Do you want to enhance the quality of your organization’s marketing but aren’t sure how to choose marketing automation software? We’ve got all the answers. Marketing automation is a major requirement for today’s marketers. It’s quickly becoming a must-have tool for commercial organizations that want to improve customer satisfaction, increase return on investment, and work more efficiently. Competitive firms—those that wish to enhance client happiness, optimize ROI and work more productively — recognize the need for marketing automation. Assess your software needs and objectives before selecting a solution. Then look at the marketing automation software market to see which one is best suited to help you accomplish your marketing goals.
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How to choose marketing automation software? First, you have to understand what it is
Businesses may use marketing automation software to automate, simplify, and analyze marketing activities and workflows, such as lead generation, segmentation, lead capture and nurturing, relationship marketing, customer retention, analytics, and account-based marketing. The use of marketing automation software can help you save time by speeding up processes while also providing customized, targeted experiences for your clients while eliminating tedious and time-consuming chores for you and your staff.
Marketing automation, when used correctly, can help you nurture leads by using well-targeted material to convert them into delighted clients. It concentrates your efforts on delivering superior client experiences.
However, marketing automation won’t solve all of your problems. Consider it when you choose marketing automation software. The software is designed to automate certain procedures in order for you to save time.
Organizations may use automation software to address a variety of marketing challenges, including:
- Using tracking and optimization to increase user engagement
- The ability to convert leads into paying customers
- Fixing a “leaky” sales funnel
- Leads that meet the requirements
- Closing marketing gaps and inefficiencies
Marketing Automation (MA) is a set of technologies and capabilities that allow for automated, triggered events such as email, text messaging, variable content, lead scoring, and conditional logic rules. CRM and marketing automation (MA) are two separate sets of services that might be combined in one platform or distributed across two systems that communicate with each other. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s part of the problem when choosing the best technology(s) for your specific requirements.
You may now communicate with consumers based on their characteristics, reactions, engagement, and channel preferences thanks to a CRM system or database of record and a mechanism to automate marketing communications. That’s far from vague; it means to speak with customers as individuals in the most appropriate way.
What is CRM?
The database of records for prospects and/or customers is generally referred to as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They come in various shapes and sizes, so we use the word generically.
Who uses marketing automation software?
Marketing automation is the practice of automating time-consuming or mundane marketing activities. It’s intended to help you streamline your marketing approach. Several sectors, including retail, healthcare, financial, and real estate organizations, use marketing automation software.
The following are the top industries that use marketing automation tools:
The purpose of marketing to consumers is to gain brand loyalty and repeat purchases. Business-to-business (B2B) firms, on the other hand, sell their services directly to other companies. Marketing automation software allows B2B enterprises to manage their audience, client data, and campaign success indicators while reducing the danger of money wasted on ineffective marketing efforts.
The following are some of the major B2B marketers that have already implemented marketing automation software:
- Software and internet companies
- Telecommunications companies
- Computer and electronics companies
- Financial services companies
Business-to-consumer (B2C) firms employ marketing automation software to improve their multichannel marketing approach by discovering areas for improvement, tracking results, and automating tedious operations. To cut overhead, increase sales, and enhance data analysis, B2C firms also employ marketing automation.
B2C marketers that have implemented marketing automation software into their organizations include:
- Retail and e-commerce businesses
- Manufacturing companies
- Real estate companies
How does marketing automation software work?
Before you choose marketing automation software, you should know how it work. The majority of marketing automation solutions are made up of four components:
- A central marketing database: This is where data on future leads, customer interactions, and user behaviors are kept and analyzed to assist you in segmenting and tailoring your marketing messages to clients.
- An engagement marketing engine: Create, manage, and automate your marketing processes and conversations on all of your channels, both online and offline.
- An analytics engine: This is how you’ll check, measure, and improve the return on investment and revenue effects of your marketing. This engine can show you what works well, what doesn’t work at all, and where your campaign needs to be improved.
- A marketing technology stack: This stack, also known as a MarTech stack, comprises all the other applications you employ (SaaS platforms, social media tools, content management systems, communication tools, and analytics platforms) to complete your marketing objectives.
