Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
Through integration, you can have a unified approach to data management as all the contact, communication and other informational data is saved under one single platform. The data is organized, easy to view and edit, and faster to analyze. Also, a centralized data system means that new data is easy to input and organize, and tracking and reporting of data becomes efficient.
We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed us with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.
Marketing’s core objective is to feed the pipeline for sales. At the end of the day, the sales team is marketing’s number one client. Marketing’s role in the lead nurturing process has grown over the last decade to align with the lengthening sales prospecting process. Most B2B purchases—especially technology purchases—span multiple departments, which means there are multiple stakeholders involved in any buying decision. According to CEB, 5.4 people now have to formally sign off on each purchase, this is 40% larger than it was 2 years ago.
Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.
If you have to get one initially, go for a CRM but make sure that you can immediately set up a marketing automation system once your situation calls for it. A good CRM foundation is HubSpot CRM; not only because it is 100% free, but it is highly scalable to match your growing needs. Getting started with it is easy when you sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here.
There is extensive evidence supporting the value that marketing can bring to marketers. According to a report by VB Insight, 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase. Further, Companies using marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates from initial response-to-MQL and a revenue growth rate that is 3.1% higher than non-users.
Uses tracking codes in social media, email and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior - following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market. Due to its interactive nature this has been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
Even the simplest CRM system will use a dozen database tables to manage these processes, and some of the tables are quite wide (it’s not at all unusual to have 200 columns for the Account table) and tables may have several children.  The tables, however, hold standard data types (almost never a BLOb), and documents that might be attached (pointed to from tables) are static files and not part of a document management system.  However, CRM systems typically have several integration points with other parts of the corporate infrastructure (such as contract management, electronic signature, shipping/distribution and accounting systems).
With Pardot Marketing Automation software, marketing and sales can work hand in hand right in Sales Cloud to manage all prospect interactions, so you can create, deploy, and manage online campaigns from a central platform. With CRM marketing automation from Salesforce, you’ll be able to generate high-quality leads and accelerate pipeline and drive sales without having to hire a big marketing team. You can even create personalized, targeted emails and nurture campaigns like a pro.

CRM and marketing automation differs in purpose, users, and uses. It is, however, not a choice between two systems since each plays an important role in your business – driving productivity and efficiency of your sales team and marketing team, and ensuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and sales efforts. Furthermore, the connectivity of each system is such that they can integrate with one another and share and access information.
In its most basic form, marketing automation is a set of tools designed to streamline and simplify some of the most time-consuming responsibilities of the modern marketing and sales roles. From automating the lead qualification process to creating a hub for digital campaign creation, automation is all about simplifying a business world that is growing far too complex, much too quickly.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
Salesforce.com subsumes marketing automation under its CRM umbrella.  Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud has been constructed largely from acquired companies and now includes sentiment monitoring, advertising, customer “journey management”, email blasting, campaign management and several other features that are typically used only by the marketing department.  Since only some of these are typical “marketing automation” features, we need to sort things out a bit.
Today’s market and consumers require modern tools and approaches and a good marketing automation solution will provide you those. It consolidates your marketing processes, integrates them with sales for alignment, frees you from mundane daily admin tasks, and lets you come up with more engaging marketing content. Overall, these capabilities can result in even more benefits for your company in terms of:
Personalization As you build out your inbound marketing and marketing automation strategy, you will learn more about your leads. This learning process will empower your company to re-invest that data into refining your marketing strategy. Marketing automation software will help you streamline this process and build 1:1 connections with hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of users.
These are just some of the amazing features you'll find when using marketing automation software. As a result, it's important for you to determine your most needed features before making a purchase decision. None of the tools we tested are bad. In fact, each of them will provide you with more power than your standard email marketing platform will. However, some are better than others, some are more expensive, and some do a better job letting you customize your workflows to suit your specific needs.
Marketo is a marketing automation platform that includes account-based marketing, email, mobile, social, digital ads, web, and marketing analytics, allowing business owners to drive engagement through multiple channels from one platform. Its goal is to help small businesses build long-lasting relationships with customers and create end-to-end engagement. Its cloud-based infrastructure can handle hundreds of millions of activities each day, meaning it can scale with its customers.
Email: A lead completes your form, follows up, redeems your offers, and still doesn’t convert. What do you do? You send an automated email, that’s what. You can customize your marketing automation software to end personalized messages based on user triggers. Think of this approach like a logic puzzle. If users take actions x, y, and z on your site, your marketing automation software will deploy message “q.” This process is something known as sequencing – which we’ll get to later. 																		

Instead of being a separate app with just a code snippet you'll add to your site, Inbound Now lives inside your WordPress install, capturing leads and automating marketing right from the place you manage the rest of your site. It's got free tools to create landing pages, A/B test them, and identify your site visitors, then there's paid extensions that'll add social media and email integration, lead importing, and more.


