What is the best marketing automation software for me in 2017?

You wouldn’t be alone in wondering what exactly ‘marketing automation’ refers to.

Simply put, it’s the umbrella term for software which enables you to automate repetitive digital marketing tasks across multiple channels (e.g. email, social media)—and, importantly, track the results.

Although it started out with email (e.g. sending a welcome email when someone signed up to a mailing list), marketing automation now encompasses all sorts of processes and channels, with data analytics at the heart of planning and executing campaigns. Broadly speaking, we’re talking about the segmentation of prospective or existing customers; personalisation and scheduling of marketing content; and tracking the resulting success rates and behaviour.

The goal is to be able to speak to customers and prospective customers in a relatively personal way but at scale—despite the word ‘automation’ carrying with it the connotation of robotic communications and canned responses.

In his article “The beginner’s guide to marketing automation”, TFM contributor Andrew Nicholson, CMO and Co-founder of Kulea MA, adds:

“Marketing automation is about creating a dialogue, rather than a monologue with your customers and prospects.”

Essential marketing automation software features

Marketing automation software products are numerous and varied, but there is some functionality which every competent package should offer (and execute competently).

Email marketing

Everybody knows that email is still vital to marketing (despite being a 50-year-old technology it’s still one of the most effective channels) and improving the automation of email is at the core of what all competing vendors offer.  The email basics of marketing automation include:

  • email database segmentation,
  • email templates,
  • sending and tracking,
  • behaviour-triggered-emails. (e.g. downloading a PDF triggers a specific email)

Slightly more fancy features (depending on the size of your organisation) include:

  • personalised emails,
  • A/B testing or split testing

The established Email Service Providers (ESPs) such as Dotmailer or Adestra have added automation features to their offering, so that they are now email automation platforms, able to send customers on automated email paths (if they open this email, then send that confirmation email) which will be suitable for many use cases.

However as this comparison of ESP and Marketing Automation features shows (source) if you want to go further in connecting the email behaviour with wider customer nurturing efforts, then you should be considering a fully fledged marketing automation platform.

email-vs-automation

Content management system (CMS)

Content marketing—or ‘inbound marketing’ if you like—is here to stay and creating good content shouldn’t be a chore. Images, videos, articles, landing pages—great marketing automation software will help you create and manage these without additional hassle.

Landing pages

The ability to create, tweak and split test (A/B or multivariate) landing pages is an important part of improving the success of campaigns, something which marketing automation software should aid.

Hosted web forms

Whether it’s simple newsletter sign-ups or more involved surveys or registrations, online information forms should be a cinch to create and connect to your databases.

Lead management & integration with CRM software

Marketing automation isn’t a replacement for sales software, but it should play nicely with whatever your organisation uses (if any). Things like lead scoring—a number indicating a lead’s likelihood to buy based on their trackable behaviour—segmentation and campaign nurturing should be possible for organisations that have a coherent, competent combination of sales and marketing automation systems.

Analytics

The sinew that binds together any modern marketing effort, strong data analytics features means stronger campaigns. This can include a lead’s:

  • website behaviour, (including landing page conversion rates)
  • responses to certain emails,
  • behaviour on social media, (perhaps brand tracking or sentiment analysis)
  • offline data from call centres or postal correspondence.

Analytics are of course crucial for working out the effectiveness of certain content, and the cadence and scheduling of campaigns.

Artificial intelligence and other shiny objects

Above and beyond the fundamentals of customer management listed above, the larger marketing automation platforms are busy acquiring, bolting-on and developing some powerful capabilities in areas such as artificial intelligence.  The IBM Watson cognitive computing platform is bringing A.I. to IBM’s marketing cloud, while Salesforce announced Einstein and  Adobe launched Sensei both of which promises to bring similarly impressive A.I. capabilities to their marketing clouds.  Expect to see lots of marketing in this area over the next 12 months.

 

When do I need to upgrade to dedicated marketing automation software?

Depending on your organisation’s size, needs and current tools, you may already possess (and not realise it) the requisite automation capabilities through your current website, email service provider, social media, sales and/or analytics tools – as each tool offers some level of automation in its own right.

