The key to separating the best technology solutions from the lesser choices lies in properly understanding the modern customer, and what it demands. Eighty-eight percent of top marketers say a customer journey strategy is critical to the success of their overall marketing . So what do customers want? There is no one answer to that question, but perhaps more than anything else the modern customer is looking for a simplified and cohesive shopping experience. This is the type of “customer journey” that top marketers should be looking to provide.

Oracle Bronto is the premier cloud-based marketing platform for commerce. With an advanced marketing automation engine and solutions for browser and shopping cart abandonment, recommendations, post-purchase campaigns and powerful ecommerce integrations, the Bronto Marketing Platform helps marketers maximize engagement and drive revenue by automating targeted, personalized email and cross-channel marketing campaigns at scale. Bronto offers a full suite of enterprise features and an extensive array of partner integrations to help commerce marketers accomplish more, while saving time and resources. Over 1400 brands worldwide rely on Bronto, including a client roster of high-growth brands, including Rebecca Minkoff, Lucky Brand, Theory, Timex, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks. For more information, visit bronto.com.
Marketing emails need to be personalized to the reader and filled with interesting graphics. Few people want to read emails that are addressed "Dear Sir/Madam" -- as opposed to their first or last name -- and even fewer people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand what the point of the email is.
Selligent Marketing Cloud is a marketing automation platform that enables B2C brands to engage consumers across all critical channels. Built for the relationship marketer, Selligent Marketing Cloud is the only marketing cloud built on single code base, featuring artificial intelligence and a Customer Data Platform with a universal consumer profile at the core of every action. More than 700 brands across retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services rely on Selligent Marketing Cloud’s proven platform. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 agency partners and resellers, Selligent Marketing Cloud serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.

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.
As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.
HubSpot is a leading growth platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 52,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better. HubSpot Marketing Hub has everything you need to run successful inbound marketing campaigns that make people interested in your business and happy to be your customer.
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.
However, the term “marketing automation” has become a buzz-word, where marketers seek out marketing automation software under the impression that all of the digital marketing tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads, roll up under the hood of marketing automation. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.
Marketo is great for companies who are going to make use of the tool’s many features that go beyond basic marketing automation. It’s not the most expensive tool, but it’s certainly not the cheapest either. If you’re not going to use the advanced functionality of the system, you can get similar results with one of the less expensive tools. However, if you want to start with the basics and move into the more advanced functionality in the near future, it could be a good idea to start with a tool like Marketo so that you don’t have to switch over all your data and campaigns down the line. We also like that Marketo has a very large and active knowledge base, which is a great resource for new users.
Funny timing that this post was put up today. I just had a meeting with a marketing consultant who was trying to sell my law firm on a whole new marketing package, including a new website, a social media strategy, etc. This person also said they had 10 years of experience in internet marketing. I told this person I thought each of the lawyers at my firm (who each have very different practice areas) should have an autoresponder set up. I said ideally each lawyer would have a “report” in the form of a PDF (available on their bio page) that would entice subscribers to download the report and sign up for the autoresponder.
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?
Without a solid content marketing strategy to engage prospects across different touchpoints and stages of their buyer’s journey, marketing automation fails. Creating enough content at a reasonable cost is one of the top challenges to marketing automation, according to many marketers. Others include data quality and integration, poor marketing processes, lack of skilled staff and organizational culture. If you don’t build your marketing automation processes around the customer, just as you would do in content marketing, marketing automation is doomed to fail and it becomes even harder to close the loop between marketing, sales and customer value. Vendors have a responsibility as do marketing automation users and agencies. Change management is a must and it’s a well-known fact many organizations buy expensive marketing automation solutions while only using a limited percentage of available features and not even in the best way possible. No marketing automation without a realistic approach, a customer-centric strategy (based on touchpoints, journeys, etc.) and certainly not without a content marketing strategy.
While marketing automation often looks at generating demand and new revenues by a “right time, right message, right touchpoint” approach, as we know it in content marketing and content management as well, it’s essential to also look at engagement with existing customers of course. After all, the total customer life cycle and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are essential. In this regarding marketing automation platforms are evolving and also facing competition from new vendors focussing more on customer engagement and experiences across the customer life cycle. Several vendors in the content management space have also been evolving from systems of records to systems of engagement. Marketing automation is part of an increasingly broader ecosystem and context where the customer and customer lifetime value are key. An introduction to the customer life cyle and models to calculate the customer lifetime value (CLV).
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.
Great article here. Pls. I’m a little bit confused. All I just need is a vendor that has a Landing page feature, allows for autoresponder, allows for promotion of genuine mlm and affiliate business, and cost effective for beginner. I tried Mailchimp but got suspended just within two weeks with them, and the customer care pretty bad and arrogant. Please advice
Ideally, email marketing should go hand-in-hand with social media. Adding social media "Like" or "Share" buttons to your marketing emails gives an additional way for customers to connect with your brand. Snippets of positive reviews from social media fans can be included in emails, and conversely, social media postings can be used to encourage fans to subscribe to your email newsletters.
For Campaign Monitor customers, you can either manually upload an existing list (from an Excel file for instance) or you can connect your Campaign Monitor account to the tool where your customer data lives (such as your CRM, accounting, eCommerce tool, and hundreds of others) and automatically sync your customer information into your Campaign Monitor account.
As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.
Because of the constant influx of marketing emails to their inboxes, buyers have begun to block out many  of these communications, whether through inbox filters or a subconscious disregard for irrelevant messages. Instead, these buyers are doing Google searches, and asking their friends for recommendations. They’re tapping the social media community for advice and browsing your website to see if your business offers a solution fit for their challenges. If you’re only communicating with these leads through email, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to reach your leads via multiple channels during various parts of the decision process, you’re also ignoring a slew of behavioral data points they’re giving you about their needs and interests.
Propsect.io does one very specific part of marketing automation (finding cold leads and engaging them to become warm), but it does it very well. One particularly good feature about Prospect.io that’s not easy to find elsewhere is that the automation emails can be triggered directly from your mail server (e.g. G Suite or Microsoft Exchange) so your emails appear identical to if you had sent them manually.
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.
We founded Blueshift to address problems we encountered first-hand as marketing & machine learning leaders. Our team previously founded Groupon Goods (Mertado), and were early team at WalmartLabs (Kosmix). As marketers ourselves, we noticed that it’s becoming increasingly harder communicate with customers on a 1:1 basis in the era of the perpetually connected customer. Using patented technology, Blueshift’s AI enables consumer marketers at leading consumer brands to launch 1:1 engagement on every channel. ● Visual campaigns & Journeys: Build multi-touch campaigns with a simple visual interface; include advanced testing, content recommendations & filters with just a few clicks. ● Behavioral Segmentation at scale: Segments that update dynamically based on a real-time stream of customer interactions ● Predictive Segmentation: Machine learning based scores for user affinities and propensities ● Product & content recommendations: Build multiple recommendation schemes for merchandising products, categories and content ● Full-funnel measurement with attribution: go beyond opens & clicks, and track custom conversion goals with customizable attribution. ● Cross-channel orchestration: Orchestrate cross-channel campaigns between email, mobile app notifications, SMS, website, Facebook retargeting and more. ● Testing & Optimization: Leverage advanced testing capabilities, including a-b tests, as well as measurement against holdout groups. ● Best-in-class deliverability: Scalable deliverability infrastructure and services.

