For companies of all sizes, marketing is a part of business operations that is absolutely crucial for success. If you do the simple things efficiently, and continuously stay innovative, you give your enterprise better chances of beating the competition. Marketing Automation is one of the steps companies are taking to achieve this.
In this article, we focus on Marketing Automation and the various benefits it offers businesses. We also look at how to choose a marketing automation platform and then explore some of the best marketing automation software available today.
What is Marketing Automation?
In a world where there is an app for practically anything, marketers are also taking advantage of technology to ease and accelerate different mission-critical processes. Marketing automation uses the power of technology to automatically perform predefined tasks. Usually these are repetitive operations that do not necessarily need human intervention, but depending on the Marketing Automation platform, could be more advanced and complex tasks.
When a business has a well–defined marketing strategy, the entire buyer’s journey is usually clearly mapped out. There are strategies in place to convince prospects and leads to purchase the product or service, and hopefully earn their trust and loyalty. In the course of these activities, there are many marketing processes that could be automated. Offering clients information about a product when they need it, automatically giving them discounts for reaching certain predefined milestones, or just sending them birthday wishes!
By relying on automation, companies can be sure that every potential client is being engaged and given the attention they need during the entire buyer’s journey, from awareness all the way to loyalty and advocacy.
Why Does Your Business Need Marketing Automation Software?
One of the most important roles Marketing Automation software plays is improving the efficiency of your whole marketing effort. By delegating repetitive tasks to computers, you can eliminate human error. For example, you can be sure that emails will always go out on time, to the intended recipients, with their names spelled correctly every single time.
Tasks can also be performed much faster. Prospects, leads, and clients can all be automatically categorized, and certain actions or campaigns can be targeted at those groups to ensure they are all getting messages that are relevant to them. If this had to be done manually, it would take weeks of organizing data pulled from different sources, and even then quality assurance checking to eliminate errors would be required. That lost time translates to potential clients missed.
Another vital role marketing automation plays is that it frees up department staff to focus on more important tasks. Not only is this more efficient, it is also motivating for staff who can focus on higher-value activities. Instead of manually organizing data on leads, they can instead work on crafting campaigns and messages for different client categories and assessing the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Marketing Automation also generates the reports that are critical to assessment and subsequent improvement of the overall strategy. Decision-makers can see high-level reports, set targets, and track how well they are being met.
Making Your Choice: Features To Look For
Before choosing a platform, you need to have a well-considered plan or strategy for your marketing. Based on that, you can then analyze which aspects of it can be implemented by marketing automation features. The choice you make will therefore depend on your specific needs and setup, and what solutions give you the best chance of accelerating the growth you’ve planned.
That said, there are a few features many of the leading marketing automation software platforms have that you are likely to find beneficial. For instance, support for email and social media marketing can really level up a manual approach. Take limits like the maximums for things like the volume of emails you can send, or how many email contacts the software can handle into consideration though.
There are features for lead generation and management, which help you to communicate and engage with leads as they navigate your products or services. Marketing automation software can record data from forms that your clients fill out on your website, gather insights about their visits to your site, and allow you to manually enter any additional information that pertains to the client.
Another important feature to assess while you are looking at different options is the types of reports they produce. This is key to helping you determine the effectiveness of your strategy and helping you pinpoint areas that require your attention. You can perform SEO improvements on different landing pages, track your adverts’ conversions on different platforms and determine where to dedicate more resources.
There are also other features like AI for predictive analyses, chat bots that are set up to interact with clients and give instantaneous responses to frequent requests, and campaign management features that help you stay in control of your brand’s voice.
You also want to know all you can about how easy or difficult it is to slot your new marketing automation software into your setup and the major software solutions you use. How well does your chosen solution play with other third-party software? If integration is possible, also find out how much information can be exchanged between the platforms, and whether the data flows both ways.
Top 6 Marketing Automation Platforms
366 Degrees is aimed at small and mid-sized enterprises. It has features for marketing automation, email marketing, and sales.
- CRM integration with platforms like Salesforce
- Easy to use tools for creating campaigns for email and social media
- Ready-made templates to help you design and make landing pages
- Automation tools to help increase engagements and interactions with your pages
- Features for easily integrating videos into your campaigns
- Business analytics reports
- Has many features
- The lower tier of the software is affordable
- Prices include training
- Good customer support
- No free version
- Not a good fit for large companies
Best Fit For
Small and mid-sized companies
From $125 per month
Part of the Salesforce CRM, Salesforce Pardot is designed to enhance B2B marketing.
- Tools for managing and generating leads and also tracking and managing engagement with them
- Useful tools for more complex email marketing tasks such as A/B Testing
- Reporting capabilities that enhance the ability to track return on investment
- AI-powered tools for lead scoring and other insights
- Tools and features for testing landing page performance
- Tools and features for testing the performance of social media posts
- Lots of advanced features
- Native sales/marketing alignment
- AI tools
- Results-focused ROI reporting
- Relatively expensive
Best Fit For
From $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts
Hubspot is meant to be, first and foremost, easy to use, and to provide a comprehensive, all-in-one solution that fits companies of different sizes.
- Tools for publishing content like blogs
- SEO tools for managing keywords and other metrics to help pages rank higher
- Ad Tracking and Management
- Social Media Management
- Video integration tools
- Live Chatbots
- All-in-one platform
- Free tools
- Free plan is quite limited, higher tier prices rise steeply
- Not easily customizable
- Fewer reporting features compared to some competitors
Best Fit For
Small to medium enterprises prioritizing ease of use.
$45/month for lowest tier, $800/month for middle, and $3,200/month for the highest
This solution is aimed at small businesses and offers features that are mainly centered on email marketing.
- Functions for managing email contacts, designing emails, and tracking results
- Support for the creation of content for landing pages, ads for social networks, SMS campaigns, and more
- Email automation
- Tools to help you create lists and forms. For example, sign-up forms
- Affordably priced
- 30-day guarantee
- 60-day free trial with no credit card required
- Limited functionality
- Limited number of contacts
Best Fit For
Tiered pricing based on number of contacts starting at $9.99/month
ActiveCampaign is intended for companies that want an all-inclusive solution for automating the customer experience.
- Email Marketing and Segmentation
- Subscription Forms
- Site Tracking
- Messaging & Text (SMS)
- Facebook Custom Audiences
- CRM & Sales Automation
- Contact and Lead Scoring
- Sales Engagement Automation
- Predictive Content
- Affordable with 2-year fixed price
- Free online training and customer support
- Free migration
- There have been some complaints about the CRM lacking certain features
- Users have complained about the inability to edit certain aspects of email automation, like templates.
Best Fit For
Pricing starts at $9/month, highest Enterprise tier costs $259/month
Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Salesforce Marketing Cloud is positioned as an all-round solution to help companies manage communication and activities for more enriched, and much better relationships with their clients.
- Buyer’s journey management for B2C companies
- Marketing and Sales Intelligence
- Marketing Automation for B2B companies
- Features to enhance email marketing
- Tools specially designed to help in Social Media Marketing
- Features that incorporate advanced analytics and reporting
- AI tools for various functions in Marketing and Sales
- Specialized tools designed specifically for different business units
- Extensive support with free tools for online training
- Free tools and support to help you with migration to their system
Best Fit For
Small to medium sized companies with up to 10000 contacts
Plans start from € 1,250/month
Your choice of platform will ultimately come down to your business’ particular needs. Small companies that are just starting to build a client base may opt for more affordable options which support a smaller number of contacts. At this stage, given the volume of business, automation might not be as critical as it is for large enterprises which also need information to flow between departments. So when making your choice, ensure that it is well suited to your existing setup.