If you’re an experienced professional within the digital space, I’m sure you’ve heard of marketing automation. Due to its various benefits, many companies are turning to marketing automation platforms to help their internal teams work more efficiently. Selecting the best marketing automation platform for your business can be difficult, and in order to help you narrow down which option is best for your business, we've broken down exactly what to look for below.
What is Marketing Automation Software?
More than ever before, platforms to maximize efficiency and optimize productivity are at the top of a modern marketing team’s discussions. Put simply, marketing automation software allows companies to up-level their businesses and outperform their competitors.
By streamlining your current manual business processes through the use of automation tools, you can give more time back to your marketing and sales teams, reach prospects more effectively, better qualify leads, and demonstrate positive ROI. While automating your marketing can certainly provide profitable results, it’s important to note that it should not replace your traditional marketing strategy efforts.
Is a Marketing Automation Platform Right for Me?
Whether you are a larger agency with an internal marketing department or you are operating independently with no marketing team, we think there are several benefits for using automation technology to help you crush your goals. The market is saturated with plenty of highly-rated software providers that do similar functions in terms of how the platforms will work.
Most marketing automation tools will include functionalities for email marketing, lead management, social media marketing, and reporting or analytics features. It can seem overwhelming to sift through multiple providers with similar service offerings.
If you have been tasked with finding a solid marketing automation platform for your organization, rather than focusing solely on the individual features, try to first hone in on the desired business results that you are wanting to achieve. Are you looking to increase lead generation? Improve your customer engagement and lead nurturing processes? How about improving your campaign targeting or overall marketing productivity? After this, you can begin to identify what your marketing department does regularly and decide if it is worth outsourcing through the use of an automation software. Look for the gaps!
You may assess your current operations or needs and decide that an automation tool might not fit into your business - that’s okay! Remember, marketing automation alone will not help you find your desired success without a solid digital marketing strategy in place. However, coupled with an efficient process, the addition of an integrated marketing automation platform can be a powerful tool to help your business grow.
HubSpot Certified Agency Partner
Now, for a brief disclaimer. Being that LAIRE is a Platinum Agency Partner with HubSpot, there is no denying the fact that we are a bit biased towards the platform in general, including the full software stack that they offer. However, the goal of this article is not to persuade you to hop on the HubSpot bandwagon with us (although, we wouldn’t be opposed...). Our desire in writing this post is to simply be informative and helpful as you seek to make the right marketing automation decision for your business. Without further ado, follow us as we provide a *virtual* introduction to some of the major key players in the world of marketing automation software.
The Marketing Automation Line Up
Recently acquired by Adobe, Marketo’s system can be broken down into five main modules: lead management, email marketing, consumer marketing, customer based marketing, and mobile marketing. You can create a customized solution that bundles all of these modules together, or you can purchase separately. Pricing is scaled according to business size. Marketo does not offer a built-in CRM platform, but they do offer native integrations for several larger scale service providers.
A strong competitor to HubSpot, SharpSpring offers a client management console with a single-sign-on, designed for agency specific needs. The platform offers an open API and universal CMS compatibility. A big draw to SharpSpring is the overall affordability, along with unlimited users in their contact management piece. A commonly specified downfall for SharpSpring is their execution in certain features, particularly with email automation.
ActiveCampaign allows users to send targeted email campaigns, nurture contacts, and automate basic sales and marketing processes. At this time, they do not offer options for users looking to edit or create content on their website. They need the help of third-party integrations that can create landing pages or website pages. However, you are able to quickly create conversion forms with the use of their drag-and-drop builder.
Drip software is ideal for business with a strong e-commerce presence, looking to continue selling online. Their list segmentation features paired with their automation tools and workflows are a large reason why users choose this marketing automation platform. Drip’s enterprise level pricing does increase as the number of contacts increases, so do keep that in mind. Users do seem to enjoy their A/B testing features in terms of measuring campaign performance.