dotdigital is a global leader in customer engagement technology and Engagement Cloud is its platform: the preferred choice for growing businesses and ambitious brands. The platform’s impressive features empower over 80,000 marketers across 150 countries to acquire, convert, and retain customers at scale. Users can connect with CRM and ecommerce systems, surface powerful data, and automate intelligent cross-channel messages that resonate with audiences. Established in 1999, dotdigital is a global company with over 350 employees, serving brands of all verticals and sizes. Our easy to use and powerful email solution enables SMBs, large enterprise and agencies to manage and grow their email strategy and more by making it easy to build your own marketing cloud, using our extensive app directory. A Magento Premier Technology, Shopify Plus and BigCommerce partner, dotdigital integrates seamlessly with many world-class ecommerce platforms and CRMs including Salesforce and MS Dynamics. Our recent acquisition of COMAPI cements our commitment to empowering marketers by providing customers with best-in-class omnichannel messaging capabilities such as SMS, live chat and social media integration. Start a free trial: https://www.dotdigital.com/trial/

Netcore Smartech is a leading cloud-hosted campaign management and marketing automation program focusing on business growth. It aims to help users deliver unparalleled customer experiences through its customer journey mapping, cross-channel automation, funnel analytics, and messaging tools. The Netcore Smartech platform is offered through a quote-based payment system. For estimates, contact the vendor.
Selligent Marketing Cloud is a marketing automation platform that enables B2C brands to engage consumers across all critical channels. Built for the relationship marketer, Selligent Marketing Cloud is the only marketing cloud built on single code base, featuring artificial intelligence and a Customer Data Platform with a universal consumer profile at the core of every action. More than 700 brands across retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services rely on Selligent Marketing Cloud’s proven platform. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 agency partners and resellers, Selligent Marketing Cloud serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.
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.
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.
Marketo, an Adobe company, offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to build brand value, grow revenue, and prove impact. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit www.marketo.com.

Marketing emails need to be personalized to the reader and filled with interesting graphics. Few people want to read emails that are addressed "Dear Sir/Madam" -- as opposed to their first or last name -- and even fewer people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand what the point of the email is.

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