Updated: Apr 10
Marketing automation tools are software platforms and technologies designed to help businesses market more effectively on digital channels and automate repetitive time-consuming tasks. Marketing departments and consultants benefit from this technology by specifying criteria and outcomes for processes; which are then interpreted, stored, and executed by the automation software, resulting in increasing efficiency and reducing human errors.
Today, around 51% of businesses currently use the technology, and that number continues to grow. The use of marketing automation platforms is to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. It is often used along with lifecycle marketing strategy to closely manage and nurture generated leads, aiming to convert leads into customers.
Marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing, especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by the company that is using them.
Why You Should Learn and Use Marketing Automation
You might think that why should you care about using marketing automation tools and getting good at using them. There are a couple of reasons why you need to consider becoming an experienced user of these marketing automation tools:
At first, when the business is really small, you can handle everything manually. From sending offers to contacting lead customers and other marketing and customer relationship management tasks. But, as soon as the business starts growing, you would not be able to handle these tasks manually. Too many different tasks can be distracting and take away your focus from the business itself.
The human error lies within all manual tasks. You might overlook some information or forget about an important message that needs to be sent at a specific time. However, this does not happen to computers and machines, and by using automation tools you get one step closer to professionalism and accuracy.
Marketing automation tools help you deliver more value to your customers. By defining funnels and criteria, you can contact each customer with a message based on their interest and behavior, and subsequently, increase the conversion rate and sales in your business.
Marketing Automation fields of application
Marketing automation tools are available in different areas of digital marketing. Some of these tools are a complete all-in-one solution that can handle different marketing channels, while others are more focused on just one or two channels.
Putting aside the functionality of marketing automation tools, their main differences are in pricing and implementation. Usually, the more sophisticated ones need more technical efforts to be implemented and used; however, the simple ones can be used by almost anyone with any level of technical knowledge. And, there is no need to mention that the more options a platform provides you with, the more expensive it will be. Hence, small businesses and those who have just started their work with a small customer base, might consider using the simple cheaper ones as a starting point, and upgrade to the more technical ones as they grow.
1. Email marketing automation:
Most of the marketing automation platforms are designed for email marketing, or at least started their job as an email marketing automation and developed throughout time!
Email Marketing Automation is a way to create timely, relevant, and personalized emails for individual users or customers of a business. These emails are to be sent when users take a specific action in their customer journey. For example, welcome emails after signing up for a service are in this category.
2. Social media automation:
Social media automation tools are created to help automate various aspects of social media marketing, from content publishing to monitoring and analyses. Since there are no businesses nowadays without social media appearances, these tools can be used by any business.
If there is more than one person responsible for creating and publishing content on the social media accounts of a business, social media marketing automation tools are the best way for managing access for these employees. It is pretty clear that when a business is active with many social media accounts, these automation tools also work as an account managers.
3. Customer relationship management or CRM software:
CRM software is primarily sales-focused, while marketing automation software is marketing-focused. Marketing automation software allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows. CRM, on the other hand, is a strategy for managing all the company’s interactions with current and prospective customers.
To be more descriptive, marketing automation is at the beginning of a business’s funnel, while user acquisition is in progress; while customer relationship management is at the end of the funnel.
4. All-in-one marketing automation tools:
From email automation to ad buying and lead nurturing, all-in-one automation tools can help add scale and streamline every aspect of a company’s marketing operations.
These tools are rather expensive and good for teams that need to either scale the channels that are working currently for them or experiment with additional ones. They also require more technical experience from the users, since they are usually not that simple to implement.
5. Customer journey automation:
Customer journey automation from a marketing perspective includes three main stages: lead generation, lead scoring and lead nurturing. Customer journey automation tools are built to make at least one of these stages work better automatically and without human supervision.
In order to be able to use this automation tool, the journey customers take from being a new lead to sales needs to be mapped out. Customer journey automation tools are best suited to enterprise and B2B marketing and sales teams.
6. Pricing automation:
These tools are widely used in the hotel and travel industry. Pricing automation software makes it easier to react to rivals’ competitive pricing changes and turns your pricing strategy into an advantage.
If your sales and profits are really price-sensitive and you have huge competitors in the market, pricing automation tools are the way to go.
7. Advertising automation:
Building ad creative across ad channels and optimizing bidding strategies are advertising automation tools’ jobs. If you are using more than one advertising platform and are looking to refine ad copies and bidding strategies (without heavily testing), use advertising automation tools as your smart helper.
As mentioned, there are several categories for marketing automation, and a lot of platforms are developed for each category. Following you will find out about each of these platforms and the category of marketing automation they fit in.
How to learn
All-in-one Automation CRM Email Automation
HubSpot’s marketing automation is one of the most powerful tools in terms of features. HubSpot has a full growth suite that includes sales software, marketing software, and support software, which all integrate automatically with HubSpot’s free CRM. The combined effect of having all of your data and growth activity in one place can unleash tons of creative automation possibilities that would be difficult or impossible if you use separate tools.
This platform focuses on inbound marketing and has an easy-to-use visual board where it is possible to craft simple or sophisticated conditional workflows.
The pricing is also based on the features you purchase, good for businesses with different budgets.
All-in-one Automation Advertising Automation Social Media Automation
Marketo is a product of Adobe; which means that Adobe integration is possible. If you use Adobe Analytics for data measurement and Adobe Target for experimentation and personalization, with Marketo you will have a powerful marketing automation and optimization tool in your hands. The fully purchased software can handle everything from advertising to social media and account-based marketing.
Eloqua is a B2B cross-channel marketing solution that lets marketers plan automated campaigns and personalize them. It will provide all of the lead-management tools needed, and segment the business’ audience in specific and useful ways. Additionally, it is possible to track reports and insights into a buyer’s journey with just a few clicks through Eloqua.
