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Marketing automation software puts your routine marketing tasks on autopilot.
It’s the easiest way to save time, money, and effort while scaling your marketing and sales workflows efficiently.
I’ve used several marketing automation tools ranging from affordable solutions to enterprise-grade options.
Today, I’ll share my top recommendations and a short buyer’s guide to help you find the best tool for you.
Modern marketing doesn’t happen on one channel. It’s happening all across the internet on a wide array of devices, all at once.
With its unified dashboard that anyone can use, Constant Contact lets you stay on top of both marketing fronts with ease.
You can push new social posts and reply to messages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn from the same place you can set up automated email sequences and drip campaigns.
Schedule out social posts for next month or quarter and then sync that messaging up with your email campaigns.
Plus, with the platform’s intensely customizable emailer, you can segment messaging with individual sequences that are based upon what you know about your contacts.
Whether you’ve gathered crucial info about your list members manually or you use Constant Contact’s custom form builder to capture it on your landing pages, you can set up individual email sequence tracks based on any of it that will automatically send based on triggers that you set.
So, set up a series of social media posts about the big game, then have unique email sequences for folks on the east coast rooting for one team and then a separate one for the Pacific coast dwellers rooting for the other.
That’s just a super simple example—with Constant Contact, you can make these nested, unified marketing campaigns as intricate and complex as you’d like.
Social monitoring, messaging, and posting is available on all of Constant Contact’s plans. But its most useful email features come in the Plus plan. In it, you can set up automated behavioral and welcome sequences, plus include dynamic content in your emails.
The Plus package from Constant Contact starts at $45/month for up to 500 subscribers, with the price scaling upward alongside the number of additional contacts you need.
If you just want unified email and marketing without all the advanced automation, you can still get unlimited email sends and automated email resends to non-openers with the standard Email plan. That’ll run you $20/month for up to 500 contacts.
Stay connected with customers using email, text messaging, or live chat directly on your website. You won’t need many agents or reps with all the work Sendinblue does behind the scenes once you set it up.
For a lot of folks, their prebuilt automations will be enough. With just a few clicks of your mouse, Sendinblue will set up a workflow to kick in when, say, a visitor leaves your website with items still in their shopping cart or when they’ve clicked on or visited a specific part of your site.
Then, all you have to do is build the email message that gets sent when the trigger action occurs.
And with the depth available in Sendinblue’s email features, you can craft the perfect message to capitalize on the moment.
Personalize the content based on who they are, what they considered purchasing, or where they clicked, then embed unique offers, add effective flair to the email design, and schedule sending based on when it will be most effective. You can even A/B test options to gather data on the smartest way for you to wield these automations.
Not afraid of getting your hands dirty? That’s great—the custom automation builder opens up a world of different ways to construct trigger and action sequences. You can even have multiple entry points feeding into one action or get really granular with qualifying conditions to make sure each action is tailored to proper audience segments.
Sendinblue offers automation capabilities on all of their pricing plans. With the free forever and Lite (starting at$25/month) packages, you will be limited to targeting up to 2,000 of your contacts in your automated workflows.
Upgrade to either Premium (starting at $65/month) or the custom-priced Enterprise plans to get unlimited use of Sendinblue’s marketing automations. From there, it’s pay-as-you-go style pricing to increase the number of emails or SMS messages you send.
With EngageBay, all of your key customer-facing teams can use the same software. This is more efficient for your company and provides a seamless experience to customers.
Everything you learn about current customers can be leveraged in the quest to get more.
EngageBay’s automation tools can start having an impact the moment a prospect expresses interest by joining your list. From there, through your sales funnel and beyond the purchase, you can automate many of the routine touchpoints, nurturing, warming up, and more.
With all that information and interaction gathered, your support reps are well-prepared to handle anything your customers can throw at them with ease and grace.
That’s big, especially if your service team is handling more than troubleshooting issues.
Maybe your service team also provides continuing customer training (something that’s common in B2B SaaS) or often puts on their sales hats to handle adding services or upgrades.
With all of EngageBay’s automation tools capturing each customer’s entire journey, your support team is never without context or key information, so they can keep impressing the people who buy from you.
Maybe best of all, EngageBay can be tried out for completely free. They have a free-forever package that lacks the automation tools, but allows you to get used to the platform and dashboard.
For the full array EngageBay’s marketing automation features, you’ll need at least the Growth plan. That can cost as little as $39.99 per user per month if you pay for two years up front. That can handle up to 10,000 contacts and 25,000 branded emails per month.
Paying for a single year at checkout raises the monthly per-user rate to $44.99. If you want to pay month-to-month, you’re looking at $49.99 per user per month.
Need more contacts? Upgrade to Pro for $79.99 per user/month (for a two-year commitment) to have no limits on the number of contacts, plus get double the monthly emails that Growth offers and more advanced features.
It’s a super affordable tool that includes numerous automation features for leads anywhere in your funnel. You’ll be able to cut down on busywork instantly, reaching more people at the same time.
