In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
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.
VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.
SharpSpring is a comprehensive marketing automation platform with robust features, functionality and performance. SharpSpring is one of the most flexible platforms on the market, offering powerful, behavior-based email marketing, native or 3rd party CRM integration, dynamic forms, landing page and blog builders, social media management, universal CMS compatibility, and integration with hundreds of applications. SharpSpring is usually less than 1/3 the cost of the competition, is the easiest company to work with and the easiest platform to use. Marketing agencies should inquire about SharpSpring's special partner program.
When there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle of the funnel marketing automation. Many marketers invest in marketing automation before they have fertile ground for advanced lead nurturing campaigns to blossom. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have both a steady flow of organic leads coming through the funnel. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database as leads and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there. Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already? Are you getting your fair share of the available market?

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%.


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.
However, the term “marketing automation” has become a buzz-word, where marketers seek out marketing automation software under the impression that all of the digital marketing tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads, roll up under the hood of marketing automation. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.
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.
You can have the world’s savviest marketing plan in place and customers still don’t always click on something the first time they see it. Whether they encounter your ads on Facebook, Instagram, or another channel, they may not make a purchase until they've seen what you've got through multiple avenues. That's where Google remarketing ads come into play. Google remarketing ads help you reach people who have expressed interest in your products—wherever they go online—and bring them back to your store when they’re ready to buy. Using these best practices and Mailchimp's powerful reporting tools, you can run retargeting ads that pay off.
Marketing automation creates relevant content and messaging at scale across many channels. Send email messages with dynamic content that personalizes far beyond sticking a customer’s first name in the subject line. Integrate mobile messaging with your email and social campaigns through SMS/MMS, push notifications, and group messaging. Generate digital ads that appear for the right person at the right time. Plus, recommend the right products on your website for each individual user — automatically.

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.


Selligent Marketing Cloud is a marketing automation platform that enables B2C brands to engage consumers across all critical channels. Built for the relationship marketer, Selligent Marketing Cloud is the only marketing cloud built on single code base, featuring artificial intelligence and a Customer Data Platform with a universal consumer profile at the core of every action. More than 700 brands across retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services rely on Selligent Marketing Cloud’s proven platform. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 agency partners and resellers, Selligent Marketing Cloud serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.

The situation at many large companies is much more chaotic.  I know of one technology company that had 84 different marketing systems along with dozens of CRM instances.  So the idea that CRM is going to take over the territory of marketing automation is a reach for the Fortune 500, particularly those companies that grew through acquisition.  For them, the key success factor is integration and database synchronization among their marketing automation and CRM systems.  No amount of “best of breed” features will make a difference if their data is an uncoordinated mess.
HubSpot CRM – a fully integrated CRM platform for SMBs that carry all essential CRM features. The highly regarded CRM is completely free and connects to all contact and customer channels, offers unlimited storage, has wide integration, and keeps a centralized hub of information for sales, marketing, and service support. It is easy to get started with this app, just sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here.
Bad Marketing Automation. What’s bad marketing automation? Bad marketing automation loses sight of your customers and prospects. Often, bad marketing automation involves sending non-targeted spammy messaging. Bad marketing automation fails to use all the customer data it’s collected to help create meaningful relationships and therefore, loses out on lots of potential conversions. All the most advanced marketing technology can’t help a cold,

Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. not just email. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social clicks, viewing a pricing page or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges and how to guide them down the funnel. The most effective marketing automation not only collects data from multiple channels, but uses those various channels to send their marketing messages as well. That means the success of your campaign relies less on the email, and fully utilizes the various channels that influence a buyer’s decision.
If you are unable to generate a considerable amount of qualified leads through outbound marketing tactics such as mass email or call campaigns, it could be because of improper segmentation and targeting of the audience lists. You need to adopt a systematic approach towards storing and filtering lead data based on specific segmentation parameters to ensure that your communication is relevant to the audience.
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.
Picture a black box that plugs into the wall. Plug it in, turn on the switch, and qualified leads with an interaction history are automatically added into your 1CRM system – day in and day out – while the system is running. You’ll also get charts and feedback on which messages clients respond to best, so that the ‘machine’ can just get more and more effective over time.

On the lower end of the pricing spectrum, you'll find products such as Infusionsoft, which costs $379 per month for five users, 50,000 contacts, and unlimited emails per month. The Complete package also includes Infusionsoft's four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation) at no extra charge. SendinBlue and Zoho Campaigns both offer free plans for anyone who is unwilling to spend even a dime for marketing workflows. Both tools scale upward for added capacity and complexity, and each offers pay-as-you-go plans for companies just dipping their toes into email marketing and marketing automation.
eTrigue is a cloud-based marketing automation provider featuring easy-to-use campaign building and rapid time-to-value. eTrigue’s DemandCenter helps hundreds of organizations track and nurture prospects through inbound and outbound programs. DemandCenter tracks across email, web, mobile, and social. eTrigue DemandCenter’s integrated marketing suite is particularly attractive to medium and small organizations, as well as to divisions or groups within larger enterprises.. eTrigue makes it simple for small marketing teams to can manage all online marketing efforts from a single dashboard. Full integration with major CRM, Webcast systems and ad-reporting systems. Instant real-time lead alerts are included for sales.