David Taber is the author of the Prentice Hall book, "Salesforce.com Secrets of Success," now in its second edition, and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.
ActiveDEMAND is a flexible marketing platform for digital marketing agencies and marketers. ActiveDEMAND packages range from the full-featured call tracking application for the small business marketer to the powerful Marketing Agency Portal designed for digital marketing agencies with multi-client management needs. Engage and track prospects using the integrated, comprehensive call tracking module, do more with built-in email templates, landing pages and social media. Convert leads and prospects into customers using automated marketing to manage nurture campaigns, auto-replies and more. Retain customers and grow your repeat businesses with powerful newsletters, special promotions and more.

ONTRAPORT’s mission is to “support entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology.” It aims to do this by allowing companies to get a complete visualization of the customer journey. Knowing that many small businesses struggle to gain a clear understanding of how their marketing efforts are paying off, ONTRAPORT is built to help them see how customers respond to messages — via SMS, email, postcards, and landing pages — through data. This information, in turn, can be used to build compelling campaigns within the platform.


The cost of this software depends on the scale of your business and specifically, your marketing efforts. Often large in-house enterprise software implementation projects stretch beyond expected timelines and budgets. For most businesses, it makes sense to opt for a solution that provides a free trial so that they get a first-hand experience of setting up and using the application.
Eventually, your company’s marketing program will get so big that you can’t — possibly — manage everything via Outlook, Word, and Excel spreadsheets. You could always hire a team of marketing specialists, but eventually, you’re going to start wasting cash on redundant tasks like emailing new customers, setting up social media-to-email programs, and emailing your users every time you post blog content.

Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles.
This brings me to the end of this guide. Hope it helped you in understanding what CRM is, the questions you must ask yourself before you choose a CRM, and the benefits of a combined CRM and marketing automation system. Please share this guide if you liked it. It inspires us to create more stuff like this. You can ask me any questions you want, and I’ll get back to you. 🙂
Marketing automation is a software solution used primarily by marketing teams to measure and strengthen marketing’s impact on funnel activity and pipeline development. Marketing automation exists for the primary goal of automating marketing-focused actions and tasks. Many marketing departments are challenged with complex manual processes to execute campaigns and repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media distribution, and other website actions that can hinder marketing’s performance as programs scale.
366 Degrees is a marketing automation platform that allows small to medium businesses to communicate with leads across several channels and track their interaction with your content. With integration into the CRM platform of your choosing, you can keep your lead database up to date across your marketing and sales teams. 366 features smart content creation with pre-made HTML snippets that make creating emails and landing pages easy, no coding background needed! Then, track your leads' interactions with your content and automatically follow up with behaviorally cued automatic drip campaigns. 366 features integrations to Salesforce, Datanyze, Nimble, and now Vidyard for video marketing made easy. Drop video into emails, landing pages, or social posts and watch leads pour in.
The consequence is that marketers begin buying lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seems like a quick fix, it's not a long-term solution, nor does it create the fertile ground for a healthier, longer relationship with your future customers. In our plant analogy, it's sort of like using artificial chemicals or enhancers to make your plant grow faster. Sure, it seems like a good, quick fix--but it doesn't set you up for future, long-term success.  
Instead of being a separate app with just a code snippet you'll add to your site, Inbound Now lives inside your WordPress install, capturing leads and automating marketing right from the place you manage the rest of your site. It's got free tools to create landing pages, A/B test them, and identify your site visitors, then there's paid extensions that'll add social media and email integration, lead importing, and more.
The emfluence Marketing Platform was built for marketers, by marketers. We believe that usability is as important as functionality. That’s why we’ve focused the emfluence Marketing Platform’s features around what’s really important: helping digital marketers like you accomplish your goals every day. Whether you’re launching your own digital campaigns, managing a brand across a network of franchises, or creating campaigns for your book of business, you can leverage the emfluence Marketing Platform for: • Email Automation • Email Marketing • Drag & Drop Email Builders • Social Media Management • Surveys • Landing Pages • Form Builders • Automated Reporting • Website Tracking • Light Boxes and Modals • Variable Content Blocks Why do we spend so much time focusing on how you use our platform? Because we’re marketers, too, and we know that digital marketing isn’t just about sending emails and posting pictures to your favorite social media channel. It’s complex recipe of strategy, timing, response, and engagement. We believe with the right tool, you’ll be unstoppable.
Sometimes customers stumble upon your online store before they're ready to make a purchase. In fact, 97% of first time site visitors leave without buying anything. This is where retargeting is key. Google remarketing ads—also known as retargeting ads—bring back website visitors who left your store. These ads reach shoppers across many other channels of the web, whether they're reading an article, listening to music, or shopping somewhere else. And when you create retargeting ads in Mailchimp, we’ll automatically generate thousands of ads that display in the right place at the right time, with no added fees from us. Find out how retargeting works.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).

