Marketing on a global scale has never been more personal than it is today.
Even though companies are engaging thousands or even millions of people once, they can now create a personal connection with each one, offering them relevant and timely solutions that can have the biggest impact at that moment.
As marketers, we can thank the advancements in marketing automation for the possibilities we can enjoy today.
Marketing automation has grown to be a $4 billion industry because it allows businesses of all sizes to automate large parts of their marketing processes while simultaneously improving end-user experiences.
There are countless benefits of marketing automation tools, but for you, the more pressing question might be this:
Which solution should you choose?
One of the first things most companies look at is the functionality, but the increasing concerns about data security and user privacy might be just as much, if not more, important.
Let’s explore some of the leading tools today and whether you should use them. But first, let’s quickly go through some of the reasons why you should use automation tools in the first place.
Why Use Marketing Automation Tools?
Marketing automation can be a vague term. And that’s because it encompasses so many possibilities.
So, to understand why it makes sense to use marketing automation, let’s look at some of the things that it can do for a business.
For one thing, marketing automation enables companies to send timely messages to the right person. Instead of bombarding your entire list with the same messages, you can set up automations that will be triggered based on actions, sending the right message at a time when the subscriber is the most likely to respond.
For instance, if someone subscribes to your list from a specific landing page, you already have a pretty good idea about what they’re interested in. But what if you could also trigger messages based on behaviors on your site?
That’s just one of the things that marketing automation can offer.
Marketing automation software can also help you lose fewer customers that you do attract. By collecting and using more data, you can reduce churn and increase the lifetime value of the leads that you attract.
Finally, marketing automation can also be beneficial for your sales team. Instead of having to plow through hundreds of unqualified leads, your team can know exactly when a lead is ready to talk and focus on the warmest leads in your funnel.
This also means that your sales team will have detailed information about every lead, making it much easier to address each individual’s specific problems and needs.
Top 10 Marketing Automation Tools
There are dozens of marketing automation software solutions to choose from. And often, the most popular choice might not be the right fit in your situation.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the leading tools in the marketing automation world and discuss what each of them has to offer.
1. Friendly Automate
When looking for marketing automation tools, the first thing most entrepreneurs look at is the features. And that makes sense.
You’re looking for ways to make your marketing more efficient while simultaneously improving performance, so you want the solution you choose to have a robust list of features and possibilities you can rely on.
But although the features are essential, that’s not the only thing you should look at.
And Friendly Automate is the perfect example of marketing automation software that’s has a built-in advantage most of its competitors can’t match:
Compliance with EU’s Data Privacy laws.
A recent ruling in the EU determined that the United States does not provide adequate protection for data from Switzerland and the European Union.
And that has created a big problem for companies operating in the EU that are using solutions with servers in the United States.
All the data that gets collected by companies like Hubspot then goes to the United States. And the EU regulations for what Hubspot can do with that data no longer apply, making the companies liable for privacy complaints.
And that’s where Friendly Automate comes in.
It’s a relatively new marketing automation tool, built on the robust Mautic platform, often referred to as the WordPress of marketing automation.
You can enjoy features such as a built-in CRM, comprehensive email marketing, a wide variety of automations, landing pages, lead scoring, segmentation, reporting…the list goes on.
The service will offer you everything you’d get from Hubspot (or other options) at a fraction of the cost and with some powerful integration possibilities.
But that’s not even the main advantage.
As mentioned before, Hubspot (and many others) transfer their data to servers in the US. Meanwhile, Friendly Automate hosts all your data on dedicated servers in the EU or Switzerland.
And since Friendly Automate is based on an open-source solution, you will always be in control of your data and can start hosting the software yourself or move to another compatible provider.
What all of that means is that while Hubspot or Marketo might be better known in the marketing automation world, solutions like Friendly Automate can be the smarter choice, especially for companies that want to ensure the safety of their customer data.
There’s a reason why HubSpot has 95,000 users across the globe. Since 2006, it has set the tone for not only what inbound marketing should look like but how businesses of all sizes should market themselves online.
If you’re looking for a full marketing automation solution, it’s hard to beat what HubSpot can offer. Or at least that used to be the case.
