Companies are increasingly relying on marketing automation tools to automate communication processes. But which software is the best on the market? Which tool fits the company’s IT infrastructure? And what price models exist? marketingandtech.com has compared 23 software solutions in a market overview. Based on 151 criteria, a wide variety of functions, services and price models were surveyed. You can download the summary of the software comparison as a PDF free of charge.
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Why Marketing Automation?
The benefits almost always consist of saving time and or costs in a marketing process. So-called inbound marketing is intended to relieve the sales process and only involve the sales representative when the potential customer is qualified to such an extent that a purchase is likely. This does not just start on the company’s own website. Social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn offer their own lead forms, which can be used to generate potential customer data fully automatically. A distinction is made between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). The more qualified the leads are along the customer journey, the more likely they are to become MQLs or SQLs. But it’s not always about sales. Automation of communication takes place in a wide variety of places.
Application areas for Marketing Automation
One of the most frequently used functions of marketing automation solutions is the management of leads. In most cases, so-called lead magnets – for example white papers or checklists – are offered on the company’s own website. Lead data is collected with the help of a form. The next step is usually the double opt-in process, which confirms the data from the form in compliance with the GDPR. As soon as the confirmation takes place in the form of a click in the sent e-mail, the actual automation can begin. For this purpose, so-called funnels are typically set up. A funnel is a digitally mapped process that consists of various successive activities. Depending on the event, different activities and funnels can be set in motion in order to generate qualified leads in this way.
Another area in which processes are increasingly being automated is the onboarding process. Whether it’s the onboarding of a new employee in the company, a new customer, at the launch of a software or a new content manager in an editorial team; various topics always have to be communicated in a way that builds on each other. It can quickly pay off to think through these processes cleanly once and then set up an automation funnel that will completely take over this process in the future.
Many online marketing agencies implore their clients to equip campaigns of any kind – both online and offline – with traceable hashtags. This makes it much easier to analyze the success of the campaign. In the future, every campaign should also check whether a goal can also be the filling of an automation marketing funnel. In this context, the question of who is responsible for building the funnels is interesting; the sales manager or the marketing manager. In more and more industries, Marketing Managers are increasingly measured by how many Marketing Qualified Leads they can procure and hand over to the Sales Department. For this reason, campaigns in the future will include stronger automation elements.
Trade fair follow-up
If the company has a trade show presence, the contacts collected at the show are usually recorded using visit forms. After the trade fair, the forms are evaluated and actions are derived. In practice, however, many employees lack the time to meticulously process the newly acquired leads. This use case also provides an excellent basis for using marketing automation tools to automatically carry out trade fair follow-up. For example, innovative companies are moving to scanning contacts’ business cards and still having a double opt-in confirmed directly at the trade show booth. Depending on the visitor, booth staff can digitally configure on an online form what information should be sent to the visitor. The funnels behind this only have to be created once. In addition to these processes, there are many other occasions and scenarios where such solutions can be usefully deployed.
The most important criteria for selecting the right marketing automation tool
In our market overview, we have defined various criteria, which we have classified based on categories. The basic characteristics of the software solutions can be seen in the following figure.
When choosing a marketing automation software, you should think about which channels should be used to automate communication right from the start. At first, you might only think of your own website and the email or newsletter channel. In both areas, almost all analyzed software solutions are strong. But what does automation look like on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter? Is the automation of dialog content on a chatbot channel also conceivable? What about the good old channel of SMS? Channels such as webinars, Whatsapp, online stores, display as well as offline, i.e. letter dispatch, were also examined in the analysis. Here, the results are partly very different. Some tools have a clear focus on email marketing automation, while others cover the entire range of channels.
Content management functions
What tools does the respective tool offer for content creation? Is the personalization of content possible automatically? Does the tool offer artificial intelligence support for creating suitable content? Is there an integrated solution for building landing pages? Are there ready-made templates available for this purpose? These criteria are also important because you will have to pay extra for them if they are not integrated into the solution. Of course, specialized content management solutions and content marketing solutions also exist, which we have already highlighted in other market overviews.
Lead Management Functions
The management of the contacts that are imported into the marketing automation tool requires various functions. For example, the leads must be collected in a GDPR-compliant manner. For this purpose, all analyzed tools offer double opt-in support. Building automated funnels is possible with the help of funnel builders. Of 18 tools, 13 have such a funnel builder. The scoring and tagging of leads helps to qualify the leads and derive events depending on them – so-called trigger-based campaigns. This process of lead qualification is also known as lead nurturing. This function is also integrated in most, but not all, solutions. In contemporary solutions, funnels can be compiled via drag and drop. Ideally, the tool should also work together with a CRM system in which the user history can also be mapped.
