Marketing Automation Software 2020: Comprehensive Guide

What is Marketing Automation?

With growing global competition and increasing need to personalize messages for customers in order to connect, marketing tasks have become tremendously complex.

Marketing automation is how marketing teams use technology to automate routine activities across their various processes and multifunctional campaigns. Using Marketing Automation tactics, businesses can stay on top of their marketing activities while effectively targeting customers with pre-programmed or automatically triggered messages across email, web, and social networks.

What is Marketing Automation Software?

Software that enables a marketing team to automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, and even ad campaigns is known as Marketing Automation software.

Using the technology of Marketing Automation not only makes these tasks easier but also enables marketers to design a more personalized experience for their potential customers.

As a result, with the exponential growth in digital marketing this past decade, Marketing Automation tools are now an essential resource for B2C and B2B marketing and sales departments, to compete.

Marketing automation software can be deployed as a SaaS or a platform, but the solution is designed specifically to help marketers capture leads, develop relationships, and move prospects through the sales funnel at scale.

Marketing automation is geared towards performance and can include several categories of marketing capabilities such as email, social media, paid ads, and analytics.

Marketing Automation Software for B2B

In large B2B marketing and sales teams, Marketing Automation has a huge impact on behavior-based workflows. The workflow automatically pushes relevant content to the customer based on how the company defines the actions, and the Marketing Automation tool also collects feedback on how it performs. By analyzing where customers continue to engage and where they drop out of the funnel, B2B companies can streamline the workflow and optimize their marketing and lead nurturing activities.

As a result, top marketing decision-makers can use Marketing Automation software to understand how the marketing department is making an impact on business revenue and which campaign strategies are showing the best RoI. Teams that are involved in content marketing and social media management can use Marketing Automation software to schedule and promote content to the prospects at the right time and automate responses to those messages.

The best marketers are using both Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation together, and they are getting great returns


Greg Head

CEO, Scaling Point

Three Categories of Marketing Automation Software

Intelligent Tracking

Marketing automation software can use tracking codes across social media, email, and webpages to observe and understand the behavior of potential customers. This enables marketers to offer a highly targeted response and develop a unique nurturing campaign that nudges the lead along with their interest. As a result, brands can rely on Marketing Automation software to more efficiently and effectively target consumers.

Lead Nurturing

Not meeting the right person with the right message at the right time, is often the cause of many abandoned sales carts or funnel drops. Marketing automation software relies on programmed workflows to analyze a customer’s journey and offers them highly targeted content with the goal of moving them from the top of the marketing funnel to sales-ready leads, using a variety of integrated tools and media.

Detailed Workflow

Marketing automation software can manage complicated internal marketing processes including budgeting, planning, approvals, calendar schedules, collaboration (both internal and vendors), campaign and content creation, and much more that goes into managing the operational efficiency of marketing teams.

5 Benefits of Marketing Automation Software

In addition to the obvious financial impact, most marketers agree that the biggest benefit of a Marketing Automation software is the time saved.

5 Benefits of Marketing Automation Software

Improved Buyer Relationships

In a complex and noisy market, Marketing Automation technology can help build better customer relationships by understanding what they are looking for and meeting them on their preferred channels. None of this would be possible without the underlying technology that enables processes of millions of data points per second.

Strong customer relationships drive sales, sustainability, and growth


Tom Cates

Chairman, Founder of Brookside Group

Scaled Up Marketing Operations

Marketing automation allows marketing teams to scale up their marketing efforts across channels, without loss in quality. With automation, businesses can build relationships with prospects and provide them with a consistent experience despite their varying needs.

Marketing automation software frees up a tremendous amount of manpower. Regardless of the size of your marketing or sales team, using Marketing Automation software, your business can continue to interact with millions of customers on a daily basis just like the big brands.

Business marketing has exploded in scope and complexity making it practically impossible for marketers to efficiently and effectively reach target customers without a fully implemented marketing automation system


IDC Group

Multiple touchpoints to drive revenue

Marketing automation software allows you to micro-manage millions of critical omnichannel activities such as cross-selling, up-selling and targeted email reminders, which are simply impossible to manage manually. Collectively these activities can help drive up customer basket value and in turn impact revenue.

Visibility in Marketing and Sales teams processes

No longer can sales and marketing teams point fingers at each other over lapsed, low quality or insufficient leads. Marketing automation enables clear processes to be defined and offers in-depth visibility into the company’s pipeline.