Marketing automation is just an umbrella term—it doesn’t mean that every organisation needs to invest on one all-encompassing service. Even marketing automation evangelist HubSpot points out that a lot of investments in this space fail and that some companies mistakenly think they’re buying a catch-all marketing solution.

TFM contributor Andrew Nicholson (who’s company Kulea.ma is a competitor in the space) points out:

“…ambiguity often leaks in [to the ‘marketing automation’ software category]. Different solutions will have a different focus, and the term is often appropriated by martech firms keen to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon.

“[It’s] a technology fraught with peril. Lots of businesses have had their fingers burned… largely due to the complexity of the tech, and the high costs companies charge for their services. …a report last year by [automation] guru David Rabb highlighted that 70% of marketing automation users are unhappy with their current solution. The dirty secret of marketing automation is that… the vast majority of customers that invest in it end up taking advantage of a fraction of its functionality.”

That said, some growing organisations might benefit by upgrading their capabilities, which tends to come around the time when you need to get serious about lead management. Whilst Foxtail Marketing’s Mike Templeman believes that small- and mid-sized organisations using enterprise marketing automation is “nailing thumbtack with a sledgehammer”, he points out that:

“These tools shine when they’re loaded with millions of contacts, integrated (often with a lot of help from your IT department) with your CRM, and are left to grind through their workflows and lead scoring rules.”

There is also a case for small companies to invest in marketing automation, to help a small marketing team (or just one person) compete with a company that enjoys a much larger marketing and sales apparatus. As with any technology however, the person using it day-to-day will need to be well trained and have the knack for getting the most out of what marketing automation software has to offer.

Some key takeaways from a recent Entrepreneur infographic regarding marketing automation savings include:

  • When you automate your social posts and ads you’ll save more than 6 hours per week;
  • You can increase your your reply rate by 250% by automating your outreach and follow-up emails;
  • 49% of consumers will gladly switch brands for just a coupon.

Marketing automation software comparison

In terms of popularity and regard, Marketo and HubSpot tend to rise to the top of most analysis.

Datanyze’s market share analysis points towards the dominance of Marketo and Adobe Marketing Cloud among the top 1,000 websites (according to traffic ranking service Alexa)—implying their popularity among enterprise firms and the top online content providers:

Datanyze's market share analysis of marketing automation use among the top 1000 sites

Whereas HubSpot leads when the top 1 million websites are considered –  showing HubSpot’s popularity amongst SMEs – followed by Marketo, Adobe and Salesforce Pardot:

Datanyze's market share analysis of marketing automation use among the top one million sites

Meanwhile, TrustRadius’s user review community is generally impressed by both Marketo (8.30/10) and HubSpot (8.2/10), with both far out in front in terms of quantity of reviews and general rating. It should be pointed out that perhaps Oracle Eloqua’s, Salesforce Pardot’s and Adobe Campaign’s ratings and review tally suffer because of their history as technologies that have been acquired and folded into ‘marketing cloud’ suites.

TrustRadius marketing automation software trustmap

Writing in mid-2015 about enterprise solutions, Foxtail Marketing’s Mike Templeman was so bold as to dismiss Adobe’s, IBM’s and Callidus’ offerings:

“This isn’t just because they have the three lowest user bases, but they also receive the lowest user ratings and their specializations don’t really aid the marketing department as much as they think.”


Marketo

Marketo is named among the best marketing automation software

California-based Marketo, founded in 2006, claims to be “best-in-class marketing automation software”. Its cloud-based applications cover several bases including email, mobile, social, advertising, website management and analytics.

In its first 10 years, Marketo wrestled with the likes of HubSpot for SME customers, but early 2016 saw the firm shift towards competing with the giants of the marketing sector like Oracle (which acquired Eloqua), Salesforce (which acquired Pardot) and Adobe (which acquired Neolane) and their respective “marketing clouds”.

A key difference between Marketo and the marketing clouds is that it is an open platform, keen on promoting its integration with a wide range of partners, including the likes of Hootsuite and Sprinklr.

Find out more about Marketo via our updates hub.

Pricing

Marketo’s 2016 pricing is a little tricky to pin down, especially on its website—possibly because of the “desperate price competition coming from the large suite vendors” identified by Phil Fernandez, Marketo CEO.