What are the most common marketing automation features?
You have to consider these when you choose marketing automation software. Although marketing automation tools may vary considerably in terms of customization, integration, and personalization, some similar characteristics are present in MA solutions for various procedures. The following are the top five most frequent characteristics of marketing automation tools:
- Email marketing automation
- Lead nurturing
- Social media automation
- Analytics and reporting
- SEO, paid media, and digital advertising
Email marketing automation
Email is one of the most-used forms of digital messaging, and it is still quite effective. Although spam has desensitized consumers to email marketing, email marketing remains one of the most efficient ways to connect with your target audience. This makes it an ideal starting point for marketing automation.
One of the most important parts of what MA vendors have to offer is email marketing, which allows you to send emails to numerous audiences in bulk. Advanced platforms automatically send emails after prospects perform specific actions, such as filling out a form or downloading content. Marketers may also utilize these technologies to create, modify, and embed forms on their websites that are relevant to the lead generation and email outreach customer journey.
The following are some of the most common features in MA software. When comparing basic MA software, please make use of them as a reference sheet.
- Segmentation and batch emails
- Behavioral trigger emails
- Mobile Optimization
- Dynamic Personalization
- Split Testing
Some of the top MA software solutions include advanced lead nurturing. It aids companies in tracking, segmenting, and communicating with leads to convert them into paying customers. Here are the fundamental and sophisticated lead nurturing capabilities available in MA programs.
- Lead Database
- Drip Campaigns
- Task and Alert Automation
- Lead Scoring
Social media automation
Standalone social networking applications like Hootsuite and Buffer might be classified as MA tools, but they can’t compete with Aritic Pinpoint or Pardot by Salesforce when it comes to functionality. When it comes to social analytics tools, many MA software provides data on how many interactions you received on each post so that you may see which sorts of content are most effective. You can also set future postings, monitor what your readers post across social media, who shares your material and with whom they share it, and more. You have to consider it when you choose marketing automation software in today’s world.
With online surveys, sweepstakes, and referral programs built into the MA software, you may engage your audience. You can also use event-triggered features to prompt prospects to share information at just the right moment while they’re engaging with it.
- Posting and scheduling
- Social listening
- Social interactions through messaging
Analytics and reporting
The greatest advantage of automating your marketing process is having in-depth analytics, which most MA tools provide. The bulk of MA solutions appears to be business intelligence software with custom dashboards displaying the company’s key KPIs in easy language.
- Website analytics
- Multi-channel analytics
- Lead funnels
- Conversion rates & ROI
SEO, paid media, and digital advertising
Most of these tools are used to manage paid and organic campaigns from a centralized marketing platform, where most other marketing efforts reside. Managers at SMBs may discover that keeping track of these activities in free or standalone software is enough, but having all that data in one place for analytics might be beneficial.
- Personalized customer targeting
- Account-based marketing
- Organic and paid search
- Custom website landing pages and lead capture forms
9 tips: How to choose marketing automation software?
We will go through some of the factors that should be taken into account before deciding on this section. Consider these when you choose marketing automation software.
Let’s start at the beginning. First, consider how easy or complicated the platform’s user interface is. Many, if not all, platforms will claim to have an easy-to-use and intuitive platform — but this isn’t always the case.
To assess whether the platform’s user interface is simple to understand, request a demo of the platform. Consider these questions while evaluating each system:
- Is there a clear structure to the content? Examine whether these simple activities are difficult to do by creating an email or checking analytics.
- Is there any relevant information? Contextual data may be provided below when you hover over the title or in other places on platforms that support this function.
- Do you have to go through many hoops to do a simple activity? If this is the case, it will harm your productivity in the long run.
When transferring to a new platform, there is typically a learning curve. As an e-commerce firm, you’ll have other concerns, such as filling online orders and launching additional initiatives. So, be sure to test the platform’s user interface to determine how quickly you’ll be able to get up and to run.
According to a study, marketing automation might help you improve your sales output by 14.5%. When selecting a solution with the most features, you must be as picky as possible. Here are some of the characteristics that businesses should not overlook:
- Vast email marketing support.
