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.


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.
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.
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.
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.
Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing[2] especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by a customer.
Contact-focused CRMs are one of the best ways to maintain a personal touch with your customers and business contacts, since you'll have one place to keep track of everything about them. Hatchbuck gives you that same contact-focused interface combined with even more detail about each person related to your company. It has a bit more focus on the traditional ways you'd gather leads—especially via forms—than the other apps listed here, and instead of focusing on every possible visitor it's just focused on the important leads you import or that fill out your forms.
It’s ineffective given the effort required to see meaningful results. When done correctly, effective marketing automation takes time, effort, and resources to implement and maintain for revenue growth. Even if your database is currently filled with top-notch, quality leads, how effective will your marketing automation be when you’ve either converted all those leads into customers, or when your database begins decaying at the rate of 23% / year (via unsubscribes, job turnover and a variety of other factors.) Even when they’ve invested the time and effort to master the art of “Amazon-like” marketing automation, without enough leads to work towards purchase many marketers end up unhappy with the ROI of their marketing automation investment. 																		

Sugar can eliminate silos between your marketing and sales teams. As a marketer, you can define lead management and routing processes that work the way you do. Create rules to determine if leads should be routed to business development teams, directly to sales reps, or sent back for additional nurturing by marketing. Integrate Sugar to your existing marketing automation tools to tackle scoring, automation programs and drip campaigns with two-way data synchronization.
Marketing automation refers to software platforms that help businesses automate their marketing and sales engagement processes to generate more leads, convert more leads to sales, and optimize ROI. Marketing automation allows marketers to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, maintaining social media, tracking website interactions, and managing various other tasks. Marketing automation centralizes all of the features and functions that make up the marketer’s role in an organization. A marketing automation platform should have the ability to integrate with other sales & marketing tools (CMS, CRM, social media, meeting software, etc.) to provide a centralized platform for data management and analysis.

ThriveHive is marketing platform that empowers small business owners to grow their businesses through better marketing. The platform includes all of the essential online marketing tools and guidance necessary to get small business owners online and to succeed with marketing. ThriveHive is guided marketing for small business. Features Include: Better Website (optional) - Professionally built or DIY Customized Marketing Plan - Plans that work for small businesses Marketing Platform- All of your marketing in one place Contact Manager - Manage leads & customers Email - Send & track emails & newsletters Blog & Social Media - Create blog & social media posts Insight Emails - Marketing & lead notifications Marketing Coach - One-on-one expert marketing help Managed Advertising - Google AdWords & More
Just like sales and marketing teams overlap to drive business results, CRM and marketing automation systems also overlap and share similarities. At their core, both solutions have the ability to house prospect and customer demographic information, but most marketing automation solutions will charge additional fees based on the size of your database, which typically makes it more cost effective to use CRM. The big challenge facing an organization using these technologies is maintaining data quality and integrity in both CRM and Marketing Automation software.
First, let’s be clear about the distinction between sales and marketing roles: you wouldn’t believe how many companies scramble the definitions.  As a card-carrying marketing guy (yes, I made it to Sr. VP at publicly-traded companies), I maintain that the outbound part of marketing (the real users of marketing automation) needs to focus on getting the right message out to the right prospects.  People who respond with the right level of interest are handed off to sales for qualification, and people who don’t are kept in the system for cultivation and “re-marketing.” Outbound marketing is also involved in the care and feeding of existing customers, to cultivate loyalty and repeat business.
CRM and Marketing Automation Software will rather be the same in meaning when it would ever come something that will overall attain good gains to any enterprise; absolutely inevitable tools. Technically defining, CRM will be like more concentrated on information and followups performed concerning the customers. Whereas, marketing automation tool will go with measuring company’s well-organized hierarchy to manage promotional activities – to escalate its progress; nicely detailed facts, appreciate!
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.
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).

