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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Marketers can use marketing automation to drive pipeline by sourcing the hottest leads, creating customized campaigns (such as email campaigns) to target ideal buyers, and moving leads through the sales cycle to maximize the ROI of marketing programs. Marketers can execute on a digital marketing strategy without all the hassle of sending one-off emails or managing tasks manually. They can also provide sales teams with pre-approved, on-brand messages (such as email templates) that sales teams can customize for qualified leads.

Autopilot is simple and visual customer journey software. We help you capture and convert new leads, connect with customers, and create loyal repeat buyers. LAUNCH IN MINUTES Autopilot’s visual canvas for creating customers journeys is inspired by drawing campaigns on a whiteboard. Whether you need to follow up with new contacts, qualify and assign leads to sales, or onboard customers, you can automate your marketing simply by dragging and connecting shapes together in just a few minutes. INTEGRATE POPULAR TOOLS Connect Autopilot with tools like Salesforce, Facebook, Segment, Slack, Typeform, Twilio, and Zapier. Or plug in your own using our API. By centralizing your data, you can create a personalized experience based on interests and behavior. Instantly trigger automated journeys to assign leads in Salesforce, follow up after LiveChat conversations, or add customers to a Facebook Custom Audience. CREATE MULTI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCES Create a better experience for you customers by sending targeted emails, in-app messages, SMS, and postcards at the right time in their journey. Allow subscribers to opt-in by texting a keyword to a number. Notify active customers of a new product feature when they log in to your app. Celebrate milestones or offer a special discount by sending a postcard as easily as automating an email. TRACK AND OPTIMIZE PERFORMANCE Set a goal for every journey to get insight into which messages convert and how journeys are trending. Track your performance in real-time, run A/B test experiments, and quickly optimize based on results. Autopilot has helped the Equality Campaign in Australia win the YES vote on gay marriage. It’s helped Microsoft communicate with and onboard new developers. It’s helped Patreon connect and educate creators to give them new revenue streams. And it’s helped hundreds of startups tell their story and grow their businesses. Are you ready to launch your next customer journey? We offer a 30-day free trial so you can try it out, no credit card required.

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GetResponse is a web-based, all-in-one marketing platform that helps business owners to build permission-based mailing lists, maximize conversion ratios, increase profitability and build customer confidence. GetResponse serves more than 350,000 active users from 182 countries, engages more than 1 billion subscribers every month, and delivers 10 billion permission-based emails per year with an average deliverability rate of 99.3 percent. GetResponse platform includes: Email Marketing With GetResponse Email Marketing, send beautifully-designed, responsive emails. Increase your sales and subscriber engagement through comprehensive email marketing campaigns. In just a few easy steps you can have an entire campaign up and running, whether you’re an experienced marketer, or just starting out. Use newsletters to send updates or announcements to your list, autoresponders to nurture and educate, forms to grow your list, and 99% deliverability to ensure your messages always reach your subscribers’ inboxes. Features: Newsletters, 99% deliverability, autoresponders, mobile-responsive email templates, dynamic content, advanced segmentation, responsive design, perfect timing, advanced analytics, AB testing, forms, list building apps Landing Pages With the simple to use drag and drop landing page creator, create 100% responsive landing pages and web forms. GetResponse landing pages include hundreds of professionally designed, ready-to-go templates. Create top-notch web pages for opt-in, thank you, sales, webinars, and more in less than ten minutes without touching a single line of code. Features Video integration, 150 responsive templates, mobile design, custom domain, image editor Webinars Nurture your leads with complete webinar marketing solution. GetResponse is the first email marketing service to provide a complete webinar marketing solution. With GetResponse Webinars, you can not only acquire new leads but also nurture existing customers, thanks to an advanced integration with GetResponse email marketing. Use GetResponse Webinars to host trainings, product announcements, trainings, demos, and more. Features: Desktop sharing, polls, presentation sharing, chat, moderation tools, VOIP camera and voice capabilities, attendee management. Marketing Automation Scalable workflows based on customer journeys. Create marketing automation workflows in an easy drag-and-drop creator to track subscriber behaviors in real time. React to completed purchases, abandoned carts, key web page visits, message engagement, and much more. Features: Email marketing automation, lead scoring, web traffic tracking, cart abandonment, automation segmentation CRM Create customizable, drag-and-drop sales pipelines to nurture your leads and turn them into repeat customers. Spot opportunities using deals and stages that fit your sales process. Add notes and comments to your deals to easily keep up with daily activities and smash your sales and marketing goals. Features: Pipeline view, deals, stages tasks, notes, reminders.
Propsect.io does one very specific part of marketing automation (finding cold leads and engaging them to become warm), but it does it very well. One particularly good feature about Prospect.io that’s not easy to find elsewhere is that the automation emails can be triggered directly from your mail server (e.g. G Suite or Microsoft Exchange) so your emails appear identical to if you had sent them manually.
A while back, we were looking for a marketing automation tool ourselves. We researched, we talked to analysts, and we had deep dives with company reps. Since then, we’ve become very involved in the industry thanks to the complementary nature of analytics and marketing automation. We’ve even formed partnerships with several companies. Now finally, we present our top picks for marketing automation tools (in no particular order).
The brand’s goal is to scale with businesses as they expand so they can see true growth without the hiccup of finding other tools. And its marketing analytics tool spurs some of that growth by showing business owners the outcomes of their historical efforts and projecting how their future attempts will pan out. These insights, combined with ONTRAPORT’s Campaign Builder — which allows entrepreneurs to set goals and base their automation on achieving those goals — give small businesses the opportunity to customize.
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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.
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?

