Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?

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iContact Pro provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results. The iContact Pro platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outsmart the competition and grow their business. ***ICONTACT PRO INCLUDES***: BUSINESS-CLASS EMAIL: Creating effective email campaigns is easy with 650+ professional templates and top class deliverability. SEGMENTATION AND TARGETING: Target your leads based on who they are and how they interact with you. LANDING PAGES: Create great looking, mobile responsive landing pages in minutes. Drive, track, and measure action on email, social, and your website. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION: Nurture customers with the right content, at the right time, by creating custom experiences using the most intuitive workflows in the industry. LEAD SCORING: Customize scoring criteria and the software automatically qualifies your leads so you can engage with confidence and increase your marketing efficiency. CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT: Create, track, and measure your integrated marketing campaigns, from Tweets to email with powerful and easy-to-understand analytics. SALESFORCE INTEGRATION: Sync contacts and leads directly between your Salesforce.com and iContact Pro accounts, so you can quickly and effectively close your newly qualified and ready leads. SOCIAL CRM: Track and record every engagement with your prospects across email, social media, landing pages, news releases, and website visits. ***ICONTACT PRO BENEFITS*** DO MORE Nowadays, a marketer’s life is full of long hours, distractions, and beeping devices — it’s time for you to work smarter, not harder. iContact Pro was created to help companies engineer more calculated ways to send personalized communications to customers. No advanced degrees required. LIBERATE YOUR IDEAS Automation is not rocket science. But with most big enterprise solutions, getting started with marketing automation might feel a lot like planning a complicated rocket launch. iContact Pro was built to work fast for any size team, so when you say “yes” to marketing automation, you say “no” to complicated implementation. Simply login, pick an activity, and take off! TARGET YOUR MESSAGE Email marketing is at the heart of any results-driven strategy. iContact Pro is your virtual segmenting machine, helping you create individual CRM profiles to provide subscribers with the most relatable experiences for them — no matter how they engage with you. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS Bringing in more leads doesn’t always mean more revenue; prospects demand a higher quality experience from you. iContact Pro helps you nurture relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle in a way that feels personal, but is in fact highly automated. Reach out to the right people, at the right time, with the right message. ENGAGE YOUR NETWORK Get more mileage from existing content. Turn social fans into subscribers by including links to your own landing pages and invite people to download valuable content in exchange for their email address. Flexible, built-in tools allow you to schedule a calendar of social activity in advance or join in on trending conversations as they happen. CAPTURE MORE LEADS Everything you need is now easier to do. From designing professional landing pages and email templates, to setting up intuitive workflow triggers based on customer actions, our interactive tools make it easy to cross marketing tasks off your to-do list. MAKE DATA ACTIONABLE Great results come from consistently testing and drilling down into your performance data to make campaign tweaks on-the-fly. Engagement reports let you count up and compare the success of your social posts, landing pages, and emails. Ask us how you can integrate data from other tools with your dashboard for convenient, one-screen viewing. KEEP MOVING FORWARD We’re not doing our job if questions block your way to making things happen on your terms. We work hard to take the guesswork out of success. You can count on our experts and software to flatten learning curves along the way so you can just get up and get going.
1. Pricing – While SendinBlue is one of the most affordable email marketing tools currently available, you’ll need to be on their $49/month plan or above to access unlimited automation workflows. While not a major issue, this tends to rule out SendinBlue for me when recommending a marketing automation tool to a small business that’s new to automation. After all, ActiveCampaign starts at $9!

Established in 2008, Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool designed to offer a complete suite of applications, including email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and analytics, as well as integrations with webinar and event planning. With Act-On's email marketing, businesses can segment their customers into a variety of categories, allowing marketers to focus on a particular target market within that email group. The software offers core website tracking feature, which gives complete visibility into the types of customers that are visiting their site as well as their activities and the time spent on different contents while they are on the website. Act-On offers tools to build and optimize campaigns, generate leads, score and prioritize prospects, among others. The solution is capable of integrating with almost any leading CRM available in the market. Act-On is ideal for small marketing teams needing a marketing automation tool with minimal IT involvement. Platform features include: • Best-in-class email engine • One-click integration to leading web conferencing and CRM solutions • Tools for website visitor tracking • Lead scoring and lead nurturing • Automated programs; trigger & drip campaigns • Social media listening, prospecting & publishing • Design tools for web forms, landing pages and emails • Inbound tools for advanced SEO, Google AdWord tracking, and blog integration • Act-On Anywhere - a business productivity tool • Account- and contact-based marketing capabilities
Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
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B2B marketing organizations tend to rely on enterprise marketing automation systems that enable them to generate interest in the product or service by nurturing a relationship with the business customer, according to SelectHub. Smaller businesses that market mainly to consumers focus on marketing automation systems that help them engage the customer with the brand and the product rather than nurturing relationships.

