Best Marketing Automation Software
TrustMaps are two-dimensional charts that compare products based on end-user satisfaction ratings and research frequency by prospective buyers. You can filter the data by company size, because small businesses and enterprises can have very different needs.
Products must have 10 or more ratings to appear on the TrustMap, and those above the median line are considered Top Rated.
- Top Rated Marketing Automation Software include: LeadSquared, HubSpot, Marketo, Net-Results, GreenRope, Hatchbuck, 7Sheep, ONTRAPORT, Salesfusion, and SharpSpring.
- Other Marketing Automation Software on the TrustMap include: Pardot, Oracle Eloqua, Act-On, Adobe Campaign, IBM Campaign, Infusionsoft, IBM Silverpop Engage, eTrigue, CallidusCloud Marketing Automation, and Teradata Integrated Marketing Cloud.
- A complete list of Marketing Automation Software is available here.
Marketing Automation Software Overview
What is Marketing Automation Software?
B2B Marketing Automation vs. B2C Marketing AutomationSelling to other businesses rather than consumers generally means that purchases are very considered with typically higher price points and a longer sales cycle. Marketing automation used to be primarily concerned with B2B selling cycles, but there are a few vendors focused on B2C prospects, and some of the B2B-oriented vendors are adding more B2C features.
So what are the differences? B2B marketing automation is all about building a relationship with the buyer through education and what are called "nurture" programs. The goal is to build interest in the product being sold by helping prospects understand the value through a multi-touch process and over a period of time. The important things here are having relevant content to share, and building drip email and other campaigns to incrementally build interest until the prospect is qualified and ready to buy.
Selling directly to consumers generally means a much larger prospect pool, and a much shorter sales cycle. Here, brand and product are much more important than relationship. B2C marketing automation products are less concerned with nurture and engagement, and more concerned with e-commerce factors like shopping cart abandonment rate, bulk email campaign deliverability and open rate, segmentation, and targeted offers. For some B2C-oriented vendors the combination of a powerful email system with a CRM and e-commerce platform may make marketing automation unnecessary.
Inbound vs. Outbound MarketingThe distinction between inbound and outbound marketing is related to the traditional marketing funnel:
Inbound marketing is all about getting new leads into the funnel. The typical tactics employed include publishing educational content to draw people in (through blog posts, for example), optimizing web pages for search and using social media to build awareness.
Outbound marketing is concerned with nurturing and closing the leads that you already have in the funnel. Tactics include more product-specific content, webinars, calls to action, sending leads to personalized landing pages, etc. The goal is to deepen the relationship to the point where leads are qualified enough to hand over to sales.
Marketing automation products tend to have an emphasis on either one or the other. Some products designed for SMBs try to cover both inbound and outbound and are sometimes called "All-in-One" tools.
The relevant question to ask yourself should be, "Is my marketing challenge acquiring new leads, or is it closing the leads I already have?"
Marketing Automation Integration
Most marketing automation buyers already have a CRM system, and integration between the two systems is a primary consideration. Bi-directional functionality is essential for making the most of your CRM software and your automated marketing platform. For example, if your website's registration form is integrated with your marketing automation software, the information submitted by the new registrant is duplicated in your CRM system. Or maybe an individual's job title changes - when the sales rep updates the information in the CRM it should be synchronized with your marketing automation platform so that individual is addressed appropriately in upcoming marketing collateral. Data consistency is crucial when performing lead nurturing, lead scoring and other database segmentation tasks.
There are varying degrees of integration with CRM platforms:
- The fields may be mapped automatically or require manual mapping
- Some marketing automation platforms sync in real-time and others less frequently
- Which fields you're given access to varies by provider (lead and contact information is common)
Webinar platform integration
For many outbound-focused users, webinars are a key tactic for qualifying leads. Tight integration between the marketing and webinar platforms means that data moves automatically from one system to the other. Since webinar data flows automatically into the marketing automation system, it's much easier to perform fast and targeted follow-up to attendees based, for example, on how long they attended.