Working with industry experts, we asked for other specific criteria that a few marketing automation tools represent. These include, for example, the ability to integrate a Facebook Audience Builder. This makes it technically possible to create a separate target group for Facebook advertising from specific leads and then advertise to this target group or a similar target group on Facebook. Retargeting integration is also offered by some of the queried software providers. An equally exciting feature is the so-called sales alert. Imagine you have created an automated funnel that goes from the first contact to the creation of an offer. Once the contact opens the quote, the sales manager receives an email or SMS. Now when he calls the contact, the timing speaks for itself. Reporting functions are offered by the tools to varying degrees. Legal criteria are largely met and the choice of interfaces to other solutions is also available with most solutions. Services include online and face-to-face training, manuals, integrated help, community support and telephone support, in addition to implementation. However, not all software providers offer the same services across the board.
Prices of the marketing automation tools
The minimum contract periods of the providers range from one month to 24 months. When it came to prices, the providers did not all give an answer. On average, prices range from about 1,000 euros to 100,000 euros per year. When determining the actual costs, be sure to include a budget for training and implementation in addition to the software license costs. You can find the exact prices in our complete market overview. Typical price factors of the tools are the following:
- Number of contacts
- Number of users
- Number of features
- Email volume
Advantages and disadvantages of marketing automation
If at first glance the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, the disadvantages of using automation tools should not be ignored. The introduction of such tools leads to additional costs in the first step, since both software licenses and time effort as well as mostly external consulting must be calculated. However, the use of these tools should pay off in the end. In order for this to be comprehensible, decision-makers must plan the deployment sensibly. This also includes thinking about what costs can be saved in the medium term or what additional revenue can be generated by using scalability. Another disadvantage is the effort involved in change management. As soon as there is a risk of jobs being eliminated in a company, there is counterpressure from employees. People have fears. These have to be taken into account with the right and careful internal communication. In small companies, this is usually less of a problem. Larger companies, however, should take this into account at the planning stage.
These marketing automation tools were included in the software comparison
The following Marketing Automation Tools in alphabetical order were highlighted in the editorial market review:
The Acoustic Campaign software comes from IBM Germany GmbH in Ehningen. According to its own statement, the software is used by 3,500 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “With Acoustic Campaign, as an OmniChannel Marketing Automation platform, you design a very personal journey for your customers across all digital channels with the help of AI-supported campaign automation. At the same time, you have access to the largest, independent marketing services cloud with the broadest, most open MarketingEco system.”
Altkraft Marketing Platform
Founded in 2015, the company Altkraft LLC counts 30 employees. Unfortunately, no information about customers was provided.
USP (according to their own statement): “Altkraft MP is an all-in-one marketing automation solution that runs on-premise. No data or traffic costs. All features are available from the start at no additional cost. Scalable infrastructure and multiple customization options help Altkraft MP adapt to businesses of all sizes and industries.”
Apteco Marketing Software
Apteco Ltd has its head office in Wick (UK), but also has offices in Frankfurt am Main, Rotterdam and Sydney. The company, which has been in business for almost 30 years, has 70 employees developing marketing software solutions and currently serves 3,700 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “We bring marketing data insights and action together.”
chocoBRAIN All-in-One Marketing Software
Headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, the 2010 founded company chocoBRAIN GmbH & Co. KG currently has 10 employees. According to the company, 500 customers currently use the all-in-one marketing software.
USP (according to their own statement): “chocoBRAIN is the fastest way to build powerful online marketing.”
Based in Boston, USA, Creatio controls 580 employees. The company was founded in 2002.
USP (according to its own statement): “Creatio is a leading low-code, process automation and CRM company. Today, the company serves thousands of customers worldwide. Creatio’s agile CRM platform enables medium and large enterprises to accelerate sales, marketing, service and operations. Creatio’s low-code/no-code platform is built on a business process management engine that enables non-IT people to build processes and applications faster than ever.”
Customer Data and Prediction Platform
The customer data and predictive platform is offered by CrossEngage GmbH from Berlin, which currently has 70 employees. The company, which has been active on the market since 2015, currently serves 65 customers.
