively, and resources are too limited, to spend a ton of time and money on marketing. And yet, marketing is a must in order to generate a sales funnel and drive the revenue growth that will fuel your business.

full stack marketing automation
With this special recipe of marketing tools, you can build a full stack automated marketing system from the ground up for less than $20/month.

In fact, marketing expert Mike Alton of Social Media Hat argues here that the biggest priority solopreneurs need to manage is their time. After that, it’s there assets.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of a few elements you can put together to develop a full stack marketing program that saves a ton of money and leverages automation, so your business can spend time managing, selling, and doing what you do best, while still filling your marketing pipeline with potential revenue. Everything requires initial setup up front, but then is “set it and forget it” and costs less than $20/month. You can thank me later 🙂

Web hosting = free – $7/month

Solution: Many options

You obviously need a website, and so will need to host it somewhere. Most websites for small businesses will not require huge hosting servers that cost a ton. And once you publish your site on the server, you don’t need to worry about any kind of maintenance; that’s all done by the host provider.

There are a ga-jillion (approximately) web hosting providers out there. So a simple Google search for “web hosting providers” will return ample options that will host your website at a low cost. Regardless of which you choose, I recommend one thing you make sure they provide: C-Panel with Softaculous auto-installer. This will make your life much easier to manage your website and marketing automation installations.  (see below under Website CMS, Email Marketing, and CRM). You don’t need to install these apps yourself – they will be already included with your hosting provider – I just included the links above for reference.

C-Panel with Softaculous lets you install your website and marketing automation system with a few clicks.

In the past I have used Arvixe for web hosting, and their current plans start at $7/month as of this writing. But there are many other hosting providers that start even lower than that. I see a lot in the $5 range.

Domain name service = $1/month

Solution: Godaddy

Like web hosting, there are a million options out there, but I prefer Godaddy because they are very well established (so I trust them) and easy-to-use. Most plans are paid annually, and will offer you the first year free or a multi-year discount. As long as your domain is available, the average rate will probably wind up being around $12 per year, a more than manageable cost.

Once you have purchased the domain and pointed the name to your web hosting provider, your domain is automatically up and running and you don’t have to do anything. You can also set your domain to “auto-renew” so you don’t have to worry about signing up again. This is one of those services that are so essential and cost-effective, you really can set it and forget it.

Website CMS = free

Solution: WordPress

WordPress is the most widely-used open source Content Management System (CMS) available as of this writing. It is extremely easy to use and configure, and lets you manage all your website content, along with offering plugins for SEO, analytics, e-commerce and just about everything else you can imagine.

The WordPress admin – powerful, easy to use, and free.

Once you have signed up for a web hosting provider that offers C-Panel with Softaculous (as explained above), you can install WordPress very easily with a couple clicks. During this process you can select your theme and start populating your blog posts and pages. The entire system is free with your web hosting, and once set up, the only work involved is adding new content to keep it fresh.

Social Media Marketing = $10/month

Solution: Cactus Social Media Automation

Of course, I would not include a list of a full stack marketing automation solution without adding Cactus Social Media Automation.  Cactus is built to drive traffic to your website, and automates your social media to save you time. It takes roughly 15 minutes to easily set up, and then puts your Facebook and Twitter marketing on auto-pilot. Plans start at $10 a month (if you choose the annual plan), but there are other plans with depending on how many websites you want to promote and how much flexibility you need.

Check out the video above and our Features page to learn more about how it works. It writes, schedules, publishes and recycles posts promoting your website.

It also gives you the ability to edit the posts that are created by the Cactus computer’s brain. So if you don’t like what is automatically generated by the app, you can edit your posts to get them just the way you want them. Cactus will then remember your edits and recycle them for next time. You can also use the Bulk Post Upload Feature in Cactus to load your own posts that you’ve written, which Cactus will recycle as Evergreen content until you tell it not to. Learn more about that feature here:

Email marketing = free

Solution: Mailchimp and Mautic

Email marketing is essential, and for the solopreneur or small business, it’s essential that it be automated, so you don’t have to worry about constantly creating one-off eblasts.  There are a billion (pretty much) email marketing solutions out there, and most are highly expensive.

Our solution is to combine the dynamic email marketing templates of Mailchimp with the open source automation system, Mautic. We’ve actually got another post on how to set this up here. Once this is dialed in, you’ll have pro-level email marketing that automatically goes out to all your prospects, and can even be segmented based on profile or where they are at in the sales funnel. All completely for free.