- Contact management capabilities and/or integration with your company CRM.
- Social media automation.
- Customer journey articulation and workflow creation.
- Landing page generation.
- A single, customisable, and comprehensive dashboard.
- A/B testing.
Customer support is a critical service for any software firm. You should seek the most competent assistance if something goes wrong or if you have a question. It would be best if you evaluated how effectively their customer care department responds to your inquiries or concerns. You have to consider it when you choose marketing automation software. Because sometimes, softwares can be very complicated.
Here are some sample questions to assist you in making your selection:
- How can they assist you (email, live chat, or phone)?
- Is the response or help they provide quick?
- What else does their site have to offer? Do they provide a support center or an online community where you may get answers to similar questions?
When it comes to customer service, it’s great to have bots that are ready to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but make sure you can also speak with a genuine person who can help you immediately address concerns.
If you’re buying a new marketing automation software, having internet resources accessible can help you get the most out of it. Some systems include tutorials, how-to videos, or even webinars to assist you to learn how to use the technology.
Ask yourself the following questions when selecting a platform and exploring its educational tools:
- What can you expect to learn from these resources? Some may be quick video tutorials on using the platform, while others might have comprehensive learning modules that certify you.
- What are the most effective ways to use these tools? The majority of them are free and readily available online, but this isn’t always the case.
- Are any of these resources out-of-date? You want to make sure your material is up to date for the marketing automation platform you’re purchasing at the moment.
Taking a quick look at user feedback will indicate how the program functions in various circumstances. You’ll want to know how other SaaS businesses utilize the software and whether or not it’s how you intend to use it as well.
Look for evaluations on other sites to better understand what people think of the platform. You may look up YouTube or G2 Marketing Software Comparison to learn more about what others have to say about a specific platform you’re interested in.
Here are some indicators to look for:
- What are people saying about the program?
- Are the evaluators B2B or B2C SaaS firms?
- How many people or businesses are using the platform?
One of the most important things to think about is the cost of the platform you’re purchasing. Some providers offer discounts that appear to be great, but when it comes down to the first payment, you discover there were a lot of hidden charges that you weren’t made aware of. Additional features or customer service might be charged as said fees.
Some services charge per number of contacts or per amount of emails you send. Some businesses also tend to provide attractive pricing in the first few months and then raise prices for the remainder of the subscription, so double-check your terms and conditions before signing up. The cost of a package should be clear, and you shouldn’t be charged anything extra for any optional/add-on features.
Company size and scalability
According to the marketing automation service provider, different pricing models are available to companies of various sizes. If you don’t anticipate handling more than a hundred leads each month, there’s no need to buy a large subscription that allows you to handle a million leads every month. Even if your selected firm does not provide a subscription that is sized correctly for your company, you may always negotiate with them over a bespoke software version tailored to your needs.
Another thing to consider while purchasing cutting-edge marketing automations systems is scalability. Every business wants to develop (and not just grow), and your marketing software should be able to expand with you. The majority of service providers, for example, utilize the software as a service (SAAS) approach, which entails purchasing online access to the system and the number of users it processed. Modern security options, such as these sophisticated solutions, don’t need you to install any software or set up any new hardware to support more users and are thus great for scaling. Make a contract with your service provider that doesn’t limit your ability to expand indefinitely.
Although most service providers allow for various third-party connections by default, it’s convenient if they provide the platform’s API to you. This will enable your developers to integrate with applications that the platform does not natively support.
To make the most of your marketing automation tool, you’ll need access to your CRM. Make certain that your chosen solution has built-in integration with your CRM. This is especially crucial since connecting a Marketing Automation tool with a CRM (e.g., Act! CRM) can produce numerous tangible advantages.
3 best marketing automation software
Consider these top marketing automation solutions after determining what you want from a marketing automation solution. These recommendations will help you to choose marketing automation software.
Hubspot for small business (budget: $50 – $600/month)
Hubspot is one of the most effectively designed and marketed marketing automation solutions, it has the highest number of users among all marketing automation tools.
- Hubspot has a user-friendly interface – its product is visually appealing. The sophistication of marketing automation software has made it simple for small company owners with minimal or no programming skills.