Salesfusion is dedicated to helping companies build a large revenue funnel for marketing and sales by creating customized digital conversations that are seamlessly transitioned between departments. Marketing and sales teams participate in and measure these digital conversations to deliver more lead-to-revenue results by communicating with the right leads at the right time with the right message.
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.

Bpm’online received a 2015 CRN® Enterprise App Award for its bpm’online mobile CRM application. Bpm’online’s mobile app was selected by a CRN editorial panel based on a combination of critical factors including functionality; suitability to task; ease of use; innovation; and potential value to solution providers, their customers and the market in general.
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.

Attract more prospects and create more opportunities with less effort. Use our CRM for marketing and understand your customers like never before through more relevant, timely outreach and more actionable insights. Create campaigns that stand out from the pack, without breaking the bank. Optimize future marketing efforts by clearly capturing and understanding the return on your marketing spend.


Because of the constant influx of marketing emails to their inboxes, buyers have begun to block out many  of these communications, whether through inbox filters or a subconscious disregard for irrelevant messages. Instead, these buyers are doing Google searches, and asking their friends for recommendations. They’re tapping the social media community for advice and browsing your website to see if your business offers a solution fit for their challenges. If you’re only communicating with these leads through email, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to reach your leads via multiple channels during various parts of the decision process, you’re also ignoring a slew of behavioral data points they’re giving you about their needs and interests.
Use marketing automation to trigger messaging automatically based on a central hub of your customer data. That’s because your customer should see the same brand identity from all of your teams. With marketing automation, your business can better bring together marketing, sales, and customer service to create one seamless customer experience across your brand. 

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.


All in one Sales Execution and Marketing Automation Platform. Map your entire business process in hours not months. Designed to help you sell faster. With LeadSquared’s Marketing Automation tool you can:  Push your leads down the conversion path by sending the right message at the right time using automation.  Run high-performing email marketing campaigns with dozens of ready-to-use email templates to choose from.  Follow every movement of your lead with website tracking and prioritize them based on lead score and lead quality.  Create responsive landing pages in no time with numerous templates to choose from.  Organize and segment your leads on various factors to run targeted email and drip campaigns.  Integrate seamlessly with apps you love. Key LeadSquared Solutions are: 1) Lead Nurturing: Make your leads travel faster down the sales tunnel by using: a) Autoresponders: Ensure that the leads are greeted with relevant emails and SMS’ as they arrive. b) Drip Marketing: Send your prospects exactly what they need and when they need it. c) Email Marketing: Build and send beautiful emails that perform great on all devices. d) Lead and Website Tracking: Track all your lead activities and nurture them based on their actions on your website. e) List Segmentation: Segment leads based on their profiles and interests to nurture them accordingly. f) Content Library: Store your nurturing emails as templates to reuse them easily. 2) Lead Management System: Map your entire lead management process from capture till conversion with LeadSquared’s feature rich and hassle-free lead management system which include: a) Lead Capture Automation: You can ensure that no leads slip through the cracks and seamlessly capture leads from all your sources. (PPC, Social Media, Website, phone and more.) b) Email Integration: Sync your email inbox with LeadSquared to capture all prospect conversations. c) Lead Qualification: Use lead quality and activity scoring to identify and chase the best leads first. d) Lead Distribution: Assign leads to relevant sales people automatically, based on any rules you set. e) Tasks and Reminders: Automatically set tasks for your sales people based on lead actions. f) Source Tracking: Identify the lead generation sources working best for you. 3) Sales Management: It includes everything you need to manage your inside and field sales teams. a) Sales Tracking: Track everything - your salespeople, their performance and revenue. b) Sales Alert: Notify salespeople whenever their leads take an important action. c) Sales Automation: Leave repetitive yet important tasks to sales automation. 4) Marketing Analytics: Use our analytics to run data-driven campaigns and get better at marketing every single day. a) Drip Analytics: Get performance reports for each step of your drip marketing campaigns. b) Email Analytics: Analyze and improve each aspect of your email marketing campaign. c) Landing page: Get conversion analytics for each landing page and web form. d) Lead Funnel: Find where the leads are at each step of your marketing funnel. e) List Engagement: Find how engaged a list is by looking at its engagement index.
In most companies, marketing people don’t man the phones, they don’t qualify leads and they don’t really participate in the sales cycle.  Consequently, they aren’t measured on revenue the way the sales team is: their metrics are focused on the number and quality of respondents, including the total value of the pipeline (the “open” deals, not the closed ones).
From the above example, you can picture the roles played by marketing automation and CRM. The former is to create awareness of your products and services while the latter is to set up or prepare for purchase. They are separate roles but at the same time complementary, unifying the two funnels that make up the buyer’s journey. Below you can see the stages in the sales pipeline that are handled by marketing automation and CRM.
However, the term “marketing automation” has become a buzz-word, where marketers seek out marketing automation software under the impression that all of the digital marketing tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads, roll up under the hood of marketing automation. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.
When there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle of the funnel marketing automation. Many marketers invest in marketing automation before they have fertile ground for advanced lead nurturing campaigns to blossom. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have both a steady flow of organic leads coming through the funnel. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database as leads and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there. Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already? Are you getting your fair share of the available market?
What you’ll learn is that abuse reports are the norm rather than the exception—it’s normal to have 1 for every few thousand emails that you send. Some consumers are sensitive to email marketing (due to years and years of abuse), and others aren’t always familiar with the opt-out process. It’s a genuine mistake — people sometimes confuse “abuse reports” with opt-out forms.
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. 																		
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