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There are a number of solid email service providers to choose from. How do you decide which is the best for your team, user base, and budget? This lesson will give you insight into the vendor landscape and walk through some key considerations when it comes to selecting an email tool.

News about email’s death has been greatly exaggerated. Yes, email is one of the oldest digital marketing channels (the first email blast was in 1978!), but the email service provider (ESP) landscape still has a lot of innovation to offer.

Maybe you’ve pulled together enough user emails for your list that personalizing your messages via Gmail isn’t cutting it anymore. Or, you’ve been in the email-slinging game for a while, and you're ready to upgrade your solution. Either way, congrats on hitting your email milestone; you've come to the right place to understand the next steps you should take.

How email has changed in the last decade

In the last 48 years, email marketing grew from a cheeky stunt in the ’70s to a bona fide fledgling industry in the ’90s to the massive ESP industry we know today. The last 10 years, in particular, have been eventful, and the major trends are important to take into account.

  • Larger vendors have cemented their grip. Overall, the major consolidation moves happened a while ago; now, the big players like Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe dominate.

  • Email tools offer less specialization in exchange for broader appeal. Email service providers for small businesses, like Campaign Monitor, have added pricing options for larger businesses. At the same time, others that were highly specialized, like SendGrid that was focused on transactional auto-response emails, now have more mainstream features.

  • Up-and-comers shaking up the market. Technology outside of the ESP realm threatens to change how the end consumer interacts with their email. For instance, HEY, a new email provider, is looking to filter out unwanted emails, while Front wants to corner the customer communication market.

Yes, email is still a big deal

As we mentioned above, there have long been bold predictions that email might die. Five years ago, John Brandon at Inc. predicted by 2020 it would be time to “stick a fork in your email.”

Of course, that hasn’t happened. But email still has a bad reputation as being a spammy, unhelpful marketing channel. While that can be the case in specific circumstances, it’s just not true in the aggregate.

Two shining examples of why email is a viable communication channel include:

  • The rise of Substack, proving that people still read email if it’s valuable and relevant to them. In fact, the Washington Post says that “More than 100,000 people pay to subscribe to writers.” People still read email—and they enjoy it.

  • According to HubSpot, throughout 2019, marketers saw an overall 78% increase in engagement. In general, people find email a helpful and necessary part of their daily routine.

Considerations for choosing an email service provider

1. Size of contact list

In this lesson, we'll share which ESPs are best suited for various contact list sizes—ranging from smaller ESPs for small and medium-sized businesses (like Mailchimp) to massive enterprise ESPs (like Salesforce). The size of the email contact list usually coincides with the number of features the ESP has. Tools that can handle large lists are usually very sophisticated with complex drip-nurture and trigger-based logic, while smaller tools may focus on user-friendliness.

2. B2B vs. B2C

Besides the size of the contact lists, the other big differentiator is the ESP’s target audience. B2B-focused ESPs tend to center on lead nurturing, while B2C-focused ESPs put an emphasis on events, sales, announcements, and more.

3. Cost and ease of use

Naturally, it's also prudent to look at the cost of the ESP, as well as how much time your team will need to invest in learning all the bells and whistles. As mentioned above, Mailchimp is known for user-friendliness but lacks deep trigger-based logic. Salesforce's Pardot, on the other hand, is much more technically advanced but requires some HTML knowledge to design the emails exactly how you want them.

4. Integration within your tech stack

Look for an ESP that plays nicely with the tools you already use. In particular, pay attention to how well it integrates with your customer relationship management platform (CRM). This is such an important factor that CRMs and ESPs are often blended together into one product, like HubSpot and Braze.

Top email service providers

Twilio SendGrid

Like Segment, SendGrid is a subsidiary of Twilio and is one of the most trusted platforms for transactional email and email marketing.

Two of the biggest benefits of SendGrid are deliverability and scale. Their deliverability features (domain authentication, proactive ISP outreach, etc) help businesses record an open rate improvement of over 6 percentage points. This can also be performed at significant scale. The SendGrid platform sends 70 billion emails every month with 99.999% uptime so you can rest assured your email will reach your recipients.

