A Comparison of the Best Marketing Automation Tools in the Biz

Marketing automation, technology that drives efficiency by automating repetitive marketing-related tasks, has been around nearly as long as the World Wide Web. In fact, the earliest marketing automation tools first debuted in the early 1990s. Make no mistake, marketing automation tools are certainly more sophisticated now than they were back then, but the goal of marketing automation remains the same: streamline processes to maximize efficiency, garner more leads, and get a greater return on investment.

You’re probably thinking, “Where do I sign up?” The problem is, the sheer number of marketing automation tools at our disposal is overwhelming. That’s one reason why 38 percent of marketers still aren’t using marketing automation at their companies. With so many systems to choose from, how do marketers know which to rely on to handle their most pressing needs?

We took a look at three of the industry’s leading marketing automation tools to give you a list of the pros and cons of these top-ranking platforms.

SharpSpring

SharpSpring is best known as “the marketing automation tool for agencies.” Like most other marketing automation tools, its platform includes email automation, a built-in CRM system, and the ability to integrate more than 700 third-party marketing tools, so you don’t have to feel like everything you do has to be housed in one place. SharpSpring also offers the following:

  • Campaign tracking
  • Behavior-based email automation
  • Blog management
  • Form and landing page management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • CRM and sales automation

Why it made the list

SharpSpring is the marketing automation tool of choice for agencies and small- to mid-sized companies. We love it for its flexible payment options and third-party integrations, but don’t just take it from us. 98 percent of SharpSpring customers re-up their contract every month.

Where it falls short

SharpSpring doesn’t offer as many features as some of its competitors, like HubSpot. For example, HubSpot offers its users SEO recommendations and keyword suggestions when creating content—but SharpSpring does not. And when it’s time to track contacts, SharpSpring relies on third-party vendor, ZoomInfo, to provide you the same information you’d get automatically as a HubSpot user.

HubSpot

HubSpot, the company that coined the term ‘inbound marketing,’ offers a relatively robust marketing automation software to streamline the processes that make inbound marketing what it is today. With HubSpot, you can automate email campaigns, schedule social media, and review analytics—and that’s just the beginning. Here are some of HubSpot’s other features:

  • Form and landing page management
  • Lead management
  • Blog management
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Campaign management
  • Prospect tracking

Why it made the list

We’re fans of HubSpot not only because of its marketing automation software, but also because of the company’s authority on inbound marketing and growth-driven web design. HubSpot Academy offers resources—videos, ebooks, infographics—to educate your team members about the detailed processes that accompany successful digital marketing. Not an agency partner? No problem—HubSpot’s blog also provides great information for smart and savvy marketers.

Regardless of your company size, budget, or marketing need, there’s a marketing automation tool out there for you.

Where it falls short

Despite HubSpot’s expansive list of features, it falls short in a couple key areas. For example, even though HubSpot gives teams the ability to schedule social content through its software, some marketing teams might prefer using more sophisticated tools—like Sprout Social—to take care of that function. HubSpot offers a full set of tools, but this bundled offering loses value when businesses turn to other tools to handle some of their workload.

Furthermore, signing up for HubSpot is a 12-month commitment, unless you’re only signing up for a minimal starter plan. Other marketing automation systems, like SharpSpring and OntraPort, are billed on a month-by-month basis, giving your team greater flexibility when it comes time to try new tools and technologies.

Marketo

Marketo debuted around the same time as HubSpot, and the two are neck-in-neck when it comes to features and benefits. Some of what makes Marketo stand out is its ease of use and excellent customer support. Other features of the widely trusted platform include: 

  • Account-based marketing management
  • Digital ad management
  • Marketing analytics dashboards
  • Personalized content
  • Lead management and nurturing
  • Behavior tracking

Why it made the list

While SharpSpring is a great marketing automation tool for agencies and small- to mid-sized companies, Marketo is best suited for large-sized companies with more than 100 team members. Marketo also integrates with Salesforce, so if you sign up for Marketo but already use Salesforce for some tasks, you won’t waste time manually syncing content from one platform to the next.

Where it falls short

Marketo is a great option for companies that can afford the tool. Unfortunately, it has a high price tag. Some of its users have expressed frustration about Marketo’s pricing model, asking for a more simplified approach.

Automate Your Marketing With Ease

Regardless of your company size, budget, or marketing need, there’s a marketing automation tool out there for you. If you’re not sure how some of these tools compare side-by-side, these comparisons by G2 are a great place to start: 

With an understanding of your business and marketing needs, as well as a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of different platforms, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which marketing automation tool will work for you.

Now that you know the benefits of marketing automation and which platforms meet your needs, find out how you can use marketing automation to satisfy your audience’s need for immediacy.