Marketing Automation Insider and G2 Crowd note Marketo’s three packages starting from $895 per month for ‘Spark’; ‘Standard’ starts from $1,795 per month; ‘Select’ is from $3,195.

Marketo offers a number of solution bundles including email marketing, lead management, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing—you’ll need to contact sales to find out more about pricing for these and enterprise packages.

Capterra published a marketing automation roundup in 2014, at which time Marketo’s three packages were priced as such: Spark (starting at $1,195 per month), Standard (starting at $1,995 per month) and Select (starting at $3,195 per month). In 2013, The Sales Lion published an in-depth look at Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua including a Total Cost of Ownership chart, finding that a mid-tier package would come to $47,940 a year for Marketo Standard.

Reviews

One Forbes contributor praised Marketo for the way it handles workflows, as a drag and drop ‘stack’ of and/or/if rules.

A Team Lead in Professional Services (medium-sized business with over a million contacts in list) was very positive about Marketo:

“We are using almost each functionality… Marketo has really helped to generate leads in a very short span of time even when running a few campaigns.

“Marketo has the best user interface which makes it very simple and powerful. The documentation is very well explained and any new person can read it and use Marketo. [It] has very rich functionality.”

A director at Web Spiders, a medium-sized IT company, was also mostly positive, adding:

“We highly recommend Marketo as it’s highly effective and easy to use for any size or type of organization… [It’s] well suited for domestic and local engagements [but] less appropriate for global engagements.”

The Head of Marketing Operations worldwide for large software firm Quintiq gushed:

“…for B2B it’s the best. Lead nurturing with the engagement engine is brilliant, easy, and powerful; integration with CRM, especially with Salesforce is just too easy and really boosts the value of your CRM; [and] workflow management is very flexible, but still very easy to use.”

That said:

“I’m missing marketing resource management (MRM) and marketing asset management (MAM) functionality for it to become a fully integrated marketing management suite.”

An account manager from a medium-sized professional services firm is considerably less impressed:

“For companies with a lot of money who can pay consultants high amounts of money to do things for them and set it up, go ahead. This is not for people who want to run things on their own.

“The user interface is extremely difficult to use. It’s not intuitive where to go to set things up, or why certain things appear the way they do.”

A marketing automation expert from Revenue Pulse is much more positive, but measured:

“You can do just about anything with the system, but it does take time and effort.

“The biggest misconception with Marketo is that it is magic, that all you have to do is turn it on and you’re off to the races. This isn’t the case—automation requires that rules and workflows be put in place, so it does require work at the beginning, but once things are setup properly, life is beautiful.

“Also, with a powerful system like this, it can completely put the spotlight on problem areas within your organization (this is good, but be ready!)”

“It helps with speed-to-lead, getting qualified leads to sales quicker and highlighting relevant information for them. It’s our email marketing tool that is powerful and enables sophisticated nurturing and personalized messages to our target prospects and customers. It also has very powerful and helpful reporting to help both marketing and sales make better decisions in terms of campaign spend and process improvements internally. It really can do everything and is used across the organization for many reasons (and is always evolving).”

Some cons:

“Support and Services are not their strong-suit [and] the integration with CRMs other than [Salesforce] have definite room for improvement. System speed can become an issue for large complicated enterprise installations if you’re not careful about setup.”


HubSpot

HubSpot is named among the best marketing automation software

HubSpot, founded in 2006 (as with Marketo), has sought to popularise the term “inbound marketing”, following the maxim: “Don’t interrupt buyers, attract them”.

The wider HubSpot platform concerns itself with blogging, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, lead management, landing pages, calls-to-action, marketing automation, email, analytics and mobile.

It is the market-leading automation platform for SMEs, which has built up a loyal following through their excellent blog and user-friendly platform.  In our Marketing Technology review report we found that:

“Hubspot is the people’s choice, with the highest satisfaction level given to any vendor in any category: 8.6 out of 10. It is a solution particularly well-suited to the needs of small to medium sized businesses.”

HubSpot’s automation offering is officially called “Workflows”, which you can take for a spin as part of a 30 day free trial of the marketing platform.  Find out more about HubSpot via our updates hub.