SMB vs. Mid-Market vs. Enterprise Marketing Automation SoftwareFor marketing automation to be successful, the selected software needs to fit the corporate environment. The range of products available is quite broad - from a few hundred dollars a months to more sophisticated marketing automation platforms costing several thousand dollars a month.
SMB and Mid-Market Marketing Automation
Products targeted at SMB and mid-sized customers often have a range of capabilities beyond pure-play outbound marketing. For smaller organizations the appeal of a set of simple but fully integrated marketing tools is attractive. These marketing tools are typically easy to learn and do not require specialized skills.
Enterprise Marketing Automation
The same dynamic of offering a range of capabilities beyond traditional marketing automation is also apparent at the enterprise level. The large enterprise software companies like IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe have all made acquisitions of Marketing Automation as part of a larger vision to create enterprise marketing cloud offerings, including marketing tools such as web analytics, A/B testing, social listening, publishing & analytics and ad management.
Marketing Automation Features & Capabilities
- Email Marketing & Online Marketing
- Lead Management
- Reporting & Analytics
- Social Marketing
- CRM Integration
- Social Media Marketing & Management
- Web Conferencing
- Dynamic Website / Progressive Profiling
- Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
- Cross-channel Campaign Management
- Predictive Analytics
Email Marketing & Online Marketing
Email automation makes things faster and easier, which saves you both time and money. Most vendors offer email automation for opt-in, unsubscribe and bounce processing, but it varies across platforms. Premium offerings usually include a dedicated IP address and link validation.
Directing a click to a unique, relevant page is a key component to any online marketing campaign. A variety of tools exist across platforms to customize pages for a better end-user experience, which is well-known to increase conversion rates.
Send real-time, personalized emails based on customer actions. You can automatically send the appropriate email when, for example, a prospect clicks a designated link or a sales rep makes a call.
Common among marketing automation platforms, a registration form is usually used to capture the prospective customer’s data and add it to the database. The flexibility of allowing a visitor to use one of their social media accounts to sign in has become very common. Higher-end platforms take it a step further with “smart forms,” which can recognize a known visitor and ask more specific questions, expanding the depth of a prospect’s profile over time.
Larger enterprise buyers are more inclined to look for the ability to further customize emails and landing pages based on industry, location or even job title. The ability to compartmentalize expansive prospect lists and create unique online experiences is a powerful and necessary feature for many larger companies.
We all spend more time on our smart phones and tablets than we like to think about – and so do your prospects. Emails and landing pages that are optimized for mobile devices are fast becoming a true need for many businesses. Mobile-optimized features are fairly common in most marketing automation platforms today, but the extent of functionality will vary from vendor to vendor.
Lead Management Features
This vast repositories of your leads and prospects are the brains of the operation. Much more robust than a CRM system, the marketing automation database archives actions between your company and individual prospects. These can include email clicks, website visits, scoring changes (see below for more information) and updates to profile or history.
You can tailor your sales pitch by knowing and understanding your prospect – the websites they visit, social networks they participate in, keywords they search with, emails they open - all of these can help you greatly in determining your prospect's interests and place in the buying process.
Based on a prospect's behavior, lead nurturing allows relevant emails to be triggered based on a predetermined campaign, and in a sequence that aligns with the customer's journey. Most leads aren't sales-ready right from the start; lead nurturing promises a more successful sale by giving a potential customer more information as you go along. This feature may be especially helpful for B2B and Enterprise buyers who normally work with a much longer sales cycle.
Automated Sales Tasks
You'll be able to move a prospect through the sales cycle more efficiently by automatically adding names to an email list based on specific behavior, or sending a follow-up message - all while alerting sales staff of new action.
Advanced Lead Management FeaturesEnterprise buyers may need more robust lead management features to manage their huge databases of information, such as the following:
These are tools that allow for defining and selecting very specific data, such as visitors to your website that have not clicked in the last seven days, or a list of past buyers from your top two product lines. Filters can be set up for demographics (title, company size, etc.) as well as behavior-based segmentation (people who registered for an upcoming e-learning presentation from the technology industry). For enterprise buyers who boast huge numbers of customers and prospects, this type of functionality is essential.
