10 Top Digital Marketing Automation Tools That Could Transform Your Business

10 Top Digital Marketing Automation Tools

It was 2008.

Trying to find a way to shorten a link for Twitter to get the tweet under 140 characters was a challenge. You needed a tool to do that simple task.

Then I stumbled upon “that” tool.

Twitter then used it as the default URL shortening service in May, 2009 until it created its own.

Social media and digital marketing was simple back then. Twitter and Facebook were it and digital marketing revolved around Banner ads, Google AdWords and email marketing.

But it quickly became complex with many moving parts.

Just the Twitter torrent of tweets with @mentions, retweets and #hashtags needed social media management tools. Distilling the noise and managing the engagement required more than just watching the native Twitter feed.

Raw social media automation software that allowed you to grow your followers, tweet content and other mundane tasks started to emerge. They weren’t pretty but most of the time they worked.

But back then even simple social media automation was frowned upon because it wasn’t really social.

The first wave of digital marketing automation

On the social web tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite were launched by enterprising entrepreneurs to help handle the complexity and noise.

They provided the dashboards for managing Twitter and Facebook.

That was one thing but other networks were launched. It was getting complicated….Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ were the next wave. These were also followed by Vine and others and now we have Meerkat and Periscope. And we are just talking english speaking social networks.

During this first wave the web connected mobile phone started to make its presence felt. Today there are 2.7 billion of these now on the web and growing at 39% per annum. But the full impact of this is wasn’t felt till the second wave.

digital marketing automation tools

Image source: Wearesocial.com

Every switched on marketer was excited by the launch and possibility of every new platform.

As marketers discovered the power of social media to reach the world in real time the need for more sophisticated tools became apparent.

The second wave

As social media became seen as the next start up gold rush, the older generation of software providers in email marketing and lead generation rushed to join the party. This saw the rapid evolution of platforms like Marketo, Eloqua and Pardot amongst many.

Here is a timeline from Marketing Automation Insider that suggests the journey started in 1992 with Unica. According to them the industry is now $1.65 billion industry and has seen $5.5 billion in acquisitions by Salesforce, IBM, Adobe and Microsoft and others.

Digital Marketing Automation Tools

The smart phone and mobile market reached critical mass and is accelerating digital noise and adoption.

Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.

Today digital marketing automation has become big business. It is about marketing at scale with multiple partners, many social networks and managing content and permissions.

Marketing is now not just an art but becoming a science. To do it well you will need the tools to manage, measure and optimize your efforts.

What is digital marketing automation?

Digital marketing automation has its roots in email marketing.

So how do we define it?

It is software that allows you to automate repetitive tasks, reduce human error, manage complexity and measure and optimize your efforts.

How complex is it and what skills does it need?

top digital marketing automation tools

Image source: Intellgenthq.com

We can also add SEO and digital advertising to the above mix.

Each of those disciplines from analytics to social media is complex in its own right. One of the biggies that will become more important is “analytics”. The ability to sift through the big data and make insightful decisions to optimize your marketing efforts.

The skill gap shows that “analytics” is the biggest talent gap.

top digital marketing automation

Image source: Intellgenthq.com

So what platform do you choose?

There isn’t an easy answer. It will depend on whether you are a small, medium or large brand.

Some platforms are better at email, others social media and then analytics. Then there is the user interface and ease of use. This is important when using complex software.

One review site that provides valuable insights is G2 Crowd. They score products and vendors based on ratings and reviews gathered from the user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. They apply a unique, patent-pending algorithm to this data to calculate the customer satisfaction and market presence scores in real time.

The rating variables

The satisfaction rating is affected by the following:

  • Customers’ likelihood of recommending the product to others (this is the question we use to calculate the star rating)
  • Satisfaction ratings gathered from questions in the review
  • User ratings of features specific to a particular category of software
  • The number of reviews received on G2 Crowd; buyers trust a product with more reviews, and more reviews means a more representative and accurate reflection of the customer experience.
  • How recently the review was submitted; reviews that have been written or updated more recently receive a higher weight to help more accurately capture the rapidly evolving nature of software.

The Grid

Below is the G2 Crowd Grid Showing where the different platforms sit according to their ratings.

