marketing automation

A list of marketing automation tools for engaging better with your customers

There are plenty of marketing automation tools out there today for various stages of the funnel. Some help broaden the top funnel while others help generate leads and close sales. These tools play an important role, especially in providing small teams an even playing field when it comes to targeting a larger audience.

This post takes a look at some of the top recommendations for each category of tools, based on what role they play in marketing automation.

Marketing Suite

HubSpot

  • Hubspot is one of the more popular marketing automation tools in the field.
  • HubSpot’s products include CRM, Marketing and Sales. These include tools for designing web pages, emails, landing pages for better traffic, and blueprints for better blog posts.
  • Search engine optimization and social media marketing are also areas where HubSpot helps so that traffic may be filtered for finding better leads in lesser time.
  • The CRM helps in managing leads and re-targeting, while email templates can be saved and automated to be sent out at appropriate intervals.
  • One of its nifty features is a notification when the recipient opens your email.
  • Pricing: HubSpot has marketing plans for entry-level marketers (Basic: $200/month), experienced ones (Professional: $800/month) and those looking for advanced services such as custom event reporting, event-based segmentation (Enterprise: $2400/month).

Alternate options:

  • Marketo, especially for account based marketing — which includes designing landing pages for customers, optimizing social media campaigns and web personalization.
  • Pardot (part of Salesforce’s SaaS offerings)
  • LeadSquared.
  • Zoho is also one. Zoho offers a slightly different structure to automated marketing than the other services listed above. It offers a plethora of Sales & Marketing apps that can be subscribed to individually or as part of a package. In that regard, SalesIQ offers live chat solution, website tracking and analytics in one app. There are apps for creating surveys, creating and managing marketing campaigns, for managing email campaigns etc. Their suite of apps would be suitable teams that want flexibility in choosing individual marketing functions rather than a platform where all the functions are already built in whether needed or not.

E-mail Automation

MailChimp

  • Though MailChimp’s marketing focuses a lot on sending better emails (which it certainly helps one do), there is more to it.
  • Apart from designing and saving email templates for marketing campaigns, users can do Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns, create forms like those for newsletter subscriptions, segment users based on behavior, location and events, target specific cases along the customer journey like abandoned cart, product recommendations, order notifications etc.
  • MailChimp also offers analytics to track all your campaigns such as predicted demographics which displays statistics such as users of which age group opened the emails most, average click rate and so on.
  • You can even A/B test various mail campaigns to see which provides better results.
  • Pricing: MailChimp has the option to pay as you go or pay a monthly fee. Up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month MailChimp is free. Beyond that there is a monthly cost for sending unlimited emails to additional subscribers. For pro add-ons such as multivariate testing there is $199/month fee.

Alternate options:

Enterprise

Eloqua

  • Eloqua is Oracle’s offering for marketing automation. It is part of Oracle’s larger marketing cloud which includes cross-channel marketing, data management, testing & optimization, and content & social marketing.
  • Eloqua is a more popular choice when it comes to enterprise, as compared to say Marketo which is preferred by small and medium businesses.
  • Eloqua is fairly customizable thanks to the data transformation drag-and-drop interface. This allows you to build interactive and adaptive customer journeys.
  • For teams that prioritize integrations, Eloqua integrates with over 700 tools.
  • Pricing: That being said, it certainly is priced and scaled for larger teams. The basic plan for 10 users is priced at $2,000/month for up to 10,000 users and the standard plan for 50 users is priced at $4,000/month till the database hits 10,000 users. Beyond this, there’s also an enterprise plan for even more extensive requirements.

Alternate Options:

  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Salesfusion. It also offers service along with software, which means they have experts to advise on marketing campaigns apart from software to offer.
  • InfusionSoft
  • Even solutions like HubSpot and Marketo can be considered by Enterprise clients.
  • Pardot, also owned by Salesforce, has many common features with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud as well. There are subtle differences like Pardot provides activity and bounce tracking, which the Marketing Cloud does not. On the other hand, Marketing Cloud offers click-through tracking and conversion optimization which Pardot does not offer.
  • IBM Unica

AI and Behavior Based Campaigns

Customer.io

  • Customer.io is a messaging platform that harnesses user data to not only improve the automated marketing emails but also to provide a better customer experience.
  • Whether it’s newsletters, event-triggered campaigns or segment-based emails, Customer.io relies on data collected from your platform to understand user behavior and create workflows that can optimize the communication between the product and the user. By giving better context to your messaging, you can create a brand voice more in line with your customer’s needs.
  • With the use of webhooks, Customer.io can connect to a variety of other APIs. Thanks to this level of integration, Customer.io can be used in many workflows like looking for leads via a CRM, sending data to Zapier for automating actions, creating customer support tickets, creating a Trello card for tasks etc.
  • Pricing: Plans depend on the number of customer profiles that will need to be created and the number of messages that will need to be sent. Based on the point at which your team and product are along the growth path, pricing plans start from $100/month for 15,000 profiles and 30,000 free messages. On the other end of the spectrum, the Enterprise plan, priced at $1250/month accommodates 500,000 profiles and 1,000,000 free messages.

