Marketo is a marketing automation platform whose basic features include email marketing, drip nurturing, landing pages, and lead scoring, but other editions offer additional advanced features. Typical customers are B2B firms with complex sales cycles.
Marketing Automation Software
Best Marketing Automation Software
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Marketing Automation Software Overview
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation software helps automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks. The software also enables analysis of marketing efforts.
Most marketing automation systems are built around leads (people) and campaigns (message sequences). Leads in the marketing database can be nurtured with relevant, personalized content.
Marketing automation campaigns are more complex than batch and blast email campaigns. Campaigns can involve digital channels beyond email, such as social media, SMS, landing pages, etc. They can also be designed with complex logic. This is the automation piece. Users can segment leads, personalize messages, and trigger events (like sending an email or updating a record) based on lead behavior. Once a campaign is over, reporting tools can measure its performance. This tells marketers what worked well and what did not.
Some marketing automation platforms are better suited for large businesses, and others for small businesses. Some focus on B2C marketing, some on B2B marketing, others on both. Most offer inbound and outbound marketing tools, though some have stronger features around one strategy (i.e. HubSpot is an inbound marketing tool). You should assess your use case and the marketing challenges you have before evaluating products.
For a more in-depth look at trends in the space, check out our Buyer's Guide to Marketing Automation Software. It includes review insights and tips from marketing automation experts.
Marketing Automation Features and Capabilities
Marketing automation started out with just email. Today, websites, mobile apps and SMS, and social media are all integral to successful marketing efforts. Most marketing automation tools will include functionality for all of these platforms.
The core set of tasks for marketing automation include:
Landing page creation and customization
Reporting & Analytics
Features vary from vendor to vendor, as well as by paid tier. No matter the level, marketing automation features can be grouped as follows:
Email Marketing & Online Marketing
Reporting & Analytics
Some more advanced features (i.e. for enterprise-level platforms) include:
Social media marketing and management
Dynamic website / Progressive profiling
Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
Cross-channel campaign management
Email Marketing & Online Marketing
Email Management: Automation for opt-in, unsubscribe, and bounce processing. This sometimes includes a dedicated IP address and link validation.
Landing Pages: Direct clicks to a unique, relevant page. The ability to customize pages helps control customer experience and is well-known to increase conversion rates.
Triggered Email: Send real-time, personalized emails based on customer actions.
Forms: Registration forms to capture lead data and add it to the database. May allow for social sign-in. This sometimes includes “smart” forms that recognize known visitors and ask progressive questions to update their record in the database.
Dynamic Content: Landing pages and emails can be automatically customized. This compartmentalization can be based on industry, location, job title, or other segmentation factors.
Mobile: Mobile-optimized features are common in most marketing automation platforms today.
Lead Management Features
Lead Database: Archive actions between your company and individual prospects. Email clicks, website visits, scoring changes can all be automatically logged.
Behavior Tracking: Indicates a prospect’s interests and place in the buying process. May include the websites they visit, social networks they participate in, keywords they search with, emails they open, etc.
Lead Nurturing: Emails can be triggered based on a predetermined campaign, and in a sequence that aligns with the customer's journey to a potential customer more information as you go along. More important for B2B marketing.
Automated Sales Tasks: Automatically send follow-up messages based on specific behavior, create lists of qualified leads for sales, and alert salespeople of new action.
Segmentation: Demographic and behavior-based filters refine the outreach process.
Workflow Automation: Planning, calendar creation, and task assignment can all be automated.
Scheduling Flexibility: Control when your messages will be sent by day and time, and whether they should be spread out throughout the day. Gate and prioritize messages, or schedule messages to send based on the time zone of the recipient
Lead Scoring: Identify the best lead for a campaign or tactic. You can weigh important and undesirable behaviors automatically.
Data Quality: Merge duplicate leads, identify missing information, and standardize information.
Reporting & Analytics Features
Basic Reporting: A summary of email and landing page campaign success. This is typically featured on a built-in dashboard.
Program ROI Analytics: Give visibility into your marketing efforts’ ROI. It’s a bigger picture approach, comparing the success of campaigns and channels.
SEO & Keyword Tracking: Track keyword strength and compare competitor performance.
