**Update October 1st 2013:**As of the 1st of October 2013 HubSpot’s pricing has changed. Please visit their pricing page for further information.
Marketing automation tools are an essential part of inbound marketing, but have you ever tried doing research to see which software is best for you?
Well if you have, you will quickly learn that this is a booming industry with countless vendors all offering a multitude of features that will surely give you a headache. This post has come about as a result of listening to our clients as they also have had problems understanding which is the best solution.
I have picked 5 of the most popular marketing automation vendors that I feel are best suited to inbound marketing and compared prices and the features which I think are important to manage a successful inbound marketing campaign.
This post will not tell you which vendor is outright best for you as that is down to you to decide. What it will hopefully do is give you enough information to make an informed decision on which platform to explore.
The 5 vendors that I have chosen are:
These five have been chosen as they are the most well known to me and I have personally used three of them. I will try not to push my opinion on which I personally like as that would be unfair to the two that I have not used.
Marketing automation software pricing
Pricing comes in many shapes and sizes when it comes to marketing automation and I have tried to keep the pricing as simple as possible. One thing to note about pricing is it is all relative to the services you receive. Just because one is cheaper does not mean it is better value. You must also weigh up the features and benefits you will receive.
When looking at the cost also think of the time that may be saved; time saved is money saved. You may already be using other separate systems to do some of the work these platforms can do, so money may be saved there also.
Essential features for marketing automation and inbound marketing
One thing that leaves people scratching their heads is all of the features that marketing automation has at its disposal. There are hundreds of tools that help you automate some of the tasks. However marketing automation is not about setting it and forgetting it, marketing automation should help you make better marketing decisions and bring all of your marketing efforts into once place.
Tools that help you save time of course are a benefit, but marketing automation is no magic wand. Below you will see a comparison of the features, in the chosen companies, that I think are important when it comes to performing inbound marketing.
One thing to consider when you are looking at these features is some can be more advanced depending on which vendor you use.
Let’s for example take lead scoring. Lead scoring helps you to determine how interested a lead is and depending on what actions they perform, they will be assigned points. If a lead visits your ‘about us’ page and your pricing page, they will be assigned more points than someone who just visits one blog post. The more points they have the more interested they are. These leads can then be passed to sales once they reach a certain threshold.
The level of complexity within the lead scoring systems in the marketing automations solutions vary. So it’s not always just about who has the most features, it is about the ones that are best to fit your needs.
When you invest in these platforms you are going to need support. When it comes to deciding which marketing automation tools to partner with, customer support plays a huge part in who we choose here at Stargazer.
That said I would have loved to have talked to you about how good the customer support is when you buy from these vendors. Although I have had experience with three of these companies and the the support for the most part was excellent, it would be unfair of me to talk about only three of them when I haven’t experienced all five.
All of them give you a free demo so I would recommend you test out the level of support during your free trial, as this will give you an idea of what to expect once you become a paying customer.
About the vendors
I also took a look at how the vendors are performing, how many clients they currently have and their growth over the last twelve months. This gives you an indication of how they are performing which may also be a factor you might want to consider when choosing.
Current clients and company growth over the last twelve months
What they had to say
It is always good to get the opinions of the companies themselves so I contacted each one and here is what they had to say.
“What makes HubSpot unique is that we are not a marketing automation company; we are a marketing transformation company. Our platform includes a robust email marketing tool, but we believe that for most businesses, marketing should be less automated, not more so.
* As a result, the HubSpot tool is a comprehensive tool that gives marketers the ability to create lovable marketing at every stage of a buyer interaction, from SEO to social publishing and monitoring to blogging to landing pages to email and analytics.”*– **Kate Burke
*“*Our software platform is designed to enable the effective execution, management and analytical measurement of marketing activities, helping organisations to acquire new customers more efficiently, build stronger relationships with existing customers, improve sales effectiveness and drive faster revenue growth.
*Marketo delivers an easy-to-use, integrated suite of advanced applications, which today include Marketing Automation, Social Marketing, Sales Insight, Revenue Analytics, and most recently a product for Marketing Management, called Marketo Financial Management.” – ***Elizabeth Smyth
“Act-On Software is a leading provider of cloud-based integrated marketing automation software for the Fortune 5,000,000. Small and mid-size companies and marketing departments of large enterprises all benefit from using Act-On’s powerful and easy-to-use platform to manage sophisticated, multi-channel marketing campaigns.
* Act-On helps companies increase revenue, reduce cost of customer acquisition, and more effectively communicate with prospects and customers using email, web, mobile & social. Marketers can manage all of their online marketing efforts from a single dashboard that can be seamlessly integrated into most CRM systems to give sales greater transparency and insight into various marketing activities. Act-On is also flexible in that it offers month-to-month subscriptions, no long term contracts necessary; Act-On proves its value to its customers every month.” – Paige Musto
“Infusionsoft is the all-in-one sales and marketing software for small businesses. Designed to meet the needs of small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, Infusionsoft combines CRM, marketing automation and e-commerce into one system. The big benefits small businesses get from Infusionsoft include:
- Save time by automating many of the day-to-day activities associated with sales and marketing (following up with new leads, staying in touch over time, finding hot leads in your database)
- Convert more leads into customers with relevant, timely campaigns that build relationships
- *Get more sales and referrals from existing customers with automated fulfillment and upsell campaigns” –*Laura Collins
Unfortunately although we did hear back from Eloqua after several phone calls, emails and tweets they did not provide any information for this post. Any information in this post regarding clients and company growth is based solely on my own research.
Now it’s your turn
What key features do you need from a marketing automation tools? Would you recommend any others?