Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?

ActiveCampaign is a business marketing application designed for small companies. Used by over 100,000 people globally, this all-in-one software has all the tools you need to boost your business from marketing automation and sales CRM to smart emailing and data analysis. Should you encounter problems with their system, they also offer in-depth training and customer support. ActiveCampaign is available in four pricing plans ranging from $15 monthly to $279 monthly. They also offer yearly subscription options for your convenience.
This has resulted in the rise of omnichannel retail. That is to say, a complete, unified customer experience from start to finish. In order to find success in the current market, companies must meet their customers where they are — whether in-store, online, on social media, or wherever — and provide the same high quality experience every time. This is what separates the best marketing automation tools from the rest.
Like any marketing strategy, building an email marketing campaign strategy relies on knowing your audience. That means checking out analytics and social media analytics for demographic information. Once you know who your subscribers are, it’s easy to come up with a lead magnet such as an ebook that will encourage them to subscribe. That also makes it easier to decide on the right content for your email. If you can, give subscribers options about how often they hear from you.

Omnisend - Email Marketing & Automation for Ecommerce provides the omnichannel approach for sales-driven marketers that have outgrown the generic email marketing platforms. Join more than 40,000 merchants that have trusted their e-commerce marketing automation to Omnisend. Our platform provides a complete solution for connecting your ecommerce business with potential and existing customers across multiple customer journey touchpoints. Try a more personalized omnichannel touch with your customers by email, SMS, Facebook messenger or automatically synchronizing audiences for Google, Facebook and Instagram platforms for better customers’ experience and higher conversions. Omnisend works with all e-commerce platforms including Shopify, Bigcommerce, Magento, WooCommerce and others. Drive sales at scale Email marketing automation is all about sending anticipated, contextualized and relevant messages at the right time. Capitalize on pre-built automation templates that you need to set up only once. Then sit and watch your sales growing on autopilot with Welcome emails, Cart Abandonemnt, Order updates, Customer Re-activation and Order Follow-up. Design state-of-the-art newsletters in minutes Skip the tedious and time-consuming newsletter setup process. Our drag-and-drop Content Editor is intuitive and gives you all the tools you need to enjoy great results at the speed of light. Improve your performance with beautiful email templates, the one-click Product Picker, the interactive CTR boosters and unique Discount Coupons. Choose how to grow your email list Choose how to turn your visitors into subscribers with a wide variety of signup forms. Omnisend’s forms are mobile-friendly and fully customizable. Grow your list with non-intrusive Signup boxes, welcome and exit intent Popups, the fun Wheel of Fortune, and customizable landing pages. Ready to convert your visitors into repeat customers? Try out Omnisend’s ecommerce marketing automation—every new user starts with a 14-day, obligation-free trial. After 14 days, you choose whether to keep using one of our paid plans - Standard or Pro - or continue with our Free plan, which includes 15,000 emails per month (up to 2,000 emails per day). Majority of our customers value Omnisend as a great alternative for their ecommerce businesses compared to Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Active Campaign and others. Omnisend gives you stellar support and helpful advice anytime you need it. We’re available 24/7 for all.


An auto responder is generally more similar in content to a newsletter than it is to a direct sales email, though it combines many of the elements of both. The content can vary wildly though based on your industry segment and what you've promised subscribers. The most common type of auto responder content will be tips or advice, but you can also do great things with recipes, serial fiction pieces, inspirational quotes and a variety of other topics. Essentially, you are looking for content that will engage users over a period of time while also providing a platform to encourage sales of your product or service or visits to your website.
Where they should improve: Unfortunately, this ease of use doesn’t apply to the autoresponder editor. You can’t view autoresponders in a workflow, and they’re not very flexible (you can’t send autoresponders to send after an hour, for example, and you can’t set sending time ranges). Historically, Benchmark haven’t performed so great in our deliverability tests, either.