Compare Best Marketing Automation Software

 

Here are the top 10 digital marketing automation tools based on their algorithm. Listing them here doesn’t mean I recommend them.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is an inbound marketing software company that helps businesses transform their marketing from outbound (cold calls, email spam, trade shows, TV ads, etc) lead generation to inbound lead generation enabling them to “get found” by more potential customers in the natural course of the way they shop and learn.

I discovered Hubspot 7 years ago in 2008 (it was big part of the inspiration of me starting this blog in 2009) and they were one of the pioneers in automated digital marketing. It was founded in 2006 by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and launched in December 2007.

They “get” content marketing.

Top Digital Marketing Automation Tools

2. Pardot

Pardot, a salesforce.com Company, is an easy-to-use B2B Marketing Automation suite that helps sales and marketing teams maximize efficiency and increase revenue.

Pardot’s lead management software features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting to help marketing and sales teams work together to generate and qualify sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and demonstrate marketing accountability.

It was founded by David Cummings and Adam Blitzer in 2007. It was acquired by Exact Target in 2012 for a reported $95 million and then Exact Target was bought by Salesforce in 2013.

top digital marketing automation tools 2

3. Marketo

Powerful and easy marketing software that helps marketing and sales professionals drive revenue and improve marketing accountability. Marketo provides the leading cloud-based marketing software platform for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships. They offer a free trial and no set-up fees!

Founded in 2006 and launched its first product “Lead Management”. It acquired “Crowd Factory” in 2012 which added social media marketing capabilities and went public in 2013. Just after launch it was valued at $724 million.

top digital marketing automation tools

4. Oracle Eloqua

Oracle’s B2B Cross-Channel Marketing solution, Oracle Eloqua, enables marketers to plan and execute automated marketing campaigns while delivering a personalized customer experience for their prospects.

They started in 1999 and its mission then was to improve lead generation. It was acquired by Oracle in 2012 for $871 million.

Top Digital Marketing Automation Tools

5. Act-On

Act-On’s cloud-based integrated marketing automation platform allows marketers to tie inbound, outbound, and lead nurturing programs together to maximize their return on marketing investments.

The company was founded in 2008 and initially sold its software exclusively through Cisco, which provided $2 million in funding. It has raised an additional $74 million and its platform according to reviews is best suited to small and medium business.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools

6. LeadSquared

LeadSquared is a Marketing Software company helping small and medium businesses drive revenue by aligning their marketing and sales activities. Provides the capture of leads from all your sources – inbound email, online campaigns, phone calls, website, chat, lead generation websites and more.

It was founded in 2012.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools

7. Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft is a leading sales and marketing software for small business owners that helps them get organized, grow sales and save time. It is also used by many bloggers for creating marketing campaigns and funnels and email marketing.

Infusionsoft makes it easy to create and execute a sales and marketing strategy; centralize customer interactions; capture new leads; close sales faster; and automate repetitive tasks like follow-up, contact management, billing and payment—all from one place.

Infusionsoft was founded in 2001 by brothers Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask in Mesa, Arizona. It has 25,000 customers and has raised $125 million in funding.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools

8. Sales Fusion

Salesfusion is a leading provider of marketing automation software that is designed for B2B companies who are committed to driving more revenue by aligning marketing and sales.

According to SiriusDecisions, a leading sales and marketing analyst firm, as much of 70% of the buying cycle may be self-directed and completed prior to sales engagement.

Salesfusion is dedicated to helping companies build a large revenue funnel for marketing and sales by creating customized digital conversations that are seamlessly transitioned between departments. Marketing and sales teams participate in and measure these digital conversations to deliver more lead-to-revenue results by communicating with the right leads at the right time with the right message.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools 5

9. OutMarket

OutMarket provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results.

The OutMarket platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management, press outreach, and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outmarket the competition and grow their business.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools 5

10. Net-Results

Net-Results  aims to make it easy for you to automate all kinds of marketing tasks.

You end up getting more done in less time while doing a much better job nurturing your prospects, uncovering qualified leads and driving revenue growth.

Top Digital marketing Automation Tools

So what are you using?

Are you already on the journey of marketing automation? Not started yet?

Confused?