Top features:

  • Purpose build Mail Transfer Agent that can scale to billions of emails

  • Powerful email marketing automation via SendGrid Automations

  • Artificial intelligence that continually adapts to changing ISP rules

  • Multi-channel messaging (SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, and chat) via the Twilio platform

SendGrid is great for:

  • Developers and marketers

  • Promotional and transactional email

  • High volume senders - reliable email delivery at scale

Braze

Braze (formerly Appboy) first established itself as a mobile-first CRM with powerful text and push-messaging features. With recent enhancements to its email marketing functionality and the addition of a visual journey builder, Braze has become a lifecycle engagement platform with an emphasis on highly personalized, targeted customer messaging across many channels.

Top features:

  • Push and SMS notifications

  • Visual customer journey builder called Braze Canvas

  • Automated multi-channel messaging

  • Strong customer support

Braze is great for:

  • Marketers using push notifications and email

  • Mid-market to enterprise businesses of any industry, but Braze is especially useful for push-centric B2C brands

  • Contact lists of any size

Customer.io

Customer.io is a data-driven marketing platform for newsletter creation, transactional emails, SMS notifications, and customer profile-triggered messaging. Its focus is to provide a flexible and easy-to-implement solution for data-driven startups and SMBs.

Top features:

  • Flexible customer behavioral data mapping

  • Integration with Shopify's open-source Liquid logic

  • Sophisticated activation and retention-oriented email campaigns from real-time triggers on customer behaviors

  • Orients around the user and how they've interacted with sent messages

Customer.io is great for:

  • Marketers looking to implement a seamless plug-and-play tool for customer messaging

  • Ecommerce SMBs and startups

  • Contact lists of any size

Drip

Drip is an email marketing automation platform well suited for B2B marketers. The visual campaign builder offers customizable triggers, actions, and integrations to create automated campaigns based on customer behavior.

Top features:

  • Ease-of-use

  • Workflow builder

  • Can resend emails with a different subject line to users who didn't initially open

  • Integration with Shopify, WooComerce, and Magento for a unified ecommerce experience

Drip is great for:

  • Marketers looking for advanced marketing automation with a lean team

  • SMBs and startups of any industry, but particularly those focused on ecommerce

  • Relatively small contact lists to mid-sized lists

HubSpot

More than just an email service provider, Hubspot is a full-blown CRM that also helps manage social media, lead generation, and content. As the original and self-proclaimed "Inbound Marketing Platform," HubSpot helps marketers both create demand through content and nurture leads through email campaigns. HubSpot is known for being easy to use and navigate and, as such, is appropriate for large and small businesses alike. However, the pricing model is dependent on the total number of contacts in your database, so it becomes cost-prohibitive for very large-scale businesses.

Top features:

  • Many built-in API integrations

  • Visibility across additional touchpoints on social media platforms

  • Lead-generation identification capabilities

  • Integration with inbound marketing and demand-generation processes

HubSpot is great for:

  • Marketers looking for a full suite of marketing automation solutions and tools for inbound marketing

  • B2B and B2C companies of any size, but HubSpot can become cost-prohibitive for large B2C lists

  • Contact lists of more than 25K

Iterable

Iterable is a multi-channel customer engagement and marketing automation platform. It focuses on offering less-technically savvy marketers access to intuitive yet powerful drag-and-drop automation flows, dynamic personalization, and segmentation features that would typically require more in-depth engineering support and resources.

Top features:

  • Ease of use

  • Multivariate testing

  • Omnichannel campaigns

  • Deep personalization capabilities

Iterable is great for:

  • Marketers looking to unlock multi-channel marketing automation with minimal engineering support

  • Mid-sized B2C companies, though B2B companies might find use for Iterable

  • Contact lists of more than 100K

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a fan favorite for many startups with small marketing teams. Not only is it quick to get up and running, but the templates are intuitive and straightforward to navigate, too. Though it still lacks some features, such as allowing the creation of automated A/B split tests into subject lines, it has recently added new functionality along with its rebrand.

Top features:

  • Quick to set up

  • Easy to use

  • Built-in design templates

  • Doesn't require a developer or designer

Mailchimp is great for:

  • Marketing teams looking to deploy an easy-to-use email marketing tool

  • Small to mid-sized businesses of any industry

  • Contact lists of more than 100+

Marketo

Often thought of as the 10,000-pound gorilla in the email marketing automation space, Marketo became an early market leader for multi-campaign email management. However, more functionality means a higher price tag and sophisticated users to operate it. Marketo is great for mid-market to enterprise-level B2B customers already on the Adobe suite. It might not be appropriate for very small businesses due to the cost or the advanced skill level and training required to operate it. That said, we are a fan—Marketo is what we use here internally at Segment.