And you’ll be able to connect with customers anywhere–ActiveCampaign offers omnichannel automation, including instant messaging and SMS, live chat, and Facebook.
So, you’re not limited to just email marketing automation with ActiveCampaign.
Their most popular features cover leads at every point in the funnel, including:
You can also set up numerous types of emails like autoresponders, targeted or triggered emails, broadcasts, scheduled emails, and automated funnels.
And you can design those emails using their intuitive drag and drop designer, or start from one of their 25+ pre-made mobile-responsive design templates.
Mobile-responsive designs are table stakes if you want consumers to pay attention.
Whether you’re just getting started or interested in scaling and optimizing your email marketing strategy, ActiveCampaign is an excellent choice. They offer everything you need to capture, nurture, and close leads at scale.
ActiveCampaign offers four plans, with the price of each starting at:
Each tier includes more advanced features, and pricing is based on the size of your list, starting for up to 500 contacts.
So, keep in mind that you will have to pay more than the prices above as your list grows.
It goes beyond automating your business processes. Integrate and optimize different departments in one centralized location, streamlining your entire business’s workflow.
Teams don’t have to jump from software to software to get the information they need and you can automate the data transfer process from one team to the next.
HubSpot has long made its reputation in this field. Their marketing automation capabilities are powerful, with fine granular control.
Set up a drip campaign (or multiple) as complex as you like with delays, triggers, dependencies, and more. You can let email followups and campaigns run automatically with no fear.
Beyond email, automations within HubSpot can apply to contact and client organization, team notifications, lead qualification, data management, and much more.
All your workflows benefit from the HubSpot platform’s clean visual interface. See how all the disparate parts of your marketing department and campaigns can link and work together, plus find new ways to take advantage of automation through visualizing unique team and action connections.
No matter how complex your sales journey or pipeline, HubSpot has the tools and features to not only add useful automation, but improve every part of the customer lifecycle.
And, by using one of HubSpot’s suites, you also get access to essential features like:
HubSpot offers basic features, like emails, landing pages, forms, and live chat capabilities for unlimited users absolutely free. So, you can try it the platform without spending a penny.
Alternatively, you can sign up for a free demo to see all of their advanced features in action.
The Starter Suite (sales, marketing, CRM, and customer service) starts at $50 per month for two users and up to 1,000 contacts, making it extremely affordable for most businesses. You can add another 1,000 contacts for $11.25 per month, and additional users cost $6 per month.
However, keep in mind you only get access to HubSpot’s Starter version of their Marketing Hub. So you’re going to be somewhat limited in automation capability. Some features you’ll only be able to use so many times per month; others are missing entirely.
The heavy-duty plans above Starter cost a good bit more, but remove those restrictions if you need everything HubSpot offers by way of automation:
Professional starts with 2,000 contacts, and you can add contacts in increments of 5,000 for $250 per month. Enterprise starts with 10,000 contacts, and it’s only $100 per additional 10,000 contacts.
There’s also the ability to build your own bespoke HubSpot product bundle. You can set which how many features you want for each Hub.
If you want to go heavy on marketing automation, but don’t need as much for sales, customer service, or operations, make your own bundle that includes the Enterprise-tier of Marketing Hub but Starter tiers for the rest.
I recommend it highly for people that want to automate their ecommerce marketing. Freshmarketer comes packed with all the tools you need to attract customers, understand their needs, and drive conversions.
Keep in touch with customers via email, live chat, SMS, and WhatsApp. Build out personalized customer journeys and stay organized no matter where the conversation happens.
From awareness to retention, you get all the automation features you need to gain more leads, turn those leads into customers, and keep those customers around for life. All while doing less work with better results.
Plus, you don’t need any technical skills or a dedicated support team to get started. And it takes about a minute to get up and running.
You also get access to features like:
Furthermore, the software seamlessly integrates with Freshworks’ other tools, so it’s an excellent choice if you currently use or plan to use any of their business software. It’s also got integrations with WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, and other popular ecommerce platforms.
You can try Freshmarketer on their limited free forever plan or a 21-day free trial of their paid plans, which are incredibly affordable and accessible for businesses of all sizes. However, they depend on the number of contacts you have, so keep that in mind.
They offer Growth, Pro and Enterprise plans of the full Freshworks CRM, or just the marketing services. Plans for the full CRM start at $29/month for 1,000 active contacts. Plans for Marketing Cloud start at $19/month for 500 contacts.
It’s an excellent option for large-volume campaign management with lots of moving parts. If you have a larger organization and you’re managing complex campaigns across multiple channels, Acoustic should definitely be on your radar.
You can use it for email campaigns, social media, SMS, push notifications, print ads, mobile apps, and every possible touchpoint where your audience lives.
Some of the top features of Acoustic include:
You’ll also have access to a powerful drag-and-drop campaign builder, which helps simplify even the most complex campaigns. All of your marketing data can be monitored with advanced reporting and analytics as well.
I really like the fact that Acoustic has an active community where you find quick answers to your questions. They even have self-help videos and other learning tools that can help you get the most out of the software.
