There are two universal truths about marketing automation tools:
- Not every business or marketing team needs one
- For those who do, choosing a marketing automation solution requires a lot more subtlety and nuance than just buying the first all-in-one tool that pops into your head (usually Marketo or HubSpot)
With that in mind, choosing the right tool for your team comes down to two things:
- Knowing when you’re ready for marketing automation
- Understanding your use case and needs
Too many marketers unknowingly make a mistake on that first part—diving into an automation tool long before they really need it. And too many round-ups miss the mark on the second part, listing robust, expensive, all-in-one tools that not every marketing team needs.
In this article, we cover how to know if your team and your organization are ready for a full-fledged marketing automation solution. Then, instead of just listing tools, we categorize the best marketing automation tools by seven of the most common use cases—so you can be more precise in finding the right fit for you.
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Do You Actually Need a Marketing Automation Tool?
Most businesses today buy a marketing automation tool without stopping to consider whether they really need it yet. As the quintessential buzzword of late, marketing automation can feel like an obvious step toward scaling your marketing operation—but you need to have a true marketing operation first.
From our experience, businesses aren’t ready for marketing automation until they tick at least three of these boxes:
- You have a marketing team of at least one person who only does marketing. Marketing automation can streamline and scale your efforts, but it isn’t a substitute for actual marketing know-how. If you’re a founder or early employee doing a bunch of activities, including marketing, and think an “automation” tool is going to free up your time, a tool isn’t going to solve your problem.
- You’ve found at least one marketing channel that works for you. Marketing automation tools help scale your marketing, but you don’t want to scale something that doesn’t actually work yet. If you think an automation tool will help you find a channel that works, it (more than likely) won’t.
- All of your marketing efforts flow from a defined strategy. For the same reason as above, you don’t need an automation tool to throw more spaghetti at the wall in hopes that something sticks.
- Your marketing team has more money than time. Marketing automation tools help your team do more in less time—but you have to be comfortable with the financial hand-off that buys you that time.
Once all of those scenarios apply to your business, then you can start to consider a marketing automation solution.
But you don’t have to go all-in from the start. Many businesses over-invest in an all-in-one solution when they only need email automation, for example. Take time to consider where your needs and your use case really lie—then find your use case from the list below.
- All-in-One Marketing Automation Tools
- Email Marketing Automation
- Social Media Automation
- Customer Journey Automation
- Pricing Automation
- Advertising Automation
- Loyalty and Referral Marketing Automation
Lastly, if you want to learn more about who we are (Leadfeeder) and what we do, you can skip straight to the customer journey automation section where we explain how we fit into the marketing automation landscape.
All-in-One Marketing Automation Tools
Generally speaking, organizations that really need a full all-in-one automation tool have already hit on a handful of marketing channels that work for them—regardless of which channels those are. That means:
- You’ve seen success across more than 1 or 2 channels
- You’re already investing financially in scaling your marketing operation
- Your team needs to either scale the channels that are working and/or experiment with additional avenues
If that sounds like your team, these marketing automation tools can handle it all. From email automation, to ad buying, to lead nurturing, all-in-one automation tools can help add scale and streamline every aspect of your marketing operation.
Pricing: Contact Marketo for pricing information.
Marketo claims to offer marketing automation that covers any channel and every engagement. Since being acquired by Adobe, the list of tasks that work together on Marketo has only multiplied. Their full-feature software can handle everything from digital advertising to social media to account-based marketing—making it a really good option for larger marketing operations.
Pricing: Contact Oracle for pricing information.
Eloqua, now part of the Oracle suite of tools, sets itself apart by working with nearly every other tool in your marketing belt. Eloqua boasts more than 700 integrations, meaning it can make every step of your marketing process more personalized and streamlined. It’s also one of only a few all-in-one tools with an explicit emphasis on serving B2B marketers and companies.
Pricing: Ranges from $50 – $3,200+ per month, based on features and scale.
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is fundamentally different from other marketing automation tools for a few reasons. For one, their focus on inbound marketing (including content and search marketing) is unparalleled. They also offer the added benefit of the Sales and Service Hubs, which means your team can better work together—even across departments.
Pricing: Ranges from $1,250 – $4,000 per month, based on depth of automation and analytics.
Pardot (now part of Salesforce) is another marketing automation tool that’s tailored to the needs of B2B marketers, with support for things like B2B analytics and account-based marketing solutions. The partnership with Salesforce makes Pardot part of a robust suite of products that work together to help sales and marketing teams be more effective, together.
Pricing: Ranges from $9 – $400+ per month, based on features and number of contacts.
