Before doing a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons, or the pricing comparisons, it’s important to know what to look out for. It is common to come across complaints about automation tools being incompatible with CRM and performance issues reported one month down the line. That can be painful. Companies that do not carry out a detailed research and miss out the fine print can end up burning their fingers by the sliding scale pricing structures and unexpected additional costs.
The HubSpot dashboard enables teams to immediately sort the contracts won (or not) and maintain a clear view of their performance toward their goals. HubSpot’s CRM automatically tracks customer touchpoints across different channels and keeps a timeline of all calls, emails, and meetings involving specific customers. The platform also helps create personalized paths to purchase and compile data showcasing how every marketing campaign contributed to sales.
Infusionsoft is the only drag-and-drop tool we tested, which is a nifty feature for marketers who may wish to work on touchscreens or don't have time to deal with lengthy drop-down menus. It also provides unique tag removal that automatically pulls contacts from campaigns if they perform a certain action. For example, if contacts don't open three emails in a row, then you can set the tool to remove all such contacts from the workflow. This way, you're not sending messages into a vacuum. The tool also gives you the most useful real-time alert dashboard of any that we tested in this class. It lets you see every contact interaction with anyone in your database. So, if you sent an email to someone a week ago but they just opened it this second, then you'll see their name pop up at the top of your dashboard. From this tab, you can send a follow-up email or adjust the contact's standing within the specific workflow.
Unlimited Lead Scoring. Are you looking for a software that can easily adapt to the needs of your growing business? ActiveCampaign supports an unlimited number of lead scores, so you can easily accommodate all your leads without having to upgrade the program. On top of that, the system lets you organize your leads according to your priorities or even automatically distribute them to your sales team.
However, the best timing is becoming more touchpoint-oriented and triggered, and less defined by general best practices. It is already the case in marketing automation but we still have a long way to go in order to shift to the personal touchpoint perspective. Again: this doesn’t mean that today’s approaches will disappear. Marketing is not black and white.
OutboundEngine helps businesses grow by making online marketing simple and easy for everyone. We create beautiful, high-impact marketing campaigns, deliver them automatically and track engagement to show who’s ready to have a conversation. Our platform strengthens relationships with customers, partners and prospects to uncover more opportunities with less work.

However, as email marketing developed as an effective means of direct communication, in the 1990s, users increasingly began referring to it as "spam", and began blocking out content from emails with filters and blocking programs. In order to effectively communicate a message through email, marketers had to develop a way of pushing content through to the end user, without being cut out by automatic filters and spam removing software.
LeadSquared Marketing Automation is a cloud-based platform catering to the marketing needs of different business sizes. It aims to streamline marketing campaigns using best-in-class tools for automation, analytics, lead management, website tracking, and list segmentation. Accessible on Windows, Linux, Mac, and mobile devices, LeadSquared Marketing Automation may cost from $200 per month to $1800 per month depending on the number of contacts you process.
Delivra is a platform built on the knowledge that automated email open rates are 95 percent higher than regular email open rates. With that in mind, the company tries to maximize customer engagement by offering help with SMS and email drip campaigns; it also assists with direct mail and uses A/B testing and alerts when engagement or purchase “tendencies” have been spotted.
Whether you already have a list of subscribers or are starting from scratch, email marketing services can help. All of the services we cover let you add contacts manually using copy and paste or by uploading CSV or Microsoft Excel files. Some integrate with third-party software enabling you to import Gmail and other webmail contacts, Salesforce.com and other customer relationship management (CRM) data, or other software where you might have contacts stored. Depending on the size and location of your list, third-party integration could be key. Verify whether you can export contacts as well (and how easy it is to do so) should you leave the service. Managing users who unsubscribe should also be easy so you're not accidentally contacting anyone who has opted out of your newsletters.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
I don’t have a lot of patience for email marketing software in my role as Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief. I need a solution that is intuitive and allows me to focus on the creative message I want to communicate, rather than technical hurdles. I’m picky, and ConvertKit helps me achieve my goals without having to make any compromises in terms of functionality. — Stefanie Flaxman, Editor-in-Chief, Copyblogger
Top marketing automation tools go hand in hand with a software solution that works for company-wide automation. A CRM platform that can be used by everybody from the top down, in order to create that seamless omnichannel experience that customers are looking for. However, this just scratches the surface of the kinds of features that a marketing manager should be looking for when deciding which marketing automation tools to implement.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation, formerly IBM Marketing Cloud, is a sophisticated and highly scalable SaaS-based cross channel digital marketing platform providing digital marketers the ability to implement and manage email, mobile, social and lead management campaign processes. It powers the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating cross-channel interactions. Digital marketers have the ability to understand and leverage real-time customer behaviors from a variety of sources to inform and promote personalized interactions. Through the solution marketers can create a single customer identity, understand channel preferences and deliver a consistent customer experience across channels. Pricing models vary based on the size and complexity of the deployment, and scales based on the number of customer records and/or volume of messages. A range of packaged editions are available to facilitate the matching of product capabilities to organizational requirements.
Many marketers have been seduced by social media advertising, perceiving it to be not only “cooler,” but also more effective than email marketing. There’s no denying that social media gets a lot more media attention than email marketing. However, claims that email marketing is no longer effective are simply not true (check out these email marketing stats that prove it). Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that email remains a cornerstone of their campaigns.

Marketo is a flexible marketing automation platform trusted by over 2300 customers across the globe. Accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, the software provides a variety of features for B2B marketing, lead management, email campaigns, budgeting, and ROI optimization. The platform also allows for real-time personalization, so you may engage your target market proactively and effectively. As for pricing, Marketo is only available on a by-quote basis, so be sure to get in touch with their representative.