You will need tight integration with your CRM and a complex series of rules, but you can essentially automate everything that supports the efficiency of your internal marketing process. Examples include budgeting, planning, calendar and digital asset creation, as well as extending collaboration between marketing and sales departments with triggered task assignments.
Schedule your entire campaign in advance based on your organization's capabilities and your customer's availability. For example, you may want to spread out an email delivery if the call-to-action is an inbound phone call and you don't want your phone lines or call handlers swamped all at once, or if data delivery to a large database has the potential to create a high volume of traffic to your web servers. You can also control the time of delivery based on each customer's geographic location (if you have that information, of course). More sophisticated marketing automation software can also make it easier to "gate" and prioritize messages so recipients aren't overwhelmed with a high volume of automated messages.
This feature enables you to identify the best lead for a campaign or tactic. It sounds easy, but in reality, it's a complex task that includes "weighting" behaviors both important and undesirable; this assists you in identifying which prospects are most suitable for upcoming campaigns. More sophisticated platforms support a variety of scoring models that separate scores for different product lines and divisions, or even demographics.
The effectiveness of your marketing campaign is directly affected by the quality of your data. This feature is especially important for enterprise buyers who may have millions of records in their database. Marketing automation software can help you clean "dirty" data by merging duplicate leads and contacts, identifying missing or incomplete information like phone numbers or industries, and standardizing data like titles or company names.
Common Reporting & Analytics Features
A summary of how well emails and landing pages performed or an individual campaign’s success rate by month is generated with built-in dashboards and other reporting tools. If your business requires more complicated measurements, custom queries or metrics, you will need to research carefully, as depth of functionality varies by vendor.
Program ROI Analytics
These tools give you visibility into how well your marketing efforts performed. Reports are created comparing revenue performance against individual campaigns or channels, giving greater exposure to what worked and what didn’t. The detail and flexibility of ROI analytics will very between marketing automation platforms.
Advanced Reporting & Analytics Features
SEO & Keyword Tracking
The ability to track the strength of your website’s keywords on major search engines, and to compare its performance with competitors.
Multi-touch Revenue Attribution
This is a detailed accounting of campaign success by allotting credit to each program’s activity along the sales funnel. Typically, many touches - emails, phone calls, trade shows, webinars, etc. - take place before a purchase is made. Multi-touch solutions credit every campaign touch point before the sale, giving greater visibility to each campaign tactic and performance.
Some marketing automation platforms allow for A/B testing or even multivariate testing; these capabilities may be native to the platform or supported by robust integration with 3rd party testing tools. The most advanced systems allow not only testing of email subject line and message content, but also of targeted and personalized web content and landing pages.
The answers to which pages of your website are most popular with your prospects, the most common paths taken through the site and how often visitors return are all found within web analytic tools. You can learn a lot about the effectiveness of your website as a marketing tool, along with a prospective lead’s level of qualification, by digging in to this data.
This is a developing area for marketing automation analytics. Predictive analytics allows users to take advantage of data trends (customer and prospect data collected within the MA platform and/or elsewhere on the web) to optimize marketing operations in anticipations of the data projected for the future. Not all vendors use this term synonymously, so as you evaluate products make sure to investigate what exactly is meant by "predictive analytics" if you are interested in leveraging this functionality. In some cases, this may be a module that allows users to have increased visibility into their data, requiring data analysts to make recommendations about decision making (more similar to traditional Predictive Analytics and Business Intelligence software); in other cases, predictive analytics may be implemented behind the scenes to provide marketers with tips and recommendations.
Social Marketing Features
You can cross-sell your content and track your success with tools that send automated posts across channels. You can then quantify their success with comments, replies and tweets.
Monitor what is being said about your company and products across the social sphere to understand sentiment and use insights gathered to segment prospects and sharpen campaign messaging.