As a marketing automation tool, ActiveCampaign does perhaps the best job at working automation into the processes of real humans. The reality is, marketing software can’t handle everything—there are aspects of marketing that need a human touch. ActiveCampaign built their software around that, adding features like notification emails that empower marketers and salespeople, instead of replacing them.
Email Marketing Automation
Despite the high-profile of many of the all-in-one tools above, email automation is still one of the first things most people think of when they hear “marketing automation.” Email marketing automation tools are a lot cheaper than the all in one tools above, so it doesn’t make sense to shell out for more than your team needs or will use.
The use case for email automation is also one of the widest. Your team could likely benefit from it, if:
- You’ve seen some level of baseline success with email marketing
- You need to send transactional emails, in addition to marketing
- Someone on your team has been manually sending every campaign
Email marketing automation tools handle tasks, like sending triggered emails, and enable marketers to build complex automated campaigns and personalized audience segments.
Pricing: Ranges from $14.99 – $299 per month, based on features and contacts.
Mailchimp is in the process of growing from an email marketing tool to a full-blown marketing automation solution. While their expanded features remain to be tested, Mailchimp is one of the original email marketing tools, and they’ve turned that experience into a rock-solid and capable email automation tool that’s a breeze to use.
7. Constant Contact
Pricing: Ranges from $20 – $335 per month, based on features and list size.
Constant Contact is email marketing automation designed for smaller businesses. With their tool, you can create automated trigger campaigns, collect new emails automatically, and send segmented follow-up messages. With Constant Contact, your email program has all the features you need, without the clutter some other tools drown you in.
Pricing: Ranges from $150 – $1,000+ per month, based on features and support.
Built for subscription-based businesses, Customer.io’s email automation tool is all about engaging customers throughout the customer lifecycle. Tons of integrations make it easy to funnel data from across your technology stack and turn it into automated segments and email campaigns that resonate.
Pricing: Ranges from $49 – $122+ per month, based on active subscribers.
Drip’s email marketing automation is built for eCommerce businesses—meaning it works with all of the other eCommerce tools you use. You can create personalized content and automate campaigns based on customer behavior. Drip also offers more than email automation, so all of your messaging stays consistent and works together to drive customers toward a purchase.
Social Media Automation
Social media automation tools encompass one of the broadest fields—with solutions designed to help automate various aspects of social media marketing, from content publishing, to monitoring, to analytics.
As such, nearly any brand can benefit from a social media scheduling tool like Buffer. That said, you probably don’t need a full-fledged social media automation tool unless:
- More than one person is publishing under your brand’s social media accounts
- Your brand is active on multiple social networks
- You’re using social media for multiple purposes, like paid advertising or providing customer support
Pricing: Ranges from $29 – $599+ per month, based on social profiles, users, and more.
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive and full-featured social media automation tools. With features to help you schedule content, curate from a pre-approved library, and monitor conversations about your brand and industry, Hootsuite has everything you need to create a social media presence that makes a difference for your brand.
Pricing: Ranges from $15 – $99 per month, based on the number of social accounts, users, and posts.
Originally a social media content scheduling tool, Buffer has grown to reflect the way today’s brands really use social. The tool still makes it easy to schedule and curate content, but additional ‘Reply’ and ‘Analyze’ solutions help connect social media with all the other teams they need to work with in modern organizations.
Pricing: Ranges from $80 – $400+ per month, based on the number of social profiles, users, and features.
CoSchedule’s automation tool offers one of the best solutions for planning and strategizing social media content in advance. By mapping out all of your content, including what you’ll say and when, it’s easy to get a bird’s eye view of your end-to-end social production. Plus, analytics and CoSchedule’s suggestions make it clear what resonates, so you can reuse and create more content like it.
13. Sprout Social
Pricing: Ranges from $99 – $249 per user/ per month, based on features and number of social profiles.
Sprout Social has one of the widest feature sets among the social automation tools on our list—with individually tailored solutions for everything from social management and marketing to customer care, employee advocacy, and data and intelligence. The publishing wing of Sprout Social’s solution is great for teams, too, making it easy to collaborate on both strategy and execution.
Pricing: Ranges from free to over $600 per month, based on the scale of your social listening operation.
Leaning hard into the social listening aspect of social media marketing, Mention enables brands to track mentions across the digital media landscape. You can keep track of how your campaigns spur conversations throughout the web—not just on social media. Plus, Mention makes it easy to automatically track competitors and industry trends, too.
Customer Journey Automation
When we talk about customer journey automation from a marketing perspective, we’re really talking about three main stages:
- Lead generation
- Lead scoring
- Lead nurturing
The tools in this section are designed to make one or more of those steps work better without a human babysitter.
