The recent expansion of marketing automation providers is mind-blowing. In 2017 alone, the so-called MarTech landscape has gained 500 new tools and platforms. Although you can see some steps towards market consolidation, the decision process, when choosing technology, can give the everyday marketing manager a headache. To help you figure out what value you can expect from leading marketing automation providers, we have compiled this lightweight guide. We have also added a small bonus for forward-thinking marketing teams.
To keep it short and practical, we focused on brands that can be labeled as “generalist,” which are the platforms that support almost every type of business. Also, don’t expect to see any marketing dinosaurs, such as Oracle or IBM, in this scenario. Finally, don’t treat this list as an exhaustive one as we would rather have you think about it as an invitation to begin further research. Nevertheless, we hope the guide will help point you in the right direction in your digital transformation journey.
Because we love extras (our product are about promotions after all), we want to reveal some new and noteworthy tools that might be getting more traction in the next few years.
Every brand represents a marketing automation category. For each of them, we try providing a marketer-friendly description. This includes pointing at a problem it solves and outlining benefits it offers – that’s it. In some cases, we also want to save you hours in understanding obfuscated product pages like this one:
We truly believe in making people’s lives easier, so let’s begin :)
Some helpful definitions:
- API-first platforms: Interaction with the service is through a web-based API — a programmatic way of connecting services and transferring data across the web in a machine-readable way.
- A/B testing: A method of comparing two versions of a webpage or app against one another to determine which one performs better.
- Real-time data: Information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided.
- Gated content: Resources requiring some specific information from the viewer, usually via a form fill, in exchange for getting access to the desired content.
- PPC: Pay-per-click advertising channels (i.e. Google Adwords).
Problem: When you have multiple marketing channels, information about leads becomes sparse and ultimately hard to manage and analyze.
HubSpot provides a software platform to create and track the following lead touch points:
- Blog (post designer, publish calendar, keywords recommender (SEO optimization))
- Ads (Facebook and Adwords ads creation and tracking, Facebook remarketing sync)
- Landing Pages (website designer and web form creator)
- Social Media (publish content to social media, track social lead activity)
- One-on-one meetings (automatic meeting scheduling, enabling and recording voice calls between sales agents and leads)
Email marketing (templates, email series automation, opens tracking, attachment storage, auto follow-ups)
The traffic from these channels is put into a unified lead database. The user interface allows marketers to browse lead history in real-time. Then, the deals can be scored and pushed through sales cycles like in regular CRMs.
Problem: Sending personalized emails on scale, automating the online shop sales process
MailChimp collects customer attributes. It allows you to send personalized emails to customer segments grouped by:
- Customer attribute(s) e.g. location or age
- Pre-defined events, which occurred to a customer, e.g. customer abandoned cart or a subscriber joined your mailing list
Emails can be crafted with a drag and drop editor with dozens of predefined templates. The very same setup can be used to build and publish landing pages (MailChimp hosts them).
The platform integrates with popular e-commerce tools like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento, and it automatically pulls customers, events, and products, so you can build personalized email campaigns on top of them.
Problem: Monitoring and optimizing your position in Google search result pages
Once you come up with keywords you would like your brand to be found by in the search engines, Moz will programmatically type them into a search box and will check on which position the words are in on your website. It will do this on a regular basis and show you how your rank changes over time.
Moz will help you rank your websites better with:
- Keyword explorer: Presents Google search volume for the topic keyword and related flavors.
- On page optimization: -Crawls your websites and finds technical and content related problems.
- Monitoring inbound links: Tracks links that point to your websites, showing their authority (generally the higher, the better ranks you get) and marks when the link is lost, so you can react.
Problem: Testing which website variant (content, images, layout) converts better
Optimizely gives you a developer-free way to run content and layout A/B experiments on websites. With their visual editor, you can come up with several variants of the same page and push them to production with a click. No development effort required. When the experiment is being run, Optimizely will automatically expose your variants to your audience and report which one converts better.
Optimizely also tracks visitor attributes in real-time, so you can use them to personalize the very next steps of your shoppers. For example, if someone’s interested in iPhones, you might want to reinforce your messaging on specific pages, such as your main page, checkout page, or shipping details with iPhone-related keywords and visuals during the very same session.
Problem: Managing multiple customer communication channels, including live chats, customer support tickets, and onboarding emails
Intercom’s foundation is a leads/customers database that enables non-developer teams to create real-time customer segments. The segmentation engine allows you to filter regular attributes, such as customer creation date or email, but also builds more advanced segments, e.g. detect a change in customers’ attributes in real-time, such as if they are making a 5th purchase or upgrading to a premium plan.
With this in place, you can use a visual editor to craft targeted content campaigns to the pre-defined segments. It can be one-off messages or scheduled campaigns that generate a message the moment a user joins (or leaves) the segment. Intercom delivers messages via email and through the live chat widget.
The latter is another central point of the platform and Intercom designed it to serve three use cases:
- To solve customers’ issues collaboratively
- To capture visitors on-page and add them to the database
- To deliver in-app campaigns
Problem: Building SEO, PPC, and conversion-optimized landing pages
Unbounce provides a websites builder that doesn’t require tech skills. With a number of templates and drag and drop building blocks, you can craft personalized pages and publish them with a click. Unbounce takes care of hosting and making them secure and responsive.