Look forward to hearing your story in the comments below.

Comments

  • http://www.imjackson.com/blogbonus Jackson

    Infusionsoft . I am a small business owner and I have heard good things and bad things about Infusionsoft. However, based on your list, it seems that Infusionsoft is most applicable for my business.

    Many thanks for your sharing again!

  • http://www.iagency.ro Ramona

    Some live with the impression that it is easy to do marketing automation. But it is very important the company you decide to work with, because not all of them have a good client care and they don`t help you exploit the data collected. I tried several softwares, some let me down, some I thought were useful. Forexample, with https://retargeting.biz/ I had a very good collaboration

  • SALESmanago

    We encourage you to learn more about SALESmanago Marketing Automation. This software is missing on your list even though according to Datanyze it is world’s TOP6. Venture Beat also named us the leader in small & medium business sector. To learn more please visit our website http://salesmanago.com

  • Ariel Hopper

    Thank you for including http://www.simplycast.com/ on your timeline, Jeff.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      You are most welcome Ariel :)

  • http://melissalgill.com/ mgill0627

    I love the idea of HubSpot. They provide me great content every day that I can’t wait to read, so I know they are a fantastic company. I just wish I could afford it.

  • http://www.shermansmithblog.com/ Sherman Smith

    Hey Jeff,

    The only ones I hear of were hubspot and Infusionsoft, but the rest is new to maybe. It’s probably because I’m a solopreneur and I’m more focused on the average Joe more so than a regular Brick and mortar businesses, but I can see the value on which businesses like these can help streamline their marketing plan better .

    Thanks for the share Jeff! Have a great weekend!

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    I have implemented Infusionsoft and it takes a lot to master. So to help me I have recruited a company to do the campaign set up for me. The only way to scale fast is to outsource what you aren’t good at and focus more on your strengths.

    • Cloris Kylie

      I completely agree, Jeff. And with resources such as Upwork.com, it’s easier than ever to find qualified people to support our business!

    • Filip Watson

      Couldn’t agree with you more here..

  • http://net-results.com Michael Shearer

    Jeff – thank you for including Net-Results in your recommendations. Very much appreciated!

  • http://www.ruthcheesley.co.uk Ruth Cheesley

    We’re using Mautic – http://www.mautic.org and http://www.mautic.com for the hosted version – very impressed so far!

  • dira

    Thanks Jeff!

    my choices:
    http://www.marketo.com for web desktop.
    http://www.banana-splash.com for web mobile.

  • http://www.brightinbound.com.au/ Sarah McIntyre

    The thing about marketing automation systems is that you have to actually use them and use them well. I’ve seen far too many get implemented as automated spamming machines and that’s no good for anyone.

  • Sarah Skelly

    Using Hubspot. LOVE the folks at Hubspot. Such a cool corporate culture. And they’ve always been super helpful. Find their COS to be a bit limiting to work with in terms of web pages and blog layouts.

  • Mark

    Good Read. I have been using SalesPanda(www.salespanda.com) since the past one year and I am happy with its features as a customer especially their content marketing feature which helped me in creating case studies, blogs,etc. It’s varied templates helped me in customizing my content.

  • http://www.nurturehq.com/ Nurture

    If your are looking for a low cost all-in-one marketing automation software that suits small as well as large businesses, then you must take a look at http://www.Nurturehq.com

  • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Jeffrey Lowe

    I’m really speechless. This is probably the best list I have been on because it’s not a popularity contest at all and the recommendation comes from a respected professional who “gets it”.

    Here’s another for your consideration: FreshMail Email Marketing Automation.

  • https://www.womplify.com/ Rob @ Womplify

    Another in the automation field which may interest you is womplify.com – starts from free.

  • Filip Watson

    Great post. The only issue I have with those marketing automation platforms is that they take a very long time to learn and very expensive. Since I am a small business owner with limited budget I am now using http://www.myconversionbrain.com instead because it’s much more affordable and very simple and easy to use but still use great stuff like finding out the keywords and sources behind all my leads, finding out when the leads come back to my website, which pages they have been to, lead and sales automation functionalities as well.

  • Filip Watson

    I had the same problem. Steep learning curve but also expensive since i am a small business owner.