USP (according to its own statement): “We combine a real-time solution for customer data and cross-channel management with advanced AI and AutoML capabilities to intelligently play out customer data and maximize customer value. Marketers get a 360° view of every customer relationship with CrossEngage, intuitively create tailored AI-powered audiences, and activate them across all channels.”
Bonn-based artegic AG was founded in 2005 and supports 500 customers around marketing automation with its 80 employees.
USP (according to their own statement): “ELAINE is characterized by its high integration capability. No lengthy IT projects and no changes to the system landscape are necessary to use ELAINE. Through a successive use case-based approach, we guarantee a faster time-to-market and immediately visible results!”
Episerver GmbH, headquartered in Berlin, has 700 employees and has been in existence since 2001. The Episerver Campaign automation solution is used by approximately 800 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “Episerver’s marketing automation software is part of our Customer Centric Digital Experience Platform, which combines content management, e-commerce, campaign management and AI-based personalization in one solution, thus providing marketers with all the building blocks to manage successful marketing easily and efficiently from one system.”
SC-Networks GmbH, based in Starnberg, Germany, has its Evalance marketing automation software in use by about 5,000 customers. The company was founded in 1999.
USP (according to their own statement): “Made & hosted in Germany. 27001 certified company. 100% DSGVO compliant. Evalanche platform can be used flexibly and modularly in conjunction with CRM, CMS and e-commerce, for real-time 360-degree communication throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Powerful multi-client capability for internal use. Use reduces maintenance effort by up to 80%. Easy connection to third-party systems possible.”
Hubspot Marketing Hub
Hubspot Inc. is based in Cambridge. The German Hubspot GmbH is based in Berlin. With about 5,500 employees, it serves about 128,000 customers. In 2020, the company generated revenues of $880 million. Similar to other larger companies, Hubspot relies on the platform idea and offers a whole suite of solutions around digital marketing.
USP (according to their own statement): “With Marketing Hub, you have all your marketing tools and data at your fingertips in one place. You no longer have to hassle with multiple point solutions and waste time painstakingly gathering basics for reports. Marketing Hub excels in performance and ease of use, and syncs with more than 750 custom integrations.”
Inxmail Professional / Inxmail Commerce
The company Inxmail GmbH is based in Freiburg im Breisgau. With 150 employees, it supports around 2,000 customers. The company has been on the market since 1999.
USP (according to its own statement): “Individual services and customer advice, for which Inxmail has already received several awards. Interfaces to the systems that a customer is already using. Data and legal security for their email marketing. Adherence to quality factors and permanent monitoring for reliably delivered mailings worldwide.”
Keap, formerly Infusionsoft
Formerly known as Infusionsoft, the company offers the now well-known marketing automation tool Keap. 400 employees take care of about 200,000 customers. Keap was founded in 2001.
USP (according to its own statement): ‘Keap is designed exclusively for small businesses. It’s an all-in-one sales and marketing automation platform that provides everything small businesses need to get organized, provide great service, and grow their sales in one place.”
Lianatech GmbH is based in Munich, Germany, with 230 employees. This provides approximately 300 customers with the software solution.
USP (according to their own statement): “Our marketing automation platform LianaCEM is part of the Liana®Cloud, which consists of a total of 5 different solutions and offers the right tools for all areas of digital marketing: Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, Website & Mobile, PR & Media and eCommerce. All solutions are scalable and easy to integrate with existing systems thanks to integrations.”
LoyJoy Conversational Marketing Cloud
Loyjoy GmbH is the youngest company in this comparison. Founded only in 2018, it currently has 5 employees and 200 customers. The company’s focus is on chatbot systems. The company is based in Münster, Germany.
USP (according to its own statement): “LoyJoy transforms customer relationships into chatbot dialogs, automated and emotional. Chatting dominates our screen time. LoyJoy brings companies together with their customers in this channel. Our kit offers ready-made, customizable chatbot processes from lead acquisition to loyalty. The kit is based on our flexible BPMN process engine. Our “everywhere instant messenger” runs on the web & social media. Customers can use it to start a dialog immediately, no download, no installation.”
XQUEUE GmbH, based in Offenbach a. M. and Freiburg, has 35 employees and 3,000 customers. The company was founded in 2012.
USP (according to their own statement): “Our platform is suitable for both small and large companies |We support Google AMP | Extensive options for creating selections and dynamic segments | High performance | Telephone customer contact with dedicated contact person | Modern module-based configurable platform.”
moinAI comes from knowhere GmbH, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany. The solution is now used by 100 customers and is being further developed by 25 employees of the company, which has been in existence for almost seven years.
