Marketing automation tools manage processes and campaigns automatically by taking some of the most time-consuming responsibilities of marketing and sales off your plate. It's no wonder that the automation industry has grown from a $500m market to an expected $5.5bn in 2019 in four years. This surge in popularity means that the list of new tools available is almost dizzying, making it hard to find exactly the right platforms for your business. In this guide, we'll take a deeper look into marketing automation and the best tools to help you streamline marketing functions and stay focused on your bigger picture goals.
You've probably heard about it and know that some of your competitors are using it...but you might still be wondering what marketing automation really does and if your business will benefit from it. Basically, marketing automation refers to any number of software tools that help you automate marketing actions to make them easier. It started out as experimental technology, but has evolved into an essential resource for marketing and sales departments looking to build their business.
The best automation tools help marketers capture leads, grow relationships, and move prospects through the sales funnel -- all with an ability to scale with your business. You can find tools to help with email, social media, web marketing, multichannel marketing, analytics, and more. Not only does this take a lot of the grunt work off of your team, but it also lets you provide your customers with a consistent experience across channels and custom tailor content to their needs. Personalization is critical to delivering a memorable customer experience these days, and automation technology makes communication with individual prospects and leads easier to customize for segmented audiences.
For example, say a new prospect opens a marketing email from you and chooses to click on a link in the email. That triggers your automation tool to utilize a follow-up action based on that specific link. The workflow automatically pushes relevant content to the customer and collects feedback to keep track of how it is performing. Other tools make it easy to schedule social media posts in advance, track mentions and replies, etc.
With an endless variety of marketing automation services to choose from, it is important to figure out which solutions are the best candidates for your business. Keep the following factors in mind when you are hunting for tools.
Pricing: Most marketing automation tools have sliding-scale pricing with additional costs for a la carte services. Don't be fooled by the bottom-line price -- the tools can quickly get expensive if you aren't thinking about how your business will grow in the future. The Basic price might look great now, but in three to five years your business might desperately need the Pro or Enterprise option.
Usability: Marketing automation aims to make your life easier -- but getting all of your processes in place can be complicated at first. Choose a platform that is intuitive and doesn't require a lot of training and you are bound to extract more value. Pay attention to the interface and try to do a software trial before settling on your purchase.
Integrations: It might be tempting to grab the newest and most highly rated software out there, but don't overlook the ability of new marketing automation tools to integrate with your existing software. Some tools only allow integration with a few other select tools and that can be a huge headache for your business.
Capabilities: Consider what specific features are important to your business. Some automation tools have a built-in CRM system, while others allow you to connect it with your existing CRM. Other capabilities include email marketing, content creation, e-commerce features, social media integration, and training/setup.
We've compiled a list of the best marketing automation tools so you can review their specific features, workflows, and price to decide which one makes the most sense for your business.
Constant Contact is one of the best email marketing automation tools available because it provides more than just basic features. With this tool, you can edit emails and use an autoresponder, helping you create strong and effective email campaigns. You can also take advantage of Facebook fan promotion, coupons and deals, and event management. Pricing varies based on the size of your contact list, ranging from 0-500 contacts for $20 a month plus $45 per additional feature to up to 5,001-10,000 contacts for $95 per month or $125 including all features.
Pros: Constant Contact has a very simple and easy-to-learn interface that even non-technical users will understand. It's great for startups and businesses that need organized email marketing now and don't plan to expand it much going forward. It is also one of the most affordable tools out there.
Cons: While it does provide basic functionality, it does not offer much in the way of scalability.
iContact is a powerhouse software that provides marketing automation, email marketing services, and more. You can integrate landing pages, email marketing, social media management, and analytics into a seamless operation, making it easy to segment audiences and reach more contacts with effective messaging. If you opt for the Pro Package, it includes features like Engagement Tracking, Behavioral Tracking, Funnel Reports, Triggered Messages, and more.
Pros: This is a perfect tool for growing your business. They offer access to strategic advisors who can help optimize your sending strategy and boost conversions.
Cons: iContact is missing some fundamental features, like importing contacts from Gmail. They also make segments limited compared to options like MailChimp.
Marketo is one of the most popular marketing automation tools because it comes with a full suite of features. It gives marketers a platform for managing professional email campaigns and also provides powerful tools for sales teams. Marketo is an excellent choice for businesses that want all the bells and whistles in automation software. It is a very versatile tool and you can sign up to use just the basics at first and then add more functionality in the future.
Pros: Marketo is a highly sophisticated but easy-to-use platform that is easy to scale with your business growth. They have a marketplace, called Launchpoint, that offers dozens of integrations. And they feature a very large and active knowledge base so it is easy for new users to onboard.
Cons: It's not the cheapest software out there, so those who don't plan to make use of all the features might be better off with a simpler platform.
Customer.io is an awesome tool for sending targeted messages to customers based on how they interact with your brand. For instance, if someone fills out a form on your site, downloads an ebook, etc., you can deliver a specific message to them to boost the chances of further engagement. The tool integrates with your mobile app or website so you can see data in real time. You can also add in predefined rules to make your workflow even smarter. This tool also includes A/B testing, conversion tracking, customer profiles, and in-context conversations.
Pros: Customer.io is very flexible, making it a perfect choice for companies that are just starting out with automation and want a lightweight software. With the help of a developer, it can also be customized to offer more advanced functionality. And they have amazing customer service.
Cons: It's not completely out of the box and does require some developer time in order to take advantage of its full capabilities.
Gliffy is a great tool for automating your marketing processes. It lets you create organizations charts, high-quality flowcharts, UML diagrams, network diagrams, technical drawings, wireframes, and more. It is a highly sophisticated tool that works in your web browser to help you boost marketing productivity and create better workflows for your team.
