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.
Marketing automation makes it easier to send personalized, 1:1 targeted messages. In other words, marketing automation makes communication stronger. When you automate your marketing, you can focus more heavily on the quality of your campaigns and messaging. Marketing automation gives your team the ability to add more personal touches to your campaign – by collecting data on a prospect’s interests and goals, you can custom-tailor future offers so that they are more relevate.
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.

Established in 2008, Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool designed to offer a complete suite of applications, including email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and analytics, as well as integrations with webinar and event planning. With Act-On's email marketing, businesses can segment their customers into a variety of categories, allowing marketers to focus on a particular target market within that email group. The software offers core website tracking feature, which gives complete visibility into the types of customers that are visiting their site as well as their activities and the time spent on different contents while they are on the website. Act-On offers tools to build and optimize campaigns, generate leads, score and prioritize prospects, among others. The solution is capable of integrating with almost any leading CRM available in the market. Act-On is ideal for small marketing teams needing a marketing automation tool with minimal IT involvement. Platform features include: •	Best-in-class email engine •	One-click integration to leading web conferencing and CRM solutions •	Tools for website visitor tracking •	Lead scoring and lead nurturing •	Automated programs; trigger & drip campaigns •	Social media listening, prospecting & publishing •	Design tools for web forms, landing pages and emails •	Inbound tools for advanced SEO, Google AdWord tracking, and blog integration • Act-On Anywhere - a business productivity tool •	Account- and contact-based marketing capabilities

Functional Fitment: Standalone MA software cannot be effective without a comprehensive marketing strategy in place. It is important to document the marketing processes that are expected to be automated by using the application and then choose the solution accordingly. Also, it is essential to measure the improvement in marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) post-implementation. Hence a solution that provides inbuilt reports and customer analytics is preferable.

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.)
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