23 min read
Jul 19, 2020
Marketing

Top 3 Marketing Automation Solutions Compared

All you need to know about marketing automation tools, together in one place.

R.B.
Rupal BhandariContent Writer

From triggered email campaigns to scheduled posts on social media, marketing is going big on automation. This is creating a more personalized experience for customers, and tremendous savings of time and resources for businesses. And for businesses looking for a marketing automation solution of their own, there are plentiful options on the market to choose from.  

Our database alone has over 300 marketing automation vendors for price tags ranging from zero to a few hundred dollars.

But if you’re a small or midsize business trying to figure out how automation fits into your marketing efforts, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed about what marketing automation truly entails and how to choose the right tool for your business. 

In this article we’ll tell you what to expect out of a typical marketing automation system, the basic things you need to look out for when on the market, and what do the current top three products look like (picked from our Marketing Automation Software Category Leaders, 2020).

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What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software is a tool that helps a marketer streamline processes such as email marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, and content marketing. It helps automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails or posting on social media. It also enables a marketer to measure the performance of inbound marketing activity.

It is important to understand that marketing automation tools do not replace the human element of marketing. Instead, they aid in making the processes easier and efficient. 

Here are some ways marketing automation can change your marketing team and processes:

How marketing automation transforms processes
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Marketing automation tools explained

There are various aspects of marketing automation tools that must be evaluated to determine their effectiveness in your business. Here, we’ll explain the common functionalities, important integrations, and necessary security measures; these three form the bedrock of the relation between the software and your business processes. 

1. What are the common marketing automation software functionalities?

Much like every other software, the functionalities and features of marketing automation tools range from basic to advanced. Here are some common functionalities small and midsize businesses should look for:

Lead generation

This is about finding the prospects who may be willing to buy your products/services.

These prospects not only comprise noncustomers who show interest in your business but also the existing customers who present the opportunity for upselling or cross-selling. Lead generation gathers data about such prospects from multiple sources and channels it into your marketing hub and marketing processes.

Creating landing pages in SharpSpring

Creating landing pages in SharpSpring (Source)

Tools typically support lead generation with the following offerings:

  • Landing page: This is a web content page customized to suit a particular location, industry, job title, etc. As opposed to generic content that everyone is seeing, landing page helps the audience land on content that is relevant to them and ultimately nudges them closer to being a prospect.

  • Form registrations: Inserting forms in landing pages, microsites, emails, social posts, or your website is a great way to begin interactions with people who are interested and gather their details. Some tools also offer progressive profiling, which uses smart forms to recognize visitors and ask different questions to build the lead profile over time. Advanced tools also provide lead profiling via social sign-on and extract information from people’s social media profiles.

  • Import leads: Not all leads details need to be generated from the ground up; some could already be existing in your databases or with third-party tools such as CRM. Marketing automation software takes out the manual intervention in looking into these sources and auto-pulls them into your marketing workflows. 

Lead management

This is about managing prospects’ progress through the marketing stages to gradually becoming your customers. 

Each lead is at a different place in its journey with your business. While someone may already be sold on the idea and only needs gentle reminders, another might need more convincing (or as marketers call it - lead nurturing).

Creating buyer personas and segmenting leads in HubSpot Marketing

Creating buyer personas and segmenting leads in HubSpot Marketing (Source)

A good marketing automation tool supports the lead’s journey with the business and helps convert them into a customer with the following features:

  • Database: This is a single place for all your prospects to live in. It goes beyond capturing their names and email addresses and includes a rich view of all their interactions with your business.

  • Behavior tracking: To better understand a lead’s interest and where they stand in the buyer’s journey, behavior tracking allows you to monitor their response to your emails and the pages of your website they visit, among other things.

  • Lead qualification: This allows you to determine whether a lead meets your ideal customer profile and has a high chance of converting. Some tools also use lead scoring mechanisms for this.

  • Segmentation: Grouping leads based on shared characteristics and behaviors helps tailor lead nurturing to each segment, as opposed to one-size-fits-all messaging for every lead in the sales cycle.

Email marketing

As the name says, this is marketing done via email.

But email marketing is a lot more than just sending emails.

It helps gently nudge the leads through the sales funnel from interest to purchase. It includes ensuring that leads are receiving messages relevant to them, tracking their response to your emails, and gradually tweaking your email text, designs, or timing to improve their impact.

Choosing from multiple email formats in MailChimp's email design module

Choosing email layouts in Mailchimp's email design module (Source)

Following are the email marketing features to keep an eye out for:

  • Email design: Being able to view how an email will appear on different devices, such as computers, tablets, or mobile phones, is helpful in optimizing its effectiveness. Email designing functionality allows users to tweak the design for each device and make emails visually appealing through built-in editors and templates.

