How to use Pardot marketing automation software
Top 10 Marketing Automation Tools in 2021
Marketing has never been as personal as it is today.
Even if companies address thousands or even millions of people at the same time, they can now build a personal connection with each one and offer them relevant and up-to-date solutions.
As marketers, we benefit from the advances in marketing automation. The industry has grown into a $ 4 billion industry because it enables companies of all sizes to automate large parts of their marketing processes while improving the end customer experience.
The benefits of marketing automation tools are myriad, but for you the more pressing question might be:
Which solution should you choose?
One of the first things most organizations look at is functionality, but growing concerns about data security and user privacy are perhaps just as important, if not more important.
Let's take a look at the leading tools in 2021 and see if you should be using them. Before that, let's go over some of the reasons why you should use automation tools in the first place.
Why Use Marketing Automation Tools?
Marketing automation can be a vague term. And that's because it has so many possibilities.
So, to understand why it makes sense to use marketing automation, let's take a look at some of the things it can do for a company.
For one, marketing automation enables companies to send timely messages to the right person. Instead of bombarding your entire list with the same messages, you can set up automations that based on actions and send the correct message at a time when the subscriber is most likely to respond.
For example, if someone signs up for your list from a particular landing page, you already have a pretty good idea of what they're interested in. But what if you could also trigger messages based on behaviors on your part?
That's just one of the things Marketing Automation can offer.
Marketing automation software can also help you lose fewer customers. By you collects and uses more data, you can reduce churn and increase the lifetime value of the leads you attract.
Finally, marketing automation can also be beneficial for your sales team. Instead of plowing through hundreds of unqualified leads, your team can know exactly when a lead is ready to talk and focus on the warmest leads focus in your sales funnel.
This also means your sales team will have detailed information about each lead, making it a lot easier to cater to each individual's specific problems and needs.
Top 10 Marketing Automation Tools
There are dozen of marketing automation software solutions that you can choose from. And often the most popular choice may not be right for your situation.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the leading marketing automation tools and discuss what each of them has to offer.
1. Friendly Automate
When looking for marketing automation tools, most companies look at features first. And that makes sense.
You're looking for ways to make your marketing more efficient while improving performance at the same time, so you want the solution you choose to have an extensive list of features and capabilities that you can rely on.
But while the features are essential, that's not the only thing to look out for.
And Friendly Automate is the perfect example of marketing automation software that has a built-in advantage that most of its competitors can't match:
Compliance with EU data protection laws.
A recent ruling by the EU has established that the USA does not offer sufficient protection for data from Switzerland and the European Union.
And that has created a big problem for companies in the EU that use solutions with servers in the US.
All of the data collected by companies like Hubspot then goes to the United States. And the EU regulations on what Hubspot can do with this data no longer apply, which makes companies liable for data protection complaints.
And this is where Friendly Automate comes in.
It is a relatively new marketing automation tool based on the Mautic platform, which is often referred to as the “WordPress of Marketing Automation”.
You benefit from functions such as a built-in CRM, comprehensive email marketing, a multitude of automations, landing pages, lead scoring, segmentation, reporting ... the list goes on.
The service gives you everything you would get from HubSpot (or other options) at a fraction of the cost and with some powerful integration options.
But that's not even the main benefit.
As already mentioned, HubSpot (and many others) transfers its data to servers in the USA. Friendly Automate, on the other hand hosts all data on dedicated servers in the EU or Switzerland.
And since Friendly Automate is based on an open source solution, you always have control over your data and can host the software yourself or switch to another compatible provider.
It all means that while HubSpot or Marketo may be better known in the world of marketing automation, solutions like Friendly Automate may be a smarter choice, especially for companies that want to keep their customer data safe.
There's a reason HubSpot has 95,000 users around the world. Since 2006, HubSpot has not only set the tone of what inbound marketing should look like, but also how companies of all sizes should market themselves online.
If you're looking for a complete marketing automation solution, it's hard to beat what HubSpot has to offer. Or at least it used to be.
