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Find a Solution Marketing Solutions

Best Marketing Automation Software for Business 2017

Credit: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

Marketing automation is a holistic process that joins email, websites and social media channels into a unified force. Beyond simply streamlining the day-to-day work of your marketing department, marketing automation software helps it work smarter with automated workflows based on user interaction with your content. In this way, marketing automation better targets interested parties, more effectively wielding your advertising dollars and stretching your budget further.

With the right selection, marketing automation software can help you attract new customers, cultivate old relationships and reduce waste in your marketing budget. Business News Daily can help you sort through the noise and make the decision that suits your team best.

Here is a roundup of our favorite marketing automation platforms of 2017. For a comprehensive look at how to choose a marketing automation solution, read our Buyer's Guide for Marketing Automation Software.

HubSpot stood out as the best marketing automation platform for small business with its scalability. Its features are comprehensive and useful, but what really sold us was HubSpot's ability to seamlessly grow with a young company into a full enterprise system. While there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome and the initial price tag seems high, HubSpot delivers a quality marketing automation system that is easy to use and understand. Customer and technical support for the solution are helpful and highly accessible, and a healthy online community helps support one another with advice and discussion about the product itself and strategies that can be employed by using it. HubSpot will help your business grow more efficiently and eliminate the need to implement new systems and retrain staff.

[See our full review of HubSpot here.]

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a marketing automation solution? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Oracle's marketing automation solution, Eloqua, is an advanced and comprehensive system that is highly effective for large companies that have the team to back it up. Eloqua excels at creating automated campaigns through its Campaign Canvas. Drag-and-drop functionality makes the process fun and straightforward; you drop an icon on the canvas and connect it to the next step in the workflow by dragging your mouse. Using Campaign Canvas is almost game-like and simplifies what can be a somewhat convoluted process.

Eloqua's central dashboard is also a big plus, giving the user easy access to virtually any aspect of the marketing automation process in a single click. Tabs boasting every asset and lead, as well as shortcuts to different campaigns, accompany at-a-glance reports on the homepage, giving a bird's-eye view of your ongoing marketing campaigns.

[See our full review of Oracle Eloqua here.]

Pardot offers the most comprehensive and customizable marketing automation campaign of any software we looked at. The platform's Engagement Center allows users to create sequences with multiple branches at each step of the way, rather than simple "yes/no" binaries. A strong array of features allows users to create quality content with ease, while smart content and analytics help optimize content for search or tailor it to a specific lead segment. Pardot is on the expensive side (starting at $1,000 per month), so we only recommend it for large companies or users with truly deep pockets and an experienced team to operate the system.

[See our full review of Pardot here.]

The simplicity of Zoho Campaigns makes this low-cost marketing automation solution highly usable and easy to learn. Your staff can become acquainted with the platform quickly, and you can be sure it won't break the bank. While Zoho Campaigns is basic compared to our other best picks, it offers very small businesses, startups and those on a budget access to core marketing automation functions for just a handful of dollars every month. However, if you're looking for a more sophisticated, customizable marketing automation tool, it might be best to consider one of our other best picks.

[See our full review of Zoho Campaigns here.]

To determine which marketing automation platforms are the best, we looked for similar reviews online, examined market share and customer feedback, and talked to small business owners about which solutions they have employed themselves. We also asked entrepreneurs what they liked and disliked about each system.

Next, we created a list of marketing automation platforms that performed somewhat favorably or commonly appeared as market leaders. In addition to those mentioned by small business owners we spoke to and those platforms we were already familiar with, we looked at solutions that appeared on reputable online review sites and business websites.

We then researched these vendors and narrowed our list down based on the categories above. This included visiting company websites, watching videos and demos, reading guides and reviews, examining the online resources and training material, and using free trials when available. We also posed as business owners considering a solution to gauge the quality of customer service departments.

In total, we compiled a list of 35 marketing automation platforms. Our top picks are HubSpot, Oracle Eloqua, Zoho Campaigns and Pardot by Salesforce. Our final pool of candidates also included Active Campaign, Act-On, Marketo, GetResponse, MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaigner, Infusionsoft and SendinBlue.

Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each marketing automation platform:

  • Ease of use
  • Automation workflows
  • Email templates
  • Social media management
  • Content creation
  • Segmentation tools
  • Lead generation/scoring/cultivation
  • CRM integrations
  • Customer service

Act-On – Act-On offers marketing solutions for outbound as well as inbound strategies. This software as a service provides cloud-based opportunities to manage and optimize customer experiences, follow money spent, track activity of prospects, and stay compliant with anti-spam laws. https://www.act-on.com

ActiveCampaign – This marketing platform offers an all-in-one, cloud-based solution for the life cycle of your marketing needs. From first contact to conversion, this platform helps you connect with contacts as well as manage campaigns. ActiveCampaign provides email marketing, individualized site messaging and texting services, and customer relations management resources. http://www.activecampaign.com/

ActiveDEMAND – A marketing platform designed for use by individuals or agencies, ActiveDEMAND uses predictive marketing automation to bring in clients. Features of the service include email marketing, call tracking and CallForensics, dynamic website content management, event marketing, and social media. https://www.activedemand.com/

Adobe Campaign – Adobe Campaign combines multiple services into a program that helps you connect personally with clients, delivering simplified campaign management across online and offline channels. Features of Adobe Campaign include but are not limited to integrated customer profiles, targeted segmentation of clients, real-time interaction management and operational reporting. http://www.adobe.com/marketing-cloud/campaign.html

AutoPilot – A software option allowing businesses to automate a client's journey from first touch to conversion, AutoPIlot provides a personal touch to marketing with consistent and unique communications. The platform captures leads and engages clients with timely and personalized messages, texts and postcards. AutoPilot also connects to your apps, collecting and helping manage your data. https://autopilothq.com

CallidusCloud – This cloud-based company offers multiple options for sales, marketing, learning and customer experience resources. Its solutions for sales and marketing professionals include tools to motivate employees, make the sales process more efficient and effective, and manage the customer experience and data. http://www.calliduscloud.com/

Campaigner – Campaigner is an email service providing features such as contact lists, email templates, automations and delivery, targeting, and integration resources. This platform allows professionals to send newsletters, track purchasing behaviors and more. https://www.campaigner.com

Constant Contact – An email service providing professional, customizable templates, Constant Contact creates consistent branding customers will recognize. With multiple templates, drag-and-drop capabilities and contact management, this email marketing tool helps businesses find and keep clients. https://constantcontact.com

ClickDimensions – This platform presents email marketing and marketing automation and closes the divide between sales and marketing. ClickDimensions features email marketing with drag-and-drop or freestyle templates, campaign automations, data management with web forms, reports, surveys, lead management, and web intelligence for starters. http://clickdimensions.com/

Customer.io – This product engagement platform uses integration to gather real-time data, putting it into usable packets to drive customer engagement through collection, segmentation, workflow development and delivery. Customer.io delivers relevant messages to customers, speeding up onboarding and adoption, and it can also be used to maximize business growth. https://customer.io

Delivra – This email marketing software offers email automation and opportunities to increase revenue by integrating sales into your email campaign. With Delivra, businesses can track engagement, translating that data into usable reports in a drag-and-drop interface. https://delivra.com

Dotmailer –  The dotmailer email marketing platform automates an integral portion of work necessary to track, connect and communicate with clients. This intuitive platform brings email marketing and marketing automation together to simplify the marketing process. https://dotmailer.com

Dynamic Self-Syndication – A marketing software offered by Foster Web Marketing, Dynamic Self-Syndication allows individuals and businesses to organize marketing efforts all from a single platform. Managing websites with current content, following leads, communicating with clients, and automating follow-up and marketing campaigns are just a few of the features in this service. https://www.fosterwebmarketing.com/reports/dss-marketing-software.cfm

Eloqua (Oracle) – Developers of this platform use personalized experiences to increase conversions. Consistent, unique branding in communications accelerates sales and uniformity across channels – email, websites, video and mobile – helps customers know what to expect from a business. With features such as targeting and segmentation, campaign and lead management, and marketing measurement, Eloqua by Oracle helps business find and keep the right audience and convert them into customers. https://www.oracle.com/marketingcloud/products/marketing-automation/index.html

Exponea – Multichannel communications combine with real-time automated marketing, practical artificial intelligence capabilities and advanced analytics to make Exponea a useful cloud-based marketing platform. This solution's features include but are not limited to email management, recommendations, predictive analytics and attribution modeling. https://exponea.com

GetResponse – An all-encompassing online marketing platform including email, marketing, webinars, landing pages and even marketing automation, GetResponse can be tailored to your business and your industry. The simple drag-and-drop email editor includes autoresponders and advanced analytics. Marketing automation provides for unique systems and simple logic to create workflows for individual customer communications. https://getresponse.com

HubSpot – HubSpot offers Growth Stack, a suite of products addressing marketing, sales and customer relationship management working together for efficiency, simplicity and effectiveness. HubSpot's CRM, a free software program, organizes sales and marketing, creating an easy-to-use pipeline. With HubSpot's marketing software, entire campaigns are all in one place from start to finish, and its sales software provides tools to boost sales without the added work. http://hubspot.com

