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Looking for someone to help you find the right buyers, execute campaigns, develop great leads, and deliver a high return on your marketing investment? You might be in need of marketing automation software. We’re going to break down the top marketing automation providers to determine who is the best for you and your budget. Oh, and if you’re not too sure what marketing automation is, we’ve got you covered there too!
What Is Marketing Automation?
First off you might be wondering “what is marketing automation”? According to Wikipedia, it’s defined as:
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automates repetitive tasks.
It’s basically marketing software that is designed to help marketing departments perform repetitive tasks more efficiently and effectively. The goal of automated marketing solutions is to nurture prospects by personalizing their buying experience based on their unique needs and desires. Marketing automation software will help you move those prospects to customers, therefore, generating your company more revenue and increasing your return on investment. In short, you could become a company growth engine and hero in no time!
Video: Marketing Automation in 60 Seconds
This video does a good job of summing up what how marketing automation platforms work.
Marketing Automation Features
- Data Analytics and Reporting
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Integration
- Email Marketing
- Customized Website Landing Pages
- Lead Management
- Social Media Marketing
So when you’re choosing a marketing automation software, it should include all of these things above at a minimum. If it doesn’t, we suggest looking elsewhere. Luckily, all the marketing automation tools we reviewed do offer those features. So read on to learn more details about the various marketing automation companies.
Best Marketing Automation Software
Below are our top three picks for best marketing automation software for small businesses based on an array of details including price, features, customer service and more. We will provide a brief description of each company and also point out the pros and cons of each so you can determine which best suits your needs. We also provide valuable free trial sign-up links and promotion details that you might want to try out before you sign on for a longer-term commitment. Now, ready to compare marketing automation vendors in our full marketing automation software reviews?
HubSpot is our #1 pick because of its affordable price and the fact that you don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it. HubSpot allows you to integrate with apps and they have a large customer base of big-name companies to vouch for their service. Helping companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close those customers is what they specialize in. HubSpot offers an integrated platform to help with your inbound marketing needs including blog, social media, web page creation, SEO, and more. HubSpot excels at content management which makes it more of a website management and integration tool.
- Attract Visitors – create noteworthy content to share on social media and use the analytics to improve your search rankings
- Convert Leads – design web landing pages to convert traffic and make forms to optimize conversions
- Close Sales – use email and analytics to help you convert more leads to sales
- Around the Clock Customer Service – Request help via email, website, phone or seek out the answer in their handy user guides or online forum
HubSpot offers a free 30-day demo with no credit card required.
- Basic – $200/month with a $600 training fee (100 contacts)
- Professional – $800/month with a $3,000 training fee (1,000 contacts)
- Enterprise – $2,400/month with a $5,000 training fee (10,000 contacts and more)
Marketo beats out the competition because of their simple-to-use interface which helps users accomplish their goals quickly. Also, the fact that Marketo has been growing rapidly suggests that they know what they’re doing and are on the right track for the rapidly changing world of digital marketing. They pride themselves in being built by marketers, for marketers. However, you pay for what you get and their pricing is a little on the high end.
- Behavior Tracking – see which customers are visiting your site, clicking thru your emails, and sharing your stuff on social media
- Engagement Marketing – build marketing campaigns that will increase your customers’ engagement and conversations
- Event Marketing – send out personalized invites and set reminders to events and webinars
- Inbound/Search Marketing – help customers find you
- Instant CRM Software Integration – build a stronger connection with your customers
- Web Landing Pages and Forms – create professional WYSIWYG web pages and registration forms
- Lead Management – helps you convert leads into customers
- Multi-Channel Campaign Management – manage and implement marketing programs through email, web, mobile, events, and social media
- Scoring – rank your customers by scoring them by their behaviors or possible future behaviors so you focus on the right ones for the greatest ROI
Pricing is no longer listed on their website but as of December 2015 this was Marketo’s pricing:
- Spark – $1,195/month (5 users, limited content hosting and analytics)
- Standard – $1,995/month (10 users, no revenue modeling, reduced role-based permissions and social promotion management)
- Select – $3,195/month (20 users and unlimited everything)
- Marketing to Consumers – Starts at $2,995/month for less than 100,000 records
- Enterprise – Contact Sales for pricing
Eloqua (now Oracle Eloqua) is one of the first players in this relatively new field of marketing automation. According to their site, they will help you “demonstrate concrete business results”. You can create and track your modern marketing goals through Oracle Eloqua to help increase revenue. See the numbers right before your eyes with the Marketing Measurement feature to help you see which campaigns are working (and which are not). The fact that this product is used by the Chicago Bears NFL team certainly is impressive. However, their starting price is $2,000/month making it a tough pill to swallow. Despite their steep opening price, they have a history of success and are one of the pioneers in marketing automation.