  • Personalized emails: Even small things such as adding the recipient’s name (and designation in some cases) in the email body makes the messaging personal and creates a closer connection to the reader. Email automation enables this by adding this information to the email, even when sending hundreds of emails simultaneously.

  • Drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are communication strategies that send, or "drip," a pre-written set of emails to prospects over time. You can set the schedules for these emails by factoring in leads’ characteristics such as location and designation or behaviors such as putting products in the cart and opening your previous email. 

Social media management

This is about reaching out to the leads and prospects where they spend their leisure time. 

Social media management capabilities help you design and create campaigns from scratch and manage multiple social profiles on a central dashboard. 

However, the social media features offered by marketing automation tools can be limited in comparison to those offered by social media management tools. While the latter is more focused on posting and sharing, the former is more bent on analysis, management, and social media ads.

Measuring the reach of a Facebook post in SALESmanago

Measuring the reach of a Facebook post in SALESmanago (Source)

Following are some features to look out for: 

  • Campaign management: Measuring the response to each social media post by tracking likes, comments, replies, and retweets is cumbersome when done manually. But a marketing automation tool would auto-tally all this information and bring you the results in a neat dashboard.

  • Social media listening or monitoring: It’s unrealistic to try to peruse each mention of your business in every comment, group, or platform to identify your brand’s perception. Automation tools, however, monitor popular social media networks for mentions of your brand, products, and even competitors and the industry. They analyze these conversations and uncover business opportunities for you to act on. 

Analytics and reporting

This is about measuring the performance of your marketing efforts and analyzing what is going right or wrong.

Things such as knowing how customers are spending time on your website or if any SEO downturns need fixing are important to the success of your future marketing efforts. Analytics and reporting capabilities allow you to dig into all your marketing data and derive insights for process improvements. 

Tracking the key performance indicators in MoEngage

Tracking the key performance indicators in MoEngage (Source)

A good marketing automation tool would provide the following types of analytics and reporting features:

  • Web analytics: By tracking details about who visits your website, which pages they visit, and how often they come back, this feature can help you refine your web content or strategy to turn more of these visitors into leads.

  • SEO analytics: Marketing automation software tools monitor your ranking for relevant keywords on major search engines and compare your performance to that of the competitors. This helps you identify improvement areas to increase traffic to your website organically.

  • Social media analytics: The tools track all your social media activity and provide high-level as well as granular reports on your performance. This gives you insight into what kind of people share your content, your social conversion rates, and the impact of social media on your bottom line.

  • Custom reporting: In addition to standard web, SEO, and social media analytics, the tools can create high-level as well as granular custom reports as per your specific requirements such as lead measurement by source/campaign/month, email performance, landing page performance, web activity, and so on. 

Administrative panel

This is the admin side of things.

It’s all about how the work flows and who in the team can access what. It's about ensuring that everyone gets the right degree of access to information—no more and no less.

Adding a new workspace in Sendinblue

Adding a new user to a workspace in Sendinblue (Source)

A good marketing automation tool would provide the following administrative features:

  • User roles and permissions: The tools allow you to assign roles and permissions to teammates and govern the level of information/control each can access. For example, you could assign a teammate a role to create but not approve landing pages, or approve but not activate a campaign.

  • Workspaces: The tools enable you to give users access to specific assets such as campaigns, landing pages, emails, and reports. Other assets could be made public and accessible to all teammates.

2. What are some important marketing automation software integrations?

No marketing automation tool will serve its purpose functioning as an isolated ecosystem. It needs to act as a moderator and administrator between multiple tools and platforms, bringing all relevant data and functions into one place. This makes integrations crucial.

Integrations offered by HubSpot Marketing

Integrations offered by HubSpot Marketing (Source)

To help you understand what integrations to watch out for, we’ve provided info on the types of integrations usually offered:

  • Built-in integrations: These are the vendor-supplied integrations that enable one tool to connect with another without the need for a third-party connector. In layman’s terms, this is essentially how your Google calendar syncs with your iPhone calendar. 

    • Social media platforms: The tool you choose should be able to integrate with whatever social media networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) you plan to use for your marketing efforts. Without that, you’ll be left manually tallying data between the social media platform and your marketing tool, and that can be time-consuming as well as cumbersome.

    • Other third-party tools and platforms: Your marketing automation software needs to speak to other tools you use, which could include (but not be limited to) tools for customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, collaboration, sales force automation, and project management. If you’re selling products/services online, the software will also need to connect with your eCommerce tools.

  • Automation and integrations platforms: There are multiple third-party automation and integration platforms such as Zapier, Microsoft Power Automate, IFTTT, and Automate.io that help tools connect with each other. These are useful when two tools do not integrate directly.