Incorporating smart share buttons into your campaign messages not only helps spread the message but also provides data about who shares which content and what drives social conversations.br
You can increase audience engagement with the inclusion of polls or referral programs. Look for tools that easily allow you to incorporate apps into your Facebook page, email or website.
Improving your social conversion rates can increase your revenue. By adding tracking to the applications and sharing tools utilized in social media campaigns, you achieve better visibility into the effectiveness of your content and campaigns.
Before looking in detail at specific marketing automation software solutions, it's important to do a needs assessment to better understand the type of tool you might need based on your specific use case and the marketing challenges you are trying to solve.
You can also download a free copy of our Buyer's Guide to Marketing Automation Software. The guide will help you identify the best marketing automation software as rated by users within each market segment - small businesses, mid-size companies and large enterprises.
Excerpts from TrustRadius 2016 Buyer's Guide to Marketing Automation
Achieving success with Marketing Automation requires much more than selecting the right software product. We spoke with several leading marketing consultants to better understand the key success factors for any Marketing Automation project, and a few key themes emerged:
1. Define Your Marketing Strategy First
Companies are frequently too focused on picking technology. Before selecting a Marketing Auto-mation platform, it's important to have a clear strategy in place as to how you will use it. Companies that fail to do this frequently get low mileage out of their Marketing Automation systems.
“All too often, people are doing it backwards. They're buying the technology then asking what's next. Technology is not a silver bullet without a strategy and plan.”
“By far the #1 issue we see with companies who invest in Marketing Automation is the lack of an overall plan or strategy. Too often companies make the assumption that simply the act of deploying a Marketing Automation platform will result in marketing efficiencies. Without at least the semblance of a plan or strategy for how the company plans to use the system, Marketing Automation is doomed to be little more than email software.”
“The most successful companies with Marketing Automation have put in place a demand generation strategy. They have people that will actually own the success of not just the Marketing Automation, but the demand generation program – someone is on the line to deliver the metrics (MQLs, leads), and there's someone who will own the tool. In many small companies it's the same person. In larger companies, it's not.”
“It's critical to have a clear definition of your target customers, and understand what's interesting to them and how you can best reach them. Email is incredibly important in B2B – however, social is becoming much more important. Determine the cycle that your buyers go through to evaluate, consider and make a purchase decision. Then determine what the best content assets/stories are to share with them. It's also important to define the hand-off to sales. There's also a huge opportunity to continue to engage customers post-sale. It's not supposed to be easy, but you can break it into a crawl, walk and run approach.”
2. Align People to Processes
Marketing Automation is not just about the automation of existing marketing processes - it represents a new way to engage with prospective customers and align marketing activities much more closely to revenue generation. Engaging in Marketing Automation frequently does necessitate adding more resources, though there is generally a clearly achievable return on investment.
“There's a lot of strategic dialogue that needs to happen – ensuring sales and marketing are aligned on the definition of a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and ensuring that the content team produces content aligned to a buyer's journey. If their marketing organization is not aligned and ready for the change to be a more modern marketing organization, then buying a tool is a real waste of money.”
“I advise clients not to underestimate the amount of resources required to make the most of a Marketing Automation system. Again, this has less to do with managing the software per se, and much more to do with developing the campaigns, programs, strategies and content that are the fuel for a successful deployment. At a bare minimum, expect to dedicate one-half of a full-time employee (or the equivalent services from an outside firm) in order to get the most from your investment.”
3. Integrate Systems
Marketing Automation systems cannot operate in a silo. At minimum they need to tie in to your CRM system. All too frequently there is no clear plan for how the integration should proceed, what data should be exchanged, etc.
“One of the big misses is internal alignment for data integration and reporting. Your Marketing Automation solution is only as a good as the data you put into it. Often when we're brought in, there's not been any conversation about integration or what will be the master database – the Marketing Automation system, another marketing database, or Salesforce.”
4. Develop a Content Strategy
An effective demand generation strategy enabled through Marketing Automation usually requires a good volume of content. However, the content needs to be systematically designed based upon an assessment of the target buyer and aligned to the buyer's journey (how they buy). Content needs to be educational and not overly self-serving or promotional. Content production is a non-trivial problem but there are efficiency opportunities through atomization - breaking up existing content and repackaging it.