Pricing

HubSpot’s main marketing platform (as opposed to its CRM or sales software) starts from £140 per month, but marketing automation is only available via the Pro plan (£560 per month or £6,720 per year as it’s billed annually + £2,100 required onboarding). The Enterprise plan costs £1,680 per month, £20,160 per year + £3,500 required onboarding.

There are additional extras, including increasing the cap of the number of contacts you can have as well as website, reporting and advertising options.

HubSpot pricing

Review

HubSpot’s content-handling tools have come in for praise over other solutions aimed at SME’s, as well as its ability to provide “full funnel attribution” which tells a clear story as to what is really driving traffic.

A Marketing Coordinator at small marketing agency, Speak!, takes a balanced view on HubSpot:

“HubSpot is well suited for organizing your clients, tracking the buyer’s journey, and automating your social media as well as email marketing. [It also] provides great analytics tools to see exactly how everything is performing. It is less appropriate if you want to design your own website or landing pages using custom fonts and templates.

“HubSpot’s customer service is prompt, friendly and helpful. [It] has a system for any marketing automation need you might have [but] creating and editing templates can be tedious and buggy and [also] has built-in coding restrictions which make it difficult for coders to customize what they want.”

A direct marketing analytics manager from Bank Independent, a large firm, was very positive:

“HubSpot is a very helpful tool for marketing departments wanting a central tool for campaign functions and analytics. Our organization uses [it] as a central tool for marketing campaign automation and management including e-mails and lead nurturing, blogging, landing page and call-to-action development and analytics. We have been extremely pleased with HubSpot’s integrated tools, intuitive user interface and excellent customer support.”

A communications officer at the same company added:

“Although we don’t use every single feature, the ones we use make it worthwhile. As features are added, HubSpot is becoming more and more of a one-stop shop for our marketing and customer communication needs.

“We began using HubSpot for customer emails, landing pages, campaign management, personas [and switched to] using it for social media management and marketing when our Hootsuite contract [expired]. I’m not totally sold on HubSpot’s [social media management] especially the publishing aspects. I continue to publish directly to the platform.

“The email module is so user-friendly, especially compared to some other cumbersome tools we’ve used. Like the entire platform, it is easy to understand yet still robust.
The integration of campaign components is awesome [and] landing pages/CTAs… are super simple to create with drag-and-drop interfaces, easy form builders and ‘smart’ forms that get to know the submitter as they complete the form.

“I think we have been able to provide a better customer experience with our HubSpot emails, plus create much easier ways for folks to contact us through landing pages and CTAs—it’s convenient for them, and helps us to know they want to hear from us. We can now attribute many, many B2C sales within our subsidiary company to our HubSpot tools!”

A digital marketing campaign specialist from medium-sized software firm, etouches, is also complimentary:

“It is important to understand the tool completely before implementing your team and efforts on it. [sic] The tool must be used correctly or the automation just doesn’t work. I believe it’s also recommended that all is housed under HubSpot for better reporting: blog, social media, website. This is the only way you can track contact behaviour around everything and generate some insightful reports.

“My team has previously used Silverpop and it was proven that HubSpot has been more intuitive, easy to use and more of a complete solution for marketing automation. HubSpot has put a lot into perspective as to what we should and shouldn’t be doing in terms of lead generation and inbound versus outbound marketing.”

A marketing manager who inherited her small education company’s use of HubSpot said:

“It is a great platform for those who are inbound beginners, short of manpower and would like to automate as many marketing actions as possible. But once you use HubSpot for a bit longer, you realize the platform itself has different limitations that put constraints [on] your marketing plan, especially on the SEO side where you want to change some coding.

“HubSpot mainly helps with solving the manpower problem of the marketing department, as it is a marketing automation platform with great analytics, tracking, and optimization. It makes my job as a one-woman-band department head so much easier and more efficient. It also has a great academy for learning all kinds of inbound marketing related strategies and knowledge.”


Adobe Campaign

Adobe Campaign is among the best marketing automation software

Part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Campaign was formerly known as Neolane before Adobe’s acquisition of the company in 2013. It lives a double life as both a multi-channel campaign planning tool and a marketing automation solution.

Adobe Campaign bills its main features as cross-channel campaign orchestration, integrated customer profile, targeted segmentation, contextual email marketing, real-time interaction management and operational reporting. Channels-wise, it promises to sync across online (email, web, mobile and social) and offline (direct mail, call centre, point of sale and kiosks).

