Marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks. Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes that 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. The products listed in this category are marketing automation suite products. Marketing automation suite products contain a broad range of marketing automation functionality that may span other categories in G2 Crowd. The marketing automation suite category excludes products that are targeted toward one specific area of marketing such as email marketing or social marketing. Based on their own needs and budgets, buyers should decide between purchasing several best-of-breed marketing solutions or a broader marketing automation suite.
What is Marketing Automation Software?
Compare Best Marketing Automation SoftwareG2 Crowd helps you compare the best Marketing Automation Software products. You can compare products on the Grid, or by selecting any of the products for a side-by-side comparison. In addition, you can download the full report for more detailed information about Marketing Automation Software products. Only products with 10 or more reviews are included in the Grid. For a full list of products, click on the Products tab.
G2 Crowd Grid for Marketing Automation
Buying Considerations in Marketing Automation
- Strategy first
- A marketing automation tool doesn’t help you with your strategy. Marketing automation tools help automate a strategy. So, the first step when selecting a tool is to document your strategy. Make sure you understand all the options when creating your strategy.
- Inbound vs. outbound marketing
- Outbound marketing strategies tend to focus on sending content or messages to prospects through telemarketing, direct mail, email, or other advertising campaigns. Inbound techniques are focused on getting customers to find you via search, referrals, social media, etc.
- Size of company and customer base
- Typically, smaller companies desire a suite tool that is easy to learn and handles a wide variety of features but only handles the most common use cases. Larger companies often seek out a tool that handles more complex use cases, but in turn usually takes longer to implement and requires more training. In addition, larger companies tend to have a segmented staff and therefore might choose to use several marketing tools that are designed to go deep in certain area.
- The requirements for B2B vs. B2C companies often vary considerably. Strategies tend to be different and so automation requirements are different. Different sales cycles, emotional buying behavior, number of people in the decision process and the database size can all influence the software that will best fit your strategy.
- Often the data that needs to be used to automate a marketing process is held in another system (CRM, ERP, image files, etc.). The number of data points and systems you need to integrate to can increase maintenance costs.
- Optimization priorities
- Although most would agree that modern marketing is not a simple funnel, to understand automation requirements, consider these 3 steps.
- Brand presence and content management
- A good first step in the marketing funnel is to make sure you can be found if someone is looking. This includes establishing a website optimized for search engines, making content available, and establishing and maintaining a social presence. Although many marketing automation suite tools handle this part of the funnel you might want to consider specialized tools for Search Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Management, Public Relations and Web Analytics.
- Lead capture/qualification
- After you’ve established a presence, you need to capture a lead when a prospect views your content or contacts you. Most marketing automation systems provide analytics to help you optimize your lead capture process. You can also enrich and score your leads based on the prospects’ behavior across all your touch points. In addition, you may want to do some outbound lead generation as well. Four common places leads are captured:
- web forms and landing pages in front of your contest that users access via your website, paid advertising or other domains
- Trade shows and events
- uploading captured leads to full event management functionality
- “cold emailing” to lists
- Call campaigns
- “cold calling” to lists
- Lead tracking, nurturing, and conversion
- After establishing a presence and capturing leads, the leads need to be nurtured and ultimately converted to a sale. With marketing automation tools, you can nurture with custom content and messaging to individual leads to increase conversion.
- Marketing channels
- Most marketing automation suite tools focus on four channels:
- managing and analyzing content on your site or external sites and optimize search
- sending emails to generate leads and nurture existing leads
- managing social presence across multiple social media channels, including social analytics, monitoring social activity for your brand and your competitors’ brands, and managing the content across all the social media channels
- messaging via mobile and SMS marketing
- Suite vs. best of breed
- Marketing automation can divided into several subsections; based on your needs, you could purchase one software that has a wide range of functionality or purchase one or more best-of-breed solutions that focus on solving a specific problem.
Key Benefits of Marketing Automation Software
- Measure campaigns to optimize, justify and prioritize initiatives
- Reduce time spent administering marketing programs and completing tasks
- Improve close rates with timely and relevant engagement
- Brand and messaging consistency across campaigns and channels via templates and standards
- Shorten sales cycles with quicker response times
- Customized marketing to each customer’s needs
- Scheduled and automated activities for around-the-clock engagement without manual effort
These are the common features of Marketing Automation Software
- Automated Email Responses
- Set up automated nurturing emails based on events, online activities, and lead scores
- Building and Personalizing Emails
- Create and design emails with an editor; manage templates; personalize dynamically
- Sending Outbound Emails
- Create targeted lists, schedule and manage bulk email sending.
- Manage Email Deliverability
- Ensure inbox delivery. Includes opt-in management, bounce handling, unsubscribe processing, suppression lists, email preview, spam checking, link validation, and delivery monitoring.
- Mobile Optimized
- Support mobile-optimized emails, online forms, and landing pages.
- A/B Testing
- Test alternate versions of emails, landing pages, and forms. Learn what works, maximize response rates, and increase conversion.
- Dynamic Content
- Dynamically customize emails, forms, and landing pages for specific segments of customers and prospects.