Improved Segmentation

AI helps marketers identify thousands of customer micro-segments (e.g., high spenders, people about to replenish, people about to churn, etc.) across all product types and categories. By bringing in marketing campaigns, messages can be tested at scale, and the results fed back into the system, enabling a learning curve that is AI-driven.

Key Features of Marketing Automation Software

The objective of most marketing teams is to increase brand visibility, generate leads, nurture prospects, and analyze traffic behavior and optimize campaign performance. Marketing automation software is designed to take on the manual labor of many of these tasks using advanced technology tools.


Marketing Automation capabilities intersect with automation capabilities of many of the processes like Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management and Content Marketing. Many Marketing Automation tools provide one or more of the above capabilities built-in though there are specialized tools that are focused on specific processes.

Automated Campaign Creation

Marketing Automation tools provide flexible builder components to create targeted, dynamic and multi-faceted campaigns. This is done by leveraging the CRM data and taking into account the desired customer experience.

Visualization and Dashboards

By bringing together several critical tasks under one Marketing Automation software, marketing teams can have centralized control and visibility across channels, webpages, CMS and email tools. Providing visualization tools for marketing workflows, marketers can test their campaign flows, customer experience touchpoints and take necessary corrective action.


Most Marketing Automation tools come with the ability to generate different cuts of reports targeted for different stakeholders leveraging data generated across various activities and datasets. This helps marketers to make informed decisions. Analytics provide added strength to analyze the effectiveness of campaigns, measure ROI and make necessary adjustments.

Marketing automation software offers in-depth (and often real-time) customer-focused data that enables teams to micro-segment customers, design more personalized campaigns, and ultimately impact RoI.

Lead Scoring

Though Lead Scoring is part of Lead Generation tools, many Marketing Automation tools provide this ability. One of the key aspects of Lead Qualification is to do automated lead scoring using several parameters and data points. These could be using data from page views, form submission, email interactions along with getting source identity data. Lead Scoring helps in engaging with leads at the right time with the right content and assigning the right resources.


Marketing Automation tools need to leverage the various data points already available in different tools in the company like CRM, CDP, website. Hence they need to provide integration capability to leverage this. Preferably they should provide out of the box integration with popular CRM.

Marketing Automation and AI

The introduction of Artificial intelligence (AI) had a major impact on the efficiency of Marketing Automation software. While Marketing Automation made it simple to carry out repetitive tasks, it was AI that gave more meaning to the tasks using predictive analysis and personalization engines.

Therefore, you can expect to see several features of AI already being deployed in many Marketing Automation tools.

Intelligent Customer Data Analytics

AI tools that are integrated within Marketing Automation software enable marketers to find new customers whose profiles align with existing customer profiles. Based on data points such as interests, buying habits, and past interactions, the algorithm offers powerful capabilities to analyze and filter down potential audiences.

Enhanced Customer Interactions

By integrating AI technology with Marketing Automation, companies can also offer tailored content, personalized emails and landing pages. AI also powers chatbots and virtual assistants to help existing customers quickly find what they are looking for.

Voice and Visual Search

Recently voice-activated and visual search opportunities have begun trending. As a result, the savvy marketer who can integrate AI-powered visual and voice searches that leverage IoT enabled devices can expect to make an impact on their bottom-line.

Buyers Guide - 6 Factors to Choose the Right Marketing Automation Software

Feature list Considerations

Choosing a Marketing Automation software is often a confusing task due to its powerful capabilities that bring together features from email service providers, social media automation, workflow automation, project management, customer relationship management (CRM), and analytics software.

A business can automate everything from their communication with customers to their engagement (including following up and scheduling), or their internal workflow using Marketing Automation software. Knowing which of these are important along with your priorities would help rank software best suited for your business.

A Marketing Automation software can help across key marketing activities such as lead generation, customer segmentation, lead nurturing, content marketing, cross-sell and upsell, customer retention, and measurement. Depending on the capabilities that you critically need, you can choose either a specialized software (like Content Marketing, Email Marketing) or a generic platform that can support various types of automation.

Additionally, there are so many Marketing Automation software options in the market today, that trying to find the one that fits your needs and objectives is an arduous task. According to Email Monday, spending on Marketing Automation tools will grow rapidly, reaching $25.1 billion annually by 2023.