The first marketing cloud was officially launched by Adobe in 2012 following its acquisition of Omniture, which triggered a series of major acquisitions by the four giants (Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce) in this space (read more on the rise of the marketing cloud).

You can keep up to date with Adobe Marketing Cloud news using our updates hub.

Pricing

Adobe Marketing Cloud pricing is a bit tricky to nail down, as it is made up of eight products that can be subscribed to in any combination; pricing is also dependent on company size.

The services are explicitly for enterprise customers with complex digital marketing needs and budgets that can accommodate a minimum spend in the tens of thousands of dollars.

If you want to know exact pricing, it is best to contact an Adobe salesperson.

Review

A production and copywriter at telecoms enterprise, Com Hem AB, said:

“Adobe Campaign works very well for those who want to work with automated email marketing. The user interface is easy to navigate, even for beginners; you don’t need to know MySQL to set up workflows and you can build personalized emails by using modules with conditions set by previous behaviours and interests. [However] it is not for SMEs, you must be an advanced marketer for the investment to pay off.”

A senior manager, marketing operations and systems, at computer & network security enterprise Palo Alto Networks added:

“Adobe Campaign fits very well in the ecosystem of Adobe Marketing Cloud for large enterprises. It can integrate and communicate with other components of Adobe Marketing Cloud to design a next generation predictive marketing digital campaign. For SMBs, it can do all (manage recipients, host web sites, track leads and clicks and capture them via REST, and give reporting). You have to look at your desired outcome and budget to figure out if Adobe Campaign will be used standalone or in the ecosystem of [the marketing cloud].

“[We use] Adobe Campaign… as the core email marketing tool in the Adobe marketing platform stack. When done right, using predictive and next best message concept, these emails delight customers as they are very relevant to where they are in their discovery / buying journey.”

He counsels:

“Adobe Campaign should be operationalized, architected and run by a central team.”

Another Palo Alto Networks senior manager commented:

“Campaign has a lot of features and flexibility for us to build several direct and digital marketing campaigns across multiple channels. This provides robust tools for users to manage their campaign and build any complex campaign.

“But the user experience is very poor—it is built from [an] IT user perspective but not from the marketer perspective.”

A sales manager at an enterprise, reviewing Neolane (Adobe Campaign’s pre-acquisition name) in mid-2015, had this to say:

“Neolane is for those who are looking for a complete email and automation solution that’s able to also integrate social and mobile. It integrates easily with CRM and includes web tracking and automated workflows. The UI is not very intuitive, and the WYSIWYG editor could be more robust.

“Neolane has many features and capabilities that, quite frankly, not every business will use. During the selection process it’s key to know your own objectives and what you want from your system and which features are the most important to your business.

“Despite the shortcomings of user interface and basic troubleshooting difficulty [in mid-2015], Neolane is much more robust and delivers better capabilities to our sales and marketing staffs than any other product we have used here or any product our staff members have used at other locations.”

Writing in early 2015, an administrator in quality assurance at a medium-sized firm said:

“Neolane is not a bad product, but definitely needs some polishing. It’s quite customizable and can manage multi-channel campaigns. It also provides an enormous amount of data. However, it’s neither intuitive nor responsive and for debugging, we often have to get assistance from customer support.

“Smaller less technically staffed companies should avoid it. For mid-size companies with a serious need for a email solution, it might be worth considering if the staff involved in using the product isn’t afraid of technical-looking stuff. The staff that runs the servers (if it’s on-premises deployment) needs to be fairly technical, and willing to dig into issues and errors that will arise.”


Oracle Eloqua

Eloqua is among the best marketing automation software

Oracle announced it was getting into the marketing cloud space in 2014, bringing together, among other solutions, Eloqua for marketing automation and Responsys for cross-channel marketing.

Oracle itself reinforces that Eloqua is primarily for B2B marketers. It differentiates itself from other platforms by way of its “robust partner network” and numerous integrations—placing an explicit emphasis openness and integration rather than being a “monolithic suite”.

Pricing

Oracle Eloqua’s monthly cost for a database under 10,000 contacts is $2,000 for the Basic plan (up to 10 marketing users), $4,000 for Standard (up to 50 marketing users and adding various features including priority service) and you’d need to contact sales about the Enterprise plan.

