Effective email marketing in 2016 is all about sending the right message at the right time to the right person. Unless you’re capable of harnessing psychic powers, the best way to accomplish this is with the right technology in place. Enter, marketing automation platforms.
Marketers say that the biggest benefits of automation are saving time (74%), increased customer engagement (68%), more timely communications (58%) and increased opportunities including up-selling (58%) (Adestra Marketer vs Machine 2015). On top of helping your bottom line, 47% of marketers think the cost of investing in an automation platform is worth the (sometimes very high) price tag.
The proof is in the pudding for the effectiveness and power of marketing automation platforms, but there are still a lot of options to consider to find the best platform for your company. So, we’ve scoured the web for customer reviews and feature information to give you a comprehensive view of the top platforms on the market to help optimize your email ROI.
Customer satisfaction score: 87 (Based on a scale from 0-100)
Act-on’s marketing platform is built to attract, capture, nurture and convert your potential prospects. From attracting new leads all the way to turning them into your biggest cheerleaders, Act-on helps every step of the way.
The email software offers:
- Drag and drop email builder (no HTML knowledge required)
- A/B testing
- Automated email nurturing campaigns through triggers/rules
- Behavior-based segmentation tools
- Personalization and dynamic content
Beyond the email automation, it also offers an SEO audit, social media publishing capabilities and tracking, website visitor tracking, lead scoring, and landing page and form builders.
The tool offers a competitive pricing structure starting at $600/month and offers a ROI calculator so you understand how your investment will push your company forward.
Act-on is beneficial for smaller marketing teams and customers have pointed to its pricing and support as big differentiators when compared to companies like Hubspot and Marketo. Act-On also has all the APIs you need to connect with different CRMs.
The social media management is not very robust and it was tricky to request and use customized subdomains for landing pages, but overall the features and capabilities are solid.
Adobe Marketing Cloud/Adobe Campaign
Customer satisfaction sore: 35
Adobe Campaign, part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, offers a robust set of marketing automation solutions to increase your campaign productivity and effectiveness. The software delivers automated, one-to-one messages across all of your marketing channels, based on customers’ actions and preferences.
Adobe campaign’s email solution offers:
- The ability to build individual profiles based on digital actions/behaviors across marketing channels like website and social
- Contextual email capabilities through personalization
- Real-time interaction through dynamic software
- Automated workflows to trigger one-off or nurturing campaigns
Because Campaign falls under the umbrella of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, you can integrate core services and solutions like Adobe Analytics and Experience Manager to get deeper insight into your audience than you ever thought was possible.
Other solutions that fall under Adobe Marketing Cloud are Media Optimizer, Social, Target, Audience Manager and Experience. To get a better understanding of what this robust system can do, request a demo. Pricing isn’t readily available on the site, so be sure to ask about it during your demo.
Scalability and data hygiene are two things Adobe Campaign has been noted to do very well. On top of that, the technology is very flexible and offers priceless SEO insight.
Customers note that Campaign has a very steep learning curve. In order to use the tool to its full potential, you have to be ready to sit through lots and lots of tutorial videos. Patience is a virtue, though!
Customer Satisfaction Score: 39
CallidusCloud offers the technology to zero in on quality leads while weeding out prospects that never intend to convert. From visitor identification and intelligence to its powerful email marketing and lead nurturing features, CallidusCloud delivers on its promise to master one-to-one personalized messaging.
This platform can:
- Build lists of all website visitors
- Create emails on the go with access to a variety of HTML templates
- Offer an intuitive editor that simplifies the creation of trackable campaigns
- Create detailed and actionable reports for each email you send
Beyond email, the marketing automation offers lead scoring, easy CRM integrations and web-visitor intelligence. CallidusCloud offers a 7 day free trial for you to take the marketing automation for a spin around the block, so you can jump in and see if it’s a good fit.
CallidusCloud is said to do a fantastic job with visitor identification and lead nurturing. The UI/UX is also easy to use and the company boasts a very strong customer service team.
