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. 																		

Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant.  It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)
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.
There's also live chat, an extra that's a nice way to let people reach out to you when they're stuck. You can talk to people on your site directly from Interakt, leading them through your app or helping them see exactly which of your products is best for them. Combine that with in-app messages and email campaigns, and you have everything you need to lead your users through the sales process.
Infusionsoft has found that its automation platform saves users about 28 hours per month when it’s integrated with users’ other systems. That platform automates lead capture and follow-ups based on user activity and collects data about customers to enable personalization. Its analytics reports shine a light on what’s working, what’s not, and what the current ROI is for any campaign.
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.
That means we should treat them like a real person, not a fragmented self across different tools like email, social media, etc. If we can leverage all the marketing tools, channels and behavioral data possible to paint a complete picture of a person, we can nurture them based on their unique challenges and interests, not based solely on the emails they open or click through.
Large enterprises have long found value in the technology, but marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. In fact, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now. And thousands of companies even smaller than that are using automation as well. Similarly, companies across all industries are using it. The early adopters were primarily in “business-to-business” (B2B) industries such as high-tech / software, manufacturing, and business services. But increasingly companies across all categories–including “business-to-consumer” (B2C) industries such as healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail–are adopting the software for its real-time, engagement-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.
Marketing automation platforms are used by marketers while CRM programs are utilized by sales people. Both offer automation, analytics and reporting features to streamline daily tasks and provide users with important metrics and insights on the progress, efficiency and effectiveness of marketing campaigns as well as sales activities and efforts. As said earlier, they may handle the same customer information but employ it for different activities and operations.
Marketing automation brings value and ROI to your numerous marketing efforts. The right marketing automation platform, combined with smart organizational and process alignment, makes it possible to connect the dots between that promotional email you sent last month, that webinar you hosted last year, and the revenue your CEO sees this week or can expect to see next quarter.
Not even close. Like the term suggests, marketing automation encompasses marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail and phone campaigns to online, social and mobile initiatives. What’s more, it combines robust, insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that’s more than the sum of the parts.
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.

It's far less of a CRM and a marketing automation app than most of the apps on here, but it fills an important niche for businesses with more calls than clicks. You can take your sales calls in the web app, track info about each of the callers, and CallTrackingMetrics will let you know which page or ad the user saw when they called. There's even SMS automation so you can send text messages to potential customers, following up even when there's not an app for them to keep using.


Total Expert is a fintech software pioneer of the first modern, enterprise-level Marketing Operating System (MOS) that enables lending and financial services firms to create customers for life by blending human relationships with digital simplicity. We power marketing and revenue growth for 10% of $2 trillion per year U.S. mortgage industry, and ensure banks and lenders stay ahead of how consumers expect to communicate, shop, and manage their financial lives in the digital/social era. For more information, visit totalexpert.com.


Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”
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.
It's far less of a CRM and a marketing automation app than most of the apps on here, but it fills an important niche for businesses with more calls than clicks. You can take your sales calls in the web app, track info about each of the callers, and CallTrackingMetrics will let you know which page or ad the user saw when they called. There's even SMS automation so you can send text messages to potential customers, following up even when there's not an app for them to keep using.
When the two functions combine, marketing and sales departments work as a single unit.  Marketing sells (creating visibility) on a large scale, while sales markets in a one-on-one fashion, using the information-sharing and persuasion tactics. With sales and marketing working so closely, there’s a clear value in getting the two divisions on the same page, and working in even more alignment. For small businesses, that’s particularly important as getting the best out of one single lead is crucial.
Not even close. Like the term suggests, marketing automation encompasses marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail and phone campaigns to online, social and mobile initiatives. What’s more, it combines robust, insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that’s more than the sum of the parts.