Multi-touch Revenue Attribution: Credit every campaign touch point before the sale. This gives better visibility to the performance of each campaign tactic.
Testing: Some platforms allow A/B testing or multivariate testing for automated campaigns. Material to test may include subject lines, send times, or even personalized content and custom landing pages.
Web Analytics: Determine which pages of your website are most popular with prospects. Look at bounce rate, common paths and more.
Predictive Analytics: Use data trends to optimize future marketing operations. This is a developing area for marketing automation analytics.
Social Marketing Features
Social Campaigns: Cross-sell content with automated posts across channels. Qualify prospects using comments, replies, and tweets.
Social Listening: Monitor brand mentions across the social sphere. Gain insight into prospect segmentation and campaign messaging.
Social Sharing: Incorporate smart share buttons into campaign messages. Gain data about who shares content which content and what drives social conversations.
Social Engagement: Increase engagement with polls or referral programs. Some tools allow integration of engagement apps to your Facebook, email, and website.
Social Analytics: Add tracking to social media campaigns, and improve your conversion rates for future campaigns.
List Size & Target Market
Different marketing automation software fits different use cases. In particular, think about scale and industry.
The technology you need will vary depending on the size of your company, your marketing team, and your database (list size).
Marketing automation platforms aimed at small businesses go beyond pure-play email marketing. Typically they try to provide an all-in-one system that is easy to use and within budget. They will also feature CRM tools, social tools, etc., but they won’t have all of the bells and whistles. Complex logic, reporting, and integrations are three areas marketing automation tools for SMBs tend to have simplified.
Enterprise-level offerings tend to be “marketing clouds” that also go beyond traditional marketing automation features. Unlike SMB tools, they typically have breadth and depth. Enterprise platforms typically offer granular control over campaign logic, advanced reporting, and many integrations offer additional capabilities. They also have other advanced tools like A/B testing, social listening, and ad management. IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe have all acquired marketing automation products that they offer as part of an enterprise suite.
The right approach also varies based on what you’re marketing and to whom you are marketing. For example, are your customers businesses or consumers? Marketing practices in the B2B industry differ from the B2C industry. The channels frequency, and duration of communication, as well as the degree of personalization, will probably be different.
B2B marketing automation is all about ‘nurture’ programs. This builds interest in the product through education on its uses. It is where drip campaigns and content marketing come in.
B2C marketing involves a much larger prospect pool. Brand and product are more important than relationship. Ecommerce features are also more important. This includes bulk email campaigns, open rates, targeted offers, shopping carts, and more.
Marketing Automation Integrations
Most marketing automation buyers already have a CRM system. Integration between your CRM and marketing automation software is important to consider. The integration has to go both ways. A change in a marketing campaign should be reflected on the record of that campaign and its members in your CRM, and vice versa! Data consistency is crucial for lead nurturing and scoring. This determines whether a person continues receiving marketing messages, or gets passed to sales or support for follow up.
Here are three things to consider when you’re evaluating integration to your CRM::
Automatic mapping vs. manual field mapping
Real-time syncing vs. periodic syncing
Accessibility of lead and contact information
CRM integration is probably the most important for both B2B and B2C marketers.
But there are many other integrations that are also useful. Since MA software often works as a marketing hub for marketing operations, vendors offer a growing number of integrations. For example, for many B2B companies, webinars are a key tactic for qualifying leads. Integration between marketing and webinar platforms means more lead capture and more accurate lead scores.
Pricing for marketing automation tools is usually based on included features. It is typically a subscription model. The more features included in the package, the higher the monthly price. Vendors that take an all-in-one approach (i.e. with a built-in CRM) may base pricing on the number of contacts.
Users can expect to pay around $200/mo. for a basic monthly package. Enterprise-level software (with all the bells and whistles) will run up to $3,000-$7,000 per month.
Marketing Automation Products
Listings (1-25 of 131)
HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing engine that includes tools for email marketing, landing page creation, social media marketing, content management, reporting & analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), and more.
SharpSpring is a comprehensive marketing automation platform. This solution offers behavior-based email marketing, native or third party CRM integration, dynamic forms, social media management, landing page and blog builders, and universal CMS compatibility.