CallidusCloud’s email builder and social features are slightly under-par when compared to similar systems and the navigation features are not the most user-friendly.
Customer satisfaction score: 88 (highest score)
Hubspot’s software allows you to create personalized, automated email workflows that can get triggered in a number of different ways. From a contact clicking a link in an email all the way to viewing a page on your blog, the sophisticated software touches your prospects at just the right time in the digital journey.
The automation messaging software offers:
- Personalization from head to toe (or shall we say subject line to footer)
- Smart content powered by dynamic technology
- Advanced list segmentation capabilities
On top of triggered campaigns, Hubspot also offers services beyond the realm of email. Want to automate your social posting or build new landing pages? No problem! Hubspot brings the different facets of digital marketing together in one funnel.
Hubspot offers three packages ranging from $200/month to $2,000/month. For more information, check out the pricing plans.
Hubspot continuously ranks #1 in customer satisfaction which speaks volumes to its value. The platforms has also been said to be superior in regards to attracting more visitors and leads to your website.
Hubspot, however, could use improvement when it comes to integrating with other products and the social management tools could use an upgrade. Also, if you have a lot of email contacts, it can get pretty pricey.
Customer satisfaction score: 55
Infusionsoft puts your marketing automation on overdrive with sophisticated software that will ensure you never miss an opportunity to capture and convert a lead. You can streamline your marketing process with triggered personalized emails based on user engagement such as clicks, opens and purchase history.
With Infusionsoft you can:
- Harness the campaign builder with limitless workflow capabilities and rules
- Leverage the integrated CRM to achieve email personalization
- Build web forms and landing pages without the help of developers
- Track web-visitor intelligence
- Unlock real-time campaign reports
You can also set up online shopping carts and automated sales activities to connect every aspect of your customer’s online journey. Access to the Infusionsoft platform begins at $199/month.
Once you acclimate yourself to this software, the power of the campaign builder and automation triggers will blow your mind. Plus the affiliate marketing capabilities aren’t too shabby either.
While Infusionsoft is very powerful, it’s a bit tricky to learn the ropes. You will have to set aside time to get to know the platform, as there is a steep learning curve.
Customer satisfaction score: 79
When you pop open the hood and take a peek inside Marketo’s automated platform, you will find some of the finest automated, integrated and personalized marketing technology out there.
Marketo’s software includes:
- Ability to trigger email campaigns from over 40 different behaviors
- Champion/Challenger A/B testing to ensure you always put your best offer/foot forward
- Push notifications with Resonance
- In-app messaging
- Real-time location based marketing
Those are just to name a few! Other elements that fall under the marketing automation features include search marketing, website monitoring, Ad Bridge, engagement engine, sales intelligence and CRM integrations.
The pricing tiers start at $1,195/month.
Marketo is best suited for enterprise-level businesses as it comes with quite a high price tag. With that price tag, though, come superb tools. Marketo’s feature set is comprehensive and has everything from a powerful email engine to amazing drip campaigns to ensure the best nurturing process for potential customers.
One aspect where Marketo has been said to fall short on is support. They provide documentation to get going but you don’t have direct access if/when you need assistance. The usability of the platform is fantastic though, so maybe you wouldn’t need a support line in the first place.
Customer satisfaction score: 46
Net-Results, a Denver based company, is a one-stop-shop to build, connect, convert and measure your automated email marketing efforts.
With the power of this software you can automate marketing workflows, trigger marketing events with a click and power your list segmentation with big data.
The email automation software offers:
- A drag and drop email builder
- Intelligent web forms to capture leads
- Drag and drop landing pages
- Automated list management
- Triggered automated tasks
- Intricate automated workflows
The software also offers three-dimensional lead scoring, social media management and a sales automation workflow. Their pricing model is based off of the number of mailable contacts, with monthly billing starting at $960 for under 10,000 contacts.
Net-results is affordable and does a great job of identifying leads with their visitor tracking. Their customer service is also superb so whenever you’re in a bind, you can easily reach out.
This platform lacks A/B testing and the ability to leverage dynamic content. It appears these features may be on the product roadmap, but if they are essential to you, you might want to consider a different option.
Oracle Marketing Cloud/Oracle Eloqua
Customer satisfaction score: 77
Oracle’s B2B Cross-Channel Marketing solution, Oracle Eloqua, offers precise cross-channel marketing with simplicity and sophistication. This email marketing software reduces messaging fragmentation as it seamlessly integrates with other digital channels like social, web and display marketing.
Eloqua’s software provides:
- Campaign and marketing analysis
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
- Sales opportunities by region or product
- Website traffic, social media and blogs
- Campaign revenue attribution
- Performance versus industry benchmarks
- Content performance by channel
Because it is part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, you can listen to customer conversations on social and gain real-time insight through web behavior to deliver a personalized experience across all your channels. Check out all the products here.
Basic pricing, which allows 10,000 contact records, starts at $2,000/month. Visit the website for a more comprehensive look into the software.
One thing Eloqua masters is precision targeting because when you’re setting up emails, you can use an insane amount of behavioral filters to get your email to the right person at the right time.
The Program builder, however, can be challenging to use. The reporting features can be a tad bit tricky, too, but tech support is provided to help you when you’re in a pinch.
Customer satisfaction score: 83
Pardot, powered by Salesforce, offers cutting-edge marketing technology that places all your marketing tools and Salesforce CRM under one umbrella, so you can connect the dots across all of your marketing channels with ease.
Pardot’s email software offers:
- Email builder with responsive, out-of-the-box templates
- Custom design capabilities
- Drag-and-drop nurturing builder
- Scheduled email sending
- Autoresponders for your forms and landing pages
- A/B testing to reveal what resonates
- Rendering and spam filter check-ups
- Industry-leading email infrastructure and deliverability
The automation also has intelligent ROI reporting and a seamless sales integration. It offers four different pricing tiers, starting at $1,000.
Pardot has great integrations with CRMs and tons of other tools for social. It’s also extremely user-friendly and the customer support is divine.
The reporting capabilities might be a little less robust when compared to other systems and there can be issues with the email builder if you are trying to manipulate the raw HTML.
Customer satisfaction score: 51
Salesfusion allows you to capture the buyer’s journey by giving you the tools to attract, track and convert prospects through its email automation.
This platform offers:
- Drag and drop builder to create responsive email
- Comprehensive drip and trigger-based nurture campaigns
- A/B testing
- Email validation and delivery tools improve inbox placement
Salesfusion also measures your ROI, provides lead scoring, manages events and webinars, increases social reach and much more. Pricing starts at $500/month.
Salesfusion has a very comprehensive onboarding process so you are set up for success. The platform also allows for a 30-day risk free trial so you know if it’s a good fit.
There's room for improvement when it comes to the email builder and editing your HTML. Their email reporting is also not as advanced as other platforms like Marketo.
Customer satisfaction score: 39
SharpSpring offers powerful and affordable marketing automation that identifies potential prospects at the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey.
This platform provides:
- Behavior-based email automation
- Dynamic forms built for conversion
- Easy-to-use rules engine simplifies marketing automation
- Visitor identification to understand clicks
- Built-in and 3rd party CRM
- Integrated call tracking
SharpSpring ensures you never miss a marketing beat with their robust platform at your fingertips to optimize your bottom line. SharpSpring does not have the pricing structure on the site so instead, request a demo!
Don’t be weary of the lower price point, as this is a solid product with incredible dynamic capabilities. They also provide 1:1 support to get you up and running quickly.
Customers have noted issues when trying to filter leads and upload new lists with rules/exceptions. You also may have problems trying to pull customized reports on your dashboard.
Tell us about your favorite email marketing automation technology
Did we miss your favorite automation platform on our list? If so, be sure to let us know in the comments section below!