Similar to standard email marketing software vendors, marketing automation software vendors have created workflow templates that help guide you through the automation process. This way, you don't have to build new sequences from scratch. These templates usually start with a basic interaction, such as a "Welcome" or a "Thank you for making a purchase" message. Once a contact receives the initial email, he or she is guided through a sequence based on his or her actions. For example, if John receives a welcome message and he clicks a link to an offer, then that action automatically pulls him onto a distinct email marketing journey. Conversely, if Sally deletes her welcome message, then she may automatically be pulled off the workflow to conserve your email output.
Understand what’s working and how you can improve your marketing strategy over time with real-time metrics covering opens, clicks, and comparative stats per campaign. Individual campaign results automatically push to Act! contact records for a detailed interaction history. Perform A/B tests to pinpoint your most impactful subject lines and content to continually improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Marketing automation can eat up a significant portion of your clients’ budgets, leaving less room for your agency’s retainer. (Psst...SharpSpring’s agency pricing model is as little as 1/10th to 1/20th the cost of others.) You’ll want a platform built around the needs of agencies to help you create higher-value relationships, generate monthly recurring revenue, and prove your ROI. Look for a provider that lets you reinforce your brand by rebranding the platform interface, domain, login screen and notifications. The vendor should treat you like a partner, including sending you new business referrals.
We envision a future where online retailers truly understand their customers, resulting in the growth of their businesses’ profitably. Exponea Experience Cloud is our way of bringing this vision to life. Exponea’s very essence is an intelligent union of customer data management and analytics, while cracking the true Single Customer View. Through this, we have enabled marketers to understand their customers and immediately turn such insights into actionable campaigns, all within a single integrated solution. Built on top of cutting edge technology, Exponea empowers marketers to deliver truly personalized, in the moment experiences to their customers at scale through deeply embedded AI-powered capabilities, removing obstacles and leveraging intent to purchase both on your online store or outside of it. True to our vision, we work closely with our clients and mentor them all along the short path to success. We enable the fast transfer of know-how which often results in a change of mindset and is a catalyst for a rapid, profitable growth of emerging e-commerce leaders around the world.
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.
Google Analytics can show you what pages are being looked at in real time, along with detailed info about the browsers used, exit pages clicked, and how long people are on your site. You can even use it to see—to a certain degree, at least—which keywords and content styles perform best. HubSpot gives you that same info, along with the tools you need to create great landing pages, blog posts, and more, plus CRM tools that'll help you identify your customers and continue your marketing efforts.
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
There's also the marketing broadcast tools you'd expect to email all of your contacts, but there's also ways to send voice messages, faxes, or even print out paper letters with your contacts' personalized info to send out by mail. And if you're not already selling products directly from your site, you can use Infusionsoft's eCommerce tools to build your own store and track the purchases and pages viewed right in your CRM. It's everything you'd need to identify your customers' needs, customize marketing to them, actually sell your real products, and make sure you're staying on top of everything you need to do at the same time.
Autopilot is simple and visual customer journey software. We help you capture and convert new leads, connect with customers, and create loyal repeat buyers. LAUNCH IN MINUTES Autopilot’s visual canvas for creating customers journeys is inspired by drawing campaigns on a whiteboard. Whether you need to follow up with new contacts, qualify and assign leads to sales, or onboard customers, you can automate your marketing simply by dragging and connecting shapes together in just a few minutes. INTEGRATE POPULAR TOOLS Connect Autopilot with tools like Salesforce, Facebook, Segment, Slack, Typeform, Twilio, and Zapier. Or plug in your own using our API. By centralizing your data, you can create a personalized experience based on interests and behavior. Instantly trigger automated journeys to assign leads in Salesforce, follow up after LiveChat conversations, or add customers to a Facebook Custom Audience. CREATE MULTI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCES Create a better experience for you customers by sending targeted emails, in-app messages, SMS, and postcards at the right time in their journey. Allow subscribers to opt-in by texting a keyword to a number. Notify active customers of a new product feature when they log in to your app. Celebrate milestones or offer a special discount by sending a postcard as easily as automating an email. TRACK AND OPTIMIZE PERFORMANCE Set a goal for every journey to get insight into which messages convert and how journeys are trending. Track your performance in real-time, run A/B test experiments, and quickly optimize based on results. Autopilot has helped the Equality Campaign in Australia win the YES vote on gay marriage. It’s helped Microsoft communicate with and onboard new developers. It’s helped Patreon connect and educate creators to give them new revenue streams. And it’s helped hundreds of startups tell their story and grow their businesses. Are you ready to launch your next customer journey? We offer a 30-day free trial so you can try it out, no credit card required.
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.
At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon -- that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.
Marketing automation software is typically priced one of two ways: by the number of contacts in your database or by the number of emails you send each month. For example, the the Growth Pardot plan costs $1,250 per month for email marketing, prospect tracking, lead nurturing and scoring, reporting, forms and landing pages, and standard Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM). This plan can be upgraded to two higher tiers, each of which offers additional features, plug-ins, and add-ons. However, all three Pardot plans give you capacity for 10,000 contacts.
Similar to standard email marketing software vendors, marketing automation software vendors have created workflow templates that help guide you through the automation process. This way, you don't have to build new sequences from scratch. These templates usually start with a basic interaction, such as a "Welcome" or a "Thank you for making a purchase" message. Once a contact receives the initial email, he or she is guided through a sequence based on his or her actions. For example, if John receives a welcome message and he clicks a link to an offer, then that action automatically pulls him onto a distinct email marketing journey. Conversely, if Sally deletes her welcome message, then she may automatically be pulled off the workflow to conserve your email output.
From there, marketing automation does all the work: streamling segmentation and targeting processes to determine the right audiences, quickly and at scale. Tailoring messaging to each customer automatically based on their profile. Creating relevant and personalized messaging across email, mobile, social, web experiences, and beyond with a few simple clicks. Delivering personalized experiences for your customers, whether you have 100 or 100 million, efficiently and effectively.
OutboundEngine helps businesses grow by making online marketing simple and easy for everyone. We create beautiful, high-impact marketing campaigns, deliver them automatically and track engagement to show who’s ready to have a conversation. Our platform strengthens relationships with customers, partners and prospects to uncover more opportunities with less work.
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier to manage and execute. One primary difference with CRM is that Marketing Automation systems can track behavioral and demographic data for marketing engaged prospects to automate nurture programs that encourage certain buyer actions. Marketing automation is best utilized for nurturing leads and prospects with content to advance their stage in the buyer journey.

IBM Watson Campaign Automation, formerly IBM Marketing Cloud, is a sophisticated and highly scalable SaaS-based cross channel digital marketing platform providing digital marketers the ability to implement and manage email, mobile, social and lead management campaign processes. It powers the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating cross-channel interactions. Digital marketers have the ability to understand and leverage real-time customer behaviors from a variety of sources to inform and promote personalized interactions. Through the solution marketers can create a single customer identity, understand channel preferences and deliver a consistent customer experience across channels. Pricing models vary based on the size and complexity of the deployment, and scales based on the number of customer records and/or volume of messages. A range of packaged editions are available to facilitate the matching of product capabilities to organizational requirements.


Marketing automation plugs into a company's CRM system, which, typically, has its own native marketing automation cloud service (such as Salesforce Pardot and Oracle Eloqua). Eloqua will work with other CRM platforms that compete with Oracle's, and Marketo, an independent marketing automation platform, will work with Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft and other CRM systems. HubSpot also is a popular marketing automation platform that has its own CRM backbone.
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