Eloqua can be integrated with a great number of other services, making every step of marketing and sales much more personalized and smarter. However, the pricing is quite high and it is advisable for large corporations.
All-in-one Automation CRM Email Marketing
As a powerful cloud automation solution, Pardot is well suited to the needs of B2B marketers, with B2B analytics and account-based marketing solutions; usually used by companies that have the technical resources and the time to learn the platform. This marketing automation tool is perfect for helping sales teams shorten sales cycles.
Pardot includes features like CRM integration, email marketing (plus advanced email analytics, email-rendering preview, and spam analysis), lead nurturing and lead scoring, and ROI reporting. Marketing calendars and social media accounts integration, email and landing page A/B testing, advanced dynamic content, and Google Ads integration are also included.
All of the aforementioned features help improve marketing efficiency and lessen the wasted time and effort from the team. However, as enticing as this marketing automation tool seems, it is very expensive and not that easy to use.
Customer.io is an email automation tool that sends targeted and personalized messages to customers based on how they interact with the business. It is all about engaging customers throughout the customer journey and lifecycle. Every feature you need from an email marketing tool is provided within this tool and it is also very affordable.
If you are looking for a user-friendly platform for messaging automation, Autopilot is “it”. Autopilot can be used for user targeting and also for creating simple autoresponders. The pricing of this service is also very reasonable and affordable for businesses of all sizes.
All-in-one Automation CRM Email Automation
All-in-one marketing automation tools are usually very expensive; but, ActiveCampaign is the exception here. Starting from just a couple of bucks monthly, it is a tool that handles customer relationship management and marketing automation. Keep in mind that learning how to work with this marketing automation tool may take some time and it is not that simple.
Drip is another email marketing automation tool, but with something special to it: it can help all of your messaging stay consistent and work together in order to drive your customers toward a purchase. It’s not just about user engagement or automating the burdensome marketing tasks, but doing it smartly in a way that leads to actual profit.
At first, you might think that paying for additional services may not be so smart if the goal is to have more money, but with the prices Drip gives you, you may think again!
User Engagement Automation
As far as engaging users is concerned, push notifications are a double-edged sword. They are a powerful feature for app owners to engage and keep their users, but if they are not used wisely, they can ruin everything you ever worked for!
The main purpose of using push notifications is to engage users and to remind them to keep using the app. However, they are also widely used for advertising purposes, which will result in the opposite direction as desired, driving users away and encouraging them to uninstall the app.
Hengam is a smart user engagement tool that solves this problem. It uses AI to figure out how each user is behaving, and based on that, sends them messages at the right time to help you retain them. It provides you with data and analytics to help you figure out what your users like and react to, and what you can do to improve your customer engagement process.
Hengam is mainly developed for small to medium businesses, with fair prices, but can also be implemented and used in larger businesses.
Social Media Automation
Buffer is a widely known platform for social media management and automation. With Buffer, posts for different social media accounts can be prepared and scheduled. The analyses available in the panel make it easier to optimize social media marketing.
Different packages on Buffer are available for purchase, according to what a business needs.
Social Media Automation
Hootsuite is one of the famous social media automation software. Hootsuite is known for its compatibility with different social media platforms and the ease of managing content between these platforms.
According to needs, the price of using Hootsuite differs. The possibility to add more accounts to the panel and having more features available will increase the costs.
With the slogan “All the tools you need, and maybe a few you didn’t know you needed”, SendinBlue is an all-in-one marketing automation panel that provides businesses with advanced features and many possibilities.
You wouldn’t want to miss out on SendinBlue’s impressive free plan, which includes basic marketing automation functionality, phone support, and up to 300 emails per day. More advanced needs are also handled with the minimum prices possible.
AdRoll makes it easy to run ads across different channels like display, social media, email, and more. This is why it is so popular: because many advertising panels are limited to specific platforms. On top of this, AdRoll offers retargeting campaigns that help with staying on top of the minds of customers. Growing sales and website traffic has been made easier than ever with AdRoll’s technology.
All-in-one Automation CRM Email Automation SMS Automation
They claim that they’re “The only software that has it all.” Ontraport is a business automation software for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and small businesses; from which we can conclude that it is an affordable service, starting from only 79$ a month, with a full service of 497$ per month.
One of the most valuable things Ontraport offers is its focus on reporting and insights. Ontraport gives you a clear look at the performance of your campaigns, with features to run and grow a small business. Also, landing pages, forms, and membership sites can be built with Ontraport.
Marketing Automation CRM
Keap is one of the oldest marketing automation tools in the market, and also, one of the cheapest ones with prices between 79$-149$ a month. Reaching leads, revenue, and customer acquisition targets have been made easy with Keap. Small businesses and solopreneurs can really benefit from using Keap.
Although cheap, it provides great features. It is possible to set up relatively complex decision trees depending on which lead magnet someone signs up for, how many and which emails they open and click, or other contact property data.
All-io-one Automation Email Automation
Mailchimp started as an email marketing tool in the market, and now it has become an all-in-one full marketing automation solution. You can start using Mailchimp for free with options like using it in 7 marketing channels, basic templates, marketing CRM, behavioral targeting, and more. The paid services on Mailchimp offer you more and are priced very reasonably, with a maximum of 299$ a month.
All-io-one Automation Email Automation
Mailerlite is a service very similar to Mailchimp. You can start to use their tool for free, and pay as you grow. Check here if you want to know about their pricing.
Marketing Automation Email Automation
Mautic is an open-source marketing automation platform and a very fast-growing one. It gives a high level of marketing integration with audience intelligence that enables you to make personalized emails, create landing pages, create intuitive workflows for customer experiences, and the capabilities to track your marketing activities
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