- Campaign Management – create campaigns to help with your sales and renewals
- Content Marketing – publish and deliver appealing text content
- Customer Lifecycle Marketing – personalize your campaigns to each customer to create a stronger bond and increase revenue
- Eloqua AppCloud – access applications, services, and tools
- Lead Management – improve your sales close rates
- Marketing Measurement – view your analytics in a dashboard and receive reports
- Sales Enablement – keep your marketing and sales plans aligned to increase revenue (and playing nice across functions at your company)
- Social Media Relationship Marketing – use social media to increase engagement
- Targeting and Segmentation – classify better target customers using specific data like location, industry, and title
- Basic – $2,000/month for 10 users
- Standard – $4,000/month for 50 users
- Enterprise – Call 866-327-8764 for pricing (unlimited users)
Below is a simple comparison table of the most basic packages for each marketing automation provider categorized to give you a starting point. But please read on to compare all companies and plans to find out what you get at these opening price points, as features vary widely.
|Company||1st Place: Hubspot||2nd Place: Marketo||3rd Place: Oracle Eloqua||Get Response||Infusionsoft||Pardot||Silverpop|
|Price||$200/month with a $600 training fee||$1,195/month with||$2,000/month||$15/month (email only)||$199/month||$1,000/month||$500/month|
Other Marketing Automation Reviews
Here are a few other marketing automation services we recommend in addition to our top 3.
Traditionally an email marketing company (and our 1# pick for best email marketing) GetResponse now integrates their world-class email campaigns with additional automation features. Their affordable pricing plus great customer service and support make them an excellent pick for any small to mid-size company who is new to marketing automation. They have dozens of features including access to stock photography, real-time reports and more. Their easy to use interface makes it simple for those new to marketing automation too!
- Email is Easy – inbox preview, email templates, A/B testing, spam checker and more
- List Management – advanced segmentation, custom fields, send time optimization, intelligent reports, advanced search
- Lead Acquisition – web forms, list building apps, exit pop-ups, squeeze pages, single opt-in list imports and more
- Advanced Analytics – web traffic tracking, real-time reports, geo-location and subscription statistics
- Design Tools – drag and drop editor, landing page builder, web form creator, image editor, multimedia storage and responsive design
GetResponse offers a free 30-day trial (no strings attached)
- Email – $15/month up to 1,000 subscribers, 1 user
- Pro – $49/month up to 5,000 subscribers, 3 users plus additional features
- Max – $165/month up to 10,000 subscribers, 5 users plus additional features
- Enterprise – $799/month up to 100,000 subscribers, 10 users plus additional features including dedicated account manager, rebranding and more
Infusionsoft is one of the least expensive marketing automation solutions available. They focus on B2C (Business to Consumer) marketing automation and there are no contracts and they have a history of good customer service. The downside is that some users report Infusionsoft to be difficult to learn and use.
- Contact Management – organize all of your contacts’ information
- Marketing Automation – keep track of reports, campaigns, email marketing, and more all in one place to streamline the sales process
- Sales Automation – close more sales and build relationships with customers
- E-Commerce – sell your products and services online with automated tools
InfusionSoft offers a free 15-day trial.
