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Top 7 Most Popular Marketing Automation Tools for Startups and SMBs

Marketing automation tools are in demand these days since they have the potential to transform your business.

I searched the term on google trends and it becomes more obvious that marketing automation is going to be ‘The Thing’ in 2017-18

Nitin Malik

Marketers at startups and mid-sized organizations need more sophisticated solutions to meet aggressive marketing objectives.

The whole idea behind the concept of marketing automation is to: ‘Cut down your time on regular tasks and focus more of it on important tasks.’

Days of sending simple email campaigns are over long back.

Using marketing automation tools enables marketers to align their sales and marketing efforts, attain higher customer retention rates and to quickly get the true value from their marketing efforts.

Smart marketers prefers to automate their marketing and sales efforts. With marketing automation tools, they can turn leads into customers and get more sales from existing customers.

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Let’s have a look at some of the important statistics on marketing automation tools:

  • On average, 49% of companies are using marketing automation
  • There are 11 times more B2B companies using marketing automation tools now than in 2011.
  • 77% of CMOs at top performing companies implemented marketing automation to grow revenue.
  • 94% of marketers prefer a tool that provides continuous, autonomous optimization across channels.
  • 88% of marketers prefer to focus on customer interactions rather than spending time on preparing reports.

Source: CMO

All these statistics prove the increasing popularity of marketing automation tools.

No surprise that marketing automation industry has grown from $500m industry to $1.2 bn in past 2-3 years.

This has caused the launch of several new marketing automation tools /solutions providers.

Yet, it also makes difficult to choose the right platform among so many choices.

Marketers say that the biggest benefits of automation are saving time (74%), increased customer engagement (68%), more timely communications (58%) and increased opportunities including up-selling (58%). – Adestra

Automating your marketing efforts requires a hefty investment.

A crucial and most important step in choosing the right marketing automation tool.

To help you overcome this dilemma, I’m sharing a list of most popular 7 marketing automation tools for startups and SMBs.

And, people who are not familiar with the marketing automation concept, read this article from Neil Patel.

Rest of you, jump in now.

7 Best Marketing Automation Tools:

Digital Marketing Agency

Inbound Marketing = Hubspot

HubSpot CRM – a winner of our Expert’s Choice Award for 2017 – is one of the leading CRM apps currently available in the market.

HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.

HubSpot provides tools for social media marketing, content management, web analytics and search engine optimization.

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You can have everything under one roof:

  • Your website, CRM,
  • Social media marketing tools,
  • file manager, landing pages,
  • conversion tracking,
  • CTAs and more

…all accessible with one login.

No matter how intricate your marketing strategy is, HubSpot’s Inbound marketing software takes care of it.

You can track and measure all your online marketing activities – website, blogging, email marketing, and social media marketing.

You can also use HubSpot to create landing pages and calls-to-action and to get SEO tips.

HubSpot acts as a content management system enabling you to update your website content, optimize it for search, and adjust it for mobile.

You can even use the Smart Content tool to personalize your website for each visitor.

They have a whole lot of information available on the definition itself.

Key Highlights:

  • Helps you publish content to get you higher conversions
  • Personalized landing pages with optimized call-to-actions
  • From creating stunning mailers to personalized content to better click-through-rates
  • Data-driven insights to create hyper-targeted campaigns and close more deals
  • Monitoring and tracking of social media engagement

These are just some of the key benefits of using HubSpot that mentioned, there’s a lot more.

Hubspot can enable startups quickly to scale with the largest enterprise seamlessly.

No doubt, with more than a fifth of market share (21%), HubSpot has the single largest market share.

The workflow functionality, list segmentation and contextual marketing features are effective. It’s integration with Salesforce is also top-notch.

Once installed, HubSpot CRM will run in the background of all tools you are already using, and you will be able to trigger it whenever you need it.

The list of available integrations is very long, and includes products such as Pipedrive CRM, SugarCRM, Bigcommerce, Gravity Forms, Base CRM, Google Chrome, Google Dynamics, Snapengage, Dropbox, and many more.

To put it simply, HubSpot is a multi-tool.

However, price can be tough for smaller businesses and start-ups though it’s available for free with very limited features.

Price: $99 /month billed annually. No Free trial available.

Digital Marketing automation

Why send one static email when you can program an action-based email campaign sequence?

Designed specifically keeping SMBs in mind, Infusionsoft is a perfect tool if you are focusing more towards email marketing and would now like to automate your efforts.