Customer journey automation tools are best suited to enterprise and B2B marketing and sales teams. They could help scale your operation if:
- You’ve already mapped out the journey customers take from new lead to sale
- Your marketing and sales teams work closely together to manage the customer journey
- You’re using an account-based sales or ABM model
Pricing: Ranges from free to over $53 per month, based on features and the number of unique leads.
Companies and their employees visit your website, but those potential leads can vanish into the ether if they don’t fill out some kind of form while they’re there. That means your team could be missing out on tons of valuable potential leads who may be a great fit to become customers.
Leadfeeder helps you surface that information, by showing you all the companies that visit your website. You can create Custom Feeds to narrow that list down to your best fit leads, and have notifications of new leads automatically sent to email and Slack for the right team member.
Our tool is best for B2B and enterprise marketing teams who need a better way to both identify new leads and better target their marketing to the best-fit prospects.
Note: Want to generate more leads from your website? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see all the companies that visit your site, plus info on the pages they looked at, how long they spent there, and more.
Pricing: Ranges from $900 – $2,000+ per month, based on features and number of users.
Act-On’s marketing automation software is designed for enterprise brands. The tool helps connect two important things:
- Your marketing and sales teams
- The breadcrumbs leads drop across the web
That means it’s easier to identify (and agree upon) the best leads to pursue—making Act-On a great option for large and B2B companies using an account-based marketing strategy.
Pricing: Ranges from $150 – $2,500 per month, based on contacts and features.
LeadSquared is one customer journey automation tool that’s focused primarily on the lead nurturing phase of the process. The tool is designed to help move leads through the funnel faster, so you land more new customers in less time. You can set triggers, conditions, and actions to automate your drip marketing—so you never miss an opportunity to advance leads toward a purchase.
18. Infusionsoft by Keap
Pricing: One time fee of $499 – $1,999, plus $199 – $399 per month, based on features and contacts.
Now part of Keap, Infusionsoft is marketing automation software designed to streamline communication between your company and potential leads and customers. Infusionsoft’s solution is designed for small businesses, meaning they’ve made it easy to build emails, workflows, landing pages, and more from pre-built templates.
Whether you’re looking to keep your prices competitive as your competitors shift or optimize your pricing model from the top-down, pricing automation software makes it easier to react to competitive pricing changes and turn your pricing strategy into an advantage.
Pricing automation tools are generally designed with the eCommerce use-case in mind, and those are the companies who are most likely to benefit from one of these tools. If you’re working in eCommerce and selling competitive (and/or seasonal) products to a price conscious market, a pricing automation tool can be a good option.
Pricing: Ranges from $59 – $229 per month, based on features and the number of products.
Prisync is pricing automation software designed for eCommerce. Since the eCommerce industry tends to harbor some of the most price-conscious consumers, it’s vital that brands can react to competitive pricing changes in a hurry. Prisync automates that process, so you’re always on top of competitor pricing and how it compares to yours.
Pricing: Contact Wiser for pricing information.
Wiser offers one of the most comprehensive pricing strategy and automation tools on the market. The tool can help with everything from A/B testing your prices to estimating demand and helping you find the right sweet-spot to maximize your bottom line. As demand and other market forces change, Wiser does the heavy lifting so your pricing strategy always works—for you and your customers.
Pricing: Ranges from $129 – $319 per month, based on marketplaces, repricing strategies, support, and more.
Informed is a repricing automation tool for eCommerce businesses and online sellers. With support for 13 different marketplaces, their tool works no matter where you sell online. Informed’s approach to repricing is unique because the solution allows you to choose between creating your own repricing strategy or using their AI-powered suggestions.
Pricing: Ranges from $89 – $999+ per month, based on analytics and other features.
Designed for brands with a large catalog of products, Skuuudle makes it effortless to monitor competitor pricing and match products at scale, so you never miss a sale because of price. Skuuudle is also one of few pricing automation tools that pulls data from both eCommerce marketplaces and direct sellers.
With everything that goes into creating and optimizing digital ads these days, most marketers need a helping hand. From building ad creative across ad channels to optimizing bidding strategies, advertising automation tools are one of the best ways to scale a digital ad effort.
Similar to the all-on-one tools, you really don’t need advertising automation until:
- You’ve seen traction on more than one advertising platform (i.e. Facebook and Twitter or Google AdWords and Instagram)
- You’re looking to refine ad creative and bidding strategies, instead of heavily testing
- You want to advertise to hyper-targeted segments, like remarketed audiences
Pricing: Pricing based on CPM—contact AdRoll for more specific pricing information.