Today, with the competition in the world of marketing automation much more intense than it was a decade or even five years ago, HubSpot is no longer the clear choice.
HubSpot's pricing strategy has been heavily criticized because it is one of the most expensive options on the market and the cost differential in terms of performance is huge compared to Friendly Automate and a few others.
Not to mention how frustrating it can be when you're trying to customize a simple landing page.
Add to that the privacy issues discussed in the previous section and it becomes pretty clear why more and more people are looking for an alternative.
3. Sharp Spring
SharpSpring is a marketing automation tool that is suitable for small and medium-sized businesses, but has proven its worth especially with agencies.
The reason for this is that SharpSpring offers marketing automation software that marketing agencies in turn offer their customers. And it even makes rebranding very easy, so agencies can customize the interface to match their own brand.
Like most of the solutions on this list, it comes with advanced email automation tools, extensive CRM, and the ability to integrate with hundreds of third-party tools through Zapier.
If you talk to a few marketers about what they heard, one of the first things they'd likely say is that SharpSpring is good value for money. At least compared to HubSpot or Marketo.
However, it also has some weaknesses.
For one, it's not the most convenient automation software in terms of ease of use. More experienced users should be able to find their way around with it relatively easily. But less experienced companies may take some time figuring out how to get the most out of the features available.
Second, it is still missing some of the advanced features found in more mature solutions, which means that it is not really suitable for beginners and advanced users alike.
Finally, just like with HubSpot, the landing page and email builders can be a bit cumbersome, which in turn is related to the lack of an intuitive dashboard.
ActiveCampaign is the darling of the world of marketing automation software and has seen rapid growth and an incredible rush of praise in recent years. It's now often referred to as the Marketing Automation Software that HubSpot or Marketo should be, and there are many reasons to love what it has to offer.
The intuitive pipeline builder feature enables the sales cycle to be broken down into an easy-to-understand sequence.
ActiveCampaign users also report how easy it is to assign tasks to leads to ensure that no leads are abandoned or neglected.
But is the hype justified?
There are tons of features we could discuss, but for the most part they are comparable to the previously mentioned solutions.
And just like with other marketing automation tools that have caught on, the pricing structure has become increasingly unattractive. Many users are priced out by the software and are looking for fairer and cheaper solutions.
ActiveCampaign is also based in the US, which means that companies in the European Union and Switzerland run the risk of not complying with local data protection laws.
Marketo is another powerhouse in the marketing automation industry, with a loyal following who swears by the effectiveness of the platform.
One of the biggest advantages Marketo has to offer is its ease of use. Since users can determine for themselves which functions they need, the dashboard is never crowded and it is very easy and quick to learn how to take advantage of the functions.
But even if it's easy to use, it doesn't take away from the wide range of functions available, should you want to use them. It covers everything a company needs from marketing automation today and offers many integrations that enable the advantages of third-party tools to be used as well.
That said, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of.
The fact that a CRM solution isn't built in means you need a third-party option. And that's not convenient.
The pricing structure leaves a lot to be desired, and Marketo has steadily increased its prices over the past few years.
The way Marketo approaches landing pages creation, analysis and reporting is also a little out of date, which is a common topic with companies that have been around for a long time and could stagnate compared to the movers.
Artificial intelligence has made its way into all areas of the economy, so it's no surprise that marketing automation tools are also starting to incorporate the capabilities of AI into their services.
And SalesManago is a prime example of a company that has made AI a central part of its positioning, using machine learning to aggregate your customer data and offer unique insights into their behavior.
The amount of customer data you can collect and work with is one of the main reasons SalesManago has become so popular with eCommerce stores.
Many of its features, including drip sequence planning options and live chat, are geared towards eCommerce stores, although they cater to other types of customers as well.
According to some reviews, pricing is quite affordable compared to some industry leaders, but you'll have to ask for pricing, which is an outdated approach that lacks transparency.
Another problem with SalesManago is that it can get quite technical to use. There are so many features to go through, and the how-tos and tutorials aren't always clear, which means that you will have to invest quite a bit of time figuring out how to fully use it.
