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Marketing Automation

What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing Automation software helps to automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks and the subsequent analysis of those efforts. Originally focused on email-based campaign management, Marketing Automation now refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing.  

While increasingly multi-channel, Marketing Automation products are largely centered on digital campaign execution, automation and measurement. The core concept is that leads in the marketing database can be nurtured through the buying process by providing them with relevant, personalized content until they are ready to purchase. Historically the primary channel was email, but today websites, mobile interfaces and social media are all integral to successful marketing efforts. Campaign workflow can be designed within the tool and then executed automatically; once a campaign has run its course, a range of analytic tools can measure its performance to understand what worked well and what did not.  

Most Marketing Automation software products contain an email engine and can also create customized landing pages, score leads and analyze results, which provide a holistic view of the entire marketing funnel from visitor to customer. Beyond these core functions vendors tend to differentiate themselves on breadth or depth of offering, largely based upon current or historical market segment focus.   For example, at the high very end of the market some enterprise tools provide comprehensive Marketing Resource Management (MRM) functionality. This functionality focuses on internal marketing processes like budget and forecasting, project workflow management, asset management, brand management and spend management. Such capabilities have historically not been a focus for small business and mid-market enterprises, though some believe that MRM capabilities will become important for mid-market companies.

At the small business end of the market, the emphasis is on providing a complete toolset of marketing capabilities, of which campaign management is just one element. These products are commonly referred to as “All-in-One Marketing Platforms,” and typically include basic email, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and blogging tools. Some products also include eCommerce and basic CRM capabilities.      

Products designed for the higher end of the market are also expanding their range of capabilities through product development, integration or acquisition. Here are some examples:      
  • Web Conferencing: The ability to manage leads coming in from webinars makes these integrations essential. Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, HubSpot and others achieve these integrations by partnering with 3rd-party vendors like ReadyTalk to build connectors that allow for invitations, registration tracking, reminders, etc. Act-On has built its own connectors to both WebEx and GoToWebinar.   
  • Dynamic Website/ Progressive Profiling: Understanding who is visiting the website without requiring the visitor to fill out a form is critically important to improve conversion rates. Once something is known about a visitor, the web browsing experience can be tailored with that information to provide a more customized experience. Silverpop, as a vendor with a large proportion of B2C customers, has recently developed “Visitor Insight” which does exactly that; Neolane and HubSpot both offer something similar, as well. Eloqua partners with Demandbase and Get Smart Content to offer this capability. Marketo acquired Insightera in December 2013 to add this increasingly important capability to its arsenal of tools.      
  • Marketing Resource Management: These capabilities that have always been associated with high-end tools like Unica and Teradata (formerly Aprimo), are now starting to get some attention from other vendors, too. Marketo, for example, recently introduced Financial Management, which is designed for managing marketing budgets across marketing teams.   
  • Social Media Management: Marketing Automation products have traditionally been focused on email, but the ability to include social capabilities within the workflow has become almost a given. Almost all vendors have made some progress in integrating social capabilities into their platforms. Silverpop does particularly well here with “Publish-to-Social”, which allows marketers to send email and social updates at the same time. HubSpot also has strong capabilities in the social arena, offering both listening and publishing tools. Marketo acquired social marketing company Crowd Factory in 2012 to add social campaign capabilities to the platform.   Some vendors have decided to solve the problem of escalating breadth requirements by building partner ecosystems inspired by the Salesforce AppExchange. Best-of-breed point tools sometimes provide much better functionality than what can be built in-house. Marketo started LaunchPoint in 2012 and it currently has 200 participating partner companies. Similarly, Eloqua has the App Cloud and Act-On has the Partner Exchange (APEX).      
Inbound versus Outbound Marketing An inbound marketing orientation focuses on the “top of the funnel,” i.e., generating new leads. Per the illustration below, primary inbound marketing tactics include publishing educational content (blogs, white papers, videos or any other content that draws people in), search engine optimization and social media.   Outbound (or mid-funnel) marketing focuses on nurturing and engaging existing leads with relevant content via email and social media, building calls to action (e.g., attending a webinar) and sending leads to personalized landing pages. As these leads become increasingly engaged, they become Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and ultimately Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) that are ripe for closing. Some marketing automation tools aim to cover the full funnel, while other tools emphasize individual stages.  

