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Best Marketing Automation Platforms

The best marketing automation platforms to use in 2017 that are cost effective, have great features, and are easy to use. These five providers are leading the way in marketing automation software today.

 Our ongoing blog series on “Best Marketing Automation Platforms” will help you compare and contrast some of the top marketing automation platforms in the market. We begin our series with an overview of HubSpot, WebEngage, Eloqua, Marketo, Marketo Encore, Pardot, Act-On, SharpSpring, 24/7 Agility, SocialChorus, InfusionSoft, AutopilotHQ and Marketo + Alooma

HubSpot

Let’s not kid ourselves, HubSpot is over-hyped.

Pretty much everything that HubSpot offers can be found elsewhere at a much lower cost. And yes, while it is true that HubSpot does offer a free version of their software, this doesn’t include any of their marketing automation features. If you’re looking to use HubSpot for marketing automation, you’ll need to cough up at least $800/month (paid annually), plus an additional $3,000 in onboarding fees. In other words, if your marketing automation budget is below $12,600/year, you may want to move on to our next suggestion.

But to give credit where its due, their software is really intuitive and easy to get the hang of, which for a non-technical small business can make all of the difference. The analytics are incredibly good, which makes it dead easy for business owners to know what’s working and what’s not.

I can see how many small businesses would be impressed with their offering, but it would be remiss not to point out the fact that HubSpot’s pricing can get expensive as you grow.

HubSpot charges onboarding fees in the $3,000 – $6,000 range for professional and enterprise customers (these are the only plans that include marketing automation), on top of a typical monthly cost between $800 – $2,500.

If it were me, I’d take this money and instead spend it on ActiveCampaign, which is a significantly more advanced marketing automation platform. With what’s left over, you could get a pro subscription to a good piece of SEO software like SEMrush or Deepcrawl, and do some training on Google Analytics.

I might be missing something, but based on demoing their software it does seem like an over-priced piece of software, but for many small businesses it does exactly what it should – enables them to grow faster.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is the simplest marketing automation tool in this guide. Designed primarily for bloggers and content creators, it’s a great tool for beginners looking for basic marketing automation software.

Do not expect any bells and whistles – ConvertKit doesn’t even have email templates, as they encourage users to send plain-text emails to increase engagement.

If you’re just starting out, ConvertKit is a decent option that’s also quite affordable, but it’s really only a viable option for individual content-based businesses.

 Omnisend

Founded in 2014, Omnisend is a relatively new tool on the marketing automation scene, but that hasn’t stopped it becoming a leading marketing automation tool for e-commerce companies.

While their platform is far from the best designed, they have a number of innovative features, including integrations with Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, to help e-commerce marketers automate their marketing across numerous channels.

By only working with e-commerce companies, Omnisend’s email templates are all designed to solve specific challenges faced by e-commerce marketers, from reducing cart abandonment to driving product reviews.

But the main reason why Omnisend is the no-brainer marketing automation tool for e-commerce businesses is the fact that they natively integrate with your e-commerce platform.

Whether you use Shopify, Magento, or any other major platform, Omnisend will hook in, so that you can trigger your campaigns based on your customer’s behaviour and see reports on how your marketing automation impacts sales.

Besides their platform’s mediocre look and feel, the only remaining downside to address with Omnisend is cost.

To access the features that make Omnisend interesting, you’ll need a PRO account which starts at $199/month for 10,000 contacts. Unlike HubSpot, Omnisend’s pricing does remain quite reasonable as you grow, but nonetheless – it’s not cheap.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a well known email marketing tool for small businesses. It does a great job of providing basic functionality in a way that is very easy for even non-technical users to take advantage of. The ease of use and affordable cost are its biggest differentiators.

Whom it’s for:

Constant Contact is for the small business owner who wants to quickly get started with organized email marketing and doesn’t anticipate needing any advanced functionality down the line. The tool is a great choice for you if you fit this description, but if you plan to expand your marketing automation efforts in the near future, this isn’t the tool for you.

It’s closest to:

HubSpot

Pricing starts at:

$15/month

 ExactTarget/Pardot

We were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car (if, for example, you were a car manufacturer).

And if you’re wondering what the difference is between ExactTarget and Pardot (acquired by ExactTarget), the former is meant for B2C companies while the latter is designed for B2B companies.

Whom it’s for:

ExactTarget is for the company that has the desire — and the resources — to go above and beyond with their marketing automation. It’s for the company that is really looking to the future of marketing automation and wants to connect with its customers over many different channels.

It’s closest to:

Eloqua

Pricing starts at:

Contact their sales team

Rejoiner

Our final contender is for those wishing to delegate management of their marketing automation to a team of experts.

Rejoiner is a managed marketing automation platform. Unlike most tools where you pay your subscription fee and must then figure out how to use the tool to grow your business, Rejoiner shares this accountability.

Their platform is intuitive and is particularly well-tailored to e-commerce and SaaS businesses, where incremental improvements can result in major uplifts in revenue.

But it’s their à la carte services on everything from marketing automation strategy to the copywriting, design and deliverability testing, that separates them from every other marketing automation tool. 

I should probably also point out that it works. When we were analysing over 100+ marketing automation tools in our study, Rejoiner came out extremely high for one key reason: They had one of the highest satisfaction scores for customers.

As you’d expect, Rejoiner comes with a hefty price tag. I’m told that a typical client of theirs pays $4,000 – $6,000/month for their platform and services.

Conclusion

Inexpensive and reliable marketing automation tools can help your team to be more effective and more productive – and therefore – save you money and time – without compromising on quality.

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