“The ability to produce content is tough – most companies don't have writers, or if they do, they have technical writers which is not the same skill set.”
“Content is often a roadblock to being successful. People buy Marketing Automation systems and they don't have anything to deliver. An enlightened company getting ready to embark on this journey will be preparing content well in advance. Many companies realize too late and they use Marketing Automation in a crude way, offering the same thing in the same way, or think about product-centric offers. You're in a battle for the mind of the customer.”
“The type of content that works best in the context of a lead nurturing or e-marketing program is usually informational ‘thought leadership’-type content that speaks to best practices, strategies or techniques for solving the type of business problem that the marketer's product or service addresses. It's this type of content that will drive a higher level of engagement, build credibility and ultimately drive a dialogue with sales. Conversely (and counter-intuitively), content that overtly ‘sells’ a product or service, particularly early in the sales cycle, has a greater chance of alienating the reader. Not every piece of content has to be a new 12-page white paper, however. We advise clients to look at recycling or repurposing existing content. Perhaps an old white paper can see new life as a checklist, a Webinar/Slidecast, a series of short videos or an infographic.”
“You need to define buyer personas in a deep way – not just who they are, but what the journey looks like for them. That helps you define what the questions need to be at each of those stages, and hence, what types of content should be developed. Volume of content is important, however quality and relevancy is most important. There are solutions for volume, e.g., content management tools like Kapost or content developed by agencies, including the ‘atomization of content’. We look at how to do things in an efficient way, i.e., breaking one great asset into smaller snackable chunks.”
“Content fuels marketing automation programs. Without content customers don't have any reason to discover and engage with any organization. A content strategy prevents random acts of marketing and identifies the information that educates and entertains a B2B audience at all stages of a buying journey.”
5. Re-Think Your Metrics
Marketing organizations are often stuck in the past, concentrating on metrics like open and click rates for emails, but not tying their campaigns back to revenue. Beyond agreeing on the right metrics to track, it's also important to ensure there's consensus on their definition.
“Today, best-in-class organizations focus on MQLs and SALs, and look at velocity of movement and conversion rate in the funnel. It's all tied back to revenue.”
“They have a hard time proving value, as they cannot tie to revenue. Many only can do last-touch attribution. They lose visibility once a lead moves into the sales realm. Marketing is often removed once it goes into sales, which is a mistake. There's no continuous thread.”
“The big thing is defining what a qualified lead is – MQLs and SQLs - if using the Sirius Decisions framework. These things are critical to success.”
“Modern marketers must capture and analyze the metrics that matter throughout a demand generation cycle. That means marketers must use marketing automation to measure attribution for revenue influence and pipeline contribution.”
Pages 4-29 are available in the complete TrustRadius 2016 Buyer's Guide to Marketing Automation and cover
- Historical Trends in Marketing Automation
- Trends for 2016
- The Best Marketing Automation Products for Small Businesses
- The Best Marketing Automation Products for Mid-sized Businesses
- The Best Marketing Automation Products for Enterprise Businesses
- TrustMap Methodology
- 7Sheep Ratings & User Feedback
- Act-On Ratings & User Feedback
- Adobe Campaign (formerly Neolane) Ratings & User Feedback
- CallidusCloud Marketing Automation (Formerly Leadformix) Ratings & User Feedback
- Oracle Eloqua Ratings & User Feedback
- eTrigue DemandCenter Ratings & User Feedback
- GreenRope Ratings & User Feedback
- Hatchbuck Ratings & User Feedback
- HubSpot Ratings & User Feedback
- IBM Campaign (formerly Unica) Ratings & User Feedback
- IBM Marketing Cloud (formerly Silverpop Engage) Ratings & User Feedback
- Infusionsoft Ratings & User Feedback
- LeadSquared Ratings & User Feedback
- Marketo Ratings & User Feedback
- Net-Results Ratings & User Feedback
- ONTRAPORT Ratings & User Feedback
- Pardot Ratings & User Feedback
- SharpSpring Ratings & User Feedback
- Spokal Ratings & User Feedback
- Teradata Integrated Marketing Cloud (formerly Aprimo and Teradata Marketing Studio) Ratings & User Feedback
Marketing Automation Product List
Marketo is a marketing automation platform with a range of capabilities spanning SMB to enterprise. 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...
