Marketing automation tools will make your life easier by, ya know, automating things. You don’t have to send a welcome email to every customer or follow up with folks who’re inactive individually. You can automate it. The tricky part is finding the right tool for you with a ridiculous number of options on the market.

At When I Work, we use marketing automation tools for everything from lead generation and conversion to content marketing and analytics. Along the way, we’ve evaluated and used a lot of these platforms. Based on our experience, here’s an overview of popular tools and when they’re most helpful.

Customer.io

Customer.io allows you to send targeted messages to users based on what they’ve done in your product, making your emails more relevant and personalized. They also offer the segmentation, comprehensive reporting, and A/B testing features you need to optimize your email marketing.

Category: Customer Activation and Retention

Use if you: Have a growing SaaS or ecommerce business

Extole

Extole is a referral marketing tool that turns your customers into brand evangelists. Extole offers a wide range of advocacy products that help you encourage your current fans to bring in new customers by rewarding them. The software also provides analytics, so you can track the ROI on your campaigns.

Category: Referral and Loyalty Programs

Use if You: Want to develop an ambassador or loyalty program

Hubspot

An all-in-one marketing automation tool, Hubspot helps you attract new leads and turn them into customers. Hubspot features include email automation, landing page creation, analytics, lead scoring, and a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Category: CRM and Lead Generation

Use if You: Want to start investing more in content marketing

Marketo

Another great all-in-one solution, Marketo is a strong B2B marketing automation platform. Not only does the software help with your lead management, email marketing, and customer tracking campaigns, Marketo also offers a variety of plans that make it an affordable, viable option for nearly any B2B company.

Category: Lead Generation and Content Marketing

Use if You: Want an all-in-one marketing automation system that plays nice with Salesforce

Bronto

Whether you run an ecommerce site or a brick-and-mortar store with an online presence, Bronto is for you. Bronto offers marketing automation solutions for following up on shopping cart abandonment, as well as helping you run post-purchase campaigns and connect with ecommerce integrations.

Category: Lead Nurturing and Conversion

Use if You: Have an ecommerce or retail-based business

Autosend

Making communication with your customers personal and relevant is always a challenge, but it’s even more difficult when you’re trying to automate it. Autosend can help! This program allows you to automatically send email, text, and in-app messages to your customers based on their prior actions on your site. From welcoming new customers to sending reminders to upgrade, Autosend has you covered.

Category: Customer Service and Activation

Use if You: Want to communicate more consistently with prospects and customers

Blueshift

If you’re interested in automating responses to customer behaviors, you might also want to check out Blueshift. Blueshift automates behavior-based messaging across many channels including email, push notifications, Facebook, and display ads. You can use Blueshift’s behavioral segmentation to find groups of users that are 3-10X more likely than the average to perform actions like repeat purchase, activation, or churn. With mulit-channel touch points, Blueshift is a great option for B2C companies.

Category: Segmenting and Multi-channel Messaging

Use if You: Want to target users across email, web, and mobile.

Autopilot

Autopilot is a new marketing automation tool focused on customer journeys. You can easily build a lifecycle marketing campaign with a drag-and-drop interface. They also support email and SMS, and offer a number of guides to help you get started.

Category: Lifecycle Marketing

Use if You: Want a visual interface for designing your campaign

Iterable

Iterable also offers a clean visual interface for creating campaigns and can handle transactional, promotional, and lifecycle emails. They offer A/B testing for up to 50 variations and auto-implement the winner. Iterable also helps you easily test your messages on different email clients, which can be tricky to get right.

Category: Lead Nurturing and Customer Retention

Use if You: Want a single email platform and with A/B testing front and center

Outbound

If you want your customers to take action, you’ve got to tell them what to do! Outbound helps you do this automatically through email, mobile push, or SMS. You can use the program to set goals and test messages for users in each step of your funnel, and since Outbound doesn’t require coding, your A/B tests and resulting changes are easy to implement.

Category: Customer Service and Acquisition

Use if You: Want to automate communication with potential customers

Drip

As its name implies, Drip is a marketing automation platform that allows you to send information to customers or leads at specific intervals. Drip makes it easy for you to slowly feed your communication to customers, whether you’re teaching a free class or want to follow-up on a marketing campaign.

Category: Email Marketing and Lead Nurturing

Use if You: Want to set up a lead nurture campaign or email course

Localytics

If you build apps, you’ve got to know whether people like them and how frequently they’re being used. Localytics is an analytics program that’s focused exclusively on mobile, offering demographics, usage, and session information in addition to retargeting and automated messaging systems. With Localytics, you can find users having trouble and automatically message them.

Category: Mobile Analytics and Messaging

Use if You: Want an all-in-one platform for app analytics and messaging

Intercom

Do you ever wish you could watch your customers interact on your site and talk to them if problems arise? Similar to Localytics for apps, Intercom allows you to analyze customer behavior on your site and communicate with customers 1-to-1 or via automated campaigns. You can guide new users through the onboarding process or streamline your customer support with “conversations”. Considering how important customer service is, finding the right tool for customer success is a worthwhile investment.

Category: Customer Service and Acquisition

Use if You: Want to run support conversations and email automation from a single platform


Choosing a marketing automation tool can be a difficult task since there are so many options out there. Hopefully these descriptions have helped you narrow it down! Once you have a few in mind, I’d suggest using Segment to test them against each other without wasting time or resources on installing each individual tool.

If you’re like us, you might find that you actually need two to get the job done. Right now, we’re currently using Vero and Drip through Segment to cover all of our bases.

Have any other recommendations for marketing automation tools you use and love? Tweet @wheniwork and @segment with your thoughts.