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Best Marketing Automation Platforms

We've been talking about about marketing automation quite a bit, including highlighting how it saves both time and money and how it can help you grow your business. Now, it's time to introduce some marketing automation platforms that we believe will help businesses, like yours, grow.


1. Marketo

Marketo is perhaps the best known marketing automation tool, and for good reason. It’s one of the most mature tools, with a full suite of features that not only help marketers manage email campaigns, but also provide excellent tools for sales teams. Marketo also has a marketplace, called LaunchPoint, with dozens of integrations.


Whom it’s for:

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.



2. Eloqua


You can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.


Whom it’s for:

Don’t look at Eloqua unless you’re really going after enterprise-level software and you have the budget for it. Now, if you do, Eloqua is a great option, especially if you like having a lot of guidance from your technology vendors. You should also consider Eloqua if tight CRM integration is important to you.


3. Customer.io


The main reason we love Customer.io is its flexibility. This is a tool that will really let you get what you want out of it. While it’s not all out of the box, if you’re willing to put in some developer time, you can really customize your Customer.io experience. Another great thing about this tool is its lightweight UI and fast, personal customer support. Customer.io is one of the newer players, but they’re growing very quickly and are definitely a company to watch. Unlike most of the older tools, Customer.io is built to trigger emails based on events, rather than just pageviews.


Whom it’s for:

Customer.io is great for two kinds of uses: 1. Companies that are looking to get started with marketing automation and appreciate a lightweight UI (i.e. not your typical enterprise software) and 2. Companies that are looking for some more advanced functionality that requires flexibility and customization, and are willing to devote the developer resources to implement it. We happen to fall into the second category, which is why we chose Customer.io for our marketing automation needs at Woopra.


4. Constant Contact


Constant Contact is a well known email marketing tool for small businesses. It does a great job of providing basic functionality in a way that is very easy for even non-technical users to take advantage of. The ease of use and affordable cost are its biggest differentiators.


Whom it’s for:

Constant Contact is for the small business owner who wants to quickly get started with organized email marketing and doesn’t anticipate needing any advanced functionality down the line. The tool is a great choice for you if you fit this description, but if you plan to expand your marketing automation efforts in the near future, this isn’t the tool for you.


5. HubSpot


The advantage and disadvantage of using HubSpot are one and the same: the system does a little bit of everything, but doesn’t do any one thing at a deep level. HubSpot describes itself as “inbound marketing software”, which means it offers a variety of tools, one of which is marketing automation. This all-in-one approach can be really convenient.


Whom it’s for:

Like Constant Contact, HubSpot is great for the small business owner, but where HubSpot beats out Constant Contact is in the additional functionality it provides beyond email marketing. If you’re looking for an “all-in-one” tool that gives you the very basic functionality of several different marketing systems, HubSpot is a good option for you.


6. ExactTarget/Pardot


We were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car (if, for example, you were a car manufacturer).


And if you’re wondering what the difference is between ExactTarget and Pardot (acquired by ExactTarget), the former is meant for B2C companies while the latter is designed for B2B companies.


Whom it’s for:

ExactTarget is for the company that has the desire — and the resources — to go above and beyond with their marketing automation. It’s for the company that is really looking to the future of marketing automation and wants to connect with its customers over many different channels.


7. Userfox


Userfox is another new player in the marketing automation space, and they were actually just acquired by AdRoll. We’re hoping the combined power of the AdRoll and userfox teams means exciting things for the future of their product. And we know the userfox team has some amazing talent, because one of their co-founders previously worked with us here at Woopra.


Whom it’s for:

Userfox works primarily with tech companies, so if you’re in the industry, you’ll be in good company. Like Customer.io, userfox has a lightweight interface and is designed to trigger emails based on events (rather than just pageviews), so if that’s important to you, userfox is a great choice. You might also consider userfox if you’re already using AdRoll, as the acquisition likely means a tight integration between the two products in the future.


Once you get one or two successful marketing automation campaigns up and running,

you’ll be amazed at the results.