Marketing Database of Record & CRM Integration Historically, many enterprises have considered their CRM the database of record. Increasingly, marketing functions consider their Marketing Automation system their database of record - it contains all the data relating to lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns, customer communications and data across channels like social.   Moreover, many contacts (leads) in the marketing database have typically not yet reached the threshold where they become SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) and are ready for a salesperson to follow up – the logical point to pass them to the CRM system. This typically occurs via a data sync between the two systems. The difficulty is that data syncs are inherently complex and are frequently a cause of customer dissatisfaction, as is attested to by the attention given to this topic in reviews of these products. More and more, customers want the integration between these systems to be real-time – sales wants the leads immediately with no waiting. In addition to sending leads to the CRM when they hit a pre-determined score, other data sync requirements are also becoming more common, making the process more complex. For example, the Marketing Automation application is required to send alerts to salespeople when a prospect performs an action such as visiting a web page, or leads must be automatically assigned to the right sales rep through territory mapping rules.   Some vendors like Marketo and HubSpot have addressed this problem by building applications that are native to platforms like Salesforce itself plans to solve this problem by porting Pardot to the same underlying CRM database so that, effectively, Marketing Automation becomes an extension of Salesforce automation and the whole notion of a data sync is eliminated.  


Highest Rated Marketing Automation Software for Small Businesses

Spokal logo


“It is an excellent, solid product that is improving all the time. Its a no brainer. Customer service to date has been outstanding. Chris has answered all my questions. Its simple to use but brings a lot of intel to you.” Read this review

- Commercial Director at an Information Technology and Services company with 11-50 employees

HubSpot logo


“The only case where I think it might make less than great sense to go with Hubspot is if you really don't have the resources to devote to it. Hubspot says 5-10 hours a week, I say that's the low end, though much depends on the focus of your business, products, and audience.” Read this review

- Owner at a Marketing and Advertising company with 1-10 employees

Act-On logo


“Act-On's analytic data is spot on and gives me the ability to take meaningful action when clients and potential clients interact with our content. My biggest headache with software similar to Act-On is how to engage other departments and business units. Act-On's simple and robust connect to other software platforms allows our teams to work in the software programs that work best for them while still representing strong data.” Read this review

- Director of Public Relations and Marketing at a Security and Investigations company with 11-50 employees

Pardot logo


“Marketing automation tools are more important than ever to "conversation marketing" initiatives that prevail today. Pardot supports this extremely well. Functionally the product is extremely strong and the company's rate of innovation is rapid and relevant- hence the addition of responsive templates in the last couple months.” Read this review

- Manager in Marketing at a company with 11-50 employees

Infusionsoft logo


“I will definitely be renewing my Infusionsoft subscription because it is still the best all-in-one solution for small businesses that includes CRM, automated email marketing, and ecommerce. I couldn't imagine running my business without it at this point.” Read this review

- Chief Operating Officer at a company with 1-10 employees

Silverpop Engage logo

Silverpop Engage

“Simply, it's a great product that gets updated every year and I don't know of any other product that is on the same level.” Read this review

- Co-Founder & owner at an Information Technology and Services company with 11-50 employees

Marketo logo


“I would recommend the product to colleagues because it's a really good marketing automation service. One of the biggest suggestions I would offer is to have complete buy in for marketing automation in your company, this is not only a marketing tool, but a sales and marketing asset.” Read this review

- Project Manager at an Internet company with 11-50 employees

eTrigue DemandCenter logo

eTrigue DemandCenter

“In 2010, we evaluated Marketo and Pardot alongside eTrigue. And eTrigue was considered the 'Cadillac' of MA tools. More recently, we've checked out Eloqua and Hubspot. All of these are more-or-less clones, having all the same core features. Except for HubSpot, which should be in a class of its own. eTrigue has been around a very long time, and DemandCenter can hold its ground against all of these MA solutions.” Read this review

- Director of Marketing at a Computer Software company with 11-50 employees

Looking for more Marketing Automation solutions?
TrustRadius has 378 reviews for 38 Marketing Automation products from business users just like you.