USP (according to its own statement): “Communicate 24/7 with (potential) customers & receive customer insights in parallel. Thanks to the AI feature “Dreaming”, inquiries are processed and thematically clustered. In addition, the automated chat offers the possibility to address website visitors according to the respective context, to advise them and to generate contacts that can be forwarded via APIs (e.g. to Hubspot o. Zendesk).”
Oracle CX Marketing Cloud
Oracle Corporation is based in Redwood City in the US. The marketing automation tool Oracle Eloqua is now part of the Marketing Cloud.
USP (according to its own statement): ‘Oracle sees a world where marketers use data to create irresistible connected experiences. It’s important to attract new buyers. But keeping them – that’s what really matters. With the omnichannel fluidity of Oracle CX Marketing Cloud, you can increase loyalty across touchpoints – from a buyer’s first interaction with your brand to the post-purchase phase, they create a consistent customer experience across all channels and devices. If you want to drive integrated cross-channel marketing, greater engagement with your content marketing campaigns, personalized B2B strategies, optimized B2C mobile marketing channels, and real-time analytics and insights, Oracle’s CX Marketing Cloud is the leading solution.”
Promio.net is based in Bonn with 25 employees and has around 400 customers. In 2020, the company achieved a turnover of 4 million euros.
USP (according to its own statement): “Our solution offers every customer, regardless of company size and skill level, a user-friendly and customizable omnichannel and marketing automation solution that can be integrated into any existing customer system.”
Salesforce Customer 360
San Francisco-based Salesforce serves 150,000 customers with 38,000 employees.
USP (according to its own statement): “Salesforce Customer 360 unifies sales, customer service, marketing, commerce, communities, and collaboration and specialty industry solutions on a single platform, helping companies delight customers through personalized interactions with unique experiences and relevant offers.”
SALESmanago Marketing Automation
SALESmanago Marketing Automation software, originating from Poland, is exclusively distributed in Germany by Thorit GmbH.
USP (according to their own statement): “AI-driven CDP (customer platform) & Marketing Automation. SALEAmanago is the only non-coding CDP with native omnichannel execution based on zero and first party data. It is used by New Balance, Crocs, Victoria’s Secret and over 2,500 mid-market eCommerce companies.”
Selligent Marketing Cloud
Selligent GmbH is based in Munich, Germany. It has 400 employees and 730 customers. The company was founded in 2003.
USP (according to its own statement): ‘Selligent Marketing Cloud is a powerful B2C platform for marketing automation and provides sophisticated relationship marketers with all the tools they need for sustainable customer relationships. Natively integrated AI capabilities, robust data architecture, and powerful omnichannel execution enable marketers to easily reach precisely segmented audiences with highly personalized messages across all key channels.”
The marketing automation solution Sendinblue is offered by the eponymous Sendinblue GmbH. Headquartered in Berlin, the company maintains another office in Paris and currently has 500 employees and 300,000 customers. In 2020, Sendinblue made a turnover of 50 million euros. The company has been on the market since 2009.
USP (according to its own statement): “We are a multichannel solution with individual packages for every budget. Whether it’s email, CRM, chat, Facebook Ads, landing pages, transactional emails or SMS – with Sendinblue you manage all your digital communication under one roof and always reach the right target group at the right time on the right channel.”
Based in Gainesville, USA, Sharpspring has 230 employees. In 2012, the company was founded.
USP (according to their own statement): “SharpSpring offers a full-featured marketing automation toolset that is powerful and affordable, yet easy to use and the first designed for agencies.” Not part of the market overview are tools like Marketo and Act-On. Unfortunately, the companies have not participated in the software comparison to date. Perhaps that will change with the next update.”
The number of marketing automation tools is continuously increasing. At the same time, ever higher demands are being placed on the range of functions and services offered by the providers. When selecting the right solution, companies must decide whether they prefer to use a solution that can be installed quickly but is less adaptable, or whether they want to use a tool that is completely tailored to their requirements. It is important to look at the existing infrastructure. If you are already using several products from a major provider, you should at least include that provider’s automation solution in your “best of 3” set. Sometimes it is also worthwhile to run a pilot project that uses a low-cost solution to gain initial experience detached from your own IT and only open the big barrel in a second step. We hope that this market overview will provide you with a good basis for decision-making. Good luck with your automation!