Top features:

  • Deep Salesforce integration for advanced lead scoring

  • Easy-to-use user interface and templates

  • High level of functionality and integrations

  • Tried-and-true name brand

  • Ability to manage sensitive lists requiring privacy in the financial or healthcare spaces

Marketo is great for:

  • Marketing teams looking to automate email marketing and integrate with CRMs

  • B2B companies of any size but must be spending at least $3-$5M per year in marketing

  • Contact lists of more than 100K

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a powerful CRM and marketing automation platform with ESP capabilities designed with the enterprise in mind. The ESP portions were created with the acquisitions of ExactTarget (for B2C) and Pardot (for B2B). It’s a big investment that will require some work to get set up, but once Salesforce is up and running to your specifications, it can be very powerful.

Top features:

  • Very comprehensive

  • Automation and routing

  • Great for companies that can deploy developers for deep customization

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is great for:

  • Marketers looking to use one of the most comprehensive email suites available

  • Large B2B and B2C enterprise businesses

  • Large contact lists of more than 100K

A few more to consider

  • SendGrid for communication automation within the ever-expanding Twilio ecosystem

  • User.com for heavy personalization capabilities

  • Oracle Eloqua for integration with dynamic cross-channel campaigns

  • Klaviyo for companies that use point-of-sale data to inform email marketing

Choosing an email service provider

These days, the ESP industry is fairly mature, and, as such, each vendor will cover the basics and has a solid roster of customers that you can learn from. While certain tools are much better suited for certain sized businesses and industries, each tool will be able to accomplish the basics of engaging with your user base at scale in personalized ways. This is especially true if you've set up your analytics with a tool like Segment.

For more information on the email service providers that Segment offers, check out our catalog of integrations here.

Peter Reinhardt on November 2nd 2020

Segment has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Twilio, a company that shares our passion and vision for enabling businesses to drive meaningful customer engagement and experiences.

Geoffrey Keating on October 20th 2020

Keynotes, panels, AMAs, day 3 of CDP Week had it all. In case you missed it or want a quick refresher, here’s our highlights from the day.

Geoffrey Keating on October 19th 2020

Day 2 saw another full house at CDP Week. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights.

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Recent articles

Kelly Kirwan on February 24th 2021

How StackCommerce used Segment to improve attribution accuracy

Geoffrey Keating on February 23rd 2021

Marketing automation software is quickly becoming a priority for competitive companies—businesses that are looking to raise customer satisfaction, boost ROI, and work more efficiently. 

But not all marketing automation software is created equally. Before you choose a tool, assess your software needs and the goals you want to accomplish. Then, evaluate the marketing automation software landscape so you can choose the best tool to help you reach your marketing goals.

For your marketing automation efforts to be successful, your data needs to be well-managed. Bad data can lead to misguided engagement efforts and frustrated customers. A customer data platform like Segment will power your marketing automation software with clean, organized data.

Table of Contents:

Familiarize yourself with the basics of marketing automation software

Before choosing marketing automation software, you’ll need to understand the basics of these tools and why you might want to use one. Then you can decide if it’s time for your team to invest in a marketing automation tool.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software is a tool that streamlines your digital marketing activities and delivers targeted messages to your customers and prospects based on their behavior and preferences. It helps marketers acquire new customers, nurture existing relationships, and analyze campaign performance across channels.

Marketing automation software functions by tracking user actions on your website, app, digital product, email campaigns, and other events. Then, this behavioral data triggers targeted content via email, SMS, push notification, in-app messaging, social, web, and more.

Using customer behavioral data, marketing automation software can help you create curated experiences—displaying a different landing page to a returning customer, delivering ads based on recent browsing history, or sending an email introducing products related to the customer’s interests, to name just a few.

Personalizing the customer experience can get complicated with so many customer interactions across channels and devices. But, with the right marketing automation software, you can track customer behavior and then deliver targeted customer experiences at scale while reducing the amount of time you spend on marketing processes.

Why use marketing automation software?

Customers want personalized experiences. According to Epsilon, “80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.”

But, it’s not as simple as sending a follow-up email after a purchase to advertise products that are similar to the purchased product. You need to be able to anticipate what a customer would like to buy, even if they haven’t shown a direct interest in that product.