The HubSpot dashboard enables teams to immediately sort the contracts won (or not) and maintain a clear view of their performance toward their goals. HubSpot’s CRM automatically tracks customer touchpoints across different channels and keeps a timeline of all calls, emails, and meetings involving specific customers. The platform also helps create personalized paths to purchase and compile data showcasing how every marketing campaign contributed to sales.


Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) firms have longer sales cycles and engage in more relationship building activities. Businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) rely more on brand and high-volume direct outreach efforts. This overview aims to improve understanding of how marketing software applications work and provide an update on trends every buyer should know.
Amazon.com Inc. will account for 29% of U.S. sales during the five days spanning Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Internet Retailer estimates. So far, Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices were some of the best-selling items on Amazon.com on Thanksgiving. In addition to Amazon Devices, best-sellers on Thanksgiving included the Instant Pot and Nintendo Switch.
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CRM integration is definitely key to the success of marketing automation. While these are two similar tools, it’s the differences between them that make them so compatible. CRM is more focused on collecting knowledge about existing customer accounts and managing new-customer pipelines while Marketing Automation is more focused on orchestrating one-to-one communication with early-stage prospects and routing new prospects to manage subsequent marketing and sales actions.
Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant.  It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)

If you’re producing effective inbound marketing content, you’re generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your successful efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers. Below are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business.
Forms and landing pages: Build custom landing pages without having to know HTML and link marketing assets stored in automation systems to use as downloadable content. Progressive profiling helps marketers shorten forms to ensure prospects aren’t turned off by long forms. They can be shown additional fields in future forms allowing marketers to build up a detailed prospect profile over time.
Encompasses automation of internal marketing processes. These include budgeting and planning, workflow and approvals, the marketing calendar, internal collaboration, digital asset creation and management and essentially everything that supports the operational efficiency of the internal marketing function. Typically these systems require a CRM or COM administrator to set up a complex series of rules to trigger action items for internal sales and marketing professionals to manually process (designing files, sending letters, sending email campaigns). This type of system increases marketer's ability to deliver relevant content to relevant individuals at relevant times. Limitations may apply, based on the human resource capacity of an organisation and their level of commitment to the tasks as they are assigned.
We’ve identified a range of leading marketing automation tools offering robust features and capabilities to simplify many otherwise time-consuming marketing activities. While the following tools and apps aren’t listed in any particular order, this list represents 57 tools worth taking a look at if you’re seeking ways to streamline one or more marketing functions.
All in one Sales Execution and Marketing Automation Platform. Map your entire business process in hours not months. Designed to help you sell faster. With LeadSquared’s Marketing Automation tool you can:  Push your leads down the conversion path by sending the right message at the right time using automation.  Run high-performing email marketing campaigns with dozens of ready-to-use email templates to choose from.  Follow every movement of your lead with website tracking and prioritize them based on lead score and lead quality.  Create responsive landing pages in no time with numerous templates to choose from.  Organize and segment your leads on various factors to run targeted email and drip campaigns.  Integrate seamlessly with apps you love. Key LeadSquared Solutions are: 1) Lead Nurturing: Make your leads travel faster down the sales tunnel by using: a) Autoresponders: Ensure that the leads are greeted with relevant emails and SMS’ as they arrive. b) Drip Marketing: Send your prospects exactly what they need and when they need it. c) Email Marketing: Build and send beautiful emails that perform great on all devices. d) Lead and Website Tracking: Track all your lead activities and nurture them based on their actions on your website. e) List Segmentation: Segment leads based on their profiles and interests to nurture them accordingly. f) Content Library: Store your nurturing emails as templates to reuse them easily. 2) Lead Management System: Map your entire lead management process from capture till conversion with LeadSquared’s feature rich and hassle-free lead management system which include: a) Lead Capture Automation: You can ensure that no leads slip through the cracks and seamlessly capture leads from all your sources. (PPC, Social Media, Website, phone and more.) b) Email Integration: Sync your email inbox with LeadSquared to capture all prospect conversations. c) Lead Qualification: Use lead quality and activity scoring to identify and chase the best leads first. d) Lead Distribution: Assign leads to relevant sales people automatically, based on any rules you set. e) Tasks and Reminders: Automatically set tasks for your sales people based on lead actions. f) Source Tracking: Identify the lead generation sources working best for you. 3) Sales Management: It includes everything you need to manage your inside and field sales teams. a) Sales Tracking: Track everything - your salespeople, their performance and revenue. b) Sales Alert: Notify salespeople whenever their leads take an important action. c) Sales Automation: Leave repetitive yet important tasks to sales automation. 4) Marketing Analytics: Use our analytics to run data-driven campaigns and get better at marketing every single day. a) Drip Analytics: Get performance reports for each step of your drip marketing campaigns. b) Email Analytics: Analyze and improve each aspect of your email marketing campaign. c) Landing page: Get conversion analytics for each landing page and web form. d) Lead Funnel: Find where the leads are at each step of your marketing funnel. e) List Engagement: Find how engaged a list is by looking at its engagement index.
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