Marketing automation is exciting. It boosts efficiency, saves time and reduces your customer acquisition costs. There are 2000+ tools to choose from, and the landscape evolves rapidly.
As a marketer, you’re surely familiar with Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua and others. After all, up to 80% of marketers invest in automation, according to 2015 survey.
What’s surprising is that only 31% marketers rate their marketing automation efforts as ‘very effective’. Another study shows that only 7% are seeing good, measurable ROI from those investments.
A lot of dissatisfaction likely comes from the fact that many tools try to cover many client needs. Ultimately, they end up doing one thing better than the other. The industry, however, is very fragmented, as you can see in the table above. That doesn’t help as switching from one platform may solve a problem but create another.
As you can see in the table above, there are plenty of features marketers need. A recent TC article suggests, that instead of full-stack platforms the future of marketing automation lies in using multiple focused solution that are easy to integrate.
In other words, your business won’t use just one automation tool. So in this article, we’re not going to cover every alternative to Hubspot. We’ll introduce various tools to cover different needs.
1. Full-Stack Platforms
These platforms help you manage your entire sales funnel. They offer many features such as lead generation, email marketing, analytics, A/B testing, social, etc. For the record, here are some of the most popular platforms and their core differences.
Hubspot is clearly the leader, at least in terms of popularity. It markets itself as “inbound marketing software,” which means they offer a variety of tools including automation. It’s a great small business solution, with prices starting at $200 p/m.
Marketo is one of the most mature tools offering full-stack of features for sales and marketing. It offers a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party apps. It’s great for bigger companies whose needs go beyond basic automation. The pricing starts at $1000 p/m.
Eloqua, owned by Oracle, is a high-end tool ideal for corporations and companies closing enterprise-level deals. Full-stack of features with a great marketplace of third party apps. Starts at $2000 p/m.
2. Transactional Email
Transactional email can be defined as ‘anything that isn’t bulk.’ In other words, it’s an email sent to a customer based on some action. For example, invoices, receipts, reminders, notifications, etc.
Sendgrid is by far the most popular transactional email service. It’s not cheap, but you get great analytics, delivery rates, 24/7 support, easy integration and simple API.
Mandrill is the closest competitor to Sendgrid. Owned by Mailchimp, you get great analytics and interface, a relatively fair pricing and a free 12,000 emails per month.
Amazon SES + Sendy
Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) is incredibly cheap and scalable. While it’s impossible to beat on price, the interface is not too great. A great workaround is a Sendy app that provides a lot of missing features.
3. Drip Email
These are apps that help you send drip email. The come in all shapes from bare-bone solutions to fully integrated CRM systems with marketing automation. In some cases, you can also send drip emails from your favorite newsletter tool, such as Mailchimp.
Probably the easiest way to start sending drip emails. It offers several features, but it’s the core competence it totally nails. It’s simple to use, and you can create campaigns using Blueprints – pre-made sets of campaigns designed and optimized by Drip team for the best performance. Starts at $24 p/m.
This is an intelligent tool that monitors your visitor’s behavior real-time, then sends precisely timed emails to deliver best results. There’s free version up to 200 contacts, then $50 p/m.
Vero‘s core strength is its personalization and behavioural emails. It allows you to design and send highly personalized emails that tend to generate higher conversions. Starts at $99 p/m.
The standard email marketing; these tools let you send your newsletters but in most cases offer much more that that, including automation, drip campaigns, etc.
Mailchimp is the best-known tool. It offers simple interface, easy-to-use designer, as well as other features including drip email, automation, and analytics. Starts at $10 p/m for 500 contacts.
Very simple to use, it allows you to send relevant emails to specific groups of customers based on actions they’ve taken. You can organize your campaigns using flow-chart and send emails accordingly. Starts at $9 p/m for 500 contacts.
What’s great about this tool is that it allows you to schedule everything by simply dragging and dropping your campaigns into the calendar. starts at $15 p/m for 1000 contacts.
5. CRM Automation
There are plenty of great base level CRM tools, but there are also automated tools that track information about your customers, your conversations and help you convert them into deals. Here are some of them:
Intercom a so-called ‘social CRM’ is a platform that provides personalized communications online. You can track your customers online or while using your app and put them in contact with a relevant person (marketing, support, sales). Starts at $20 per 1k customers.
This app tracks your customers and their behavior, then it shows you your task-list including communications with contacts, appointments and info about the customers related to those tasks. It also has some great email marketing and e-commerce features. Starts at $75/team member p/m.
The cool thing about Interakt is the data visualizations. You can get a nice overview of all the important numbers in an easy to understand interface. It offers plenty of features to lead your customers through a sales funnel including live chat, forms and ability to combine in-app messages with emails. Starts at around $10/team member p/m.
6. Standard CRM
If your primary ways to acquire a customer are sales, networking and business development, here are a couple of good tools to use.
The great thing about Pipedrive is that it’s all about focus. It visualizes your pipeline and puts all your contacts in it. No need to waste time click around to understand your deal flow. Starts at $12 per user p/m.
The idea behind Nimble CRM is to provide small businesses with a high-end CRM. It’s core feature is the social media integration. It takes all your Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. contacts and puts them in one place. Starts at $15 per user p/m.
7. Social Media Automation
If social is part of your strategy, you want to automate it as it can become quite time-consuming. There are many tools to satisfy your needs. To start with you want to automate your posts and analytics.
Buffer is very popular mainly because of it’s simplicity. Using this tool you can schedule your Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest posts. It offers some interesting integrations with many other apps.