You can automate your sales and marketing, while combining your CRM, email marketing, lead capture and e-commerce in one place.


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The integrated platform lets users manage their small business by pulling together data points related to sales, marketing, leads, payments, customers, and more.

With Infusionsoft, business users can import and store both online and offline contacts at one place in an organized manner.

The solution automatically logs every engagement with the customers and generate automated follow-up messages for different customer segments based on the level of engagement.

What differentiates Infusionsoft from the tools that have been listed here is its automation capabilities for eCommerce – order forms, payment processing, fulfillment, and inventory tracking directly within the tool.

Who should consider:

Businesses with an existing strong customer base and a turnover above $100,000 should definitely consider this full-fledged marketing automation platform.

The only drawback that I feel the tool has – it doesn’t offer free trial, so you need to wait for someone from the support team to set up an account for you.

What’s more – users can also access Infusionsoft on their Android and iOS enables smartphones and tablets.

Infusionsoft may not have comprehensive tools matching other popular CRMs but it’s a good enough for a startup or small business to automate their sales and marketing efforts.

Price: $99 /month billed annually. No Free trial available.


Marketing automation

Aren’t we all revolving around the same thing all year- generating leads, capturing them and then nurture them?


LeadSquared is a complete customer acquisition solution that helps marketers drive and manage leads in your sales funnel faster.

Their ability to find leads is amazing. The landing pages come with some really nice templates so you can be up and running in no time.

Also, you can link your landing pages linked to every channel you are actively using so that you don’t miss out on leads from anywhere.


You can engage your audience with landing pages, SMS, email marketing campaigns and drip-marketing campaigns.

Moreover, leads can be segmented based on the behavior, lead scores, geography etc.

LeadSquared provides capture technology to enables marketers to capture leads from a variety of sources – PPC, Social Media, Phone queries, chat inquiries, email inquiries, lead gen sites, WordPress, APIs and webinars.

Their lead scoring feature lets you define and configure different custom lead stages and custom lead scores. This really helps in determining the lead quality effectively. You can also create a ‘contact now’ list of these promising leads and plan your day right.

Leadsquared empowers marketers with detailed performance report, monthly revenue report and you can access such reports from your mobile phone.

Sign up for their free trial here.

Price: INR 10,000 /month billed annually. Free trial available.


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Smart. Powerful. Connected. Pardot.

The child-project of salesforce, marketing automation provided byPardot is truly made for B2B industry.

When most of the automation tools comes with a pack of features that might not be important for a B2B marketer, there comes PARDOT – specifically designed for B2B marketing automation.

B2B marketing automation by Salesforce helps marketers create more leads, generate more pipeline, and empower sales to close more deals.


Digital Marketing automation

Coming back to the tool, PARDOT features email marketing, CRM integration, lead nurturing and scoring, lead grading, ROI reporting, and social posting to allow your sales and marketing team to work in perfect collaboration to generate quality leads and qualify them through the sales funnel.

When combined with Salesforce Engage, marketers can deliver campaigns, receive alerts, report on trends, track Gmail emails and more, all via mobile in real time.

Pardot’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is built on the platform and integrates with Salesforce as well as Microsoft CRM, SugarCRM and Netsuite.

In addition with Salesforce, together they supercharge your marketing efforts.

Let’s see how it helps B2B marketers:

  1. Provides real-time activity updates of prospect.
  2. Allows Customization of tools as per your needs. (only few marketing automation tools comes with this feature).
  3. Quick and easy integration with salesforce CRM.

Been praised so many times for their customer support and training, whole experience with Pardot becomes seamless and worthy.

Who should consider: This tool offers a vast spectrum of services for SMBs to enterprise level, just make sure you are a B2B marketer while locking this option in your kitty.

Starting at $1,000 /month, many of Pardot’s most interesting features only become available beyond their $2,000 / month package.

The Enterprise edition offers more advanced capabilities such as custom security controls, increased storage space and a dedicated IP address.

Price: $1000 /month billed annually. Demo available.

Inbound Marketing

Automate Your Email Marketing And CRM

ActiveCampaign’s campaign automation features allow marketers to streamline their marketing programs and reach out to sales leads efficiently.

The best thing about Active campaign is – it comes with a great user-interface which falls under the ‘cons’ side of other marketing automation tools.

It is very well-designed and intuitive.

