Smartlead vs Instantly.ai 2024: Best Outreach Tool?

Last Updated on
May 9, 2024
by
Jason Gong
App automation expert

This article compares Smartlead and Instantly.ai on their cold outreach capabilities, aiming to help you choose the best tool by breaking down their features. While both tools offer more than just cold outreach, our focus is on this aspect. With years of experience in product reviews, we bring a critical eye to these platforms' strengths and weaknesses.

Smartlead Instantly.ai
Campaign Creation Linear sequences, unlimited auto-rotating email accounts Linear sequences, easy setup, email content variants
Deliverability Unlimited mailbox warmups, auto-rotating accounts Email warming included, spam avoidance, rate limits
Personalization Unlimited custom fields for tailored emails Customizable email content, dynamic placeholders
AI Uses custom column values for personalized emails No AI features for sequences or custom signals
Native Enrichment Integration with Clay for lead enrichment External data integration, no native database
Social Automation SMS, Twitter, WhatsApp messaging Lacks built-in social media automation

Campaign Creation - Managing High Volume Outreach

When comparing Smartlead with Instantly.ai for campaign creation in sequences, Smartlead provides a clear advantage with its support for unlimited auto-rotating email accounts.

Smartlead's interface for creating email sequences with auto-rotating accounts

Both platforms offer basic and linear sequences, which are suitable for simple and straightforward outreach campaigns. However, Smartlead's feature can be particularly beneficial for high-volume senders who need to maintain sender reputation by distributing emails across various accounts.

Furthermore, personalizing your outreach can significantly improve open and response rates. Integrating a tool like Bardeen can enrich your leads with fresh information, making your campaigns more effective by utilizing AI-driven insights.

If you're looking for a robust system to manage multiple email accounts simultaneously within your campaigns, Smartlead's offering is more comprehensive.

Smartlead

Interface for setting up email sequences in Smartlead.

Setting up campaigns in Smartlead's Sequences is straightforward, with a focus on linear progression. While it may not support complex branching or conditional paths, the tool does offer unlimited auto-rotating email accounts, which can be a significant advantage for managing large-scale campaigns.

  • Simple and linear sequences: Easy to set up without the complexity of branches.
  • Unlimited auto-rotating email accounts: Manage multiple campaigns without the need to switch accounts manually.

Reddit reviews highlight the efficiency and warm-up capabilities of Smartlead over other tools, indicating user satisfaction with the Sequences Campaign Creation feature.

👍 "So i prefer Smartlead.ai to instantly. It’s better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing

Instantly.ai

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Simple linear email sequence setup in Instantly.ai.

Instantly.ai's Sequences feature offers a straightforward interface for setting up linear email sequences. This is ideal for sales professionals who are looking for simple and direct outreach campaigns without the need for complex conditions or branching paths.

  • Linear Sequences: Perfect for straightforward, no-frills email outreach.
  • Easy Setup: Add steps quickly to build your sequence.
  • Variants: Option to add different email content variants within a step.
  • Templates and Variables: Use built-in templates and variables to personalize emails faster.
  • Save and Resume: Work on your campaign in stages with the ability to save and resume later.
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Deliverability - Boosting Inbox Reach and Avoiding Spam

In comparing Smartlead and Instantly.ai regarding email deliverability features, Smartlead appears to have the upper hand.

Smartlead's dashboard indicating email warmup and spam avoidance features

Smartlead provides both unlimited mailbox warm-ups and auto-rotating email accounts, which are not available in Instantly.ai's basic package.

While Instantly.ai does include integrated email warming and simulates email opens and reads, Smartlead's automated rate limits for email warmups and support for multiple mailboxes give it an edge for users looking to maintain high deliverability without manual effort.

However, if email accuracy checking is crucial for your operations, keep in mind that Smartlead does not offer this feature.

To further improve your deliverability and efficiency, consider utilizing a task automation tool like Bardeen to personalize and optimize your email campaigns.

Smartlead

Smartlead's email warming options to improve deliverability.

Smartlead tackles deliverability challenges head-on with a set of features designed to boost your emails' chances of landing in inboxes and not spam folders. They offer unlimited mailbox warmups and the ability to rotate between email accounts to maintain a healthy sender reputation.

  • Unlimited Mailbox Warmups: Keeps your email engagement high and spam markers low.
  • Rate Limits for Warmups: Automates the rate at which emails are sent to maintain credibility.
  • Multiple Mailboxes Support: Manages various email accounts to distribute sending volume.
  • Auto-Adjust Warmup/Sending Ratio: Adapts to your reply rates to optimize deliverability.

One Reddit user notes the superiority of Smartlead over competitors for email warm-up efficiency, among other features.