If you’re just looking for a super basic marketing automation solution, Acoustic probably isn’t for you. Smaller businesses running single-channel campaigns will likely find the features overwhelming.
As a marketing agency, you handle marketing campaigns for several clients (if not hundreds of them) at any given time. As such, you need marketing automation software with the ability to manage everything, including your own marketing campaigns, in one place.
Their scalable software features unique child and parent campaign capabilities, meaning you can easily manage and handle all of your client accounts from a single Act-On login.
Plus, you can completely brand and customize everything to deliver custom reports to clients in just a few clicks.
With Act-On, you can learn more about your clients’ audiences to personalize and tailor their message to match. Not only does this make their life easier, but it also means your team can work less to produce better results.
When you sign up, you get access to powerful marketing features, including:
Plus, you can build custom real-time analytic dashboards for internal and external use, so you and your clients always know what’s going on.
Furthermore, you can use this information to improve customer ROI, build better technology stacks, and optimize entire marketing campaigns on behalf of your clients. From lead gathering and nurturing to transferring contact information to sales, you’re in good hands.
As a B2B business, you market to other companies, which presents a unique set of marketing challenges. As such, you need a marketing automation tool built for the job.
Pardot exists to help B2B companies build relationships and turn those relationships into revenue. You get a suite of tools perfectly designed for this mission, so you can accommodate an extended buying process and manage complex pipelines.
Plus, it’s a fantastic marketing automation software built around Salesforce the world’s #1 CRM.
So, you know you’re in good hands.
From lead generation to sales alignment, the software offers a wide range of features, including:
Furthermore, over 2.8+ million worldwide users rely on Pardot for their marketing automation needs, making it one of the most popular platforms on this list.
But it is a bit expensive, so it’s best suited for larger businesses. Their paid plans include:
They also offer a few add-ons that come free in the Premium plan. Those add-ons include Salesforce Engage ($50/user per month), Analytics Plus ($3,000/month), and Engagement History ($300/year).
All plans and add-ons are billed on an annual basis.
Oh, and one last thing: Pardot pronounced par-dot. The “t” is not silent.
Get in touch with Pardot today.
I stand behind all of my top recommendations, but as you can tell, these are very different products.
Finding the right tool for the job is extremely important. Marketing automation software that serves one company perfectly might be a poor fit for another.
Below, I’ve laid out the major criteria you should use to evaluate each option. Use this guide to narrow your search down to a solution that meets your company’s marketing challenges.
Furthermore, marketing agencies present a new set of marketing automation challenges. Because of that, specialized software may be necessary to meet your specific needs at a reasonable price point.
The size of your business matters too. Large companies run complex, massive-scale campaigns and have bigger pockets. So, small business tools aren’t a good match.
However, smaller companies will probably find enterprise-grade features confusing and wildly out of budget, which is why those small business tools exist in the first place.
So, pay attention to who the software is built for when making your final decision.
Most pricing plans vary depending on the number of contacts or leads you have. The larger your list, the higher the price to keep it in place and stay in touch with your contacts.
But, that price is one you want to pay to keep your contacts intact.
If you have tens or hundreds of thousands of contacts, enterprise-grade solutions are going to be more cost-effective. However, that’s not the case if you have a few hundred or even a few thousand leads on your list.
Just be sure to keep this in mind and remember that specific plans may limit the maximum number of contacts you can have.
And if you hit those limits, you’ll need to upgrade to a higher plan or pay an extra fee.
Different marketing automation software supports various marketing channels.
From SMS and email marketing to social media and push notifications, it’s crucial to choose a software that handles everything you need.
Smaller businesses with simple campaigns may not utilize a wide range of channels and can get away using a more affordable tool.
However, large businesses with complex campaigns spanning numerous channels need something more robust to manage all the moving parts.
Furthermore, some software includes varying channels in different pricing tiers. So, you may start on one level and need to move up to gain access to more marketing channels. Or you may need to move to (or integrate) a new tool altogether.
It may help to map out your upcoming campaigns and decide which channels you plan to use.
Automation is at the heart of every tool on this list. But some offer more advanced automation features than others.
Do you need to score leads and prospects? Maybe you want to combine SMS, email marketing, and Facebook ads in the same customer journey. Or perhaps you need the ability to send hyper-targeted emails on autopilot.
Regardless of the complexity of your campaigns, don’t forget to consider:
You may not need all of them, and some tools don’t include them. So it’s critical to understand what you need (and don’t need) before making your decision.
It’s not uncommon for marketing automation software to include a handful of features typically found in a CRM tool, like live chat or customer support capabilities.
Before making a final decision, it’s essential to understand which additional features you need to fill the gap between marketing and sales or customer service.
You may already have these systems in place. So, you won’t need these additional features. But if you don’t, you might be able to save money, hassle, and time by choosing a software that includes everything you’re missing under one roof.
However, it’s not the perfect solution for everyone. So, don’t forget to use the criteria we talked about as you sort through finding the best marketing automation software for you and your team.
Here’s a recap of my top picks:
What are your favorite marketing automation tools?