Let’s face it – most email newsletters are crap. Far too many companies see email newsletters as another way to push sales, even though many people who sign up for a newsletter are not looking to actively make a purchase. This can result in low sign-up volumes, high rates of subscriber abandonment, and “newsletters” that are light on news and heavy on pushy sales tactics.

Not only was this initial email great, but his response to my answers was even better: Within a few days of responding to the questionnaire, I received a long and detailed personal email from Matt thanking me for filling out the questionnaire and offering a ton of helpful advice and links to resources specifically catered to my answers. I was very impressed by his business acumen, communication skills, and obvious dedication to his readers.


Next up is building an email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a pre-designed template. Most of these services have drag-and-drop UIs that let you choose exactly the elements you want to include, as well as image libraries in which you can store assets such as your logo or company photos. Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential since there are some seemingly innocuous terms that may send up red flags and drop all of your hard work into your subscribers' junk folders or, worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach their recipients.
Fixel is designed to enhance one’s marketing efforts by segmenting and identifying website visitors that will likely turn into paying customers. The software automatically segments website visitors based on their level of engagement and interaction, allowing you to target high-value candidates through marketing campaigns, remarketing, and other efforts to bolster your sales and conversions. Its advanced learning engine is capable of discovering and separating audiences based on multiple parameters and over 60 engagement signals. The platform constantly updates its segmentation engine based on detected advanced segments arising from multiple engagement signals, thus negating the need to create and test manual segments.
We envision a future where online retailers truly understand their customers, resulting in the growth of their businesses’ profitably. Exponea Experience Cloud is our way of bringing this vision to life. Exponea’s very essence is an intelligent union of customer data management and analytics, while cracking the true Single Customer View. Through this, we have enabled marketers to understand their customers and immediately turn such insights into actionable campaigns, all within a single integrated solution. Built on top of cutting edge technology, Exponea empowers marketers to deliver truly personalized, in the moment experiences to their customers at scale through deeply embedded AI-powered capabilities, removing obstacles and leveraging intent to purchase both on your online store or outside of it. True to our vision, we work closely with our clients and mentor them all along the short path to success. We enable the fast transfer of know-how which often results in a change of mindset and is a catalyst for a rapid, profitable growth of emerging e-commerce leaders around the world.
I have to say I’m so insanely jaded by autoresponders since I’ve been in the web marketing business that I snub the thought of using them personally…but isn’t that the temptation we can so easily fall into…especially since we forget that most people are UNDER exposed to them and see them for the fresh content, authority-inducing mechanism they are.
Established in 2008, Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool designed to offer a complete suite of applications, including email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and analytics, as well as integrations with webinar and event planning. With Act-On's email marketing, businesses can segment their customers into a variety of categories, allowing marketers to focus on a particular target market within that email group. The software offers core website tracking feature, which gives complete visibility into the types of customers that are visiting their site as well as their activities and the time spent on different contents while they are on the website. Act-On offers tools to build and optimize campaigns, generate leads, score and prioritize prospects, among others. The solution is capable of integrating with almost any leading CRM available in the market. Act-On is ideal for small marketing teams needing a marketing automation tool with minimal IT involvement. Platform features include: • Best-in-class email engine • One-click integration to leading web conferencing and CRM solutions • Tools for website visitor tracking • Lead scoring and lead nurturing • Automated programs; trigger & drip campaigns • Social media listening, prospecting & publishing • Design tools for web forms, landing pages and emails • Inbound tools for advanced SEO, Google AdWord tracking, and blog integration • Act-On Anywhere - a business productivity tool • Account- and contact-based marketing capabilities
Before doing a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages and the pros and cons, or the pricing comparisons, it’s important to know what to look out for. It is common to come across complaints about automation tools being incompatible with CRM and performance issues reported one month down the line. That can be painful. Companies that do not carry out a detailed research and miss out the fine print can end up burning their fingers by the sliding scale pricing structures and unexpected additional costs.

We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed us with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.


Thinking and acting in a customer-centric way and not falling in the trap of automating for the sake of it. Marketing automation is not a holy grail. The business goals and the customer are what it’s all about. Without a customer-centric culture, supported by management, marketing automation often results in sheer auomation with little added value.

The input from interactions with customers is more important than ever. We need to move from being responsive to pro-sponsive, another key evolution we’ll see in the marketing automation space and even in marketing campaigns. We also need to move to a model whereby the overall customer lifecycle is taken into account. The boundaries of the organization are blurring and so is the definition of the customer, even if we have to prioritize and remember those essentials.
Hey Sonia – Admittedly, I don’t have an autoresponder. I do have a welcome message for folks, but not an ongoing drip-drip-drip autoresponder series like you mentioned. Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, I’m not sure how to best integrate it into the other emails they’re receiving from me (blog posts and/or monthly e-letter) without overwhelming them as others have mentioned. Any thoughts?

Rob, you don’t say who ‘booted’ you from using it. A significant GDPR factor is non-profits having to consent/re-consent those on established email lists and experiencing significant proportions of lists being lost because people miss the notifications or are too busy to fill in yet more forms. However, I have found a few using a ‘one-touch’ re-subscription button that takes immediate effect, without the recipient having to do anything else. It would appear that the re-subscription rate is higher, the easier it is to activate. On enquiry, I was told that they were using mail chimp for this.

Purchased lists are ineffective, and they impact everyone else who uses Mailchimp, too. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact info you bought, many of the emails will get identified as spam. Some spam filters will flag a campaign if anyone with the same IP has sent spam in the past. When you use Mailchimp, your email is delivered through our servers, so if one person sends spam, it could prevent other users’ emails from reaching inboxes. But by forbidding Mailchimp users from using purchased lists, we increase deliverability for everyone.
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