  • Liz Angelene M Verano

    Wow! Real stuff here! Been a content writer for a long time and due to the numerous things that I needed to achieve each day sometimes I usually get stumbled on what I will do next or what are the things I needed to do. Now that I have read this post, my worries will come to an end now. Thanks to these brilliant ideas! I never thought these exist either. Also been able to come across this article http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/09/content-marketing-automation-zapier.html which also teach us how to do a content automation which will help us drive more leads and higher sales.

  • Sanjay Sawant

    Thanks Jeff for putting this wonderful list of automation to boost the business. Displayed Automation are much expensive as small business group. We are using Firecart – Marketing Automation Software, which not only help us to make email marketing strategies, even help us to nurture the leads and get business. Probably the best i came across.

  • Tiffany

    I’ve just recently started my lead management business and I definitely found a lot of information from this analysis. I have used http://www.myconversionbrain.com last year and I can personally vouch for this lead management and conversion automation tool. It has drastically improved the flow of my business, as well as enhanced my staff’s productivity. Was able to filter the quality leads from the spam ones, get lead notifications once a potential lead came back to my site again, finding out where the lead (persons name) came from exactly, plus all the lead management tools…. Thank you so much for this write-up!

  • Kev Shepard

    I only use Instagram actively, i don’t need to automate other networks for now. To automate it, apart from scheduling, i use Zengram.net. Automation of some routine processes is great, but what i appreciate the most is its pretty good geography search system and ability to post pics from pc. And also it’s the only such tool that hasn’t got me blocked, even temporarily.

  • Aishwarya Upadhyay

    That’s a fascinating list, Jeff!
    But you seem to have missed the tool I use – SalesPanda (available at : http://www.salespanda.com ) , an inbound digital marketing software that helps you create a strong online presence, enhance your website traffic and increase lead conversions for your business.

    SalesPanda enables you to create customized engagement windows on every page of the website to convert visitors to leads. These leads then flow into their lead management system triggering automated alerts to the user.
    It also provides a content editor with templates for creating marketing collateral which can be shared via email and social media. For me it beats most of the tools I tried before, functionality wise, for a huge save!

    And trust me when I say that their pricing is a treat! It has 4 pricing plans to choose from including a free one and goes upto $199/ month at most.

  • http://www.loyaltyworks.com/ ISI GROUP

    Here’s nice collection, i have also use some services,, thanks Jeffbullas

  • http://www.encocreative.com Ratko Ivanović

    We use AutopilotHQ here, and are happy so far with them.

  • http://www.nijenge.com Nijenge.com

    Is there a social media software that can be used to generate facebook likes for instance?

  • Ewan Coles

    Great list! It’s a pity, we didn’t release our latest plugin a bit earlier. I think, this could be a great addition to the list. Also we are working on the new large update for TriggMine plugins for CMS. More then 350 shops are already working with our plugin. The solution provides and automated email-marketing system with advanced personalization, available within several minutes.

  • Emma Graham

    Thank you for the great article! It’s very useful. I couldn’t imagine there are so many tools for marketing automation. Already want to try few of them. I am always looking for something new and affordable, as I’ve just launched my own small project.
    For now stickt to the strategy:
    get new leads on site, track them, catch them and work with them.
    All of these steps required deep analysis so I can realize what worked better. Unfortunately I am a newbie in lead generation, luckly my business partner take care about this part.
    I am managing leads activity on the site and customer satisfaction. Main helping tools for me – pipedrive CRM, ESP systems (trying few of them) and automated trigger email campaign (using triggmine).

  • Terril Retter

    This is a terrific post and somewhat ahead of its time in regard to other material published around the same time. A question that I continue to mull lately is about the definition of marketing automation. Has it changed in the last year or so as social media has become more relevant and as content marketing starts to reach mainstream? Are there emerging features and functions that incorporate “big data” “self learning analytics” along with the further use of smart devices that connect everywhere all of the time that shift the definition of marketing automation? We have lived with a definition that was founded in email for long while. Seems something more inclusive is needed now.

  • http://www.kuchjano.in Sakshi Singh

    This is a very comprehensive and well written list dave. I think every newbie online marketer should delve into this and really understand the importance of the tools you listed.
    Nice work!