Apart from content and visual blocks, Unbounce gives you an infrastructure from which you can build and track form submissions. Additionally, you can use Unbounce features to add targeted popup windows and sticky bars to your current website.
Unbounce enables A/B testing of popups, bars, and websites you create.
Problem: Understand how people interact with your website and product in general
Hotjar provides several tools to collect feedback about users behaviors on your website. Their script on your website records user sessions (clicks, scrolls, cursor moves), which provides you with an opportunity to create several charts showing where users:
- Spend the most time – heat maps
- Are dropping off – funnel analytics
- Find your form fields problematic – form analytics
Hotjar also provides a polls engine that enables you to ask users about feedback with an on-page widget. The surveys can consist of multi-select, rating, and plain text questions. Using user attributes, such as opened URL, device, location, or any visitor data, you can define when a given poll or survey should be displayed.
Problem: Managing content on many social media profiles
Buffer provides a user interface to publish messages through multiple social media channels (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram) at the same time. The social updates can be either published “now” or scheduled for a particular time slot using the calendar widget.
Another Buffer feature called “reply” keeps track of all social media messages from users in one place. You can resolve messages that require attention by assigning particular threads to customer service agents.
Problem: Publishing gated resources, such as ebooks, podcasts, infographics, etc.
Uberflip is a web application that allows a team to create and publish content resources in a categorized manner. The categories and tags help create personalized content streams for leads and customers. “You might like” section help drive user interest or solve issues they want to tackle. Ultimately, every resource can be gated by the form requiring email and other lead data. These form submissions can be integrated with popular CRMs.
Problem: Knowing what customers are saying about us on the web
Mention crawls media outlets, social media, and websites with user-generated content to find content, including keywords related to your business. This can be the name of the brand or industry-specific terms. Having all mentions in one place gives you the ability to find promoters and detractors to amplify the positive signal or manage the negative feedback early on. You can also use Mention to find out:
- How you perform against your competitors
- Identify influencers
- Obtain new keywords for building SEO-focused content
Problem: Video hosting and watchers’ behavior tracking
Wistia provides an infrastructure to host and share videos. This includes:
- Cloud storage: Wistia gives you a large bandwidth so you don’t have to worry about scaling
- Video player: Customizable design, annotations, link and forms for CTA and gated content
- Metadata editor: Makes video crawlable by search engines, and attributes the source of the video to your brand, which helps you become higher in the ranks
- Analytics dashboard: Shows overall video analytics, such as number of plays, re-watches, drop-offs, etc., and detailed heat maps indicate when visitors drop-off in particular
The platform automates video upload with an on-page widget and API.
Problem: Measuring phone call performance
CallRail offers a pool of dynamic and unique numbers that you can use to figure out which marketing channel works best. For instance, you can put two different numbers in your PPC ads and then find out how many calls were driven by the corresponding ad in the dashboard.
The phone call is redirected to your physical numbers according to custom rules. The IVR, voice mail, and routing options help you manage the load among your agents.
Lastly, every call can be recorded, annotated, and shared with your team.
[Bonus] new and trending categories
And now, three MarTech companies that have been getting more and more traction recently:
Problem: Obtaining details about leads
Clearbit crawls the web in the search for peoples’ identities. It collects all the marks we leave in the Internet. How it works is that you provide an email address of a lead and Clearbit returns phone numbers, gender, location, job titles, company details, social media profiles, etc.
They also offer a reverse search channel. You provide the name of the company (or an industry, company size or location) and Clearbit provides complete profiles that it has collected. You can additionally filter them down by role/job title, number of employees, and the technology they use.
The third feature is an IP address to company translator. It helps you uncover which companies visit your website/product and, in turn, allows you to personalize content.
The newest module, called Risk, helps you evaluate whether a new signup is a real user or fraudulent account. It ranks a provided email address on the basis of several fraud-related factors such as: email provider, proxy detection blacklisted IP, etc.
The platform offers their data through API or Excel/CSV exports.
Problem: Locating trending articles on the web
The platform collects information about the number of shares and likes (all major social media platforms) of the links scattered around the Internet. There are two types of input you can poll:
- A concrete link – returns the number of likes/shares split according to social media
- Related keywords – returns most liked/shared links
In this way, you can analyze what articles, content types, or keywords gain traction, analyze competition, and find influencers. The filters help you narrow down the results to specific date, content type, language, word count, or specific domains.
Problem: Personalizing promo campaigns and controlling your budget
Voucherify (disclaimer: a cofounder here) provides a platform to launch personalized coupons, discounts, referrals, and loyalty campaigns. The application syncs with your customer and product databases, which enable marketers to come up with segment- and product-specific promotions. Voucherify automatically checks to see if all the rules are satisfied before it accepts the discount. No need for development effort after initial installation.
The engine also helps to schedule promotion delivery based on real-time segments. The promotions can be distributed with multiple channels:
- Unique coupon codes via email, SMS, push notifications
- Auto-applied discounts in the checkout
- Dedicated landing pages, e.g. for friend-refers-friend programs
- Invoices, other print materials
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If you want to find more information about the marketing automation software platforms, you can visit https://www.cabinetm.com/