In a consumer survey by McKinsey, one shopper noted that after buying a puffy jacket, she received an email recommending similar jackets. “‘Regarding this product, you only need one. Why send an email for other similar coats?’ she asked.”

This company would be better off recommending winter boots or a scarf that reflects the customer’s style based on their first purchase. To deliver this level of personalization, companies need a tool that uses complex algorithms to make smarter campaigns and foster relationships by providing value to customers.

Through marketing automation, you can give a personalized and relevant experience to your customers while saving time by automating the process. You can put the time gained back into your marketing strategy development and leave repetitive tasks to the robots.

Assess your marketing automation software needs

Marketing automation platforms are not a cheap investment, so you want to make sure you pick one that meets your company’s needs. Consider these three questions to develop your criteria to find the best marketing automation software for your business.

What are your goals?

By knowing your goals, you can make sure the software you choose has the marketing automation features, functionality, and reporting you need to succeed. Some goals that marketing automation software can help with are to:

  • Boost customer LTV

  • Acquire new customers via inbound marketing

  • Increase upsells and cross-sells

  • Raise customer satisfaction

  • Conversion rate optimization

  • Elevate ROI

Mention your goals to marketing automation software sales reps when you take a product demo. They can share relevant success stories and show you features that will help you reach your objectives.

Look for reporting features in tools, so you can find one that provides the insights you need to track your progress toward your goals and improve your marketing workflows.

What other marketing tools do you need to integrate with?

While many marketing automation platforms will cover similar channels, each will likely integrate with different marketing tools. Find a marketing automation tool that connects with your existing marketing and engagement tools, such as your:

When you take a demo, ask to see these integrations in action, so you can envision how they will work for your use cases.

How much control do you want over your marketing automation flows?

If you already have marketing flows in mind that you want to automate, make sure the tool you choose will be able to react to specific user actions or a series of actions in the way you want it to.

You’ll likely want to develop multiple series of complex triggers based on different customer journeys and actions. Bring these flows up in the demos as well.

Most marketing automation software can handle complex marketing flows for SMBs. Enterprise businesses will benefit from the greater flexibility provided by more comprehensive marketing automation tools that help companies fine-tune their marketing orchestration.

Review the best marketing automation software in 2021

Now that you know what you need from marketing automation software, consider these top marketing automation tools. Bonus: They all integrate with Segment, so you can power your marketing efforts with clean, standardized data.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one SaaS marketing automation tool that will help you attract new leads and turn them into customers.

HubSpot

Features include email marketing automation, landing page creation, analytics, lead scoring, and a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) system. HubSpot also has plenty of educational materials and strong customer support.

Best for: CRM and lead generation

2. Autopilot

Autopilot is a marketing automation tool focused on helping small businesses create engaging customer journeys.

Autopilot

Build lifecycle marketing campaigns with an easy drag-and-drop interface. Autopilot includes A/B testing, customizable CTAs, landing pages, and lead scoring. Autopilot even offers annotation and collaboration features right on the platform, so you can add context to your customer journeys and review with your marketing team. Dozens of integrations mean you can create a powerful marketing tech stack.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing

3. Iterable

Iterable is a marketing platform that prides itself on integrating your customer data and then using it to create targeted campaigns.

Iterable

A/B test campaigns with up to 50 variations and automatically implement the most successful variant. Iterable also helps you easily test messages on different email clients, which can be tricky to get right. Plus, they offer a clean visual interface for creating campaigns.

Best for: Lead nurturing and customer retention

4. Intercom

Intercom allows you to analyze customer behavior on your site and communicate with customers 1-to-1 in real time or via automated campaigns.

Intercom

Use Intercom to guide new users through an onboarding process and streamline customer support. In addition to robust customer service features, Intercom also has powerful prospecting tools for lead generation and nurturing, A/B testing, and the ability to customize CTAs.

Best for: Customer service, lead generation, and acquisition

5. Pardot

Pardot by Salesforce is a comprehensive marketing automation platform ideal for helping B2B enterprise businesses identify and engage high-quality leads.

Pardot

Track pageviews, form fill out, downloads, and social interactions. Create dynamic emails right from the platform. More features include the ability to deploy landing pages, manage social media marketing, and integrate with Google Ads to track ROI and keyword performance.