Today, with the competition in the marketing automation world much steeper than a decade or even five years ago, HubSpot is no longer the clear-cut choice.
Their pricing strategy has received a lot of criticism, as it’s one of the most expensive options on the market, with not much to show for the difference in cost compared to Friendly Automate and a few others.
Not to mention how frustrating it can be when you’re trying to customize a simple landing page.
Add in the privacy issues discussed in the previous section, and it becomes pretty clear why more people are looking for an alternative.
SharpSpring is a marketing automation tool suitable for small and medium businesses, but it has proven to be especially popular among agencies.
The reason for that is that SharpSpring offers marketing automation services that marketing agencies offer their clients. And it even makes rebranding very simple, allowing agencies to change the interface and customize the experience that their customers have.
Just like most solutions on this list, it comes with advanced email automation tools, a robust CRM, and the ability to integrate with hundreds of third-party tools through Zapier.
If you talked with a few marketers about what they’ve heard, one of the first things they’d probably say is that SharpSpring comes with a good bang for your buck. At least when compared with HubSpot or Marketo.
However, there are ways that it falls short as well.
For one thing, it’s not the most convenient automation software in terms of usability. More experienced users should navigate it fairly easily. But businesses with less experience might need some time until they figure out how to make the most out of the available features.
At the same time, it still lacks some of the advanced features you’d find in more robust solutions, which means it’s not really suitable for beginners and the more advanced users.
Finally, just as with HubSpot, the landing page and email builders can be a bit clunky, which again ties into the lack of an intuitive dashboard.
ActiveCampaign is the darling of the marketing automation software world, seeing rapid growth and an incredible onslaught of praise in the last few years. It’s now often talked about as the marketing automation software that HubSpot or Marketo should be, and there are many reasons to love what it has to offer.
The intuitive pipeline builder feature allows breaking down the sales cycle into an intuitive and easy-to-understand sequence.
With ActiveCampaign, users also report how easy it is to assign tasks to leads, ensuring that none are abandoned or neglected.
But is the hype warranted?
We could discuss countless features, but for the most part, they are comparable to the solutions listed previously.
And just as with other marketing automation tools that have taken off, the pricing structure has become less and less appealing. Many users are being priced out of the software and are looking for fairer and more affordable solutions.
ActiveCampaign is also located in the United States, which means that companies in the European Union and Switzerland will be at risk for not adhering to their local privacy laws.
Marketo is another powerhouse in the marketing automation industry, with a loyal following that swears by the platform’s effectiveness.
One of the biggest advantages Marketo can offer is its ease-of-use. Since users can customize what features they need, the dashboard is never overcrowded, and it’s very easy to quickly learn how to take advantage of the features.
But even though it’s easy to use, that doesn’t take away from the wide range of available features, should you want to use them. It covers everything a company today might need from marketing automation, offering many integrations that allow taking advantage of third-party tools as well.
Still, there are some drawbacks you should consider.
The fact that a CRM solution isn’t built-in means you’ll need a third-party option. And that’s not convenient.
The pricing structure leaves a lot to be desired, and Marketo has been steadily increasing its prices over the last few years.
The way Marketo approaches landing page building, analytics, and reporting is also a bit outdated, which is a common theme among companies that have been around for longer and might have become stagnant compared to the up-and-comers.
Artificial Intelligence has been making its way to all aspects of business, so it’s no surprise that marketing automation tools are also starting to include the capabilities of AI into their services.
And SalesManago is a prime example of a company that has made AI a central part of its positioning, using machine learning to aggregate your customer data and offer unique insights into their behaviors.
The amount of customer data you can collect and work with is one of the main reasons why SalesManago has become so popular among eCommerce stores.
A lot of its features, including the drip sequence planning options and live chat, are geared towards eCommerce stores, although they serve other types of clients as well.
According to some of the reviews, the pricing is quite affordable as well compared to some of the industry leaders, but you have to request pricing, which is an outdated approach that lacks transparency.