Highest Rated Marketing Automation Software for Mid-Sized Companies

HubSpot logo


“There is truly no other system in the market that does everything HubSpot offers. Hubspot is a system that allows our team to create value for the organization, generate leads for our sales team, and increase revenue. What's not to love about that?” Read this review

- Marketing Director at an Insurance company with 51-200 employees

Act-On logo


“Before purchasing Act-On, we reviewed other automated marketing platforms and were told by multiple competitors, "You get what you pay for." This is absolutely true. When we evaluated Act-On, the price was right for the value of the features. But when we really started to use them, we found many limitations within the product and we felt a little duped.” Read this review

- Marketing Specialist at a company with 201-500 employees

Marketo logo


“If you do it right, Marketo (along with the effective use of Salesforce) can help you drive a repeatable and consistent way to track marketing campaigns to ROI (Revenue Cycle Analytics, included in the Select edition is required). It can transform the conversation around marketing to focus on revenue vs. "brand awareness" or clicks and pageviews.” Read this review

- Marketing at an Internet company with 51-200 employees

Eloqua logo


“We are beginning to use Eloqua to manage our marketing-to-sales interactions and nurture our clients through the buying process. We also implement Eloqua for our clients.” Read this review

- Vice President at a company with 51-200 employees

Pardot logo


“Pardot has looked for the features that marketers need most, and incorporated them into a very easy-to-use platform that does not require heavy IT support to implement and maintain. Pardot also does a great job listening to customer feedback and using it to inform their product roadmap.” Read this review

- Director of Marketing at a Computer Software company with 201-500 employees

Not seeing the Marketing Automation solution you were looking for?
TrustRadius has 378 reviews for 38 different products from some of the top Marketing Automation experts.

Highest Rated Marketing Automation Software for Enterprises

Act-On logo


“We use Act-On for marketing automation, mailings and preparing the data for our CRM in our whole organization. With the improved list management it is a great opportunity for any automation we need and it offers much more.” Read this review

- Digital Marketing Specialist at a Biotechnology company with 1001-5000 employees

Eloqua logo


“I absolutely recommend Eloqua! (That being said - as with any new technology purchase - I also recommend following due diligence best practices starting with a thorough requirements review).” Read this review

- Senior Manager, Marketing at a Computer Software company with 1001-5000 employees

Other Marketing Automation Software to Consider

IBM Unica logo

IBM Unica

“The more data you have, the more likely I would recommend IBM Campaign over the other tools in the market. It is truly an Enterprise Marketing Management solution, that can be built on as you mature your marketing requirements from traditional channels to the evolving channels under the digital banner.” Read this review

- Most recently Senior Client Services Manager & Client Services Team Leader at a Marketing and Advertising company with 5001-10,000 employees

Find the best Marketing Automation solution to match your needs.
TrustRadius covers 38 different products in the Marketing Automation space.

Marketing Automation Reviewers

Maile Kaulukukui
Title:  Sales & Marketing Program Manager
Job Type:  Professional
Department:  Marketing
Company:  Virtual Images
Industry:  Printing
Size:  501-1000 employees
Points:  310
Followers:  2
Likes:  1
Votes:  0
Trailblazer (1)
Jennifer Robertson
Title:  Lead Marketo Architect
Job Type:  Team Lead
Department:  Information Technology
Company:  ANNUITAS
Industry:  Marketing and Advertising
Size:  11-50 employees
Points:  298
Followers:  0
Likes:  4
Votes:  0
Mike Schneider
Title:  Direct Marketing Manager
Job Type:  Manager
Department:  Marketing
Company:  Conversocial
Industry:  Computer Software
Size:  11-50 employees
Points:  96
Followers:  1
Likes:  8
Votes:  0
Helen Bowers
Title:  Bark Master
Job Type:  Administrator
Department:  Other
Company:  Keller Williams Realty Partners
Industry:  Veterinary
Size:  11-50 employees
Points:  166
Followers:  0
Likes:  1
Votes:  0

No badges earned yet

Sam Sims, APR
Title:  Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Job Type:  Director
Department:  Marketing
Company:  US Fleet Tracking
Industry:  Security and Investigations
Size:  11-50 employees
Points:  165
Followers:  0
Likes:  0
Votes:  0

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