This is the leader in the space of social media dashboards. You can manage and execute campaigns across multiple channels and measure the results.
Create your own automations using it-this-then-that algorithm. It’s a very versatile tool giving a lot of space for experimentation
8. Predictive Intelligence
Many tools are now shifting towards predictive-first tools. The benefit of this technology is that instead of hard-coding rules it uses customer data to improve the performance. Some of the tools built around this methodology are:
Lytics is an analytics tool that allows you to identify predictive audiences and use them across your digital marketing channels. You can then connect all your marketing data and create behavior-rich user segments. It offers some interesting interactions with the likes of Optimizely to target personalized campaigns.
Conversica is an artificial intelligence-driven lead conversion software. It helps you engage leads via personal, natural email conversations to qualify leads ready for sales. In other words, you can use data for prediction or just ask Conversica.
Lattice Engines delivers predictive apps that help marketers cut the time wasters and focus on money making leads. Like Conversica, it helps you to identify the likelihood of future events and determine the best course of action based on that information.
9. Programmatic Marketing
Programmatic marketing is the automation itself, although it has it flaws. It’s an upcoming technology. According to Iab, over 20% of ads are now bought by machines. If you’re a newbie to this topic here are some tools.
Arguably the leader in advertising automation, Rubicon offers a stack of technologies allowing marketers buy and sell advertising in real-time auctions. It has developed some powerful partnerships with the likes of Apple allowing marketers to automate buying iAd inventories.
LinkedIn Lead Accelerator
This tool is built on top of Bizo, a B2B data marketing platform Linkedin acquired last year. Since then it has become a full-fledged lead generation and funnel nurturing tool for targeting business professionals.
Like ad automation, Outbrain focuses on promoting content. It helps you market your content across relevant media and articles.
10. PPC Automation
Many aspects of PPC can be automated, and AdWords itself offers some powerful features. However, there are many third-party tools you can use and here are some of our favorite.
Acquisio is arguably a leader in this category. It allows you to manage and optimize your campaigns across multiple media channels.
A competitor of Acquisio, the benefits of Wordstream is that it’s fast and easy to use. Designed to save you time and money.
SpyFu is slightly a different category. Nevertheless, it can save you a lot of time and money. Aside from marketing research, analysis, reporting and lead sourcing, it allows you to spy on your competitors and identify their most profitable keywords.
Other PPC automation tools can be found in this excellent list.
11. Client Reporting
As a marketing agency, a big part of your business is how you manage your existing clients. When carrying out your standard work you need to create reports. Well that’s another time-consuming aspect of running a marketing campaign.
We created JimmyData to help you automate, customize and share client reporting tasks seamlessly. To make this list complete, get your free trial here.
12. PR & Press Marketing
Public relations is more about interactions with journalists, so it’s not easy to automate. However, there are tools that can save you a significant amount of time and improve your PR game.
This tool is closest to we might call PR automation. You can design your press releases, distribute them to relevant media and track your results. All in one place, with multi-language support.
Help A Reporter Out
Instead of cold-pitching journalists you share your news on this site and practically reverse-pitch them. In other words, HARO is a place where journalists come to find something newsworthy.
Mention allows you to monitor your brand or other keywords real time and react to any mention in the news or social media instantly.
13. Landing Pages
Landing pages are an irreplaceable element when it comes to converting your traffic. Many full-stack tools like Hubspot offer a landing page creation tools, but there are stand-alone solutions that perform better.
Unbounce is undoubtedly a market leader in this space. Not only it’s the most popular tool, it’s likely the best in its category too. You can create, optimize and A/B test your pages easily with Unbounce. Unbounce has a 30 day free trial for any of its plans which is a great way for you to check out the software, publish as many pages as you like and decide whether you want to move forward with it. Plans start at just $49 per month for up to 5000 visitors (unique traffic).
Like Unbounce, it allows you to build your landing pages. It also has some nice features such as referrals and API to create use its referral mechanism on your own page. Starts at $24 p/m.
This is basically a WordPress plugin to create a viral Giveaway landing page. Noah Kagan (the founder of Kingsumo plugins) has famously grown his mailing list to 700,000 members using this tool.
14. Content Creation
Obviously, content marketing is huge for many reasons. Unfortunately, there is no way to automate your content creation. However, there are plenty of ways to automate some aspects of it.
Buzzsumo is an excellent tool to find about trending topics. It can be used in many ways; you can search keywords, analyze your competitors or find journalist names who cover your market.
You can pay for a proofreader, or you can use Grammarly. While it’s not perfect, it makes your content good enough for airtime.
Draft is something like GitHub for writers, but it offers much more than that. You can use its auto-simplification feature to simplify your text or get the content reviewed by a pro.
There are plenty of tools you can use to automate tasks. Building an ideal automation stack depends on what your needs are. Some other tools we failed to categorize are:
Instead of using Hubspot or another tool Autopilot allows you to connect all applications that marketing into a single service and build your own alternative to Hubspot.
Whatever you end up using, you should take a look at Zapier. It’s a platform that allows you to connect most of the apps mentioned above (and many more, in total 400+ apps, including productivity apps, accounting, project management, etc.) in one easy to use tool. You can then use all the data and create automated tasks.
Imagine your sales people were on top of their game all the time. KnowledgeTree uses data to predict which content is most likely to generate sales. It then pushes this content to your sales reps when they need it most.
I think we covered a lot. In any case, save this page or bookmark it, as we’re keeping it updated. And don’t forget to share with whoever may find it helpful.