B2B or B2C Business

This matters as the medium, type, and frequency of message/interaction, the channel all vary between B2B and B2C businesses. B2B businesses tend to focus on knowing their customer more closely and have controlled messaging to them based on their position in the customer company. They are more account-based and prefer outreach programs such as email. B2C businesses tend to be available on all channels their customers can be found on. These businesses need not only reach out to new customers but also need to use these channels effectively to service existing customers with inbound messaging.

Size of the company

Enterprises tend to have more decentralized teams that require greater coordination than a smaller business. Hence a Marketing Automation software that has more workflow features is ideal for a large enterprise. SMBs should focus on off the shelf, easy to deploy solutions that can be set up and deployed quickly without too much technical know-how.

Marketing Channels

Knowing which channels and media you will need to use is the first step, as automation solutions are often specialized for select channels. This should be based on market research, where your customers are and on what your competitors are up to.

Required Integrations

Listing out your existing platforms can help you narrow down your search for a solution, based on whether it integrates with your existing platform.

Business Goals

Marketing Automation software that helps you identify new customers is different from those that help you engage with existing customers and increase revenue. Knowing your business goals can help you rank and shortlist preferred software.

Challenges in Deploying a Marketing Automation Solution

Marketing automation software is often confused with other marketing software such as sales tools, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and social media publishing tools, as they have overlapping functionality.

It is essential to understand exactly what expectations you have from your Marketing Automation software and ensure the solution you purchase integrates with your existing tools.

For example, you need your Marketing Automation software must be able to talk to your existing CRM and be able to access customer data. At the same time, you may want the flexibility to implement your own customizations as to how it interacts. Knowing what your final expectations are can help save time and money in setting up your automated processes.

Another challenge is managing internal expectations. Often Marketing Automation tools are considered a threat to marketing jobs, but that is not true. Marketing automation is a tool for marketers to be able to manage the volume of interactions in an intelligent and sophisticated way to impact their marketing objectives. It is neither a replacement for personnel nor a magic wand that delivers instantly qualified leads.

In the hands of an experienced marketing manager, the Marketing Automation software can help create contextual customer journeys based on each individual's needs, resulting in long-lasting customer relationships. However, without the context of where in the sales funnel

the automation needs to be defined, incorrectly programmed automation can result in a disjointed experience for prospective customers.

ROI for Marketing Automation Software

In understanding ROI for any Marketing Automation software, consider the software that enables your team to perform more efficiently, drive qualified leads and help target the right customers at the right time. All of these activities can help push marketing attributed revenue.

There are several statistics that showcase the business benefits of implementing Marketing Automation. According to an Invespro article, Marketing Automation on average drives up to 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. 80% of Marketing Automation users saw an increase in the number of leads using Marketing Automation software, and 77% had an increase in conversions.

These numbers understandably showcase why according to Markets and Markets, the Marketing Automation industry is expected to continue growing at 8.55%, unlocking a market capitalization of US$ 6.4 billion by 2024.

Top 10 Free-Forever Marketing Automation Tools

Digital Transformation is an essential part of marketing strategy for businesses and the first step towards that is automating many of the marketing processes. Hence digital marketing tools that can automate some of these are so critical. Many of them could be highly priced because they come with fully loaded features and enterprise grade functionality. But you can always find tools that don’t cost much, but are great to start with. Many of these tools are free for a basic edition. Here are some such tools.

Top 5 Marketing Automation Platforms

Marketing Automation platforms come with a strong and robust technology foundation to support several of the key marketing process automation - both inbound and outbound. Enterprise Businesses prefer to use marketing automation platforms. They generally provide Email Marketing and SMS Marketing, Mobile Marketing along with website and landing page builders, Many of the platforms support some level of Social Media Marketing also. The platforms provide built-in CRM integrations. The platforms differentiate themselves with the scale, reliability, security and privacy features.

On the other hand, there are several Marketing Automation All-in-One suites that come as integrated packages and are best suited for SMB business. They include all key marketing tools like Email Marketing, campaign management, SMS Marketing, Email Marketing and many more. They are easy to install and easy to use.