For a long time, GetResponse was an email marketing platform that focused on delivering the best that email marketing had to offer to its customers.
But recently the company has decided to broaden its horizons and started offering the full range of marketing automation services including landing page design, webinar creation and even a full service eCommerce marketing solution.
Today you can choose how many functions you want to use. You can still get a lightweight but powerful email marketing solution, or you can opt for more extensive plans that include marketing automations.
Since email is what GetResponse is known for, it's no surprise that it really stands out in this area. You can create complex email sequences using automations and triggers that give you complete control over every email you send.
But GetResponse's greatest strength is also the reason for its inadequacies.
While the list of features is expanding, it is still primarily an email marketing platform with a few add-ons. And while the hosted webinar solution or the conversion funnels are a nice addition, GetResponse isn't on the same level as other marketing automation platforms.
8. Sendin Blue
Sendinblue has built a reputation for being an affordable marketing automation tool for businesses on a tight budget. It originally focused on email marketing, but has since expanded the list of features to include CRM, marketing automation, SMS marketing, and even Facebook Ads tools.
And despite the low price, many users are happy with what it can offer, especially as an email marketing tool. The workflow-based email automation makes it possible to quickly set up various triggers, assign points to subscribers and send transactional messages.
It also has an intuitive landing page creator that allows users to use templates and quickly customize them according to their needs.
However, there's a reason the prices are so low compared to some others like HubSpot.
On the one hand, many users find the onboarding process challenging, as it takes a while to find their way around the various functions. The templates provided aren't up to par with most of the solutions on this list either, which means you'll have to make a lot of customizations yourself.
After all, you shouldn't expect exceptional support for this price. If something goes wrong, you have to find out for yourself or wait a while to get an answer.
Pardot is one of the most prominent players in the world of marketing automation, which is understandable as it is part of the Salesforce package of services.
And as you'd expect, it offers a variety of powerful marketing automation and email functions. People also praise the ease of use, the many automations, and the dedicated customer service agents who will be with you every step of the way.
Pardot makes a lot of sense for those who already use Salesforce services, as the various Salesforce products can be seamlessly integrated into one another, which makes it easier to fully exploit the possibilities and to use synergy effects.
However, the main problem with Pardot is that it is very expensive. In all fairness, despite the perks it can offer, it's hard to justify these prices for small and medium-sized businesses, especially when there are more affordable solutions like Friendly Automate that can offer a comparable set of features.
Comparing automation tools with such price differences is not always easy, which is why it is important to consider your company's needs when choosing a solution. But when it comes to Pardot, many companies won't be able to justify the substantial cost because they could get simpler (but comparably effective) solutions for a fraction of the cost.
Evalanche is a German marketing automation service from SC Networks with a growing presence in Europe. In addition to marketing automation, it also offers lead management and email marketing solutions, covering some of the most important functions a company might need.
However, Evalanche's web presence is very poor, with very little user feedback and even limited information on the website.
It is used by around 3,000 companies, most of them in Europe, and is mostly known as an email marketing service provider with a few marketing automation features.
But with established companies like Marketo and ActiveCampaign as well as more user-friendly and transparent startups like Friendly Automate, it's unclear whether Evalanche can significantly increase its market share.
Conclusion: what should you choose?
In this list, we've gone through ten of the most popular and relevant marketing automation software solutions available today.
Which should you choose?
Well, your company's needs should come first. So look for the combination of price and features that works best for your situation. At the same time, however, you must also consider compliance with data protection laws, especially if you work in the EU or Switzerland.
When you choose Friendly Automate, you not only get a comprehensive package of features at a price that is significantly lower than some of the more popular solutions. You also get full transparency and security for your data, which is always stored on servers in Switzerland or the EU.
Marketing automation involves collecting a lot of sensitive data about your audience. To use it ethically, you not only need to establish good practices in your company, but also ensure that the data itself is protected and stored in accordance with local and international regulations.
P.S. We are building Friendly as a profitable and long-term company. We document this path in our newsletter and share our findings on the subject of marketing. Come with us!
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