Modern marketing is complex: tons of points of contact, tons of tools, and tons of moving parts. The only way to manage all that complexity is by creating effective systems and automating whatever you can. That’s why marketing automation software is fast becoming a necessary part of business technology.
This post will give an overview of what marketing software is and what it can do for you. We’ll also cover the top marketing automation tools on the market so that you can find your perfect fit.
What is marketing automation software?
With marketing automation software, it’s all in the name—software that allows you to automate certain marketing functions. To better understand marketing automation software, we can look at what exactly it enables you to automate.
For example, a common use of marketing automation is sending automated email campaigns. Instead of having to send emails (either individually or in batches) manually, you create rules that tell the system when to send them and to whom.
You can also use automated marketing software for:
- Campaign management
- Audience segmentation
- Social media
- Behavioral analysis
- Lead scoring
- A/B testing
These tools exist to take small or repetitive tasks off your plate and reduce human error. Automating hundreds or thousands of manual tasks frees your team to work on strategic initiatives, creative projects, and other big-picture ideas.
Why you need marketing automation software
Marketing automation software not only saves your team time but can also provide a better customer experience. Because automated marketing systems are typically designed to integrate with other tools (like your CRM and social media), they can give you a more complete and centralized view of potential customers and segment them for more personalized experiences.
This more personalized, multi-channel marketing experience leads to:
- Higher conversion rates
- Superior lead generation and nurturing
- Greater data organization
Most business owners and marketers know that providing a customized, perfectly-timed experience will yield better results but feel they don’t have the time and resources to do it at scale. Marketing automation software aims to give your entire database the VIP treatment—without employing an army of marketing associates to complete all those tasks.
And since there are a variety of different automation platforms (which each offer a range of plans), marketing automation is now an affordable and attainable strategy for any business.
What to consider when choosing marketing automation software
Because automated marketing software is such a versatile tool, each with a different mix of features, there are several factors you should consider when choosing one.
If you’re looking for marketing automation software, you probably already have some things you’d like to automate. Whether it’s lead scoring, advertising, or something else, identifying which features and functions are most important to you will determine which tools should be on your shortlist.
Analytics and reporting
You need to know how your automations are working, and your software’s analytics and reporting should make it easy.
Ease of use
Tools only work when people know how to use them. User reviews are a great resource for understanding if a tool is intuitive and user-friendly.
Marketing automation software often works in tandem with other technologies. For instance, your automation tool will probably need to integrate smoothly with your CRM system.
Fortunately, many software as a service (SaaS) marketing automation tools offer a range of plans for different business sizes. As you work with your current budget, you should consider how your software can scale as your business grows.
Top marketing automation software tools for 2022
Let’s dive into the top marketing automation software options for your business.
No surprise that we’d like to begin by showcasing our own service. ActiveCampaign is a robust marketing automation tool used by more than 150,000 businesses, ranging from one-person shops to enterprise companies.
ActiveCampaign offers 4 plans, with exact pricing depending on the number of contacts you have. Below are the plan prices for 1,000 contacts.
- Lite – $29 per month
- Plus – $49 per month
- Professional – $149 per month
- Enterprise – contact sales for pricing
Who should use ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign is a powerful platform, allowing you to automate everything from emails to social media to behavior tracking. We have plans for businesses of all sizes, but our automation software is especially helpful for small and medium-sized businesses looking for an easy-to-use platform to amplify their marketing efforts.
Zapier’s approach to marketing automation is to connect all your work apps and allow 1 event to trigger another. For example, an event on Facebook could then cause an email to be sent. You use rules to create larger and more complex workflows.
Connects to 5,000+ apps: Since Zapier is a platform designed to connect your apps, they integrate with more than 5,000 applications.
Filter steps: Zapier’s filter steps allow you to apply conditions to your zaps, so you have greater control without having to monitor every action.
Data transfer: A relatively new feature, Transfer by Zapier, allows you to move bulk data from 1 app to another without tedious data entry.