IBM Campaign – This software aids marketers by gathering all the steps of an outbound marketing campaign in one place. IBM Campaign allows for multichannel campaign management, from design to execution, including data collection and segmentation for individualized communications. https://www.ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/omni-channel-campaign-management  

iContact – This email marketing platform, designed for small and midsized businesses, comes with multiple results-oriented features like marketing automation and Salesforce integration. iContact also offers email design and social media services. https://icontact.com

Informz – Informz provides user-friendly tools helping businesses develop and grow stronger connections with clients. You can create professional-looking emails, automate marketing campaigns and manage social media accounts to reach customers and potential customers. http://informz.com

Infusionsoft – Developed for small businesses, the Infusionsoft platform automates daily tasks to give owners time to focus on the business and its customers. Features to organize contacts, collect and prioritize data, and automate marketing campaigns to maximize engagement while minimizing effort are just a few of the offers from this solution software. https://www.infusionsoft.com

LeadSquared – A platform with multiple services, LeadSquared offers marketing automation, sales and mobile CRM services, and a lead conversion platform combining the services with conversion prediction. By using data to nurture leads and automating marketing campaigns and sales solutions, these platforms enable businesses to convert more leads into customers. https://www.leadsquared.com

MailChimp – This email marketing platform provides unique and creative templates to help brand your business. Its analytics help track your campaigns and find out what works and what doesn't. You can automate your marketing, capture and utilize your data, and reach your audience with MailChimp. https://mailchimp.com

Marketo – Marketo software provides multiple applications to fit changing marketing needs. With marketing automation, account-based marketing, email campaigns, mobile communications, and even social, web and digital ads, this software offers many features to provide for your company's needs. https://www.marketo.com/software/

Maropost Marketing Cloud – This cloud-based marketing platform allows automation, personalization and management of email, mobile, web and social media campaigns. Maropost Marketing Cloud offers features including but not limited to automatic list cleansing, a drag-and-drop journey builder and the Priority Send scheduling feature. https://mmc.maropost.com/platform/overview

Net-Results – An intuitive interface brings the Net-Results automation solution to businesses worldwide. Features include lead generation and nurturing, email marketing, social media management, sales automation, and CRM integration, all connected to a sleek, readable dashboard that makes tracking leads and sales simpler and more effective. http://net-results.com

OutboundEngine – OutboundEngine provides marketing automation for small businesses. With industry-specific designs and details, your targeted campaigns reach clients, and this platform tracks engagement, allowing for effective conversions. https://outboundengine.com 

Pardot (Salesforce) – Salesforce brings Pardot, a marketing automation platform, to help businesses align their marketing and sales efforts. The B2B marketing solution provides analytics, email marketing, streamlined lead management and ROI reports. http://pardot.com

Real Magnet – Real Magnet provides actionable leads and increases in productivity. This platform gives you marketing automation, email marketing and inbound marketing resources while translating captured data into useful information. https://realmagnet.com

Responsys (Oracle) – Oracle's Responsys offers multichannel management of consumer experiences and messaging from one platform. It gathers data from separate sources, using it to create targeted consumer groups. This empowers customers to guide their own involvement through interaction. This cloud-based marketing platform also gives teams resources to create relevant and unique experiences for clients. https://www.oracle.com/marketingcloud/products/cross-channel-orchestration/index.html

Salesfusion – This easy-to-use software includes services to ensure marketing success. From attracting new leads and capturing data to streamlining process and analyzing data, Salesfusion's software is backed up by a team of phone and email support and the availability of experts to carry out marketing campaigns. https://www.salesfusion.com/

SALESmanago – This all-inclusive platform provides marketing automation for commerce and B2C. You can use SALESmanago to identify visitors and follow their actions across your site, communicating with potential clients with personalized messaging. This software provides marketing solutions for finding leads, engaging customers, collecting data and processing reports to use the data effectively. https://www.salesmanago.com/

SendinBlue – Email and messaging marketing campaigns are necessary avenues of communicating with clients in today's business culture, and SendinBlue provides businesses with simply designed, automated tools to enhance the return on investment. Features of the platform include a drag-and-drop designer and editor with templates and personalized content options, contact management, campaign tracking, and integrations. https://www.sendinblue.com

SharpSpring – SharpSpring helps businesses make the most of their marketing campaigns, beginning with finding more leads and then following up to convert those leads into sales. This platform integrates smoothly with many common platforms, like Salesforce, Formstack and Twitter. The software's features include behavioral-based email automation and dynamic forms. https://sharpspring.com

Zoho Campaigns – This cloud-based CRM provides omnichannel service, gamification and analytics, allowing businesses to connect with customers and keep a consistent message across all media. You can make more connections with Zoho Campaigns and convert them into customers with individualized, timely messaging and marketing. https://zoho.com

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a marketing automation solution? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.