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How to identify the best marketing automation software for your needs

Posted by Chris Field on Nov 3, 2015 3:59:00 PM

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How to identify the best marketing automation software for your needs

What is marketing automation software and why does your business need it? Well, if you’re looking for something to help you execute campaigns, nurture leads, and deliver a high return on your marketing investment, then keep reading. We’re going to break down the top marketing automation providers to help you determine which one is best suited to your business’ unique needs.

The top 3 Marketing Automation Software (Hubspot, Pardot, Marketo)

In the past, marketing automation was only within reach to the businesses with the deepest pockets. Technology was needed to generate these systems in-house, requiring a hefty investment. The cost of building the software often outweighed the cost-savings offered by marketing automation.

However, thanks to the boom of inbound marketing, a rising number of third-party suppliers now readily offer sophisticated marketing automation software to B2C and B2B companies of any size. The standout brands within this niche include Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo.

By definition, marketing automation software helps marketers reach their audience using multiple online channels (i.e., email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. As marketing becomes more of a two-way conversation than a one-way channel, the most successful companies are using marketing automation to engage directly in real-time with potential leads.

Many B2B companies are taking advantage of marketing automation software by integrating it with their existing customer relationship management (CRM) system. This approach is helping companies combine and streamline both marketing and sales efforts, thus helping both teams work together to achieve business goals.

1. Benefits and Features of Hubspot

Hubspot’s original focus as a platform was centered on traditional marketing features, but has evolved into an all-in-one solution for inbound marketing, including content management, social media publishing and monitoring, and marketing automation. Hubspot takes a holistic approach to its users’ needs, offering website hosting along with a multitude of progressive features, giving users flexibility and control over each facet of the platform.

One of Hubspot’s standout qualities is its polished and user-friendly interface. This makes it easy to take advantage of the software’s wide range of content generation tools for things like emails, landing pages, calls-to-action, and forms.

Hubspot has also made a remarkable and very effective effort to make social media publishing and monitoring a very slick and user-friendly experience within the system. Say goodbye to the many hours of meticulous planning, and say hello to sophisticated social media automation.

Organization and project management are also covered within the Hubspot software: highlights include an uncomplicated lead scoring tool, extensive list and workflow generators, and some first-rate reporting tools that provide clarity about what’s working and what needs attention.

We’ve found that one of the best things about Hubspot is its teaching capabilities. Whether it’s the one-on-one interaction with a customer representative, or the thought leadership provided within its content libraries, Hubspot truly helps marketers reach their full potential.

2. Benefits and Features of Pardot

Pardot may resonate most with companies relying on CRM software, as it was recently acquired by Salesforce.com. For Salesforce users, it’s becoming an essential piece of the platform. Unlike Hubspot, Pardot is focused solely on marketing automation, making it an exceptional addition to an existing CRM system. However, it does not offer an integrated inbound marketing approach (nor is it trying to). Businesses looking to insert a marketing automation system into an existing network of other software will find Pardot’s singular focus very appealing.

This narrow focus is one of Pardot’s chief selling points: while Hubspot is frequently adding new features and functionality, Pardot seemingly does the opposite. It delivers a quite clean and simple interface, but it can get messy really fast if you don't pay attention. At Red Wheel, we prefer Hubspot's folder and campaign organization over Pardot. 

Pardot also lends itself to the organizationally-challenged by requiring users to link each piece of content to a campaign and a folder - similar to Hubspot's campaign feature. This makes it much less cumbersome to organize and navigate through the many different pieces of content businesses will create. However, it can also be limiting. 

Integration with CRM systems (particularly Salesforce, obviously), tracking via custom redirects, and a very intricate automation rules are other key areas of Pardot.

Our favorite product feature of Pardot is its “Prospect Activities” analysis, which shows users the exact flow of events that a lead followed before converting on a landing page or web form. Thus, helping users duplicate what works for their audience all over their site. But just like before, Hubspot offers this as well with more details. 

Download The Hubspot VS. Pardot Comparsion Chart »

3. Benefits and Features of Marketo

Marketo’s brand promise is to help users execute better campaigns and increase revenue with less effort. This platform aims to help businesses of any size increase their revenue, and nurture their leads. These claims are supported by the fact that Marketo’s user-base continues to grow at an explosive rate. The downside? Things can get a little pricey once you get roped into their one-year contract.

The focus on lead generation is Marketo's standout attribute. This concentration guides the platform’s overall approach to marketing automation by tailoring its email campaign management, budgeting, calendar creation, analytics and reporting for lead generation and management. (But once again - Hubspot does this as well -  better!)

Email management lets users distribute newsletters and updates with multiple segmentation options for different regions, products, services or even time zones. This level of granularity within email campaigns helps users avoid spamming customers and leads with information they are not interested in. However, learning how to use the software to its highest potential can be quite time-consuming.

We like the calendar and budgeting functions Marketo offers: users can decide on spending based on ROI directly from the platform.

 

All in all, Hubspot is Red Wheel’s #1 pick because of its pricing, cutting-edge features, and the fact that anyone (tech savvy or not) can easily use it. Hubspot is the leading Marketing Automation Software.

Download The Hubspot VS. Pardot Comparsion Chart >>

 

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing