Marketing can be a time-consuming activity. Yes, marketing is vital to almost every business, but if you’re the person responsible for marketing (you may even be the business owner), then you are probably a bit short on time. What is the solution to this problem? I’m pretty sure you have read the headline of this article, so you can probably guess. It is marketing automation.
What is marketing automation?
In essence, marketing automation is simply the process of using software to automate marketing activities. While it might be nice to dream of the day you can press a button, sit back and watch all of the customers you would ever want to appear out of nowhere, in truth marketing automation will still require your input. For example, there may be creative input. Perhaps you need to make a strategic decision based on data, or perhaps there isn’t a tool out there that offers what you currently need. Despite this, marketing automation can significantly improve your efficiency when it comes to marketing, and save you a lot of time.
Best marketing automation tools
Let’s take a look at some of the best marketing automation tools on the market.
Hubspot is one of the world’s leading CRMs. Hubspot describes itself as an ‘all-in-one marketing, sales, and service platform’, and it does provide a lot of tools. You get the CRM, management of your email inbox, live chat for your website, ad management for Facebook Ads, Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads, email marketing tools, landing page creator, social scheduling, form builder, tools to manage your sales pipeline, customer service tools, and analytics and reporting. Quite an impressive suite of tools.
Hubspot has a fairly generous free tier. You can use most of the tools above, and the CRM will hold up to one million records. The ‘Starter’ tier paid package is reasonably priced, considering the tools you get. Still, you will need to upgrade to the ‘Professional’ tier to use the marketing automation tool. Currently, the pricing of the ‘Starter’ tier is £42 per month, and the ‘Professional’ tier is £729 per month – quite a jump if you are a small business.
ActiveCampaign offers a suite of marketing, sales and service tools similar to HubSpot. ActiveCampaign provides email marketing, marketing automation, CRM and sales automation, and service and support features.
If you want to get started with marketing automation, then ActiveCampaign’s pricing is a bit easier on your budget. ActiveCampaign’s entry-level ‘Lite’ subscription is currently $15 per month and includes marketing automation functionality. The pricing scales with the size of your contacts database. If you have the budget to subscribe to the ‘Plus’ tier, you can make use of ActiveCampaign’s machine learning technology, and will also receive automation consultancy and three one-on-one training sessions per month – quite nice additions.
Marketo is a well-known marketing automation tool. It comes with a range of features including email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, paid media, event marketing, audience segmentation, and personalisation.
Marketo is the not cheapest tool on this list. Marketo details its different subscription packages on its site, but no prices. You have to contact Marketo’s sales team as the site states ‘Pricing Based on Database Size’ – giving you an idea of how much you are likely to spend. Expect pricing to be relatively expensive compared to most of the other tools here, but of course, you would need to speak to Marketo to get an exact figure.
MobileMonkey is a leading chatbot platform offering several marketing automation features. You can use MobileMonkey to automate chats across your website, SMS, Facebook and Instagram. For example, you can use MobileMonkey to automate Q&As via the chatbot on your website. Of particular note is the platform’s deep Facebook Messenger automation tools, including its custom variable insertion for personalisation, and its automatic drip campaigns.
MobileMonkey has a generous free price tier where you can use some of the platform’s automation features. Access to the rest of MobileMonkey’s automation tools depends on the tier you sign up for, starting with the Pro tier at $21.75 per month billed annually, going all the way up to the Team tier at $299 per month billed annually.
Omnisend is a little different to the tools already discussed on this list. Omnisend is not trying to be an all-in-one solution for every business. Instead, the focus of Omnisend is on being a specialist marketing automation tool for eCommerce businesses. The main feature of Omnisend is its advanced email and SMS marketing functionality. So if you are running a Shopify store, you should give this platform a spin; however, be aware that Omnisend does not have the breadth of tools that some other software on this list does.
Omnisend has a generous free pricing tier to get started, allowing you send up to 15,000 emails a month. If you want to use Omnisend’s marketing automation and SMS marketing tools, you will need to upgrade to its ‘Standard’ tier, which costs $15 a month for a contact list of 500.
Act-on provides a full suite of marketing tools including marketing automation, segmentation, SEO, social media marketing, analytics, reporting and account-based marketing. Act-on’s marketing automation tools are extensive, offering an Automated Journey Builder that allows you to design your communications workflows via a visual canvas, automated lead nurturing, automated messaging, and automated data management.
Act-on is not targeting businesses with small budgets. The entry-level pricing tier, called ‘Professional’, starts at £729 per month. It is quite expensive compared to many other tools on this list, but the Professional package does include marketing automation.
Autopilot offers marketing automation, email marketing, lead management, and multi-channel marketing. Autopilot’s interface is a user-friendly, visual UI that allows you to build out your marketing automation without needing to code. Autopilot also integrates with many popular tools, such as Facebook, Google Adwords, and Salesforce.