3. What security features should you look out for in marketing automation software?

Regardless of the features a tool offers, you don’t want a marketing software that might not keep your data safe.

Comaprison of safety features between HubSpot Marketing and Emfluence.

Comparison of security features between HubSpot Marketing and emfluence on Getapp (Source)

From the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ISO 27001 and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), there are various data security and privacy standards the software could need to meet. Most tools offer detailed (and often too lengthy) legal documents on their privacy and security policies, but delving into all of that can often be overwhelming. 

Instead, you can focus on these three parameters:

  • Encryption of sensitive information at rest: Preferably done via Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is a standard used worldwide to encrypt data.

  • HTTPS for all pages: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a protocol that secures communication over the internet. It uses Transport Layer Security (TLS)/Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) as the encryption protocol.

  • Multi-factor authentication options: This is an authentication system where users are granted access to the tool only when they are able to provide two or more proofs of their identity and access authorization. 

Other than these three basics, you can look at 24x7x365 systems server monitoring and offsite backups. Also check if the vendor performs automated analyses of vulnerabilities in network, host, and applications, and trains its employees to reinforce security awareness and communication.

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Top 3 Marketing Automation Solutions Compared

EngageBay, Omnisend, and Remarkety are the top three marketing automation tools on our 2020 Marketing Automation Category Leaders.

The category leaders are selected by our team of researchers using thousands of ratings from real users to identify five key areas: ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend. You can review the detailed selection methodology here.

Here’s a quick summary of their ratings:

A comparison of ratings between EngageBay, Omnisend, and Remarkety.

1. EngageBay

EngageBay brings marketing automation, CRM, sales, helpdesk, and customer live chat into a single tool. It helps businesses manage the entire customer lifecycle, from lead capturing to nurturing, engagement, conversion, and support. 

Setting up marketing campaigns in EngageBay

Setting up marketing campaigns in EngageBay (Source)

The tool offers most of the common features we’ve discussed above. Its highlights include:

  • Drag-and-drop interface to create email templates.

  • SEO settings such as meta title, description, and keywords on landing pages.

  • Predictive lead scoring based on actions such as email opens, link clicks, and website visits.

  • Drip campaigns with automatic follow-up emails for leads that open your emails. 

Integrations:

Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Google Forms, or Shopify, EngageBay offers most of its integrations via Zapier. It offers built-in integrations for SendGrid (email delivery service), Mailgun (cloud-based email service), Mandrill (add-on for Mailchimp), and Xero (cloud-based accounting software for small businesses). 

Security features:

EngageBay offers a Privacy Policy and Data Service Agreement, detailing the measures taken for the safety of your data. The highlights are:

  • Pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data at rest.

  • Encryption of data whenever it is transported out of the secure server location.

  • Regular data backup in a separate location from the primary server.

  • 2-factor authentication.

  • Reporting of any data breaches.

Pricing:

Cost Highlights Ideal For
$0/month 1,000 contacts and branded emails, landing pages, email broadcast, CRM, helpdesk, live chat, and autoresponders Small businesses looking to market to a tight group of customers and relying heavily on repeat customers
$8.99/user/month 15,000 contacts, 10,000 branded emails, email templates, lead scoring, SMS marketing, and social media suit Small businesses looking to target a local audience with standard messaging, and wanting to build an online presence
$29.99/user/month 50,000 contacts, 25,000 branded emails, push notifications, and A/B testing Small and midsize businesses looking to test multiple marketing messages and expand their digital footprint
$47.99/user/month Unlimited contacts, 50,000 branded emails, web analytics, custom reporting, uptime service level agreement, and dedicated account manager Midsize businesses that have a decent-sized audience and want to optimize their platforms for better audience response

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of EngageBay on GetApp share the following feedback:

What users like What users would like to see
Bringing functions from sales and marketing into the same tool helps save time and increase efficiency. The tool is easy to navigate and learn. Greater customizability of email and landing page templates in terms of design and text formatting. Some users would also like more variety in email template designs.

Reviewer breakdown: Of the reviewers, 91% come from small businesses, 6% from midsize businesses, and 4% from large businesses (the numbers have been rounded off).

2. Omnisend

Omnisend is an omnichannel marketing platform for eCommerce businesses. In addition to automating recurring marketing tasks such as lead generation and data capturing, it also helps businesses target leads with personalized messaging to increase conversions and sales. 

Creating email with the drag and drop builder in Omnisend

Creating emails with the drag-and-drop builder in Omnisend (Source)

The tool offers most of the common features we’ve discussed above. Its highlights include:

  • Gamified sign-up form templates, such as spin the wheel, to register the interest of visitors to the business website and capture more leads.