Pros: Gliffy is great for workflow organization. It has an intuitive interface and allows collaboration with anyone who is on a web browser.
Cons: They offer a very limited free version but the standard plan is relatively expensive. Because it works in your browser, they have intermittent technical issues and glitches.
Hubspot's marketing automation tool is one of the most powerful in terms of the features it offers. The company describes it as inbound marketing software and it is geared toward helping you generate leads, close deals, and manage your pipeline on auto-pilot. Think of it as an all-in-one CRM, marketing, and sales tool. The easy-to-use interface lets you set up simple email autoresponders or build complex rules to target segmented users across a variety of mediums.
Pros: This tool is great for content marketing and makes it easy to scale your growth and manage multiple tasks all at once. It includes content creation tools, content optimization, email marketing, a social media suite, and a marketing analytics dashboard.
Cons: Because it is so all-encompassing, it can be complicated to use at first. Users will likely have to spend time learning the software with HubSpot Academy resources. It is one of the more expensive options out there.
Drip is great because it is one of the few marketing automation tools that is primarily focused on e-commerce. They have a full set of email and marketing automation features, including email builders, automation workflows, multichannel marketing, email campaigns, and one-off emails.
Pros: This tool excels is personalization and analytics and can whip any email marketing campaign into shape without a lot of intensive training. It works well with a variety of marketing strategies.
Cons: Drip doesn't offer phone support, which can be a hassle if you need assistance right away. It offers a very limited free plan and the cost for more advanced plans is relatively expensive.
Oracle Eloqua is a B2B cross-channel marketing solution that helps marketers plan and execute automated marketing campaigns. It aims to boost lead generation and allows for highly personalized targeting and messaging across email, video, mobile, etc. It offers a lot of great integrations with third-party services and makes CRM integration especially seamless. This fully loaded lead management platform also makes it easy to track reports and insights into the buyer's journey.
Pros: Eloqua is an enterprise-level software with a comprehensive set of tools for lead management. They offer a lot of guidance and teaching to help customers get the most out of the product.
Cons: It is not for smaller businesses and the pricing is high compared to other tools. Standard pricing starts at $4,000 every month.
Jumplead is a marketing automation tool aimed at turning website visitors into leads and then engaging them until they convert. It offers features for lead tracking, CRM, analytics, automation, and more. Users can set up behavior-triggered actions, email marketing landing pages, and analytics. It's a great nurturing tool and can scale with your business.
Pros: They offer a free version for up to 200 visitors, so small businesses can use it while they are getting started. Pricing is affordable even as your audience grows.
Cons: It has limited flexibility in terms of managing contacts on the dashboard and limited integration with third-party apps.
MailChimp is one of the best tools for intelligent email marketing features. It is a very effective email tool for contacting prospects or customers with highly personalized and creative messaging. Features include email-marketing automation, personalized emails, automated welcome emails, behavioral targeting, engagement monitoring, and more. The service is free for up to 2,000 contacts and starts at $425 per month after that.
Pros: It is easy to use and makes sense for small and large businesses. MailChimp allows you to trigger emails based on specific actions, such as sign-up dates and website activity.
Cons: The software is limited in creating complex marketing automation. It's also very list-centric, making it difficult to create one-off or individual emails.
Pardot is a marketing automation tool that comes from Salesforce and is perfect for boosting your revenue. It helps sales and marketing teams maximize efficiency and increase revenue and aims to help sales teams shorten sales cycles. The suite offers CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting. Depending on the pricing level you choose, it also offers email and landing page A/B testing, advanced dynamic content, and Google AdWords integration. Ultimate pricing includes additional features such as a dedicated IP address and phone support.
Pros: One of the most powerful marketing automation tools for clients that have the tech resources and time to learn how it works. It has sophisticated tracking to build predictive lead scoring and improve marketing efficiency.
Cons: The software is powerful but can be difficult to learn and the pricing is prohibitive for many smaller companies and startups.
This marketing automation tool is great for voice-based marketing automation and inbound call analytics. Dialog Tech's tools help you to optimize voice interactions by measuring your success and adjusting as needed. It makes it easy to track data over the phone with features like call-tracking, phone surveys, caller-profile data, reverse lookup, conversation analytics, in-call scoring, geolocation routing, voice broadcasts, and more.
Pros: Ease of use and support make it a great choice for businesses of all sizes. The tool makes it easy to use analytics to figure out the ROI of campaigns.
Cons: With so many features, the interface can be complicated to set up initially. This service is also expensive compared to competitors.
AdRoll is a helpful tool for cross-device and cross-platform retargeting capabilities. It makes it easy to provide customized experiences that have a big impact on marketing efficiencies, such as retargeting through Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Features include retargeting across devices and platforms, dynamic LiquidAds, flexible segmentation, in-depth analytics, and conversion reporting.
Pros: This is a fairly simple system that doesn't require extensive training. It's easy to retarget across a variety of platforms. Customers can opt for a free two-week trial period.
Cons: They offer customized budgeting but the service is still expensive if you want to take advantage of all the features.
Keeping your marketing strategy on point can be hard when your team has so many different responsibilities to juggle. It's hard to find the time and energy to monitor and address all the different aspects of a good marketing approach. Thankfully, marketing automation tools exist. By using these tools to automate a variety of processes, you can spend your time and energy on other efforts that will catapult your business to success. Test out some of these marketing automation tools to see how effective they can be as streamlining processes and making your overall marketing more effective than your competitors.
Eniture Technology specializes in helping e-Commerce merchants grow by providing useful information, digital marketing services, off-the-shelf apps that solve common problems, and custom programming services. Please contact us if you need help growing your online business or implementing the concepts presented in this blog post.
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