Today’s organizations are using Marketing Automation Software Platforms to acquire, retain, and grow their customer base. Many different applications within the Marketing field are combining ideas into one platform. And these applications are becoming more sophisticated.
Since the power of digital marketing is becoming clear, there are hundreds of automation software platforms, software solutions, and marketing automation tools today. As an interactive marketing agency, our priority is always to find the best solutions for our clients, so we’re trying out several different platforms. I’ll try to share my personal experience with these different software solutions to help you sort out what’s best for your business.
What is marketing automation software?
Marketing automation software is an advanced platform designed to help marketers capture new customers, improve marketing efficiency, and analyze lead behavior and campaign performance. This software captures leads, develops relationships with individuals and groups of customers, and moves prospects through the sales funnel. Marketing automation tools are now an essential resource for B2C and B2B marketing and sales departments looking to grow their business.
The software combines helpful software features like email marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, multi-channel marketing, web analytics, and reporting tools. Many marketing automation tools contain out-of-the-box features that teach marketers to develop successful marketing strategies. With these tools, marketers can quickly draw together customer data from multiple sources, create tactics that span different mediums and combine and analyze customer insights for better conversions and higher revenue.
Marketing automation (MA) software is often compared to customer relationship management (CRM) software as they have overlapping functionality. But CRMs currently function as the go-to platform for sales departments, whereas MA platforms are built to scale and accelerate marketing efforts while making each touch more personalized and focused.
Marketing automation tools automate critical—but repetitive—marketing processes, like posting for social media, sending triggered emails, and segmenting customers based on their actions. But the software offers customization and personalization features that keep your branding fresh. You can customize email templates to fit your company, create special fields for categorizing your leads, and personalize each email with your customer’s name or recent product views using special fields that will add them automatically.
Marketing automation lets you scale your efforts to build relationships with multiple prospects across several different channels and provide them with a consistent experience despite their differing interests or needs. And when you properly segment your audience, this technology allows you to build more meaningful relationships with your prospects by providing them with content that’s relevant to their interests.
Do You Actually Need a Marketing Automation Tool?
Most businesses today buy a marketing automation tool without stopping to consider whether they need it yet. As the quintessential buzzword of late, marketing automation can feel like an obvious step toward scaling your marketing operation—but you need to have a true marketing operation first.
From our experience, businesses aren’t ready for marketing automation until they tick at least three of these boxes:
- You have a marketing team of at least one person who only does marketing.Marketing automation can streamline and scale your efforts, but it isn’t a substitute for actual marketing know-how. If you’re a founder or early employee doing a bunch of activities, including marketing, and think an “automation” tool is going to free up your time, a tool isn’t going to solve your problem.
- You’ve found at least one marketing channel that works for you.Marketing automation tools help scale your marketing, but you don’t want to scale something that doesn’t actually work yet. If you think an automation tool will help you find a channel that works, it (more than likely) won’t.
- All of your marketing efforts flow from a defined strategy.For the same reason as above, you don’t need an automation tool to throw more spaghetti at the wall in hopes that something sticks.
- Your marketing team has more money than time.Marketing automation tools help your team do more in less time—but you have to be comfortable with the financial hand-off that buys you that time.
Once all of those scenarios apply to your business, then you can start to consider a marketing automation solution.
But you don’t have to go all-in from the start. Many businesses over-invest in an all-in-one solution when they only need email automation, for example. Take time to consider where your needs and your use case lie—then find your use case from the list below.
1. All-in-One Marketing Automation Tools 2. Email Marketing Automation 3. Social Media Automation 4. Customer Journey Automation 5. Pricing Automation 6. Advertising Automation 7. Loyalty and Referral Marketing Automation
Lastly, if you want to learn more about who we are (Leadfeeder) and what we do, you can skip straight to the customer journey automation section where we explain how we fit into the marketing automation landscape.
Marketing Automation Tools
Generally speaking, organizations that really need a full all-in-one automation tool have already hit on a handful of marketing channels that work for them—regardless of which channels those are. That means:
- You’ve seen success across more than 1 or 2 channels
- You’re already investing financially in scaling your marketing operation
- Your team needs to either scale the channels that are working and/or experiment with additional avenues
If that sounds like your team, these marketing automation tools can handle it all. From email automation to ad buying, to lead nurturing, all-in-one automation tools can help add scale and streamline every aspect of your marketing operation.
Pricing: Includes a free plan for basic email marketing. Automation ranges from $16/month to custom Enterprise pricing, based on features and number of contacts.
For marketing automation, it’s hard to find a more comprehensive tool than Omnisend. What sets this platform apart from the others on this list is the omnichannel functionality: you can add several channels to the same automation workflow: email, SMS, push notifications, Facebook Messenger, and more. This means that you can create an immersive omnichannel experience for your customers, which automatically sends them the message via the channel they’ve opted in for. With advanced targeting, split automation, and an easy drag-and-drop builder, Omnisend is a marketing automation tool worth a look at.