- Landing Pages and Forms
- Build dustomized landing pages and lead capture forms for specific marketing campaigns to maximize conversion and to capture the right qualifying information
- Search Tracking and Optimization
- Track performance of keywords and links in major search engines. Measure search rankings and performance. Improve page-level SEO with tools to diagnose and improve page performance. Integrate with Google AdWords.
- CRM Lead Integration
- Sync lead, contact, account, and opportunity information with your CRM system.
- Automated Alerts and Tasks
- Create tasks automatically and provide real-time sales alerts over email, RSS or mobile device.
- Online Behavior Tracking
- Track which emails a prospect opens and clicks, what web-pages they visit, what keywords they use, even what they say on social networks.
- Lead Nurturing
- Automate ?drip marketing? campaigns that send relevant messages over time, based on prospect behaviors and pre-defined campaign steps.
- Lead Scoring and Grading
- Automatically qualify and score leads based on demographics as well as prospect online behaviors, including recency and frequency. Assign your own weights to determine lead scores for prioritization.
- Segment your database and build list of target leads and contacts. Filter on demographic and company attributes (title, company size, location) as well as behavioral filters and CRM information.
- Data Quality Management
- Data quality consists of deduplication, cleansing, and appending your marketing database.
- Marketing Lead Database
- A marketing lead database is the system of record for your most important marketing asset: your leads and contacts. Includes a view of all marketing interactions between each prospect and your company, including website visits, email clicks, scoring changes, and data updates/history.
- Manage all aspects of marketing investments, including assigning top-down budgets to various groups and divisions, planning marketing spending across programs, tracking open-to-spend, ensuring budget compliance, coordinating work-flows and permissions, and reconciling plans with actual invoices.
- Maintain a marketing calendar across multiple groups. Manage the calendar for the entire marketing department, from promotions to content to PR.
- Event / Webinar Marketing
- Streamline the entire event process, including personalized invitations, registration, reminders, and post-event follow-up. Integrate with online meeting tools like WebEx, Adobe Connect, GoToWebinar.
- Program Management
- Manage marketing campaigns and programs across multiple channels, including online ads, video campaigns, mobile, virtual events, and social media. Create and optimize program assets such as landing pages, emails, campaigns, and lists. Track program objectives, results, and costs to assess the program ROI.
- Social Ads
- Amplify brand and community stories; Reach customers by social profile and activity; Optimize social ad campaigns in real-time
- Social Sharing
- Add intelligent social share buttons to your campaigns and content. Track who is sharing your content and driving conversions.
- Social Campaigns
- Schedule automated posts to one or more social accounts; use or integrate with URL shortening services; and measure likes, comments, replies, and retweets.
- Social Engagement
- Social apps including polls, sweepstakes, and referral programs can enhance audience engagement. Include these on your website, landing pages, Facebook pages, and emails.
- Social Listening
- Monitor what leads and contacts say on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, and online communities. Incorporate into your lead and customer DB and use social insights to segment prospects. Trigger campaigns, and update lead scores.
Reporting & Analytics
- Basic Reporting
- Access pre-built and custom reports and dashboards to measure leads by source/campaign/month, email performance, landing page performance, and web and social activity. Create report subscriptions that can automatically send updates to your team and executives.
- Revenue Analytics
- Analyze how leads flow through the funnel by measuring stage to stage conversion rates and velocity. Allocate pipeline and revenue credit among all the marketing activities that have successfully touched an opportunity as it moves through the pipeline.
- ROI Analytics
- Measure leads, prospects generated, pipeline, revenue, investment, and ROI by marketing channel or program. The result is that you can see which marketing investments are generating the greatest return and get visibility into how marketing budget should be allocated going forward.
- Web Analytics
- Track which pages prospects and customers visit and how often they come back. Capture the history in database for lead scoring and sales intelligence. Use anonymous company look-up to identify anonymous visitors. Send alerts to sales reps of which of their prospects and customers web activity..
- SEO / Keyword Analytics
- Monitor and track how you rank for relevant keywords on major search engines and compare your overall performance to competitors.
- Sandbox / Test Environments
- Allows administrators to easily develop and test changes to the CRM deployment. After changes are made admins can easily migrate the changes into the "live" or "production" environment.
- System provides sufficient customization to meet business requirements
- Workflow Capability
- Automates a process that requires a series of steps that typically require intervention by a several different users. Administrators can write rules to determine who and when a user needs to complete a step. Also includes notification of users when they need to take action.
- User, Role, and Access Mgmt.
- The ability to grant access to select data, features, objects, etc based on the users, user role, groups, etc.
- Enables users to view and transact business with the same content in multiple languages and currencies.
- Performance & Reliability
- Software is consistently available (uptime) and allows users to complete tasks quickly because they are not waiting for the software to respond to an action they took.
- Output Document Generation
- Allows adminstrators to create templates that enable users to quickly generate dynamic documents in various formats based on the data stored in the application.
- Data Import & Export Tools
- Ability to input, modify and extract data from the application in bulk through a structured file.
- Integration APIs
- Application Programming Interface - Specification for how the application communicates with other software. API's typically enable integration of data, logic, objects, etc with other software applications.
- Breadth of Partner Applications
- To what extent are there partner applications readily available for integrating into this product? Partner applications typically provide complementary, best of breed functionality not offered natively in this product.