Pardot is another force to be reckoned with in the marketing automation industry. The platform is known for their strong lead insights, customer journey features, visitor reports, and dashboards. Pardot offers extensive analytic capabilities best suited to enterprise-sized businesses. An incredibly comprehensive and robust platform, Pardot is very similar to HubSpot on multiple levels, and both players are consistently rolling out new features and functionalities to regularly improve their service offerings.
For a complete list of how these players (and others) compare to HubSpot, you can check out our blog: ‘Marketing Automation Software Showdown: How HubSpot Compares’.
The options can seem endless when it comes to marketing automation platforms available to you in 2020. There are a lot of very comparable solutions when it comes down to features and functions. To help you make a decision, we’ve outlined a few topics for your consideration that move beyond the basic functionalities of a software.
This is an obvious point for most, but it’s important to note how the platform relates to your budget. What is your budget for a marketing automation platform? What’s the starting price point for your business needs and if/when the price changes, what will determine that? It’s wise to note these things upfront so there are no surprises later on.
This may be something you may not have thought of immediately, but you should pay attention to the user experience that is being advertised to you. Do you like how the UI looks? Is it easy to follow? Do you think this will be easily understood by your team members? Sure, looks aren’t everything - but for a robust, data-driven solution, looks do count.
How scalable or customizable is the platform that you’re considering? Will the software grow well with you as your organization grows, or will you be looking to upgrade within two years or so if you outgrow it? In terms of customization, what kind of branding is available to your company? Don’t forget to ask these questions to understand limitations.
If your team utilizes a good amount of third-party applications for daily tasks, can the two systems work well together? What types of integrations does your potential marketing automation platform offer? Integrations may not be a make-or-break factor for you, but it is really nice to have preferred vendors that are able to work together in the background to make your job easier.
Customer support is HUGE. You do not want to be a lone ranger navigating the scary waters of your new platform with no one to call on when/if something goes awry. Does your platform have training or a knowledge base that you can utilize? Perhaps ask questions about their on-boarding process to learn a bit more about how your relationship and customer experience will be. Is there a user community that you can reach out to for help? A positive customer service team will set a marketing automation platform apart from its competitors.
Finally, consider what others are saying about the platform! You would read reviews before making any other major purchasing decision, so why not now? More than likely, paying customers will be brutally honest about their interactions and experiences with the software provider. Pay close attention to the positive and negative comments.
Why LAIRE Chooses HubSpot
HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing, sales, and service software which works really nicely for our agency. Because everything is housed under one ‘roof’, we’ve found that our teams have a greater marketing and sales alignment. Their platform caters to all of our inbound marketing needs and allows us to amplify the buyer’s journey. With HubSpot, we’re able to capture lead data to generate qualified leads, effectively engage with prospects that turn into customers, and finally, convert customers into promoters.
Targeted email campaigns, trigger notifications, lead nurturing/scoring, and custom workflows are among some of our most used technologies that HubSpot offers within the marketing automation software. Aside from the features that are offered to us, HubSpot’s customer service is top notch. Support is always, always available to you, in multiple ways. Between our amazing channel consultant, to online learning through HubSpot Academy, the endless articles available through the HubSpot Knowledge Base, and the vast community of HubSpot users (and lovers) just like us - we can always find an answer. Trust us, we could go on and on about our loyalty to this platform, but this is your decision... we’ve already made ours!
For more on HubSpot's custom workflows and why we love them so much, watch this brief video from our Marketing Technology Specialist, Terrel.
Putting Marketing Automation to Work for You
Marketing automation platforms are designed to work for you, to make your job and life easier. Work smarter, not harder - right? According to HubSpot Research, 68% of marketers are using marketing automation to scale business growth. If your question is still, “should we use marketing automation to help us grow?”, then our answer is a resounding YES. We recommend using the HubSpot CRM and marketing automation platform to all of our clients. If you’ve still got questions about getting started with automation technology, we’d love to chat with you. Don’t be a stranger, reach out to our team of experts today.