Best for: Lead generation and engagement

6. Taplytics

Taplytics lets you target users across platforms to ensure a consistent experience.

Taplytics

Design complex user journey campaigns to engage customers with the intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Perfect your campaigns with A/B testing and roll out new features and digital products with feature flags. Taplytics prides itself on working with businesses 1-on-1 to make sure you get the most out of the platform.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing for digital products

7. Extole

Extole is a referral marketing tool to turn your customers into brand evangelists.

Extole

Encourage your current fans or subscribers to bring in new customers by rewarding them with Extole’s wide range of advocacy products. Enterprise businesses will benefit from advanced features like fraud protection, A/B testing, APIs and webhooks, and the sophisticated reward engine.

Best for: Referral and loyalty programs

8. Customer.io

Customer.io is designed to help companies reach customer activation and retention goals with a focus on automated messaging.

Customer.io

With Customer.io, you can create multiple branches in a single campaign to customize messages based on conditional statements, user attributes, or segments. Enhance your efforts with comprehensive reporting and A/B testing for more relevant and personalized customer interactions.

Best for: Customer activation and retention

9. Drip

Drip is primarily a B2C ecommerce marketing automation platform that allows you to send personalized messages to customers and leads.

Drip

Segment customers by tag, event, and even custom fields, so you can understand how different customers are interacting with your company. Create messages with dynamic content to personalize the customer experience with things like product recommendations and unique discount codes.

Best for: Customer acquisition and retention

10. Marketo

Marketo is another all-in-one solution ideal for B2B marketing that helps align marketing and sales teams.

Marketo

Use Marketo for lead management, email marketing, and predictive web content. Marketo organizes leads for sales reps and provides context for them to understand how a lead has interacted with your website and marketing campaigns. Offering a variety of pricing plans, Marketo is a viable option for nearly any B2B company.

Best for: Lead generation and engagement

11. WebEngage

WebEngage is a multichannel B2C engagement platform.

WebEngage

WebEngage supports real-time segments, so you can engage customers based on their behavior. They offer pre-built templates for easy campaign creation. Use funnel and behavior analysis to better understand the effectiveness of cross-channel marketing campaigns throughout the customer lifecycle.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing

12. Blueshift

Blueshift automates behavior-based messaging across many marketing channels, including email, push notifications, Facebook, and display ads.

Blueshift

Use Blueshift’s behavioral segmentation to identify users who are more likely to perform actions like a repeat purchase, activation, or churn. Then, create automation workflows based on those segments to get more customers on a successful conversion or retention path. Campaigns in Blueshift are self-optimizing, so you’re always getting the best results from your efforts.

Best for: Segmenting and multichannel messaging


Supercharge your marketing automation with a customer data platform

A marketing automation tool will provide synergy between your marketing efforts and your customers’ actions and preferences. Amplify your marketing automation platform’s capabilities even further with a customer data platform like Segment.

Segment gathers, cleans, and standardizes data from all your data sources and sends it to your marketing automation platform to help you create hyper-personalized campaigns.

Segment even has pre-built infrastructure, so you can test different marketing automation tools with just a few clicks before choosing one. See how Halp used Segment to test and select a marketing automation solution and then improved their customer onboarding flow and increased activation by 4x.

Sudheendra Chilappagari on February 18th 2021

Learn how to use Segment and Twilio Programmable Messaging to send a personalized SMS campaign.

Kelly Kirwan on February 24th 2021

How StackCommerce used Segment to improve attribution accuracy

Geoffrey Keating on February 23rd 2021

Marketing automation software is quickly becoming a priority for competitive companies—businesses that are looking to raise customer satisfaction, boost ROI, and work more efficiently. 

But not all marketing automation software is created equally. Before you choose a tool, assess your software needs and the goals you want to accomplish. Then, evaluate the marketing automation software landscape so you can choose the best tool to help you reach your marketing goals.

For your marketing automation efforts to be successful, your data needs to be well-managed. Bad data can lead to misguided engagement efforts and frustrated customers. A customer data platform like Segment will power your marketing automation software with clean, organized data.

Table of Contents:

Familiarize yourself with the basics of marketing automation software

Before choosing marketing automation software, you’ll need to understand the basics of these tools and why you might want to use one. Then you can decide if it’s time for your team to invest in a marketing automation tool.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software is a tool that streamlines your digital marketing activities and delivers targeted messages to your customers and prospects based on their behavior and preferences. It helps marketers acquire new customers, nurture existing relationships, and analyze campaign performance across channels.