Infusionsoft is the only drag-and-drop tool we tested, which is a nifty feature for marketers who may wish to work on touchscreens or don't have time to deal with lengthy drop-down menus. It also provides unique tag removal that automatically pulls contacts from campaigns if they perform a certain action. For example, if contacts don't open three emails in a row, then you can set the tool to remove all such contacts from the workflow. This way, you're not sending messages into a vacuum. The tool also gives you the most useful real-time alert dashboard of any that we tested in this class. It lets you see every contact interaction with anyone in your database. So, if you sent an email to someone a week ago but they just opened it this second, then you'll see their name pop up at the top of your dashboard. From this tab, you can send a follow-up email or adjust the contact's standing within the specific workflow.


SALESmanago Marketing Automation provides an easy to implement next generation solutions that redefine the way traditional marketing tools are used. Every day we are going above and beyond the expectations regarding the capabilities of email marketing, dynamic & personalized website content, social media marketing, anonymous marketing automation, online advertising and mobile marketing. Our main goal is to create a product that empowers its users to implement any kind of marketing processes they desire and gets their business to the next level.
Oracle Eloqua, part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, provides best-in-class lead management, campaign management, and sales tools that help marketers deliver the most connected and personalized experiences from first impression to customer advocacy. Eloqua's marketer-friendly platform enables organizations of any size to execute advanced marketing strategies, at scale, using the industry's richest dataset and adaptive technologies. Some of the top reasons customers choose Oracle Eloqua include: * Most Comprehensive Platform Built for B2B Marketers * Industry’s Richest Dataset * Marketer-friendly UI * Powerful Lead Management & Acceleration * Adaptive Campaign Management & Nurturing * Sophisticated Targeting & Segmentation * Broad 3rd Party Data Enrichment * Market-leading Extensibility & Integrations * Enterprise Scale Performance & Security
Emails are the principal communication channels with potential leads. With an automation tool, you can test your email content, create beautiful email templates that match your product specifications, preview your emails across platforms and devices and do advanced email reporting. Marketing automation in CRM incorporates email marketing functionality and then expands on it by customizing content interactions through logic workflows e.g. you can send a happy birthday message to a loyal customer and offer him a discount or send a thank you message when someone makes a purchase. This can make the difference between a happy customer and a lost prospect.
Marketing automation is all about low-cost, effective communication with prospects, which means email and social-media communications.  Every marketing automation system starts with basic email blasting and adds tons of features designed to facilitate beautiful, effective mail sequences on an industrial scale.  In order to improve email effectiveness, the marketing automation system includes templates for the mails and campaign designers to provide a clear, consistent path for the customer as their level of interest and information evolves. The customer journey from awareness through interest to desire and finally to action is explicitly mapped, with content and calls to action tuned for each branch in that journey. 
Personalization. Without personalized messaging, you’ll miss out on a significant number of conversions. Leverage marketing automation’s tracking capabilities to tailor your conversations with your contacts. Personalization works: 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization — with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%.
Oracle Eloqua, part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, provides best-in-class lead management, campaign management, and sales tools that help marketers deliver the most connected and personalized experiences from first impression to customer advocacy. Eloqua's marketer-friendly platform enables organizations of any size to execute advanced marketing strategies, at scale, using the industry's richest dataset and adaptive technologies. Some of the top reasons customers choose Oracle Eloqua include: * Most Comprehensive Platform Built for B2B Marketers * Industry’s Richest Dataset * Marketer-friendly UI * Powerful Lead Management & Acceleration * Adaptive Campaign Management & Nurturing * Sophisticated Targeting & Segmentation * Broad 3rd Party Data Enrichment * Market-leading Extensibility & Integrations * Enterprise Scale Performance & Security
Instead, the company is focused on nurturing brand-to-audience relationships. The idea resonates with HubSpot’s thought leadership that we presented earlier. Content is a marketing pillar. It’s trustworthy, value-driven, and compelling. Coupled with marketing automation software, content can amplify the success of your relationship-building efforts.
Marketing has evolved significantly over the years and has become more complex and perplexing than ever. Consumers are now using multiple media platforms to gather data and stay up-to-date, making life difficult for marketers. However, with marketing automation in CRM, a business can streamline and optimize a variety of marketing tasks. This will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales and marketing team by saving time on administrative tasks, delivering messages with the right content to the right audience, closing deals faster through increased automation and increasing revenue and profits.
Together, CRM and marketing automation provides a unified platform for all the teams to track and analyze customer activities and behavior. Accordingly, having discussions and strategies to turn a prospect into a customer and ensure customer purchase cycle is continuous. The same software also allows for the perfect balance required between the teams, continuous workflows and instills accountability.
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