Marketing automation is the secret of many successful small businesses today. This type of software allows even understaffed companies to automate repetitive tasks such as e-mails and social media posting and simplify advanced tasks like customer segmentation and campaign management. When used efficiently, marketing automation can improve sales and customer retention dramatically.
Other benefits of marketing automation software include:
- Reduced staff costs (imagine the tasks of an entire marketing department performed by a single person)
- Increased sales (automation makes follow-ups, upselling and cross-selling feasible with a one-time setup)
- Updated reports and A/B testing (marketing reports can quickly be reviewed and the campaign be altered as needed)
- Schedule social media, e-mails and other tasks ahead of time
Of course, the success of any company’s marketing effort depends on the marketing automation program used and how well-implemented the marketing campaigns were. Today, we’ll check out the 5 most popular programs and highlight the pros and cons of each.
When it comes to marketing automation, HubSpot is one of the most popular brands recommended in the IM industry. And that’s for good reason – they’ve been around for a long time. The company has built an extensive platform that you can use as a CMS solution, SEO tool, e-mail campaign and social media marketing, which is a good thing if you’re dead-set on sticking to one provider until the end.
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- Highlights: HubSpot has the best social media management around. You can link any social media account from the HubSpot platform, and even get to spy on competitor’s social media metrics. And since it can replace Buffer and HootSuite Pro, you don’t have to purchase extra tools for social media management.
- Pros: Aside from its impressive social media tool, HubSpot is also a goldmine of free templates, whether it’s for your email campaigns or ebook designs. The training, which comes with an extra fee, provides companies with ample knowledge to implement everything HubSpot’s marketing automation software can offer.
- Cons: Your fee grows as your list of contact expands (from $10 to $100 for every 1k new contacts added to your database). Add-ons for A/B testing and other nifty features come with an extra fee.
- Pricing: Starts at $200/month
Like HubSpot, InfusionSoft is best for medium-sized companies looking to improve lead generation and nurturing. It also allows for comprehensive funnels, and a ton of automated analysis such as customer scoring, conversion reports, and other content. What makes InfusionSoft a popular choice by small businesses is that most of its elements are drag-and-drop, so even a new marketer could create and oversee campaigns successfully.
- Highlights: InfusionSoft is known to have one of the best user interfaces around. The monthly fee is also cheaper compared to other marketing automation programs, since you’ll only pay $599/month even with 10 users, 20k contacts and up to 100,000 e-mails sent monthly.
- Pros: Aside from its user-friendly interface and competitive pricing, InfusionSoft also supports over 300 apps for integration. It also has a built-in ecommerce and shopping cart platform, which you can connect with marketing and lead nurturing campaigns seamlessly.
- Cons: One major drawback of InfusionSoft is the required one-time, setup fee of $1999. The marketing automation program also doesn’t have native integrations, which means some major apps and extensions require additional monthly fees. In addition, InfusionSoft doesn’t allow clients to setup dedicated IP addresses, which can be an issue if you’re planning to implement ongoing email campaigns.
- Pricing: $1999 (one-time), plus monthly fee of $599 (or more depending on the plan)
Pardot is a marketing automation all-in-one tool that caters to B2B companies. It was acquired by ExactTarget in 2012, but became a Salesforce product after marketing giant SalesForce acquired ExactTarget the following year. Because of these acquisitions, the most interesting thing about Pardot became the seamless integration of SalesForce and the program’s ability to handle communications over multiple channels.
- Highlights: The integration to Salesforce CRM is one of the reasons to choose Pardot, especially if you’re already using Salesforce.
- Pros: Many of Pardot’s tools are customizable. In addition, you can also check real-time activities of leads visiting your website and Pardot sends updates, allowing you to decide if you want to communicate with this lead via e-mail or live chat.
- Cons: Many useful features, such as API access, A/B testing, dynamic email content and AdWords integration, are only available if you’re paying $2,000/month (or more). Plus, Pardot only has 32 third-party apps available.
- Pricing: Packages start at $1,000/month
Launched in 2006, Marketo is one of the oldest companies around. It originally started as a lead generation tool, before being expanded into a full suite of marketing automation tools. Marketo has several useful features best for email campaigns and sales. Marketo is a great platform used by big companies with over 100 employees, such as Intel. What’s interesting to note is that even Infusionsoft is using Marketo, since it has already outgrown their own marketing automation platform.
- Highlight: Marketo’s app marketplace (known as LaunchPoint) has dozens of third-party apps you can use for your campaigns. It also integrates with SalesForce.
- Pros: Marketo’s platform is user-friendly with easy-to-navigate interface. It is best for mid-ranged companies that have a long-term plan for expansion, since Marketo’s packages accommodate scalable campaigns.
- Cons: The main problem of Marketo is that it lacks reports and analytics, which can be a huge issue if you’re implementing multiple campaigns. In addition, add-on features may require steep monthly fees.
- Pricing: Starts at $895/month and can go up to over $11,995/month for Enterprise level
When it comes to battle of most affordable marketing automation tools, ActiveCampaign will win the round hands-down. And even at a lower price point, ActiveCampaign still provides you with enough marketing and sales tools for multiple workflows.
- Highlights: Small businesses won’t be intimidated with ActiveCampaign’s pricing, since the basic package starts at $9/month (paid yearly) or $15/month (paid monthly).
- Pros: The interface is user-friendly and is one of the few marketing automation tools that require no training to create campaigns. The workflow builder even “reminds” you if a certain element is missing, which ensures you implement a smooth-running workflow every time. ActiveCampaign can also be linked to over 150 third-party tools via Zapier Apps integration.
- Cons: The CRM and email builder of ActiveCampaign isn’t the best, but it’s workable. Finding contacts can be a challenge. Plus Zapier requires a monthly fee, so consider this additional expense when choosing ActiveCampaign.
- Pricing: Starts at $9/month for 500 contacts
The Bottom Line
Do note that pricing for these five marketing automation tools will depend largely on the number of contacts you’re going to add into your campaigns.
If you’re looking for all-around marketing automation tools, Infusionsoft and Pardot are your best bet. But if budget is a problem, ActiveCampaign will work wonders especially for smaller businesses that are just starting out with marketing campaigns. Hubspot is best if your marketing efforts are mostly focused on social media, while Marketo caters to companies looking for a scalable solution.