Act-On is an adaptive marketing platform designed to drive personal and purposeful multi-channel marketing. Its foci are inbound and outbound marketing, for enabling a tighter alignment with sales and turning data into actionable insights.
Oracle Cross-Channel Marketing to Businesses is a B2B Cross-Channel Marketing solution designed to enable marketers to plan and execute automated marketing campaigns via email, display search, video advertising, and mobile while delivering a personalized customer experience for their prospects.
Pardot is a marketing automation platform. Its key features include lead management, lead generation, social selling, and email marketing.
Infusionsoft is a small business-focused, comprehensive sales and marketing platform which combines basic contact management, CRM, marketing automation, and e-commerce capabilities into a single, subscription-based SaaS product.
Adobe acquired Neolane in July 2013 and later re-named the product Adobe Campaign. Adobe Campaign provides both marketing automation and marketing resource management functionality such as spend & financial management, workflow, and asset management.
Acoustic Campaign (formerly IBM Watson Campaign Automation) is a scalable, SaaS-based, cross-channel, digital marketing platform providing digital marketers the ability to implement and manage email, mobile, social, and lead management campaign processes.
LeadSquared is a marketing automation and CRM platform. It includes landing pages, email marketing, lead management, analytics, connectors, and WordPress Plugins.
ActiveCampaign integrates email marketing, marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM software into one platform designed for small businesses.
Hatchbuck is an all-in-one sales and marketing software that includes CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing tools. Users can build online forms, manage and segment contacts, engage prospects with relevant follow-up, manage tasks, and track their pipeline.
AWeber is an email marketing and automation solution. It provides support for mobile-friendly HTML email newsletters, autoresponder campaigns, subscriber segmentation and management, RSS-to-email features, signup forms for websites or blogs, and more.
Net-Results is a marketing automation solution that features segment-driven approaches to lead management and marketing automation. Some key features include support for A/B email testing, drag & drop landing pages, CRM integrations, and automated marketing workflows.
eTrigue DemandCenter is a marketing automation and channel marketing-as-a-service platform. Its key features include CRM integration, email marketing, real-time lead alerts, A/B email testing, and litmus email visualization testing.
Oracle Cross-Channel Marketing to Consumers is a B2C Cross Channel Marketing solution that is designed to help marketers deliver more relevant, real-time interactions for consumers across email, mobile, display, social, and web experiences.
GreenRope is a CRM tool focused on marketing automation, sales pipelines, and customer service. It includes advanced marketing automation capabilities, sales force automation, and a tool box of features to help manage and operate the business.
7Sheep is a marketing automation tool that concentrates on delivering features for what they consider 7 key components of marketing automation software: contact storage, form building, automation triggers, e-mail and text message campaigns, prospect tracking, integration and translation interface.
ONTRAPORT offers customer relations management services that help with content management (creating and hosting webpages), lead tracking, traditional marketing approaches (e-mail, SMS, social media, direct mail), managing online payments, and workflow automation.
HCL Unica (acquired by HCL Technologies from IBM in late 2018) is a suite of enterprise marketing management tools including marketing automation with cross-channel campaign management, budgeting and forecasting, project workflow management, asset management, brand management and spend management.
CallidusCloud LeadRocket (formerly CallidusCloud Marketing Automation) provides users with the ability to consolidate online and offline leads in one single platform. Leads can be scored and prioritized based on a prospect's identity, web activity, and buying intent.
The basis of this offering is the Market2Lead product that Oracle acquired in 2010. It has now been fully integrated with Oracle's On Demand CRM product and is a full-featured marketing automation product with features from lead management and nurturing, to measuring marketing ROI.
Zoho Campaigns is an email marketing and social networking campaigning tool for smaller companies that helps create, send, and track effective email campaigns. It features list management and segmentation, A/B Testing, tracking and reporting, automation, and mobile campaign management.
Autopilot is a marketing automation solution that is designed to help marketers connect their existing systems, and convert leads into customers. This solution integrates with popular third party tools such as Salesforce, Segment, Twillo, Slack, GoodData and Zapier. The vendor’s value proposition...
Iterable is a growth marketing and user engagement platform. It is designed for B2C markets and supports all types of marketing campaigns (blast, lifecycle, transactional) across all messaging channels (email, web, mobile push notifications, SMS).