It’s one of the only marketing automation tools that I’ve come across that needs practically no training.


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Drag and drop facility, variety of auto-responder options, helpful pointers for smooth workflow are some of the functionalities that the tool provides.

One of the most prominent elements in the ActiveCampaign platform is the drag-and-drop email designer.

Utilizing the drag-and-drop interface, along with free templates and free image hosting, businesses can design the types of email marketing messages that customers are likely to notice.

Besides, you can add sales contacts, create special marketing workflows, automated follow-up sequences, track behavior multiple marketing channels, and track post-sale processes.

With ability to integrate with over 150+ different tools via their Zapier integration feature, this tool comes quite handy when you want your marketing in action.

Who should consider investing: Small business enterprises who are new to the realm of automation should try this as their affordable pricing is worth the quality offered.

Try their no credit card required, 14-day free trial here.

Price: $49 /month. Free trial available.

Digital Marketing Automation Tools

Tools for- Right message. Right people. Right time.

Going by their tagline, they entered into this market to target people at any level of marketing by making the work simpler and taking all the coding work in their hands.

The plus point: its ease-of-use, interface simplicity and cost.

It only comes a notch below the favourite automation tools like hubspot and pardot.


Social Media Marketing

If you are someone who wants to link their digital mix altogether such as CRM, social media marketing, email marketing and such marketing, Act-On is ‘the tool’ for you.

What You Get:

  • You can manage and optimize all the stages of the customer experience.
  • Leverage lead nurturing for turning prospects into buyers.
  • Track each prospect’s activity from initial engagement and conversions to closed sales and repeat sales and beyond to engage their leads with relevant content systematically over a certain period.
  • Report on campaigns, from high levels to detailed drill-downs
  • Automated program templates which are equally as good as ones provided by HubSpot
  • Easy drag and drop workflow even for creating landing pages
  • “Expression builder” to differentiate your visitor based on their behaviours and activity
  • They are soon coming up with artificial intelligence to compare leads and give them adaptive scoring

They were first to launch Account-based Marketing and their Social tools are very advanced (Forrester scored them higher than HubSpot).

Act-On Data Studio helps you use get real-time customer engagement insights (Online behavior like webpage views, email clicks, and content downloads) by using BI tools to help you make smarter marketing decisions.

In simple words, with Act-On, marketers can drive better business outcomes and maximize CLV.

Though on a little expensive side, it comes into two-tiers- Professional and Enterprise, take their short assessment to see which MAP (marketing automation platform) you need.

Best suited for: Small to medium businesses can benefit the most out of this tool.

Price: $900 /month. No Free trial available.


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Sharpspring – ‘the marketing automation tool for agencies’.

Sharpspring is perfect for small and medium size agencies as they get a completely re-brandable platform with advanced features and special pricing to manage multiple clients.

Its one of the most flexible platforms on the market, offering powerful, behavior-based email marketing, native or 3rd party CRM integration, dynamic forms, landing page and blog builders, universal CMS compatibility, and integration with hundreds of applications.


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Beside the advanced behavioural-based email automation, you get built-in CRM system dynamic forms, behavioural-based site tracking, lead tracking and much more.

You can also integrate with over 700+ third-party tools & CRMs via their Zapier integration.

Their landing page builder (beautiful landing page template options) works perfectly to capture higher number of leads. You can launch your blog without any fuss with a convenient blog builder that lets you to manage and publish posts easily.

Moreover, you can make informed decisions and tweak your marketing campaigns by leveraging the custom reports presented in engaging ways with relevant metrics .

Used by over 6,000 businesses now, sharpspring is popular for its marketing automation tool for agencies.

It provides monthly contracts.

Compared to other marketing tools, this is still cost effective marketing automation tool in the market.

Consider this tool if you are already comparing between Marketo and pardot.

You can start here.

Price: $400 /month. No Free trial available.


I have explained top 7 marketing automation tools in this blog post that can help you take your marketing efforts to next level efficiently.

So, now you know fair amount of specifics of each marketing automation tool to choose the right one for your business.


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Are you ready to use any of these marketing automation tools? 

Are you currently using any marketing automation tool to drive your marketing ROI?

What marketing automation tool has your business found the most effective?

Are there any other marketing automation tool(s) that I should add to this list? 

Share your experience after trying any of these marketing automation tools and how did it improve your overall marketing performance.

Let me know in the comments section below or tweet me @nmalik121.

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