👍 "So i prefer Smartlead.ai to instantly. It’s better for warmup, everything else in between in my opinion." - r/Emailmarketing

Instantly.ai

Email warming and deliverability settings in Instantly.ai's Sequences Deliverability.

Deliverability is a critical aspect of any sales engagement tool, and Instantly.ai addresses this with a robust set of features designed to maintain high deliverability rates. The platform's Sequences Deliverability feature stands out for its built-in email warming service, which is crucial for avoiding spam filters and ensuring your emails reach the inbox.

  • Email Warming: Unlimited email warming included in the basic package.
  • Spam Avoidance: Simulates email opens and reads to maintain a good sender reputation.
  • Rate Limits: Allows control over the number of emails sent daily to avoid triggering spam filters.
  • Multiple Mailboxes: Supports numerous email accounts, enhancing your outreach capabilities.
😐 "Been doing the warm up for almost 2 months now and still even basic messages going to spam" - r/Emailmarketing
😐 "Used Instantly warmup, good copy, only about 20% open rate." - r/Emailmarketing
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Personalization - Crafting Tailored Emails for Leads

Smartlead takes the lead with its ability to support unlimited custom fields, ensuring a high level of personalization for each email.

Easily map custom fields to personalize campaigns in Smartlead

Instantly.ai also offers strong customization through placeholders and a variety of pre-made templates, but lacks the unlimited custom fields feature that Smartlead provides.

While Instantly.ai allows for adding links, emoticons, and images, and includes useful options like email tracking and daily limit settings, Smartlead's unlimited custom fields capability offers a more tailored approach to email personalization. If you're looking to further enhance personalization, consider using Bardeen to craft custom outreach messages that resonate with your leads.

For teams that prioritize deep customization to drive engagement, Smartlead's extensive personalization features provide a significant edge.

Smartlead

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Mapping custom fields to personalize email campaigns in Smartlead.

Smartlead's personalization features for email campaigns are robust, allowing you to use unlimited custom fields for each lead. This ensures that your emails can be highly personalized, which is essential for engaging potential sales leads effectively.

  • Unlimited Custom Fields: Add as many custom fields as needed to tailor emails for each lead.
  • Easy Mapping: Match your CSV column data to the corresponding fields in your campaign.
  • Personal Touch: Use collected data like name, company, and job title to make emails relevant.
  • Efficient Campaign Setup: Streamline the process of creating personalized emails with a user-friendly interface.

Instantly.ai

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Personalization options in Instantly.ai with placeholders and preview functionality.

Personalizing emails in Instantly.ai's Sequences is a straightforward process that can significantly improve your engagement with sales leads. Customizing your outreach to each individual lead can boost the effectiveness of your campaigns, and this tool provides various features to help you achieve that.

  • Customizable Email Content: Use the campaign function to tailor every part of your email.
  • Pre-made and Custom Templates: Start with existing templates or create your own.
  • Dynamic Placeholders: Insert variables like {{firstName}} or {{companyName}} to personalize emails.
  • Preview Capability: Check your email's appearance before sending with the preview button.
  • Rich Formatting Options: Enhance emails with links, emoticons, and images.
  • Tracking and Limits: Track email opens and set daily limits for sending.
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AI: Leveraging Intelligence in Email Personalization

Smartlead holds the advantage by utilizing custom column values to personalize emails, albeit without full AI sentence generation.

Instantly.ai, despite its name, lacks AI features for sales sequences, which means it does not support writing full sentences with AI or leveraging custom signals on each lead.

For teams looking to infuse more intelligence into their sequences, Bardeen can be a powerful addition by providing detailed context about leads, assisting with personalized outreach.

Overall, while neither Smartlead nor Instantly.ai offer complete AI-driven sentence creation, Smartlead's ability to personalize using hard coded custom values gives it a slight edge for users seeking to tailor their email campaigns.

Smartlead

When using the AI feature in Smartlead's Sequences, you should know that it doesn't write whole sentences. Instead, it uses the values you've added to custom columns to make each email feel more personal to the lead. This is a straightforward way to tailor your messages without needing advanced AI capabilities.

👍 "SmartLead is tool for cold email, I use it regularly it is very good." - r/Emailmarketing

Instantly.ai

When it comes to sales sequences, the AI capabilities of a tool can greatly impact its effectiveness. However, it is important to note that despite its name, Instantly.ai does not currently offer AI features for crafting sales sequences or leveraging custom signals on each lead.