Autopilot offers a free 30 day trial of any of their plans, so you have plenty of time to test out its systems. All Autopilot plans come with marketing automation. How much you pay depends on how many contacts you have. If you have 2000 contacts or less, then $49 per month will be how much Autopilot will cost you.
Drip comes with customer data tools, personalisation tools, engagement tools, and optimisation tools. Drip comes with some nifty automation functionality and allows you to build workflows that can send automated comms such as SMS, and emails based on contact behaviour.
Drip offers a 14-day free trial, which includes all of the tools. As with many other marketing automation platforms, the pricing is dependant on the number of contacts in your database. Drip is low cost; it is only $19 for up to 500 users. What is great is this lowest tier includes all of Drip’s marketing automation tools.
Keap provides a suite of sales and marketing automation tools. As with many other platforms, you can build advanced automation workflows to guide your contacts down the sales funnel.
Keap has three subscription tiers; Keap Grow, Keap Pro, and Infusionsoft. If you want to use the marketing automation features, you’ll need to opt for Keap Pro or Infusionsoft. Keap Pro is currently $105 per month for up to 500 contacts, increasing to $149 after three months.
MailChimp is one of the most well-known email marketing platforms. The platform’s marketing automation features include building out workflows, interesting data powered automated email scheduling, transactional trigger-based emails, and also provides pre-built automation.
MailChimp’s pricing is very reasonable. There are four tiers, which includes a free tier. If you want the bulk of the automation tools, you will want to at least subscribe to the ‘Standard’ tier, which will cost $14.99 per month. The ‘Standard’ tier includes up to 100,000 contacts. The pricing of MailChimp is pretty reasonable compared to many other marketing automation platforms.
Pardot is a B2B marketing automation tool built on SalesForce. Pardot comes with impressive functionality, including lead generation, lead management, email marketing, reporting, and AI that shows which of your prospects are most likely to convert.
Pardot’s platform comes at a cost and is probably priced above the budgets of many small businesses. The entry-level tier costs $1,250 per month billed annually, so be prepared to hand over at least $15,000 per year if you sign up with Pardot.
AdRoll is a marketing platform for direct-to-consumer eCommerce sites. AdRoll can automate various marketing tasks, mostly by integrating with other tools such as Marketo and Klaviyo. AdRoll comes with some pretty interesting tools. Install AdRoll on your site, and it will start gathering data and building audiences to assist with your targeting.
AdRoll is one of the lower-cost tools in this list. AdRoll comes with a free-tier that comes with a lot of the marketing automation functionality. The next tier up is only $12 per month and allows you to build out custom audiences. The highest tier is $25 per month and allows you to send 20,000 emails per month. The two paid tiers also come with a thirty-day trial.
Constant Contact is a marketing platform that provides email marketing, eCommerce, website creation, and social marketing. For automation, you will likely be using Constant Contact’s email marketing automation. The automation features include welcome emails for new subscribers, a triggered email series, contact segmentation, and email resends to non-openers.
Constant Contact’s pricing is low cost. The lowest tier is £15 per month, but if you want the full suite of marketing automation features, you will want to opt for the ‘Email Plus’ tier at £30 per month.
Automated targeted email, push notifications, and SMS are the focus of customer.io. For automation, you will likely be using customer.io’s segmentation tools and the visual workflow builder.
Pricing for customer.io starts at $150 per month, so it is not one of the cheapest tools in this list. However, you do get a free trial, and the ‘Basic’ tier allows you to send up to one million messages per month. The ‘Premium’ tier is $995 per month, and so may be outside of the budget for many small businesses.
GetResponse is a marketing platform that comes with a diverse array of tools, including marketing automation. The marketing automation functionality includes workflows, automated email marketing, and personalisation.
GetResponse has a pricing tier to suit almost all budgets. The lowest price tier is ‘Basic’, which costs $15 per month. The ‘Basic’ tier does come with some marketing automation functionality. However, if you want access to all of the marketing automation features, you will need to sign up to GetResponse’s ‘Professional’ tier, which starts at $99 per month. The cost of each tier increases with the size of your contact list.
ManyChat allows you to build chatbots for Facebook Messenger, SMS, Shopify and integrates various tools such as MailChimp and HubSpot. ManyChat comes with audience segmentation, and you can design how the bot will behave using the visual flow builder.
ManyChat has a free tier so you can see if you like the product and what it offers. If you need a bit more power, you can opt for the ‘Pro’ tier for only $10 per month.
SendinBlue comes with a diverse range of tools including email marketing, SMS, chat, a CRM, marketing automation, sign up forms, and a landing page builder. Sendinblue allows you to build basic and advanced marketing automation workflows.
Sendinblue does have a free tier, but if you want to use the marketing automation tools, you will need the ‘Premium’ tier, allowing you to send up to 1 million emails per month.
Are you looking to set up marketing automation for your business using any of the tools above? Do you have any questions about your marketing automation?