Here are some of the top Marketing Automation tools

Marketing Automation Software

Exponea Icon



Exponea Experience Cloud

Net-results Marketing Automation Icon

Net-results Marketing Automation


Net-Results: Top-Rated Marketing Automation Software

Makesbridge Icon



Makesbridge | Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing Platform

Sharpspring Icon



SharpSpring: Simple, Affordable, Powerful Marketing Automation

Salesmanago Marketing Automation Icon

Salesmanago Marketing Automation


Salesmanago Marketing Automation | all-in-one marketing automation software that helps companies increase their revenue

Drip eCommerce CRM Icon

Drip eCommerce CRM


Drip Ecommerce CRM (ECRM) - Marketing Automation for Ecommerce

INBOX25 Icon



INBOX25 | AI-driven marketing automation

Maropost Icon



Maropost - The Unified Platform Designed to Drive Growth | Maropost

etrigue DemandCenter Icon

etrigue DemandCenter


eTrigue DemandCenter Partner Marketing Automation - eTrigue

ActiveDEMAND Icon



ActiveDEMAND | Marketing Automation Software for Agencies

Listrak Icon



Listrak Delivers Results | Listrak

Inkit Icon



Inkit - Direct Mail Automation Software for Marketing & Retention

Act-On Icon



Act-On: Marketing Automation Software. Generate more leads, better opportunities, and increased revenue in weeks

Ontraport Marketing Automation Icon

Ontraport Marketing Automation


Ontraport | Allows you to create campaigns for any aspect of your customer lifecycle Icon


Send Automated Messages. Deliver Results.

Marketing Creatio Icon

Marketing Creatio


Marketing Creatio: A holistic multi-channel marketing management software powered by out-of-the-box best practice processes delivering demand generation excellence

GetResponse Icon



Marketing Software for Small Businesses by GetResponse

Iterable Customer Engagement Icon

Iterable Customer Engagement


Iterable: Growth Marketing Platform for Cross-Channel Customer ...

Marketo Icon



Marketo Engage | Complete solution for lead management and B2B marketers

MessageGears Icon



MessageGears | customer marketing platform attaches directly to your customer data sources

Resulticks Icon



Resulticks | Omnichannel Marketing Automation

Salesforce Pardot Icon

Salesforce Pardot


Pardot B2B Marketing Automation by Salesforce

ClickDimensions Icon



ClickDimensions | The only unified marketing, analytics and services platform in the market for organizations that use Dynamics.

IBM Campaign Icon

IBM Campaign


Smarter Marketing with IBM Campaign

ContentStudio Icon



ContentStudio - Discovery, Curation & Social Media Management ...

Semrush Icon



SEMrush - online visibility management and content marketing.

BlueVenn Marketing Platform Icon

BlueVenn Marketing Platform


BlueVenn Customer Data Platform | Blue Sheep

Freshmarketer Icon



Freshmarketer | All-In-One Conversion Optimization Suite

LeadFox Icon



Leadfox Automatically Generate New Leads and Customers

Opal Platform Icon

Opal Platform


Opal | Marketing Collaboration Platform Overview

MoEngage Icon



MoEngage: The #1 AI driven Omni Channel Marketing Platform

Asana Icon



Use Asana to manage your team's work, projects, & tasks online ...

Vendasta Platform Icon

Vendasta Platform


Vendasta | The white-label platform for companies selling

GreenRope Icon



GreenRope | Complete CRM ,Marketing Automation, Sales Pipelines ,Customer Service

Mintent Content Marketing Platform Icon

Mintent Content Marketing Platform


Content marketing platform | Mintent

Optimove Icon



Optimove | The Science-First Relationship Marketing Hub

ManyChat Icon



Visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger with broadcasts, analytics, scheduled posting and many other features!

Blueshift Icon



Blueshift | Intelligent Customer Engagement. The AI-First Platform for Cross-Channel Marketers

KickFire Icon



KickFire IP Address-to-Company API, Real-Time Visitor Intent

Sendlane Icon



Sendlane: The Next Generation of Cross-Channel Marketing Automation

Percolate Content Marketing Icon

Percolate Content Marketing


Percolate Content Marketing | Optimize your content operations with Percolate and unlock the potential of your marketing department

Adobe Campaign Icon

Adobe Campaign


Adobe Campaign: Marketing Campaign Management Platform

Thryv Icon



Thryv | platform that automates tasks and puts your customers at the center of your business

US Data Corporation Multi-Channel Marketing Icon

US Data Corporation Multi-Channel Marketing


US Data Corporation - Grow Your Business with Targeted Marketing

XMPie Icon



XMPie: Multichannel and VDP Marketing Software

Sprinklr Modern Marketing Icon

Sprinklr Modern Marketing


Sprinklr Marketing: Complete Enterprise Marketing Software

Zeta Marketing Platform Icon

Zeta Marketing Platform


Zeta Global: Data-Driven Marketing Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Distribion Icon



Distributed Marketing Software Platform - distribion