Review

Eloqua has previously come under fire both for missing a content calendar feature and for requiring a work-intensive workaround to enable A/B testing of landing pages.

A marketing operations data manager at BT explains that they directly compared Marketo and Eloqua:

“Eloqua is well suited to an organisation looking for a multi-channel marketing automation tool which integrates well with Salesforce. However the CRM integration and some of the advanced functions require a lot of work and understanding, so an organisation looking for a simple email platform, or stand alone marketing CRM might be better looking elsewhere.

“The flexibility of the application allows us to adapt its functions to meet our company’s needs and the applications such as the contact washing machine and program canvas allows us to maintain a clean contact base and manage all important ‘consent’.

“Over two months we piloted campaigns in both Marketo and Eloqua with two teams, Ops and marketers, and found Eloqua to be more intuitive for the marketing teams and gave the Ops team more options for development and customisation.”

A marketing technology consultant who has implemented and serviced Eloqua (alongside other marketing automation platforms) explains:

“It’s great at a lot of things and has a lot of options. That also means that it can be overwhelming for smaller businesses, and it’s harder to get started with the platform. Small or large, I recommend organisations always find a trusted Eloqua partner to assist in implementation, setup and maturing of the platform within your organisation.

“[Eloqua’s] out of the box CRM integration (SFDC, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Sales Cloud) is stellar. Transfer of leads and contacts between Eloqua and CRMs works seamlessly and is very precisely configurable. There’s usually more than one way to solve a challenge in Eloqua. This makes the platform very flexible with regards to business needs. I’ve experienced similar platforms where you’re often tied to one workflow, which tends to kill this adaptability.

“The reporting functionality… interface… feels old-fashioned and less visually intuitive compared to other tools. Because Oracle is such a large enterprise itself, performing many acquisitions in rapid succession, product documentation is often out of date and scattered, which can make it a little hard to find answers to support questions.

“[Compared to Act-On, IBM Silverpop Engage and Marketo] Eloqua is… the better option for corporate- and enterprise-level businesses. Its many features, flexibility and constant stream of updates make it the futureproof answer to any marketing challenge. That said, I think smaller businesses will benefit more from platforms like Act-On or Hubspot. While these platforms may have less flexibility in their options, they are easier to get started with.”

A marketing specialist at large revenue management software firm, Model N, said:

“The big enterprise companies which can also invest in multiple Oracle products should use [Eloqua]. Small companies who just want to send out promotional emails should not go for this. It is really expensive compared to other marketing automation tools such as Marketo or HubSpot [and] moving away from Eloqua is very difficult. You need a programmer and an admin if you want a smooth execution of the system.”

A marketing director at a large IT firm is pretty hard on Eloqua:

“Eloqua was the pioneer, but now it is an expensive laggard—Oracle is hurting their innovation. [It’s] good enough for a huge company that has a big marketing ops organization that is transactionally focused and doesn’t change much. It is not appropriate for lean marketing teams or anyone who believes in self-service tools. It is also not a good fit if you want to have fast and rich personalization on your site because their forms and javascript tools are very behind the times.

“It’s impossible to use for any non-technical marketer. This is built for organizations with a large marketing ops team that does all of the execution of programs for other marketers. Creating emails is very difficult and it is very hard to have a responsively designed approach to using templates.

“It is too labor intensive to provide any real scale. Yes, it can send out millions of emails, but it doesn’t scale at the marketing project level. The technical nature and lack of usability are major barriers to get widespread adoption in an organization, let alone in a broader marketing department.

“[In comparison] it would be close to a tie between Marketo and Eloqua but the best of the group right now is HubSpot. While HubSpot came from an SMB background, their pace of innovation and releases has allowed them to catch up and surpass the other [marketing automation] vendors in many areas.”


Salesforce Pardot

Pardot is among the best marketing automation software

Salesforce is generally recognised as the leader in CRM software, but has been aggressively expanding into marketing with its acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013 (which itself had acquired Pardot, among others). In 2014, the group of services was rebranded Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

As you would expect, Pardot is sold on the basis of an “airtight integration” with Salesforce CRM and as with Oracle Eloqua, it is billed as marketing automation for B2B marketers.