Here are some points to consider:

  • No AI for writing sentences: You cannot use AI to write entire sentences in sequences.
  • No AI for custom signals: There is no functionality to leverage AI for custom signals on leads.
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Native Enrichment - Bolstering Lead Information for Better Targeting

Between Smartlead and Instantly.ai, Smartlead has the edge in native enrichment capabilities.

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Clay Integration for Lead Enrichment in Smartlead

Smartlead's integration with Clay allows users to enrich leads, although it does not offer a built-in database for enrichment. On the other hand, Instantly.ai enables users to enrich a list of leads but also lacks a native enrichment database, putting both on relatively even footing in this aspect.

Given the importance of comprehensive lead data, users of both platforms may benefit from Bardeen's integrations to automate the enrichment process further, leveraging social platforms and company websites.

If you're seeking a solution that integrates lead enrichment capabilities within your workflow, Smartlead's partnership with Clay is a solid option, though both platforms leave room for enhancement through external tools.

Smartlead

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Integration options for lead enrichment in Smartlead.

Smartlead's Sequences feature doesn't directly offer native lead enrichment, but it does provide a built-in integration with Clay, a third-party tool. This integration allows users to enrich leads with additional data to better understand and target potential buyers.

  • Clay Integration: Connects with Smartlead to pull in detailed lead information.
  • Lead Enrichment: Adds valuable context to your leads, enhancing targeting efforts.
  • Buyer Signals: Uses data from various sources to provide insights into leads' intent.

Instantly.ai

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Upload and enrich your lead lists for detailed lead information.

When using Instantly.ai's Sequences feature, you have the ability to enrich your lead lists, although it does not offer a native enrichment database. This means you can add more details to your existing leads by pulling in data from other sources to get a better understanding of your prospects.

  • Buyer Signals: Gain insights into leads' readiness to purchase.
  • External Data Integration: Pull data from various external sources to enrich lead information.
  • No Native Database: While enrichment is possible, it relies on data you provide or source externally, as there is no built-in database for enrichment within Instantly.ai.
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Social Automation - Diversify and Improve Outreach

Instantly.ai falls short in social automation as it lacks the ability to automate outreach on platforms like LinkedIn, necessitating an additional tool such as Dripify or Hey Alfred.

Smartlead, on the other hand, while also not supporting LinkedIn automation, does provide messaging capabilities via SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp, which can be critical for certain outreach strategies.

In scenarios where outreach through Twitter, WhatsApp, or SMS is part of your sales process, Smartlead has the clear advantage with its integrated support for these platforms.

If you're looking to improve your social media workflow even further, consider using Bardeen, which is currently beta-testing features to automate social platforms and can assist with data enrichment.
Smartlead's social automation options include SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp

Smartlead

Sequence showing automated and manual steps, including social messaging options.

When using Smartlead's Sequences for Social Automation, we found that the tool adapts well to various social platforms, allowing for SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp messaging. This feature fits perfectly for sales teams looking to leverage social media channels to engage leads.

  • Social Messaging Variety: Send messages via SMS, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
  • Integration with Email: Seamlessly combine social messaging with email sequences.
  • Manual Tasks: Include connection requests and calls in your sequence workflows.
  • Custom Delays: Set specific wait times between actions to tailor your engagement strategy.

Instantly.ai

When using the Sequences feature in Instantly.ai, it's important to note that while the tool excels in automating email and task sequences, it lacks built-in social media automation. For actions on platforms like LinkedIn, you'll need to integrate with other tools like Dripify or Hey Alfred. This may affect the workflow if you're looking to have an all-in-one platform for your sales engagement efforts.

  • Social automation not built-in: Requires additional tools for platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Third-party integrations necessary: Dripify or Hey Alfred can fill the gap for social tasks.
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Smartlead

Instantly.ai

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Smartlead

Instantly.ai

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Smartlead

Instantly.ai

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Smartlead

Instantly.ai

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Which is Best for Your Sales Engagement Needs?

Comparing Smartlead and Instantly.ai, we see distinct strengths in both tools for sales engagement. Smartlead excels with its unlimited auto-rotating email accounts and mailbox warmups, making it ideal for large-scale campaigns and maintaining sender reputation. Instantly.ai, although lacking in auto-rotating accounts, offers a user-friendly interface for straightforward email sequences and personalization through placeholders.

For managing high-volume outreach with a focus on deliverability, Smartlead is our recommendation. Its features support a proactive approach to prevent emails from landing in spam. On the other hand, Instantly.ai is better suited for sales teams prioritizing ease of use and quick setup for their campaigns, especially when customization and personalization are key.

Both platforms serve different needs effectively. Depending on your campaign's complexity and volume, choosing between Smartlead and Instantly.ai comes down to specific features like auto-rotating accounts and simplicity in sequence creation.