- The free trial – Starting with the 7-day free trial, most marketing automation solutions are ineffective in reducing consumers’ up-front risk (high setup charges, no free trials, and lengthy contracts). While Hubspot does require a large investment of money and time, it is one of the only tools to provide a free trial.
- Educating their clients – Hubspot’s most appealing feature is how they invest in educating their customers. The blog at Hubspot is an excellent location for company owners to learn about internet marketing.
- All of your tools can be found in one location – Hubspot is convenient because it has everything in one spot. While you may get 99 percent of Hubspot’s functionality for free (or inexpensive) elsewhere, having it all in one place might be useful.
- Requires a one-year contract – Hubspot contracts are automatically billed yearly by default. Ultimately, marketing automation is something you’ll use for many years, so this isn’t much of an issue. However, it would be preferable to have a monthly month-to-month contract.
- There are no A/B tests in the basic or PRO package – If you want to conduct split comparisons, you’ll need to invest in their $2,400 a month plan. Given that A/B testing is one of the quickest and most efficient methods for increasing online campaign performance, it appears odd that they would not offer it at lower levels to assist small businesses in achieving better outcomes (and more revenue).
- Hubspot pricing creeps severe – While Hubspot has a $200/month plan, marketing automation and CRM integration are only available at the $800/month level, including 1,000 contacts. This cost rises as your needs and contacts expand (quite quickly).
- Hubspot’s tools are available for free or at a low cost elsewhere – Hubspot provides a well-designed set of tools, but you can find them for free or inexpensive elsewhere.
- Support is paid for – Implementing Hubspot isn’t difficult, but it will cost you if you require ongoing technical assistance.
Pardot for mid-range business (budget: $600 – $3,000/month)
Pardot is an excellent marketing automation platform for organizations interested in improving the efficacy and insight of their Salesforce CRM.
- The Lead Deck – Pardot’s Lead Deck delivers real-time activity information for prospects. You can get an update on your screen and send them an email in one click if a prospect visits your services page.
- Customizable – One of the most advantageous features of Pardot is that it allows you to customize it to your own needs.
- Excellent Salesforce integration – After being acquired by Salesforce, their connection with the Salesforce CRM is excellent.
- Customer support – Customers appreciate Pardot’s customer service and training.
- There aren’t many integrations – While Pardot does have native integration with most of the major CRMs, only 32 third-party applications are supported, which is less than other solutions, such as Marketo.
- API access – Pardot’s API is only accessible to paying subscribers of Pardot’s $2,000/month subscription service.
- A/B testing – Furthermore, if you want to utilize features like A/B testing, AdWords integration, or dynamic email content, you’ll need to spend at least $2,000 per month.
Marketo for enterprises (budget: $3,000+)
Marketo is a useful tool, which is frequently compared to Pardot. The main advantage of Marketo (versus Pardot) is the platform’s ease of use and design.
- Easy use – The simplicity of the Marketo platform has earned it a lot of accolades. While it doesn’t have the most attractive user interface, everything is clearly labeled and simple to pick up, making adoption faster than other solutions.
- Salesforce integration – Marketo’s integration with Salesforce is second to none. While syncing Marketo and Salesforce may take time, the two tools are extremely easy to use together.
- Easy to set up – It’s quite simple to set up and get started with compared to some of Marketo’s competitors.
- Customer support – The customer service of Marketo is outstanding, and their community of users is quite active.
- Poor landing page – Marketo didn’t begin as a marketing automation platform (it was originally a lead management tool). While most of the product has been updated, there are still a few remnants, such as their landing page builder, that are clunky and difficult to use.
- Reports & analytics – Marketo’s greatest disadvantage is its poor analytics and reporting capabilities. It might take a long time to generate reports that you should be able to do with the click of a button without additional extensions.
- Pricing – Marketo has three basic pricing levels: $895, $1,795, and $3,175 per month. Each tier unlocks new capabilities so that it may cost as much as $900 to $1,400 more each month for a few extra capabilities.
Now you know how to choose marketing automation software. If you find more suggestions, comment below.