Pricing: Contact Marketo for pricing information.
Marketo claims to offer marketing automation that covers any channel and every engagement. Since being acquired by Adobe, the list of tasks that work together on Marketo has only multiplied. Their full-featured software can handle everything from digital advertising to social media to account-based marketing —making it a really good option for larger marketing operations.
Pricing: Contact Oracle for pricing information.
Eloqua, now part of the Oracle suite of tools, sets itself apart by working with nearly every other tool in your marketing belt. Eloqua boasts more than 700 integrations, meaning it can make every step of your marketing process more personalized and streamlined. It’s also one of only a few all-in-one tools with an explicit emphasis on serving B2B marketers and companies.
Pricing: Ranges from $50 – $3,200+ per month, based on features and scale.
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is fundamentally different from other marketing automation tools for a few reasons. For one, their focus on inbound marketing (including content and search marketing) is unparalleled. They also offer the added benefit of the Sales and Service Hubs, which means your team can better work together—even across departments.
Pricing: Ranges from $1,250 – $4,000 per month, based on the depth of automation and analytics.
Pardot (now part of Salesforce) is another marketing automation tool that’s tailored to the needs of B2B marketers, with support for things like B2B analytics and account-based marketing solutions. The partnership with Salesforce makes Pardot part of a robust suite of products that work together to help sales and marketing teams be more effective, together.
Pricing: Ranges from $9 – $400+ per month, based on features and number of contacts.
As a marketing automation tool, ActiveCampaign does perhaps the best job at working automation into the processes of real humans. The reality is, marketing software can’t handle everything—there are aspects of marketing that need a human touch. ActiveCampaign built their software around that, adding features like notification emails that empower marketers and salespeople, instead of replacing them.
Email Marketing Automation
Despite the high profile of many of the all-in-one tools above, email automation is still one of the first things most people think of when they hear “marketing automation.” Email marketing automation tools are a lot cheaper than the all in one tools above, so it doesn’t make sense to shell out for more than your team needs or will use.
The use case for email automation is also one of the widest. Your team could likely benefit from it, if:
- You’ve seen some level of baseline success with email marketing
- You need to send transactional emails, in addition to marketing
- Someone on your team has been manually sending every campaign
Email marketing automation tools handle tasks, like sending triggered emails and enable marketers to build complex automated campaigns and personalized audience segments.
Pricing: Ranges from $14.99 – $299 per month, based on features and contacts.
Mailchimp is in the process of growing from an email marketing tool to a full-blown marketing automation solution. While their expanded features remain to be tested, Mailchimp is one of the original email marketing tools, and they’ve turned that experience into a rock-solid and capable email automation tool that’s a breeze to use.
Pricing: Pricing: Ranges from $9 – $119+ per month, based on the number of active subscribers.
Automizy is an email marketing platform that is designed to increase your open rates, by providing a bundle of features that supports growing email open rates such as an artificial intelligence subject line tester, resend unopened emails, AB testing, and segmented email automation. Using Automizy keeps your messaging consistent and personalized.
Pricing: Ranges from $20 – $335 per month, based on features and list size.
Constant Contact is email marketing automation designed for smaller businesses. With their tool, you can create automated trigger campaigns, collect new emails automatically, and send segmented follow-up messages. With Constant Contact, your email program has all the features you need, without the clutter some other tools drown you in.
Pricing: Ranges from $150 – $1,000+ per month, based on features and support.
Built for subscription-based businesses, Customer.io’s email automation tool is all about engaging customers throughout the customer lifecycle. Tons of integrations make it easy to funnel data from across your technology stack and turn it into automated segments and email campaigns that resonate.
Pricing: Ranges from $49 – $122+ per month, based on active subscribers.
Drip’s email marketing automation is built for eCommerce businesses—meaning it works with all of the other eCommerce tools you use. You can create personalized content and automate campaigns based on customer behavior. Drip also offers more than email automation, so all of your messaging stays consistent and works together to drive customers toward a purchase.
Social Media Automation
Social media automation tools encompass one of the broadest fields—with solutions designed to help automate various aspects of social media marketing, from content publishing to monitoring, to analytics.
As such, nearly any brand can benefit from a social media scheduling tool like Buffer. That said, you probably don’t need a full-fledged social media automation tool unless:
- More than one person is publishing under your brand’s social media accounts
- Your brand is active on multiple social networks
- You’re using social media for multiple purposes, like paid advertising or providing customer support
Pricing: Ranges from $29 – $599+ per month, based on social profiles, users, and more.
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive and full-featured social media automation tools. With features to help you schedule content, curate from a pre-approved library, and monitor conversations about your brand and industry, Hootsuite has everything you need to create a social media presence that makes a difference for your brand.
Marketing automation software is a new type of technology that helps companies gather leads and leads data, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and even delivery content. Marketing automation is used by small and large businesses alike to create a more efficient and responsive marketing strategy. To get more leads for your business you have to use some form of marketing automation software.