Before we go to that famed list, let us revisit the term automation. In simple terms, automation means finding a way of simplifying a task that needs repetition – which can not only save time and effort but also make the whole process less stressful.So what does marketing automation imply? Marketing is the process of selling products and/or services. So, marketing automation obviously means automating the process or actions involved in marketing.
Marketing activity involves many repetitive tasks such as sending out bulk emails, managing campaigns, social media marketing, website analysis, and more. Managing these tasks manually is not only tedious and time-consuming but can also create scope for manual errors. Marketing Automation can help in making these tasks much easier and this, in turn, can help business prosper. It is a part of Customer Relationship Management or CRM.
There are many marketing automation tools and platforms available for automating the processes of marketing. It is important to opt for the right ones to maximize the benefits.The marketing automation industry has soared from a $500m market and is expected to become a $5.5bn market in 2019. Click To Tweet
The industry is not yet settled with new marketing automation tools and platforms being added at a ferocious pace. Of course, users can enjoy the luxury of choice but the questions remain:
It is not an easy task as there are several things that must be considered. Your choice of marketing automation tool will depend on the size and spread of your brand. While some platforms do a great job with emails, others excel in social media management and analytics. You will also have to take into account user-friendliness and the simplicity of the interface while handling the seemingly complex software.
Before doing a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons, or the pricing comparisons, it’s important to know what to look out for. It is common to come across complaints about automation tools being incompatible with CRM and performance issues reported one month down the line. That can be painful. Companies that do not carry out a detailed research and miss out the fine print can end up burning their fingers by the sliding scale pricing structures and unexpected additional costs.
What are the things you should look out for when comparing marketing automation software providers?
If you think marketing automation is an easy tool to handle, you are off the mark. In fact, it can be quite complex to handle. That’s why it is extremely important to look at the usability and determine if the tool will serve your purpose.
One aspect of marketing automation software that’s very critical but often overlooked is integration with your existing software. Some marketing automation tools only allow only limited integrations and that too with a small number of third party apps and systems. Choose one that offers wider integration opportunities.
Research shows that a large number of marketing automation tools come with a sliding scale pricing model that can come saddled with extra costs for add-ons and training. The overall costs can skyrocket if you choose a product with these pricing specifications.
Now that you have identified the features you want in marketing automation software, you will have to look at other aspects:
Nearly all marketing automation tools have email marketing but with varying features and capabilities. Your choice would depend on what your email needs are – A/B testing, drip campaign, and demographic segmentation are some of the features offered.
Then there are marketing automation tools that can integrate with Facebook and Twitter. They are useful in carrying out social advertising, building social apps, social media monitoring, and even for pulling comments from SM into your CRM.
Most marketing automation tools allow you to create content in the form of webinars and landing pages. Some of these tools are user-friendly while others demand deeper knowledge of technical skills. Choose the one that you find convenient to work with.
Preference should be given for marketing automation tools with in-built CRM system and offering lead scoring and tagging abilities. Keep away from tools that have no in-built CRM. You will have to connect your existing CRM to the software.
There are some marketing automation platforms that can act as your product database. These tools are ideal for companies that sell products online as they come with features such as affiliate programs and coupon codes.
You will have to take into account the time and cost involved in implementing the marketing automation software. You must make a point to ask for details as these facts are sometimes not very clearly mentioned by the services.
Now that we have a fairly deep idea of what to look for in marketing automation software, we can look at the various options available and make a real, apple to apple comparison of their features.
Here are the top 10 marketing automation software currently available on the market:
Marketo automation software for marketing is recommended for use in small to medium size business setups but it can be used in large enterprises as well. The company has been updating the product features on a regular basis to improve the effectiveness of the software.
The inbound software comes with advanced marketing tools for a variety of online marketing processes and tasks, such as web analytics, social media marketing, creating a powerful landing page, content management, search engine optimization, and more. You can launch your campaign quickly and effectively with this marketing automation software.
ActiveCampaign offers email marketing service with third-party integration and auto-responses of various types. ActiveCampaign can create and send out emails for different activities and purposes. The software is also designed to track website activities and events and provide real time analytics based on the results. ActiveCampaign is also useful for garnering customer data in an organized manner.
Act-On is a marketing automation software that can act as a comprehensive automated marketing platform for small and medium-size businesses. Act-On is one of the fastest cloud-based marketing automation companies and is focused on tasks such as email marketing, social media management, landing pages, CRM integration lead management, website visitor tracking, and others.
Ontraport solution is best for entrepreneurs and small businesses as it is a friendly automated business software. The services offered include email and SMS marketing, content management, CRM, billing and online payments, and others.
You can integrate your external data with this automation software. Campaigner can select specific customer addresses and manage email communication efficiently. It can also integrate email messaging with leading social media sites to boost the chances of success of any email campaign. Campaigner can also track activities such as specific purchases to create shopping data and create an effective email campaign to be sent to the user.
Pardot is popular because of its ability to provide exceptional services, ease of use, and the availability of interface guides that can assist in creating powerful campaigns easily. Pardot works best for small to midsize companies looking for software tools to boost the efficiency of sales and marketing processes.
Infusionsoft is an email marketing company that offers automation software for small and medium businesses, and is focused on helping companies achieve their growth objectives through the use of powerful technologies and an automated marketing platform.
LeadSquared is the preferred marketing automation software for businesses dealing with real estate, education, travel, health, and finance. The software offers service in B2C business model areas where products and services are sold to the end consumer directly.
Netsuite is an advanced marketing automation software capable of automating various marketing specific processes, flows, and tasks. You can use the platform to create multiple campaigns and align the same with your sales team. The execution of multiple marketing campaigns driven by email, social media, event management, and others can be streamlined effortlessly using Netsuite.
There are many quality marketing automation software solutions available for businesses but the ones we have covered above are among the most popular of them all. Comparing marketing automation tools is not an easy thing to do because almost every one of them has that one feature that becomes their USP. What we have summarized above are the best for all types of companies in terms of sizes and the sectors they operate in.