You can create a Google remarketing ad in Mailchimp with just a few clicks, but it’s important to come up with a plan for your content and budget before you get started. Your copy should give shoppers a call to action, not merely a description of what you're selling. The images you choose need to match your brand and fit the ad space, too. And you'll need to set a budget that helps you maximize conversions. There's a lot to consider, so we've rounded up a few of our users’ most successful retargeting ads to serve as inspiration.
Marketing automation refers to software platforms that help businesses automate their marketing and sales engagement processes to generate more leads, convert more leads to sales, and optimize ROI. Marketing automation allows marketers to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, maintaining social media, tracking website interactions, and managing various other tasks. Marketing automation centralizes all of the features and functions that make up the marketer’s role in an organization. A marketing automation platform should have the ability to integrate with other sales & marketing tools (CMS, CRM, social media, meeting software, etc.) to provide a centralized platform for data management and analysis.
Inbound Lead Generation: Modern SMB automation tools for marketing empower you to generate quality leads through inbound content marketing tactics. You can make your blogs or websites more interactive and create personalized landing pages with utmost ease. Customized web forms can help you implement progressive profiling that provides a non-intrusive way to capture lead or customer data in a seamless manner.
Incentives can help you zight these external forces. Let’s go back to that example where you were shopping online but left your credit card in the kitchen. If you had a one-night-only 30% off coupon, would you have been more inclined to get up and walk to the other side of the house? If your shopping cart purchase was $20? Probably not. But if you were planning to spend $100 or more, the answer is likely to be a clear ‘you bet.’ 																		

Mailchimp’s marketing automation gives you the ability to create a single email—or an email series—that sends automatically based on predetermined triggers. We evaluated data from 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp to compare single and multiple-email automations and to learn which yields better results. Our findings showed that if your goal is to sell more stuff, opting for an automation series can help increase impressions and result in more sales. But there are interesting outliers. Use our findings and test a single email against a full series for each automation to learn which one resonates with your customers and works best for your business.
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.
According to CLIENTSFirst Consulting, 30% of contact data changes every year. A contact will move addresses, get a new job, or might even retire, causing the data in both of your systems to become out of date. When putting this in a larger context where a company has 200,000 contacts in their CRM, this is potentially 60,000 contacts that end up having inaccurate data every year.

Automation is a surefire way for small businesses to save time and money, and marketing is the perfect arena for doing so: Marketing automation maintains brand messaging while reaching thousands more people than a single person ever could. The key is simply determining which platform fits your company best so you can save even more time while building your bottom line.
When you start your day at work, you likely open a half-dozen apps and websites and spend quite a bit of time just figuring out what needs done and finding the info to do it. Not anymore with Infusionsoft. It's watching your site, tracking info about your potential customers and what they've seen, and at the same time is keeping up with what you need to do. Then, in a nifty "My Day" view, it'll show you everything you need to be doing—including your tasks, communications with contacts, and calendar appointments—along with info about the customers related to your tasks right in the same overview.
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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.
CRM software, also known as customer relationship management software, and marketing automation software are both powerful pieces of software in their own respect. While marketing automation platforms work across devices and online advertising channels to automate repetitive marketing tasks, a CRM can track and manage sales interactions in a centralized hub.

When you’re considering marketing automation platforms, you need to find the provider that best meets your specific goals and business needs. While it’s important to consider individual features and functionalities, your focus should be on finding a platform that is affordable for you in the long term, as well as scalable so it can grow with your business.
Then, in a nod to more traditional CRMs, Interakt gives you two separate sets of people: users and leads. Users are the people tracked using your app automatically, and there's the tools you need to filter them down by almost any data point, see who's slipping away from using your site, and who's the most promising new users. Then, leads are the people that need more hands-on attention: direct contacts you add or import, or people who get in touch via your contact form. It's a nice way to let you focus, say, on both your normal site users and larger clients at the same time.
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.
Has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and receive targeted content and messaging, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale. Commonly used in business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), or longer sales cycle business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles, Marketing Automation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.
If you run a small business, you probably wear a lot of different hats. Often there's little time to think about drawing traffic to your site, growing your following, or selling your stuff—even if it is vital to your success. Marketing automation is software that handles these tasks for you. Instead of creating a one-off campaign every time you need to talk to your customers—via emails or your social media channels—you can set up automations, and never have to worry about customers slipping through the cracks. Learn the basics of marketing automation. Learn the basics of marketing automation.
When you create automated emails, you can keep customers engaged without the hassle of sending messages one by one. But how do you automate outreach without losing authenticity? It's easier than you might think. Mailchimp makes it a breeze to wish customers happy birthday or to say thank you for a purchase. By creating customized, targeted emails that send when triggered by a specific date, event, or activity, you can send thoughtful messages that match the look and feel of your brand and resonate with your customers. Check out these best practices for sending automated emails that really click.
You can create a Google remarketing ad in Mailchimp with just a few clicks, but it’s important to come up with a plan for your content and budget before you get started. Your copy should give shoppers a call to action, not merely a description of what you're selling. The images you choose need to match your brand and fit the ad space, too. And you'll need to set a budget that helps you maximize conversions. There's a lot to consider, so we've rounded up a few of our users’ most successful retargeting ads to serve as inspiration.
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