Zapier has 5 plans, including a free one, each including a certain number of automation tasks. With paid plans, you can pay more for more tasks.
- Free – $0
- Starter – $19.99 per month
- Professional – $49 per month
- Team – $299 per month
- Company – $599 per month
Who should use Zapier?
If you’re just dipping your toes into automation (or have no budget), Zapier’s free plan is a good place to start. This tool is especially valuable for customer journeys that take place over many different channels.
Buffer is an automation and analytics tool specifically for growing your social media presence. Known for its popular blog, Buffer enables marketing teams to collaborate on content and manage accounts from 1 platform.
Publishing calendar: Use the calendar to plan and publish on all of your social channels. You can even schedule mobile reminders for Instagram stories and TikTok videos.
Reports dashboard: Buffer gives you a central dashboard to help you track performance, but you can also create custom reports.
Analyze: Analyze is a tool in Buffer that scours your data to serve up important insights, like how often you should post and at what times.
Buffer has 4 plans, beginning with a basic free plan. Two of the plans are priced by the number of social channels you use. With the Agency plan, you can use 10 channels (or more for an additional charge).
- Free – $0
- Essentials – $5 per channel per month
- Team – $10 per channel per month
- Agency – $100 per month
Who should use Buffer?
If you’re focused on creating a larger, more effective social presence, Buffer could be what you’re looking for. The main drawback is that Buffer is only for social media.
monday.com first emerged as a contender in the task and project management field. In recent years, they’ve expanded their product offering to include monday.com marketer and monday.com sales CRM, both of which have automation features.
Sales process automations: Within monday.com sales CRM, you can automate steps like assigning a sales rep and reminders for engagement actions.
Automate across channels: By integrating with tools like Slack, Gmail, and Docusign, monday.com allows you to automate notifications and tasks in the most relevant tool.
Campaign planning and management: Within monday.com marketer, you can plan campaigns with workflows that keep all the moving parts in motion.
Although monday.com offers 5 plans, only 3 of them include automations. Plans are priced per seat, so the monthly cost depends on how many team members will use the platform.
- Standard – $10 per seat per month
- Pro – $16 per seat per month
- Enterprise – contact sales for pricing
Who should use monday.com?
monday.com is best for organizations who want to bring a powerful basis of project management to their automated marketing.
5. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management platform designed to mine maximum business value from your social channels. Along with social media automation, it offers social listening and lets you compare your performance to competitors.
Smart inbox: Your smart inbox brings all your messages into 1 place to help you stay on top of all your social channels.
Publishing tools: From Sprout Social, you can build out a comprehensive content calendar and schedule posts. Marketing teams can schedule posts in batches, making more time for strategy.
Optimal send times: The platform’s optimization algorithms can tell you the best times to post on a channel.
Sprout Social pricing
Sprout Social offers 3 plans—billed by the number of users—with a 30-day free trial.
- Standard – $89 per user per month
- Professional – $149 per user per month
- Advanced – $249 per user per month
Who should use Sprout Social?
If your business’s biggest marketing channel is social media, Sprout Social will give you the robust and centralized control you need. That power, however, comes with a big price tag. Like Buffer, Sprout Social doesn’t offer automations for email and other channels.
6. Gravity Flow
Gravity Flow is a workflow plugin for WordPress designed to work with Gravity Forms, enabling you to build custom forms. It helps you automate tasks and create workflows to expedite business processes.
Resubmissions: Gravity Flow allows you to modify forms’ entries and re-submit them for approvals.
Pre-made workflow steps: Users can choose from more than 40 pre-made steps and use a drag-and-drop process to build complex workflows.
Efficiency reporting: Users can access reports that show how long different processes are taking, which helps identify bottlenecks.
Gravity Flow pricing
Gravity Flow offers 3 plans and a 30-day refund guarantee.
- Core License – $99 per year
- Pro License – $299 per year
- Ultimate License – $447 per year
Who should use Gravity Flow?
