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The 7 Best Marketing Automation Tools

Market Trends - January 23rd, 2014 by Natalie Issa.

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So many choices. That’s what most companies face when selecting a marketing automation tool. Trying to understand the differences between the tools and industry landscape can be difficult. We know because we’ve been there.

A while back, we were looking for a marketing automation tool ourselves. We researched, we talked to analysts, and we had deep dives with company reps. Since then, we’ve become very involved in the industry thanks to the complementary nature of analytics and marketing automation. We’ve even formed partnerships with several companies. Now finally, we present our top picks for marketing automation tools (in no particular order).

1. Marketo

www.marketo.com

Marketo-Logo-LargeMarketo is perhaps the best known marketing automation tool, and for good reason. It’s one of the most mature tools, with a full suite of features that not only help marketers manage email campaigns, but also provide excellent tools for sales teams. Marketo also has a marketplace, called LaunchPoint, with dozens of integrations.

Who it’s for: Marketo is great for companies who are going to make use of the tool’s many features that go beyond basic marketing automation. It’s not the most expensive tool, but it’s certainly not the cheapest either. If you’re not going to use the advanced functionality of the system, you can get similar results with one of the less expensive tools. However, if you want to start with the basics and move into the more advanced functionality in the near future, it could be a good idea to start with a tool like Marketo so that you don’t have to switch over all your data and campaigns down the line. We also like that Marketo has a very large and active knowledge base, which is a great resource for new users.

It’s closest to: Eloqua

Pricing starts at: $1,195/month

2. Eloqua

www.eloqua.com

eloqua_logoYou can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.

Who it’s for: Don’t look at Eloqua unless you’re really going after enterprise-level software and you have the budget for it. Now, if you do, Eloqua is a great option, especially if you like having a lot of guidance from your technology vendors. You should also consider Eloqua if tight CRM integration is important to you.

It’s closest to: Marketo

Pricing starts at: $2,000/month

3. Customer.io

www.customer.io

cio_logoThe main reason we love Customer.io is its flexibility. This is a tool that will really let you get what you want out of it. While it’s not all out of the box, if you’re willing to put in some developer time, you can really customize your Customer.io experience. Another great thing about this tool is its lightweight UI and fast, personal customer support. Customer.io is one of the newer players, but they’re growing very quickly and are definitely a company to watch. Unlike most of the older tools, Customer.io is built to trigger emails based on events, rather than just pageviews.

Who it’s for: Customer.io is great for two kinds of uses: 1. Companies that are looking to get started with marketing automation and appreciate a lightweight UI (i.e. not your typical enterprise software) and 2. Companies that are looking for some more advanced functionality that requires flexibility and customization, and are willing to devote the developer resources to implement it. We happen to fall into the second category, which is why we chose Customer.io for our marketing automation needs at Woopra.

It’s closest to: Userfox

Pricing starts at: $75/month (and they offer a free plan)

4. Constant Contact

www.constantcontact.com

constant-contact-logo-horiz-color-300dpiConstant Contact is a well known email marketing tool for small businesses. It does a great job of providing basic functionality in a way that is very easy for even non-technical users to take advantage of. The ease of use and affordable cost are its biggest differentiators.

Who it’s for: Constant Contact is for the small business owner who wants to quickly get started with organized email marketing and doesn’t anticipate needing any advanced functionality down the line. The tool is a great choice for you if you fit this description, but if you plan to expand your marketing automation efforts in the near future, this isn’t the tool for you.

It’s closest to: HubSpot

Pricing starts at: $15/month

5. HubSpot

www.hubspot.com

HubSpotLogo_Dark_Web_FlatThe advantage and disadvantage of using HubSpot are one and the same: the system does a little bit of everything, but doesn’t do any one thing at a deep level. HubSpot describes itself as “inbound marketing software”, which means it offers a variety of tools, one of which is marketing automation. This all-in-one approach can be really convenient.

Who it’s for: Like Constant Contact, HubSpot is great for the small business owner, but where HubSpot beats out Constant Contact is in the additional functionality it provides beyond email marketing. If you’re looking for an “all-in-one” tool that gives you the very basic functionality of several different marketing systems, HubSpot is a good option for you.

It’s closest to: Constant Contact

Pricing starts at: $200/month

6. ExactTarget/Pardot

www.exacttarget.com

Exact-target-logoWe were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car.

And if you’re wondering what the difference is between ExactTarget and Pardot (acquired by ExactTarget), the former is meant for B2C companies while the latter is designed for B2B companies.

Who it’s for: ExactTarget is for the company that has the desire – and the resources – to go above and beyond with their marketing automation. It’s for the company that is really looking to the future of marketing automation and wants to connect with its customers over many different channels.

It’s closest to: Eloqua

Pricing starts at: Contact their sales team

7. Userfox

www.userfox.com

userfoxUserfox is another new player in the marketing automation space, and they were actually just acquired by AdRoll. We’re hoping the combined power of the AdRoll and userfox teams means exciting things for the future of their product. And we know the userfox team has some amazing talent, because one of their co-founders previously worked with us here at Woopra.

Who it’s for: Userfox works primarily with tech companies, so if you’re in the industry, you’ll be in good company. Like Customer.io, userfox has a lightweight interface and is designed to trigger emails based on events (rather than just pageviews), so if that’s important to you, userfox is a great choice. You might also consider userfox if you’re already using AdRoll, as the acquisition likely means a tight integration between the two products in the future.

It’s closest to: Customer.io

Pricing starts at: $49/month

At a Glance

In summary, here’s how we would categorize the top marketing automation tools:

  • For Small Business: Constant Contact, HubSpot
  • For Enterprise: Marketo, Eloqua, ExactTarget/Pardot
  • For The Next Generation of Marketing Automation: Customer.io, userfox

Which marketing automation tool do you use and why? Share your insight with us!

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