AdRoll is probably one of the best known digital advertising automation tools, and for good reason. Their software makes it easy to run ads across every channel from display and social, to email. On top of that, AdRoll offers retargeting campaigns that pack a serious punch, so you can stay top of mind with new prospects and re-engage inactive customers.
Pricing: Ranges from $1,000 – $5,000+ per month, based on monthly ad spend, channels, and more.
Metadata.io is one of the only tools on the market that enables B2B marketers to run account-based ads. Using AI and multivariate testing, Metadata.io identify the most effective combination of ad creative, copy, and placement to get the best results for your ad budget.
Pro tip: You can even use Metadata.io together with Leadfeeder to run account-based retargeting campaigns.
Pricing: Ranges from $895 – $1,590 per month, based on ad accounts, users, and support.
Zalster is an advertising automation tool that handles Facebook and Instagram ads. Despite the limited scope of platforms, Zalster makes our list because it’s one of the only tools that truly handles your social media ad campaigns from end-to-end. Their software uses AI to continuously optimize campaigns, so you’re always running on all cylinders.
Pricing: Ranges from $49 – $2,999 per month, based on monthly ad spend.
Similar to Zalster, Revealbot focuses on two ad platforms exclusively: Facebook and Google. The automation tool is focused on providing in-depth ad campaign analytics, so you can effortlessly find the most effective campaigns and double-down on them. You can create rules to automatically optimize campaigns and even get full campaign reports via their Slack bot, Emma.
Pricing: Contact Trapica for pricing information.
Focused on social media ads, Trapica aims to use AI to help you find the best, most targeted audience to spend your ad budget on. Their algorithms offers a deeper look at who your audience really is and robust targeting features help you reach that audience at just the right time to spur a purchase.
Pricing: Ranges from $79 – $1,500+ per month, based on features.
Shoelace focuses on what they call “customer journey retargeting.” By showing the right ads to the right customer, at just the right time, Shoelace makes it easier to use ads throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey—continuously nurturing and pushing leads toward a sale. Their software offers segmentation that enables hyper-targeted ads and sequences that prevent ad fatigue.
Loyalty and Referral Marketing Automation
Loyalty and referral marketing are one aspect of marketing often left out of the conversation around marketing automation. But they both capitalize on the most powerful marketing tool—word of mouth.
An automated loyalty or referral program could be a good fit for your business if:
- You’ve seen demonstrated results from word of mouth already
- Your products don’t require extensive research or negotiation to arrive at a buying decision
- Your industry’s average customer lifetime value is high enough that the upfront investment makes sense
If so, these tools will help you spur and take advantage of buzz, taking your referral and loyalty programs to new heights.
29. Referral Rock
Pricing: Ranges from $200 – $800 per month, based on number of members, programs, and more.
Referrals are powerful—but you have to be proactive about encouraging and capitalizing on them. Referral Rock makes it easy to set up the right type of referral program for your business—from refer-a-friend, to influencer marketing, to business partner programs—so you can set it up once and let the referrals roll in on auto-pilot.
Pricing: Contact TapMango for pricing information.
TapMango’s customer loyalty automation platform takes the punch card of old and modernizes it for today’s customers. With flexible reward structures, tons of options for promotions, and a branded mobile app available, TapMango makes it easy on both you and your customers to inspire and reward loyalty and referrals.
Pricing: Contact Ambassador for pricing information.
Ambassador makes it easy to build a powerful army of brand ambassadors. From hand-selecting the customers you want to mobilize, to automating and testing reward incentives to find the right mix, Ambassador puts brand advocacy on auto-pilot. The platform offers tons of integrations and pre-built templates, so marketers can get their program off the ground in a jiffy.
Pricing: Contact Clutch for pricing information.
Clutch’s unique approach to loyalty marketing emphasizes building a deeper understanding of what drives loyalty for your unique customers. Their integrated platform makes it easy to attribute loyalty and sales from any channel, and the flexible rewards help you appeal to any and every type of customer and their motivations.
33. Belly by Mobivity
Pricing: Ranges from $129 – $179+ per month, based on features, email campaigns, and more.
Now part of Mobivity, Belly helps you reward and encourage both loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing by incentivizing both purchases and digital promotion—like online reviews. Belly’s tool even helps bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar sales and digital loyalty with a point-of-sale iPad display.
The Right Marketing at Scale
Not every company or marketing team is ready to automate their operation—but when the time comes, marketing automation tools can take solid marketing strategy to entirely new heights.
By identifying your unique needs and choosing the right tool to fill them, you can turn marketing insights into A+ execution at scale… so you can spend less time on the nitty-gritty, and more time growing the business.
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