The key issue with Gravity Flow is that it will only benefit a specific subset of businesses. If you’re a WordPress and Gravity Forms user, it can be a great addition to your technology stack.
Bloomreach is a commerce experience cloud that uses your data and content to optimize and automate customer-focused commerce experiences. They offer 3 products: Engagement, Discovery, and Content.
Plug and play use cases: Plug and play use cases are like templates for hyper-personalized marketing campaigns drawing on Bloomreach’s expert knowledge.
Advanced predictions: Bloomreach offers prediction templates that use machine learning algorithms to help you create smarter campaigns.
Multi-channel experiences: The product allows you to incorporate a variety of channels into your campaign or customer experience.
Bloomreach requires you to contact them for pricing information.
Who should use Bloomreach?
Bloomreach specializes in helping ecommerce and retail businesses. As their lack of pricing suggests, Bloomreach is less focused on small startups and is most popular with mid-market businesses.
SharpSpring is designed to bring all your sales automation, marketing automation, and customer relationship management under 1 roof. They offer features for email, ads, landing pages, social media, and more.
VisitorID: This visitor tracking feature works in tandem with SharpSpring’s CRM to notify your sales teams when an opportunity to engage arises.
Lead scoring and nurturing: Advanced lead scoring capabilities allow leads to gain points and lose them over times of disinterest.
Dynamic lists: Within SharpSpring, you can create a dynamic list with specific parameters, adding leads as they fulfill these conditions.
For small and medium businesses, SharpSpring offers 3 plans based on your number of contacts. Agencies and enterprises should contact them for pricing.
- SMB 1,000 Contacts – $449 per month
- SMB 10,000 Contacts – $999 per month
- SMB 20,000 Contacts – $1,449 per month
- Agency and Enterprises – contact for pricing
Who should use SharpSpring?
SharpSpring is great for small and mid-market businesses with a heavy emphasis on lead scoring and finely-tuned marketing and sales funnels.
Make puts its intuitive drag and drop visual platform front and center. They enable users to build complex workflows and business operations with no coding. Beyond marketing and sales automation, they say their platform can save IT, HR, and operations teams time.
Visual workflows: In Make’s builder interface, you can drag and drop to connect apps and build workflows that function across channels and tools.
Templates gallery: You can save time using 1 of Make’s thousands of workflow and automation templates.
1,200+ apps: Since Make is designed to bring harmony to cross-channel workflows, they have integrations for more than 1,200 apps.
Make offers 4 plans and invites enterprises to get in touch for custom pricing. Each plan includes service for a certain number of opportunities, and you can pay to add more.
- Free – $0 per month for 1,000 opportunities
- Core – $9 per month for 10,000 opportunities
- Pro – $16 per month for 10,000 opportunities
- Teams – $29 per month for 10,000 opportunities
- Enterprise – contact sales for pricing
Who should use Make?
Make says explicitly that it helps teams create complex processes with no coding. Most popular with small businesses, it is a good match if you have a lot of apps to connect and little development resources.
Eloqua is a marketing automation solution offered by Oracle, 1 of the largest software companies in the world. Designed to scale with large businesses, Oracle also offers professional consulting services.
Adaptive campaigns: Like many tools, Eloqua enables you to build and manage campaigns. It also adapts campaigns based on contact behavior.
Precise segmentation: Eloqua uses behavioral and firmographic data from multiple sources to segment your audience for a more personalized experience.
Automated retargeting: With real-time contact monitoring, user behavior can trigger retargeting messages for a known contact.
Eloqua doesn’t have a public-facing pricing page, so you will need to contact their sales team for more information.
Who should use Eloqua?
As part of Oracle’s advanced technology suite, Eloqua is best suited to companies already using Oracle. The majority of Eloqua’s customers are enterprise businesses, meaning it probably won’t fit the needs or the budget of small businesses and startups.
Automation amplifies your efforts
With so many channels, devices, and competitors, digital marketing is an increasingly complex and customizable field. Marketing automation software allows smaller teams to offer more personalized and relevant customer experiences by taking care of endless little tasks.