Another issue with SalesManago is that using it can get quite technical. There are so many features to go over, and the guides and tutorials aren’t always clear, which means that you’ll need to invest quite a bit of time in figuring out how to use it fully.
For a long time, GetResponse was an email marketing platform focused on delivering the best of what email marketing had to offer to its customers.
But more recently, the company has decided to broaden its horizons and started offering the full range of marketing automation services, including landing page design, webinar creation, and even a full-service eCommerce marketing solution.
Today, you can choose how many features you want to use. You can still get a lightweight but powerful email marketing solution, or you can opt for more robust plans that include marketing automations.
Since email is what GetResponse is known for, it’s no surprise that this is where it really stands out. You can build out complex email sequences, using automations and triggers that provide you complete control over each email you send out.
But the biggest strength of GetResponse is also the reason for its shortcomings.
While it is expanding its list of features, it’s still primarily an email marketing platform with some addons. And while the hosted webinar solution or conversion funnels are a nice addition, when you compare it with other marketing automation platforms, GetResponse isn’t yet on the same level.
Sendinblue has built a reputation as the cost-effective marketing automation tool for companies with a tight budget. Initially, it focused on email marketing but has since expanded its list of features to include CRM, marketing automation, SMS marketing, and even Facebook Ads tools.
And despite the low price, many users are happy with what it can offer, especially as an email marketing tool. The workflow-based email automation allows quickly setting up various triggers, assigning scores to subscribers, and sending transactional messaging.
They also have an intuitive landing page creator that allows users to use templates and quickly customize them according to their needs.
However, there’s a reason why the pricing is so low compared to some of the others like HubSpot.
For one thing, many users find the onboarding process challenging, as it takes a while to learn to navigate the different features. The provided templates are also not on par with most of the solutions on this list, which means you’d need to perform a lot of customizations yourself.
Finally, for this price, you shouldn’t expect exceptional support. If something goes wrong, you might just have to figure it out for yourself or wait for a while to receive a response.
Pardot is one of the most prominent players in the marketing automation world, which is understandable since it’s part of the Salesforce services package.
And as you might expect, it comes with a ton of powerful features in marketing automation and email. People also praise it’s ease-of-use, the ton of automations and the dedicated customer success consultants who will guide you every step of the way.
Pardot makes a lot of sense for those already using Salesforce services, as different Salesforce products integrate with each other seamlessly, making it easier to take full advantage of the possibilities and create a compounding effect in terms of impact.
However, the main problem with Pardot is that it’s very expensive. Frankly, despite the benefits it can offer, it’s hard to justify those prices for small and medium businesses, especially when there are more affordable solutions like Friendly Automate that can provide a comparable set of features.
Comparing automation tools with such start pricing differences isn’t always straightforward, which is why it’s essential to look at your company’s needs when choosing a solution. But when it comes to Pardot, many companies won’t be able to justify the considerable cost because they could get simpler (but comparably effective) solutions for a fraction of the cost.
Evalanche is a German marketing automation service by SC Networks with a growing presence in Europe. Besides marketing automation, it also offers lead management and email marketing solutions, covering some of the most important features that a company might need.
However, the web presence for Evalanche is severely lacking, with very little user feedback and even limited information on the website.
It’s used by around 3,000 companies, mostly located in Europe, and is mainly known as an email marketing services provider with a few marketing automation features.
But with established companies like Marketo and ActiveCampaign, as well as more user-friendly and transparent startups like Friendly Automate, it’s unclear whether Evalanche can significantly increase its market share.
In this list, we went through ten of the most popular and relevant marketing automation software solutions available today.
So, which one should you go with?
Well, your company needs should come first. So look for the combination of price and features that works best in your situation. But at the same time, you need to consider compliance with privacy laws, especially if you’re operating in the EU or Switzerland.
When you choose Friendly Automate, you not only get a comprehensive package of features at a price that’s significantly lower than some of the more popular solutions. You also get complete transparency and security for your data, which will always be stored in servers located in Switzerland or the EU.
Marketing automation involves collecting a lot of sensitive data about your audience. To use it ethically, you must not only establish good practices in your company but also ensure that the data itself is protected and stored in compliance with local and international regulations.
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