Touchpoint-based marketing and customer experience models become increasingly important as the customer journey changes but most of all as the focus should not be on the channels and campaigns as is often the case in marketing automation but (also) on the longer-term (smart marketers move away from short-terminism) and most of all the customer experiences in a highly connected and integrated digital reality. Find a few touchpoint models and read Why touchpoint marketing is important.
Autopilot is simple and visual customer journey software. We help you capture and convert new leads, connect with customers, and create loyal repeat buyers. LAUNCH IN MINUTES Autopilot’s visual canvas for creating customers journeys is inspired by drawing campaigns on a whiteboard. Whether you need to follow up with new contacts, qualify and assign leads to sales, or onboard customers, you can automate your marketing simply by dragging and connecting shapes together in just a few minutes. INTEGRATE POPULAR TOOLS Connect Autopilot with tools like Salesforce, Facebook, Segment, Slack, Typeform, Twilio, and Zapier. Or plug in your own using our API. By centralizing your data, you can create a personalized experience based on interests and behavior. Instantly trigger automated journeys to assign leads in Salesforce, follow up after LiveChat conversations, or add customers to a Facebook Custom Audience. CREATE MULTI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCES Create a better experience for you customers by sending targeted emails, in-app messages, SMS, and postcards at the right time in their journey. Allow subscribers to opt-in by texting a keyword to a number. Notify active customers of a new product feature when they log in to your app. Celebrate milestones or offer a special discount by sending a postcard as easily as automating an email. TRACK AND OPTIMIZE PERFORMANCE Set a goal for every journey to get insight into which messages convert and how journeys are trending. Track your performance in real-time, run A/B test experiments, and quickly optimize based on results. Autopilot has helped the Equality Campaign in Australia win the YES vote on gay marriage. It’s helped Microsoft communicate with and onboard new developers. It’s helped Patreon connect and educate creators to give them new revenue streams. And it’s helped hundreds of startups tell their story and grow their businesses. Are you ready to launch your next customer journey? We offer a 30-day free trial so you can try it out, no credit card required.
If you want to integrate your email with your shopping cart but don’t quite want to spring for InfusionSoft, 1ShoppingCart could be your answer. 1ShoppingCart is a one stop solution for payment processing and email marketing. It allows you to segregate lists and mail only buyers or your entire list. It’s one of the more reputable shopping cart services on the net.

Constant Contact is an email marketing software serving over 650,000 small businesses and startups. Known for its intuitive yet user-friendly features, this platform is packed with tools for emailing automation, social media management, and contact tracking. Constant Contact has two monthly payment packages: Email starting at $20 and Email Plus starting at $45. For your convenience, they offer a free 60-day trial.
Mailchimp offers a forever free plan which allows you to send 12,000 emails for up to 2,000 subscribers. This plan is fairly limited because you don’t features like send-time optimization, advanced segmentation, multi-variate testing, etc. You are also required to display their branding in your email. Last but not least, support is restricted to email only, and you may find it not as helpful.
To do this, you need to have a web analytics tool (like Google Analytics) installed on your site. If you do, and you’ve enabled our Google Analytics integration, then you’ll be able to see details of any visits to your website from your email campaigns, including how long they spent on your site, what pages they visited, what campaigns they’re coming from and more.
Pardot is a marketing automation and lead management platform created by Salesforce for B2B companies. Cloud-hosted and accessible on desktop and mobile devices, this software combines the power of multiple features in one interface. Among the tools included in Pardot are for email marketing, lead nurturing, and sales intelligence. To start incorporating Pardot in your business operations, you may choose from their three annual payment plans that cost from $1000 to $3000 per month.
Hi. thank you for the great information. I currently have Mail Chimp and it is set up to sync between my WordPress site and Mail Chimp. the problem is it isn’t and new subscribers to my blog are not being updated onto the list on the Mail chimp end. I have tried several fixes and nothing is working. I am unsure what to do now after endless googling it may be time to quit Mail Chimp. Seems others are having this problem also.
Marketing automation is a very active segment of the CRM software market. Not only are new vendors entering the market, but existing market leaders are constantly innovating and delivering new product updates. Today, the majority of solutions can be split into business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) solutions. The two groupings are very different and so are their functional needs.

ReportGarden is a marketing automation software focusing on lead management and campaign reporting. Offering SEO audit, invoicing, and budgeting modules for digital marketing agencies, this platform comes in handy for those who are especially conscious about the accurate reporting of their progress. Easily accessed on desktops and internet browsers, ReportGarden offers four pricing plans that may be billed monthly or yearly depending on your preference. They also have a custom plan that starts at $65.
Ask a stimulating question. Ask your subscribers a question and invite them to reply to your email to answer. You could ask what they’re struggling with (related to your topic), how they found your site, or what challenges they’re facing right now. This information is also marketing gold for you — it gives you ideas for more autoresponders, blog posts, podcast episodes, and other content.
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.

Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles.


Salesfusion is dedicated to helping companies build a large revenue funnel for marketing and sales by creating customized digital conversations that are seamlessly transitioned between departments. Marketing and sales teams participate in and measure these digital conversations to deliver more lead-to-revenue results by communicating with the right leads at the right time with the right message.
In order to reach customers with these all-important 1-to-1 journeys, a new generation of marketing automation tools has emerged. These tools take advantage of cloud capabilities in order to provide marketing teams with the ability to get to know their customers better, manage campaigns, and collaborate more seamlessly with other departments such as sales, service, IT, and more.
MailChimp is another popular email marketing service in the industry. It allows you to create and send email newsletters to your customers, manage subscriber lists, track campaign performance and much more. It also offers responsive email templates that look great on mobile devices and different screens. MailChimp automatically takes care of your sign-ups, un-subscribes, and bounce-back cleaning.
Both HubSpot and Pardot offer a vast array of functionality that should suit your business regardless of how intricate your marketing strategy might be. We found HubSpot to be better equipped for small businesses that are steadily growing their marketing activity, whereas Pardot is ideal for large enterprises with complicated marketing plans already in place. In total, we tested 10 marketing automation tools, each of which offer some unique features that make them stand out from the field.
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.
B2B enterprise buyer. These buyers work for firms that market to other businesses, and engage in longer sales cycles. They are primarily seeking capabilities that help them nurture relationships with prospects. Lead nurturing, lead scoring, sales force automation (SFA) and sales coordination and enablement tools are all critical for optimal performance.
VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.
Multi-Channel Marketing Support. In today’s marketing landscape, you need to use various communication platforms to stay competitive. Luckily, ReportGarden can support multiple channels in one convenient interface. Whether your social marketing campaign involves, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other sites, you can boost it without having to leave your marketing software.
Quality Features, Powerful Integrations. TechValidate is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to have flexibility in their marketing endeavours. It is packed with a plethora of scalable features that improve your content, streamline your workflow, and increase the efficacy of your marketing campaign. It can also support a multitude of powerful integrations.

With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.


NAVIK MarketingAI is a cloud-hosted marketing automation platform built by absolutdata. Its aim is to help users improve the impact of their campaigns through hyper personalization, campaign simulators, dynamic micro segmentations, predicted behavior models, and other features. NAVIK MarketingAI also offers next best action recommendations, to make decision making processes are easier. As for their payment plans, they are offered on a by-quote basis, so you will have to contact the provider for their enterprise pricing information.

NAVIK MarketingAI is a cloud-hosted marketing automation platform built by absolutdata. Its aim is to help users improve the impact of their campaigns through hyper personalization, campaign simulators, dynamic micro segmentations, predicted behavior models, and other features. NAVIK MarketingAI also offers next best action recommendations, to make decision making processes are easier. As for their payment plans, they are offered on a by-quote basis, so you will have to contact the provider for their enterprise pricing information.
If you’re not leveraging interactions across every marketing channel like social media, your website, or the content your leads are consuming, it’s as if you’re only listening to your leads 30% of the time. Have you ever been on the phone with a sales rep who doesn’t answer your questions and reads straight from a pre-generated script without taking your specific needs into account? Did you end up buying from that company?
Conduct campaigns, prioritize and focus on the basics of conversion, optimization and customer experiences but at the same time don’t ignore the voice of the customer, the clear shifts and the channel-agnostic reality with more stakeholders than ever before because you want to stick to a channel-centric mentality. In the end that’s where social CRM – in the true sense of the word – comes in.

Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles.
LeadSquared looks interesting – although I can’t quite figure out what differentiates it from other small business marketing automation software. Out of interest, what separates B2C vs. B2B marketing automation from a software vendor’s point of view? I.e. what’s different about the software that gears it towards B2C companies opposed to if you were targeting B2B clients?
Marketing Automation platforms allow marketers to automate and simplify client communication by managing complex omni-channel marketing strategies from a single tool. Marketing Automation assist greatly in areas like Lead Generation, Segmentation, Lead nurturing and lead scoring, Relationship marketing, Cross-sell and upsell, Retention, Marketing ROI measurement.
The first autoresponders were created within mail transfer agents that found they could not deliver an e-mail to a given address. These create bounce messages such as "your e-mail could not be delivered because..." type responses. Today's autoresponders need to be careful to not generate e-mail backscatter, which can result in the autoresponses being considered E-mail spam.
B2C systems tend to manage vast databases of customer data—often millions of records. These systems have sophisticated tools for analyzing and segmenting customers into different categories of buyers. Markets can then execute specific campaigns, or “treatments” for each segment. Campaigns are typically designed to elicit a direct response, such as returning to a website to make a purchase. Alternatively, campaigns may feed a target prospect list into a call center systems for telesales outreach. 

If you’re producing effective inbound marketing content, you’re generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your successful efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers. Below are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business.


A call to action (CTA) is a word or phrase that encourages readers and subscribers to do something specific. Examples of calls to action include “subscribe”, “shop now”, “get the free ebook”. You use CTAs on email signup forms, landing pages, in email newsletters, and more. When someone does what you want as a result of your call to action, that’s called a conversion. In email marketing, a conversion often means following a link in a email newsletter to visit another resource.
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
There are many quality marketing automation software solutions available for businesses but the ones we have covered above are among the most popular of them all. Comparing marketing automation tools is not an easy thing to do because almost every one of them has that one feature that becomes their USP. What we have summarized above are the best for all types of companies in terms of sizes and the sectors they operate in.
There are many quality marketing automation software solutions available for businesses but the ones we have covered above are among the most popular of them all. Comparing marketing automation tools is not an easy thing to do because almost every one of them has that one feature that becomes their USP. What we have summarized above are the best for all types of companies in terms of sizes and the sectors they operate in.
Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?
Ask a stimulating question. Ask your subscribers a question and invite them to reply to your email to answer. You could ask what they’re struggling with (related to your topic), how they found your site, or what challenges they’re facing right now. This information is also marketing gold for you — it gives you ideas for more autoresponders, blog posts, podcast episodes, and other content.
Delivra is an email marketing software platform that has helped organizations execute effective marketing campaigns for more than 15 years. Known for its industry expertise and unrivaled customer service, Delivra helps businesses engage in meaningful conversations with customers that produce tangible results. Delivra empowers organizations to achieve business goals through a suite of professional services, including strategic campaign consulting, email design, content strategy and more. Delivra has implemented dynamic marketing solutions for more than 1000 companies representing varying industries. Delivra makes it easy to build and send impactful email marketing campaigns, offering an easy-to-use drag and drop editor to customize content. The software’s marketing automation capabilities also allow users to strategically plot out an entire email series, determining which mailings are sent based on a variety of subscriber actions, inactions or time. For companies with an e-commerce component, Delivra’s Commerce Package enables email marketing tactics specific to customer re-engagement, cart recovery, automation, and customer retention. Online merchants get all the powerful features of the Delivra platform in addition to custom integrations designed for e-commerce. Delivra works with a wide variety of CRM’s, e-commerce platforms, and web analytics tools so all marketing data is available in one place. The software either plugs right into the technology a company is already using, or Delivra builds out a custom integration to ensure that it does.
He is the owner of jeffbullas.com. Forbes calls him a top influencer of Chief Marketing Officers and the world's top social marketing talent. Entrepreneur lists him among 50 online marketing influencers to watch. Inc.com has him on the list of 20 digital marketing experts to follow on Twitter. Oanalytica named him #1 Global Content Marketing Influencer. BizHUMM ranks him as the world's #1 business blogger. Learn More
1. Pricing – While SendinBlue is one of the most affordable email marketing tools currently available, you’ll need to be on their $49/month plan or above to access unlimited automation workflows. While not a major issue, this tends to rule out SendinBlue for me when recommending a marketing automation tool to a small business that’s new to automation. After all, ActiveCampaign starts at $9!
BuzzFeed – The popular news and entertainment website earns revenue by selling advertisements on their site, so the key objective of their marketing team is to drive more traffic. With that in mind, BuzzFeed sends regular email newsletters containing links to stories on their website with the goal of increasing the number of visits they get each month and increasing the amount of revenue they generate.
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