As of 25th May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect, [4] this has had a large impact on the way marketing teams and organisations can manage their consumer data. Any organisation using marketing automation tracking is required to ask consent of from the consumer as well as provide transparency on how the data will be processed.
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.)

Large enterprises have long found value in the technology, but marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. In fact, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now. And thousands of companies even smaller than that are using automation as well. Similarly, companies across all industries are using it. The early adopters were primarily in “business-to-business” (B2B) industries such as high-tech / software, manufacturing, and business services. But increasingly companies across all categories–including “business-to-consumer” (B2C) industries such as healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail–are adopting the software for its real-time, engagement-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to create powerful automated marketing and sales processes. These intelligent processes “listen” and “learn” about the needs and interests of individual contacts. Then you can send more relevant, personalized messages at the moment they’ll have the most impact. You’ll have more customers, happier customers, and more loyal customers. MARKETING AUTOMATION: Our automation workflow builder is praised by G2Crowd users as the perfect balance of power and ease-of-use. With our drag-and-drop builder, you can easily create sophisticated follow up sequences that treat your contacts differently on the basis of who they are and what they’re interested in. This “intelligence-driven” follow up has proven to be more effective, and will keep your customer engagement high because you’re sending the most relevant, personalized messaging possible. SALES AUTOMATION: With an intuitive sales automation CRM tightly integrated with your marketing automation, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition leads back and forth between your marketing and sales processes without losing any data or missing a beat. Having your sales CRM and marketing automation under the same roof means that your sales process can benefit from the same automation features marketers use to send perfectly-timed messages. EMAIL MARKETING: We’ve been perfecting our email marketing solution since 2003. Today it is one of the most mature and fully-developed email marketing services on the market. Our professionally designed templates are fully mobile responsive and we offer time-saving tools like content blocks you can save and reuse across campaigns, message variables that allow you to update content once across all your campaigns, and conditional content, which allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contact is and what they’ve done. CROSS-CHANNEL MESSAGING FOR THE ENTIRE CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE: With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect message at the perfect time because you’ll collect more insight about the customer at each stage of the buying process. With Attribution, you’ll know the source of a visitor and what marketing and advertising they’ve interacted with. With Goals, you’ll be able to define important events and then pivot in response to conversions. With Site Messaging, SMS, and email marketing, you’ll be able to reach your contacts exactly where they are — whether they’re out and about on their mobile, browsing your website, or going through their inbox. We offer a free, no-credit-card-needed, 14-day trial so you can experience ActiveCampaign first hand.
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