Alternative Options:

  • Optimail is an AI based email marketing solution. Simply put Optimail uses artificial intelligence to adapt the timing, content and personalization of marketing mails to customers. You can also use analytics to track how well AI is doing. Pricing for Optimail starts at $25/month for 1000 active users a month.
  • Boomtrain is another alternative. It also applies artificial intelligence to mine through data points and give you a personalized perspective on each user. It predicts what kind of marketing messaging across what channel at what time will best create a positive impact on the customer. This way your business can optimize its messaging across multiple channels and segments of customers.

Social Media Marketing

Buffer

  • Buffer is a popular social media marketing tool. You can schedule social media posts to be posted instantly or schedule them for later.
  • You can coordinate content across multiple social media channels. The dashboard helps manage different channels and keep everything organized.
  • This way you can customize common content across channels into unique posts for that particular platform.
  • Buffer allows tracking and analyzing metrics for each post to see how well a single campaign has performed across different channels.
  • In addition to social media management, Buffer also offers Buffer reply for customer support teams to better engage and follow up with users. There’s also Pablo for creating images and graphics for social media campaigns.
  • Pricing: Buffer has a free option that accommodates 1 social profile per platform and 10 scheduled posts per profile. Beyond this, pricing starts at $10/month for 10 social profiles.

Alternative Options:

  • Hootsuite is another option. One difference between the two is that Hootsuite allows delegating tasks to other user thereby making it suitable for that particular use case. Instead of using analytics for tracking individual posts, Hootsuite tracks the performance across channels.

Analytics

Segment

  • Segment is a customer data platform that offers analytics. Segment’s API can be integrated with a wide variety of other apps.
  • The customer data then fed into these apps can make it super easy to apply marketing automation based on the analysis of data collected by Segment.
  • Segment collects data from various sources like the server-side, CRMs, emails, other analytical tools, customer support teams and data warehouses.
  • Currently, it integrates with over 200 other platforms for collecting data as well as using the findings to take action. It’s a boon for non-technical team members such as product managers who wouldn’t need to developers to adjust integration configurations for getting the right tracking data from other platforms.
  • Pricing: Segment is free for a single data source for up to 1000 monthly tracked users. Data can only be synced once a day under this plan. For larger teams that want to collect data from unlimited sources, Team is a better option. It is priced at $10 per 100 monthly tracked users. (MTUs).

Alternative options:

Customer Support & Engagement

Intercom

  • While known more for their live chat support, Intercom Engage is one of Intercom’s solutions for increasing customer engagement, onboarding users and ensuring retention.
  • Users can be segmented based on what stage they are in the product or their behavior (recently signed up, done with onboarding, inactive for a long time etc.) and based on this, specific in-app messages or emails can be delivered to them.
  • Using Intercom’s dashboard all communication can be coordinated from one place and you can A/B test the messages too.
  • Pricing: Plans for Intercom Engage start at $53/month, which includes targeting an audience of 250 customers.

Alternative options:

  • Drift is also known primarily for their live chat support but they recently launched Playbooks as a way for Sales teams to benefit from automation. Every time a user visits your site, a LeadBot captures their contact details and goes through a few pre-determined campaign questions to check whether the user would be a viable lead. If the answers do match, then LeadBot passes on the info to the Sales team for scheduling a meeting and following up.
  • UserEngage
  • Kissmetrics
  • Optimizely

Check out other solutions for live chat software to drive customer engagement here.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to these marketing automation tools, even the smallest of teams can engineer some pretty insane marketing hacks. Growth hacking is a very popular concept these days for small teams and especially when talking about the ‘10x’ approach. These tools can help in that aspect and not only get your product in front of a larger audience, but also connect better with them.

With more AI-backed tools now in the domain, personalization and unique messaging based on customer needs will continue to be a growing trend.

What other tools do you use for marketing automation? Did you manage a great hack with one of them? Let us know in the comments below.

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