CRM = free

Solution: Mautic

CRM be set up 100% free if your web hosting provider offers C-Panel with Softaculous.

Since you’ve set up Mautic, you might as well take full advantage of what the system has to offer, which includes several CRM-like features such as Contacts tracking and Stages. Leveraging these features allows you to keep an accurate report of the total contacts in your database, as well as where they are at in your sales funnel.

An example use of Contact tracking in Mautic is pretty simple. From the main menu, simply go Contacts, and you’re there. The contacts gives you a sortable, filterable view of all your contacts, company, contact owner, stage, and other contact information. Here is an example of the table on my blog Since this website does not sell products (as of now), we do not track company information. This gives you an idea, though, of how quickly and easily you can get an at-a-glance view of your prospects and customers.

mautic contacts
Mautic provides an at-a-glance view of your contacts.

As for stages, this is a very dynamic tool that can be used in both manual and automated ways. The basic concept, though, is that you can track where each contact is at in your revenue funnel, from new lead to converted sale. The stages are totally customizable and easy to set-up (just go to Stages from the main menu and click New). To manually update a contact’s stage, go to Contacts, then click on the contact you want to update, and then click edit.

mautic stages
Stages in Mautic let you view all the contacts at each point in your sales funnel.

You can even use Mautic stages to execute automated email marketing to your sales pipeline. Meaning, depending on where a person is in your sales funnel, they will receive a different message that is tailored to how ready or not ready they are to buy your product. Here is my tutorial on how to set this up in Mautic using stages.

As far as automated processes go, there are different ways to accomplish this. You can update a contact’s stage when they complete a form, or are placed into a campaign. I suggest playing around with campaigns. If you’re interested in more info, there is an outstanding article on the automated use of Stages in Mautic here.

Website Analytics = free

Solution: Google Anayltics

Still the leader in website analytics programs, and still 100% free, Google Analytics is possibly the best value to the small business marketer.

There is a world of data that Google Analytics can report on, but assuming you’re not part of a 50-person marketing department of a large corporation, you’ll likely want to just narrow down a couple key metrics to keep an eye on. Total sessions, average session duration, and conversion rate are usually good ones.  And you don’t have to remember to login every two weeks to check it; you can instead set up reports to be emailed to you at regular intervals.

This platform is extremely powerful, automated, and 100% free. All you need is a google account, and then follow the instructions once logged in to install the tracking code on your site.

SEO = free

Solution: Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress

SEO is a gigantic industry now, and for good reason. If you can optimize your site for organic search, you’ll get a stream of traffic, and by extension, revenue. If you are a solopreneur, however, you probably don’t have the extra cash to retain an SEO firm that will continually work to optimize your site.

As a fallback, a good next option is the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. It provides a dashboard with several recommendations for your site, but more importantly, on every page and post that you create, it will give you an easy-to-use admin tool for on-page SEO. This small section at the bottom of your page on the edit screen will let you input a target keyword and meta description, which are key for SEO, among other things. It is very easy to input the text, and Yoast lets you know when the page is optimized and provides you with recommendations.

yoast seo plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin provides an admin on every page to easily optimize your page for search. And it’s totally free.

The plugin is free, and once you have your WordPress website installed, simply go to Plugins > Install, and search for Yoast. In a click you can have a very helpful admin to make sure you are optimizing your pages and blog posts for organic search.

As you’ll find, putting these pieces together will require some work up front. But once set in place, most of your effort will be behind you, and your marketing platform will be in large part a turn-key, set it and forget it solution. At a very reasonable/low cost, you’ll be running a competitive, pro-level marketing program, and in position for revenue growth while still attending to the other needs of your business.

5 Replies to “How to create a full stack automated marketing system for less than $20/month”

  1. My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of
    the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on a variety of
    websites for about a year and am concerned about switching to
    another platform. I have heard fantastic things about
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. In response to previous commenter: Unless they can quantify specific reasons why a certain platform is more beneficial to you than your existing configuration, and those reasons align with your business aspirations, then in all likelihood they want you to switch because of personal preference. In that case you should probably investigate finding another developer more suited to your business.

      And re article: Great setup, it’s amazing how much marketing power you can get for so little these days. That said you definitely still need to spend some time learning and setting up all the tools properly or work with somebody that knows them already to get the biggest advantage!

      1. I agree 100%. There is usually going to be a learning curve with any of these tools, although some are easier to use than others. My perspective is, if you’re getting something for free, you’re probably going to have to spend some time up front learning how to install, operate, and optimize the tool in order for it to really help you succeed.

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