Marketing automation software functions by tracking user actions on your website, app, digital product, email campaigns, and other events. Then, this behavioral data triggers targeted content via email, SMS, push notification, in-app messaging, social, web, and more.

Using customer behavioral data, marketing automation software can help you create curated experiences—displaying a different landing page to a returning customer, delivering ads based on recent browsing history, or sending an email introducing products related to the customer’s interests, to name just a few.

Personalizing the customer experience can get complicated with so many customer interactions across channels and devices. But, with the right marketing automation software, you can track customer behavior and then deliver targeted customer experiences at scale while reducing the amount of time you spend on marketing processes.

Why use marketing automation software?

Customers want personalized experiences. According to Epsilon, “80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.”

But, it’s not as simple as sending a follow-up email after a purchase to advertise products that are similar to the purchased product. You need to be able to anticipate what a customer would like to buy, even if they haven’t shown a direct interest in that product.

In a consumer survey by McKinsey, one shopper noted that after buying a puffy jacket, she received an email recommending similar jackets. “‘Regarding this product, you only need one. Why send an email for other similar coats?’ she asked.”

This company would be better off recommending winter boots or a scarf that reflects the customer’s style based on their first purchase. To deliver this level of personalization, companies need a tool that uses complex algorithms to make smarter campaigns and foster relationships by providing value to customers.

Through marketing automation, you can give a personalized and relevant experience to your customers while saving time by automating the process. You can put the time gained back into your marketing strategy development and leave repetitive tasks to the robots.

Assess your marketing automation software needs

Marketing automation platforms are not a cheap investment, so you want to make sure you pick one that meets your company’s needs. Consider these three questions to develop your criteria to find the best marketing automation software for your business.

What are your goals?

By knowing your goals, you can make sure the software you choose has the marketing automation features, functionality, and reporting you need to succeed. Some goals that marketing automation software can help with are to:

  • Boost customer LTV

  • Acquire new customers via inbound marketing

  • Increase upsells and cross-sells

  • Raise customer satisfaction

  • Conversion rate optimization

  • Elevate ROI

Mention your goals to marketing automation software sales reps when you take a product demo. They can share relevant success stories and show you features that will help you reach your objectives.

Look for reporting features in tools, so you can find one that provides the insights you need to track your progress toward your goals and improve your marketing workflows.

What other marketing tools do you need to integrate with?

While many marketing automation platforms will cover similar channels, each will likely integrate with different marketing tools. Find a marketing automation tool that connects with your existing marketing and engagement tools, such as your:

When you take a demo, ask to see these integrations in action, so you can envision how they will work for your use cases.

How much control do you want over your marketing automation flows?

If you already have marketing flows in mind that you want to automate, make sure the tool you choose will be able to react to specific user actions or a series of actions in the way you want it to.

You’ll likely want to develop multiple series of complex triggers based on different customer journeys and actions. Bring these flows up in the demos as well.

Most marketing automation software can handle complex marketing flows for SMBs. Enterprise businesses will benefit from the greater flexibility provided by more comprehensive marketing automation tools that help companies fine-tune their marketing orchestration.

Review the best marketing automation software in 2021

Now that you know what you need from marketing automation software, consider these top marketing automation tools. Bonus: They all integrate with Segment, so you can power your marketing efforts with clean, standardized data.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one SaaS marketing automation tool that will help you attract new leads and turn them into customers.

HubSpot

Features include email marketing automation, landing page creation, analytics, lead scoring, and a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) system. HubSpot also has plenty of educational materials and strong customer support.

Best for: CRM and lead generation

2. Autopilot

Autopilot is a marketing automation tool focused on helping small businesses create engaging customer journeys.

Autopilot

Build lifecycle marketing campaigns with an easy drag-and-drop interface. Autopilot includes A/B testing, customizable CTAs, landing pages, and lead scoring. Autopilot even offers annotation and collaboration features right on the platform, so you can add context to your customer journeys and review with your marketing team. Dozens of integrations mean you can create a powerful marketing tech stack.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing

3. Iterable

Iterable is a marketing platform that prides itself on integrating your customer data and then using it to create targeted campaigns.