Be sure to check out our Salesforce info hub to keep up to date.

Pricing

Salesforce Pardot’s pricing begins at £800 per month (billed annually) for its “Standard” package up to 10,000 contacts. Pricing for the wider marketing cloud packages requires a call to sales.

Salesforce Pardot pricing

Bolt-ons include Wave for B2B Marketing, an advanced analytics tools, and Salesforce Engage, which extends marketing automation to the sales team.

Review

Someone from the marketing department of a small financial services firm wrote on TrustRadius:

“I find Pardot’s best feature is its ability to integrate with many different systems. [It] alone will not do any of your heavy lifting segmentations and provides a considerable amount of headaches in its less than smooth email creation process (fonts change, links break…), but for users who need a system which can integrate well with nearly every system, Pardot is your system. Specifically it is Salesforce’s [CRM] integration with Pardot that allows direct import of detailed segmented lists… If your company does not need deep integrations, Pardot may not be the system for you.

“Landing pages have forms that are very effective at gathering information from email readers [but] landing page and email templates are lacking. There are few designs to work from and I often find myself working from scratch when I need a landing page.”

A digital business developer at small firm Quarsh Creative is largely positive about Pardot:

“I would recommend a platform such as this for businesses with a staff of over 30 that wish to increase their sales pipeline and fast track sales cycles through leveraging their content… However, you will need a front end developer if you’re to fully leverage the most of Pardot’s features.

“[Pardot has a] simple and intuitive user interface, which enhances user experience. Form building is very straight forward with the ability to go from simple to complex fields—great for gathering additional details from return visitors.

“Sales love the in-depth reporting they now receive from leads’ activities [which] enables tighter teamwork between marketing and sales.

“[That said] loading speeds can be horrendously slow at times. We’ve lost business (leads and enquiries) as a result of forms and pages taking minutes to load / process… Being in Australia, loading speeds can take a very long time. This affects our productivity with the platform.

Additionally:

“We’ve begun using Pardot for helpdesk and support communication on top of our marketing and sales. It’s a game changer in this respect.”

A marketing director at enterprise firm Nielsen posits:

“It’s great for people like myself who are not technical and don’t know code. I thinks it’s appropriate for any size of business. I think if you are very technical and like building out lots of campaigns then you’d probably be better suited with something like Marketo or Eloqua.

“Pardot has a great UI which is intuitive and very ease to learn and use, [also], setting up automation rules and completions action are very easy.

“[Salesforce has] excellent customer service, They have open office hours a few times a day where customers can call in and get problems solved at no charge.

“I used Marketo and hated it. It was difficult to use, required too many steps to execute a program, and the customer service was terrible. I actually don’t know why anyone would use it when options like Pardot and HubSpot are available. Pardot is exactly the opposite – easy to use, quick to set up and execute a campaign, and awesome customer service.”

A chief marketing officer at a medium-sized hospitality business is positive:

“Pardot is ideal for B2B companies and short-sales cycle businesses. It runs off of first touch attribution which is good if your customers don’t need many interactions in order to purchase. If your business relies on email marketing, lead generation from your website and customer facing team enablement, Pardot is what you need.

“We use it for all customer facing communication, lead generation programs, lead generation program management, and lead generation measurement. All teams have access to create email campaigns at will and it’s easy enough to use that everyone can it on their own. This makes us a more agile, dynamic company.”

That said:

“Multi-touch campaign attribution, as well as landing page and email customization isn’t strong.”


Best choice of marketing automation software for different use cases

From reviews it is clear that different use cases require different solutions, so we would recommend starting not with the tech but with the customer problem. In the words of  Steve Jobs

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology”.

By starting with a clear understanding of the customer experience you are trying to deliver, and of the current organsiational and technological issues you face, then you should be in a strong position to evaluate the vendors listed above.

 

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Thomas Quillfeldt

Thomas Quillfeldt

Content Contributor, UBM

Thomas Quillfeldt is a writer for UBM covering customer technology across Technology for Marketing, eCommerce Insights and Callcentre.co.uk.

In another universe, he enthuses about music and video games. Oh, and it’s “Tom”.

January 10, 2017

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