Act-On is a Marketing Automation application. Its technology includes an email engine with integration to leading web conferencing and CRM solutions; website visitor tracking, lead scoring, lead nurturing and social media prospecting; design tools for web forms, landing pages and emails; inbound...
Oracle Cross-Channel Marketing to Businesses (part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, and formerly known as Eloqua) is a B2B Cross-Channel Marketing solution that enables marketers to plan and execute automated marketing campaigns while delivering a personalized customer experience for their...
Infusionsoft is a small business-focused, comprehensive sales and marketing platform, which includes basic contact management, CRM, marketing automation and e-commerce capabilities into a single, subscription-based SaaS product. Functionality included in Infusionsoft's software includes:...
SIlverpop is best known as an email marketing vendor but has offered marketing automation functionality such as campaign building, lead segmentation and scoring, since it's acquisition of Vtrenz in 2007. Silverpop also has some social publishing capabilities built into the platform.
GreenRope is an all-in-one CRM and marketing automation platform. The platform includes all the of the tools a business owner, marketer or sales manager needs to generate leads, track opportunities, nurture leads through the funnel, and provide the best customer experience. This solution can...
IBM Campaign products (based on IBM's acquisition of Unica Software in 2010) are a suite of enterprise marketing management (EMM) software that include marketing automation with cross-channel campaign management, along with budgeting and forecasting, project workflow management, asset...
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. Users can also plan, automate and monitor complex, multi-step,...
ONTRAPORT offers customer relations management services that help with content management, such as creating and hosting webpages; lead tracking, which includes collecting customer data and behavior; traditional marketing approaches, such as e-mail, SMS, social media, and direct mail; managing...
Teradata Integrated Marketing Cloud (formerly Marketing Studio) includes marketing automation, marketing resource management, and marketing analytics capabilities for a complete enterprise marketing management (EMM) solution. In addition to standard marketing automation functionality like lead...
Spokal is an all-in-one inbound marketing platform designed specifically for small businesses and freelancers who don’t have a full-time marketing department. It works with existing WordPress websites. Spokal offers a drag & drop content editor and social media sharing calendar, as well as...
Oracle Cross-Channel Marketing to Consumers (part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, and formerly known as Responsys) 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,...
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 like spend/financial management, workflow and asset management. It also has strong analytics capabilities. It also...
Salesfusion is a marketing automation platform that helps small and mid-sized businesses attract new opportunities, convert them into customers and nurture them into lifetime relationships. The vendor says that its solution is unique because it provides a CRM-style relational database and native...
The Bronto Marketing Platform is a cloud-based marketing automation platform that is designed to help users deliver timely, relevant, data-driven digital marketing that fuels engagement throughout the customer lifecycle and drives more revenue. The user interface incorporates...
Marketing Automation Articles
- Quickly find the right product based on 1,647+ in-depth reviews and user ratings
- Compare the pros & cons and customer demographics of the top rated vendors in this free 107-page guide from TrustRadius
- Explore the key trends for 2016 and 5 strategic factors for marketing automation success
TrustRadius sat down with Atri Chatterjee, CMO at Act-On to discuss customer focus, product development strategy, and the future of marketing automation.
In Q4 2014, Hubspot retained its position as the most evaluated marketing automation product on TrustRadius by some margin. Marketo remained in the number two slot. Act-On climbed from number three overtaking Pardot and Infusionsoft climbed to number five, overtaking Eloqua and Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email (formerly known as ExactTarget). Focusing in on the enterprise segment (companies with >500 employees), the ranking for evaluation frequency changes considerably. Marketo takes the top slot, followed by Eloqua, IBM Unica, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email and IBM Silverpop.