- Essentials – $199/month (2,500 contacts, 3 users)
- Deluxe Sales – $299/month for Essentials+ Sales Automation (5,000 contacts, 4 users)
- Deluxe E-Commerce – $299/month for Essentials + E-Commerce (5,000 contacts, 4 users)
- Complete – $379/month (10,000 contacts, 5 users)
- Team – $599/month (100,000 contacts, 10 users)
With Pardot (part of the Salesforce family), users can create, implement, and track campaigns but we feel they are not keeping up well with the current trends. Pardot has email templates and custom forms to help you connect with customers through various platforms including paid search and webinars. Learn what areas you can improve on through Pardot’s reports, and stay connected to prospects so you can stay on top of your most effective priorities. Pardot is a smaller provider focused on B2B and they lack in their social media integration. But they are owned by Salesforce so we expect there is more to them than meets the eye.
- Clear Vision For Your Sales Team – real-time sales alerts, CRM tools integration, analytics, Data.com connector, and more
- Email Marketing – create dynamic looking email campaigns
- Lead Generation – use landing pages, form builders, and search connectors
- Analyze Return On Investment – reports and analytics help you see the full ROI on your marketing efforts
- Lead Management – score and track prospects to make sure they go to the right people at the right time to make a sale. Integrates with Salesforce.
- Social Selling – maintain a steady presence on social media (but they are not as up to date in this area as the competition)
- Standard – $1,000/month up to 10,000 records
- Pro – $2,000/month up to 10,000 records
- Ultimate – $3,000/month up to 10,000 records
Probably the most well-known CRM, Salesforce is one of the industry’s leading companies with a number of awards. Salesforce has more than 16 years of experience making it a reputable company trusted by more than 150,000 customers around the world. While traditionally a CRM they have automation features you can add on via Pardot (reviewed above) to help you streamline your sales funnels and convert customers more quickly and easily. They pride themselves on being a strategic partner that invests in infrastructure and they have affordable pricing which is a plus! If you want a CRM and automation all under one roof this is a great way to go but keep in mind many of the other automation companies also integrate with Salesforce.
This Atlanta-based business is “marketing automation with all the trimmings.” Their one size fits all “no catch” price includes unlimited users, email sends and campaigns all with phone support, pre-built reports and all the other basic features you’d get from other companies. However, there is a one-time fee up front to get your database up and running (which might be useful depending on how many contacts you have). They also have a London office that caters to international clients.
- Attract & Capture – website tracking, Google Adwords integration, social media marketing, SEO
- Create Campaigns – email marketing tools, landing page and forms, surveys, and more
- Streamline Lead Process – CRM integration, track buyers journey, lead sourcing and management
- Analyze Results – performance reporting and ROI dashboards, website analytics
$500/month for unlimited users and emails (plus a one-time onboarding fee of $1,000-2,500 depending on the size and complexity of database).
Update October, 2017: Silverpop is now part of IBM
Manage and nurture your needs with Silverpop to get the most out of your marketing budget. Users can learn more about prospects’ behavior to finalize sales. Silverpop stands out with their B2B marketing automation feature, but who knows about their pricing since it is not listed on their site.
- Advanced Email Features – features like send time optimization, A/B testing, and dynamic content help make sure your emails are delivered and get noticed
- Automated Campaigns – learn your prospects’ and customers’ behaviors and create marketing campaigns that cater to them
- B2B Marketing Automation – obtain and rank leads to maximize your efforts with other businesses
- Campaign Reporting – collect reports to show ROI and other marketing successes
- Integrations – target customers with event management, web analytics, data cleansing, and enhancements to improve communications
- Landing Pages and Web Forms – create pages and forms and capture inquiry information
- Scoring – rank your customers based on certain criteria like buying behaviors, location, site visits, and more
- Web Tracking – find out what actions prospects and customers take on your site
Pricing for Silverpop is not listed on their site, which is a little frustrating. We feel that companies should be transparent in all aspects of their business.
Is Marketing Automation Right for You?
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the best B2C marketing automation, we might note that what you’re looking for in a marketing automation service depends on what type of business you’re in and what you’re trying to accomplish. No matter what company you decide to go with, marketing automation platforms offer a great way to personalize your messages and deliver very highly relevant to targeted customers at the right time. The options and opportunities are endless. By streamlining your sales funnels and automating your marketing efforts, you can focus your efforts on more important things. However, there are other marketing efforts you shouldn’t forget about either including social media and email.
How could marketing automation help your business?