  • Email campaigns that use customers’ shopping behavior, such as cart abandonment or purchase history, as a basis to deliver appropriate content to them.

  • Product recommender content block that automatically inserts top-selling or new products into email templates.

  • Auto-sync for Facebook and Google ads for targeting customers and leads on social media platforms.

Integrations:

Omnisend offers a huge variety of built-in integrations, including eCommerce platforms (such as Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce. Magento, and Opencart) and other third-party platforms such as Stamped, ReCharge, LoyaltyLion, Gorgios, Optimonk, MonkeyData, and Personizely. Omnisend also offers integrations via Zapier for thousands of other tools.

Security features:

Omnisend offers a Privacy Policy, detailing the measures taken for the safety of user data. However, the agreement only confirms that any breach will be reported to the concerned customers.

Pricing:

Cost Highlights Ideal For
$0/month Email campaigns (up to 15,000 emails/month), signup forms, and reports Small businesses that need to market to a tight group of customers, and encourage repeat visits
$16/month Email automation, audience segmentation, SMS campaigns, and 24/7 email and chat support Small businesses that already have a customer base and incoming leads, and want to target leads with segmentation
$99/month Email and SMS marketing, push notifications, Facebook custom audiences, Google customer match, and advanced reporting Small and midsize businesses looking to expand their social media advertising footprint
Custom Facebook Messenger, dedicated account manager, deliverability support and custom IP address Midsize businesses that want to further personalize their digital marketing

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Omnisend on GetApp share the following feedback:

What users like What users would like to see
Automating repetitive, generic emails (such as for cart abandonment or welcoming) is easy and effective. Multi-level reporting of campaign performance and relevant insights. A shorter learning curve for users from non-marketing backgrounds, as well as shorter response time from the customer service team.

Reviewer breakdown: Of these reviewers, 97% come from small businesses, 1% from midsize businesses, and 2% from large businesses.

3. Remarkety

Remarkety is an email and SMS marketing tool for eCommerce businesses. It helps target marketing efforts based on customers’ behavior and purchase history. 

Email reporting and real-time analytics in Remarkety

Email reporting and real-time analytics in Remarkety (Source)

The tool offers most of the common features we’ve discussed above. Its highlights include:

  • Email campaigns based on lead behavior.

  • Automated follow-up with post-purchase emails, thank you emails, shipping confirmation, or emails asking for reviews or suggesting additional products.

  • Automatic syncing of audience segments with social media platforms for better targeting of leads on social media.

  • A/B testing of emails to tweak email body, call to action, product images, or product placement.

Integrations:

Remarkety offers built-in integrations with eCommerce platforms (such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento) and social media platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram). Additional integrations can be done via Zapier. 

Security features:

Remarkety’s Privacy Policy states that they follow industry-standard procedures for storing and transporting data. However, they do not provide many details on the procedures they follow. Before shortlisting the tool, it is recommended to check the security and privacy measures with the vendor. 

Pricing:

Cost Highlights Ideal For
$100/month 3,000 contacts, unlimited emails, browse abandonment, and transactional emails Small businesses with a tight customer base, looking to optimize sales through their website
$300/month 20,000 contacts, phone support, custom API, and personal onboarding session Small businesses with a local customer base, looking to increase upselling and reselling
$800/month 100,000 contacts, 1.2 million emails, advanced deliverability setup, and dedicated account manager Midsize businesses with a national audience, looking to optimize website sales and improve retargeting of customers

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Remarkety on GetApp share the following feedback:

What users like What users would like to see
Smooth data sync with eCommerce platforms, responsive customer support, and flexibility in customizing email templates, campaigns, and designs. Better geo-targeting with zip codes or by dropping pins on maps. Some users would also like a mobile-intuitive interface.

Reviewer breakdown: Off these reviewers, 98% come from small businesses and 2% from midsize businesses.

Side-by-side comparison of top 3 marketing automation tools on GetApp.

Find a detailed comparison of the top 3 marketing automation solutions discussed above here.

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Finding marketing automation tools for your business

Now that you understand what marketing automation is, what the top tools have to offer, and how it can improve your marketing strategy, you might be considering implementing it. But know that features, integrations, and security measures aren’t the only things to look out for—nor do they end at just what we’ve mentioned. 

As the starting point to quickly identify the products specific to your requirements, try our AppFinder. It will eliminate all the non-specific options and allow you to compare up to four products side-by-side to see how each fares against the others.

Disclaimers

For the "user feedback trends (what users like/would like to see)" sections, we performed sentiment analysis of reviews left for each product in the 12 months previous to the creation of this report. Reviews data may have changed since publication and may not reflect current conditions.

These sections provide the opinions and points of view expressed by users. They do not represent the views of GetApp. 

Some applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

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