Iterable

A/B test campaigns with up to 50 variations and automatically implement the most successful variant. Iterable also helps you easily test messages on different email clients, which can be tricky to get right. Plus, they offer a clean visual interface for creating campaigns.

Best for: Lead nurturing and customer retention

4. Intercom

Intercom allows you to analyze customer behavior on your site and communicate with customers 1-to-1 in real time or via automated campaigns.

Intercom

Use Intercom to guide new users through an onboarding process and streamline customer support. In addition to robust customer service features, Intercom also has powerful prospecting tools for lead generation and nurturing, A/B testing, and the ability to customize CTAs.

Best for: Customer service, lead generation, and acquisition

5. Pardot

Pardot by Salesforce is a comprehensive marketing automation platform ideal for helping B2B enterprise businesses identify and engage high-quality leads.

Pardot

Track pageviews, form fill out, downloads, and social interactions. Create dynamic emails right from the platform. More features include the ability to deploy landing pages, manage social media marketing, and integrate with Google Ads to track ROI and keyword performance.

Best for: Lead generation and engagement

6. Taplytics

Taplytics lets you target users across platforms to ensure a consistent experience.

Taplytics

Design complex user journey campaigns to engage customers with the intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Perfect your campaigns with A/B testing and roll out new features and digital products with feature flags. Taplytics prides itself on working with businesses 1-on-1 to make sure you get the most out of the platform.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing for digital products

7. Extole

Extole is a referral marketing tool to turn your customers into brand evangelists.

Extole

Encourage your current fans or subscribers to bring in new customers by rewarding them with Extole’s wide range of advocacy products. Enterprise businesses will benefit from advanced features like fraud protection, A/B testing, APIs and webhooks, and the sophisticated reward engine.

Best for: Referral and loyalty programs

8. Customer.io

Customer.io is designed to help companies reach customer activation and retention goals with a focus on automated messaging.

Customer.io

With Customer.io, you can create multiple branches in a single campaign to customize messages based on conditional statements, user attributes, or segments. Enhance your efforts with comprehensive reporting and A/B testing for more relevant and personalized customer interactions.

Best for: Customer activation and retention

9. Drip

Drip is primarily a B2C ecommerce marketing automation platform that allows you to send personalized messages to customers and leads.

Drip

Segment customers by tag, event, and even custom fields, so you can understand how different customers are interacting with your company. Create messages with dynamic content to personalize the customer experience with things like product recommendations and unique discount codes.

Best for: Customer acquisition and retention

10. Marketo

Marketo is another all-in-one solution ideal for B2B marketing that helps align marketing and sales teams.

Marketo

Use Marketo for lead management, email marketing, and predictive web content. Marketo organizes leads for sales reps and provides context for them to understand how a lead has interacted with your website and marketing campaigns. Offering a variety of pricing plans, Marketo is a viable option for nearly any B2B company.

Best for: Lead generation and engagement

11. WebEngage

WebEngage is a multichannel B2C engagement platform.

WebEngage

WebEngage supports real-time segments, so you can engage customers based on their behavior. They offer pre-built templates for easy campaign creation. Use funnel and behavior analysis to better understand the effectiveness of cross-channel marketing campaigns throughout the customer lifecycle.

Best for: Lifecycle marketing

12. Blueshift

Blueshift automates behavior-based messaging across many marketing channels, including email, push notifications, Facebook, and display ads.

Blueshift

Use Blueshift’s behavioral segmentation to identify users who are more likely to perform actions like a repeat purchase, activation, or churn. Then, create automation workflows based on those segments to get more customers on a successful conversion or retention path. Campaigns in Blueshift are self-optimizing, so you’re always getting the best results from your efforts.

Best for: Segmenting and multichannel messaging


Supercharge your marketing automation with a customer data platform

A marketing automation tool will provide synergy between your marketing efforts and your customers’ actions and preferences. Amplify your marketing automation platform’s capabilities even further with a customer data platform like Segment.

Segment gathers, cleans, and standardizes data from all your data sources and sends it to your marketing automation platform to help you create hyper-personalized campaigns.

Segment even has pre-built infrastructure, so you can test different marketing automation tools with just a few clicks before choosing one. See how Halp used Segment to test and select a marketing automation solution and then improved their customer onboarding flow and increased activation by 4x.

Sudheendra Chilappagari on February 18th 2021

Learn how to use Segment and Twilio Programmable Messaging to send a personalized SMS campaign.

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