The Best Marketing Automation Software and Solutions: The 2021 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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The Market

Marketing automation’s roots trace back to the early 1990s, but it’s only in the past few years that it has become an essential business tool for millions of companies worldwide. In fact, 51 percent of all companies on the planet are currently using some sort of marketing automation to positively impact employee productivity, revenue, and costs.

Grand View Research expects the global marketing automation market to reach $8.4 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual rate of 9.8 percent. The landscape is becoming more diverse and crowded every year, and that is prompting an expansion from technology that previously focused on email marketing to tools that include more digital channels, like chatbots, SMS, and social media. And with 63 percent of marketers planning to increase their marketing automation budgets this year, according to Invespcro, the market opportunity is huge, as long as the industry can overcome some long-standing objections, which include the cost, data management challenges, and ease of use.

The Top Five

HubSpot is a favorite among analysts who suggest lower-cost alternatives to the bigger vendors, and the company this year took steps to make its offerings even more economical. In October, HubSpot launched Marketing Contacts, a pricing model that allows customers to only pay for the contacts to whom they want to market via email or ads. Independent CRM industry analyst and consultant Marshall Lager likes HubSpot because it is “very easy to implement and use, either by itself or with other applications.” And there are a lot of applications with which HubSpot can operate. Among the integrations HubSpot added this year alone are Cloud4Wi, Demodesk, Litmus, Aircall, AVOXI, OneSignal, Okta, MetaCX, Vimeo, Salesmsg, Sprout Social, Casted, Vidyard, Troops, and Creatio.

Adobe acquired Marketo in late 2018 and rolled it into the Adobe Experience Cloud, a larger product suite for marketing, analytics, advertising, and commerce. Though there was uncertainty at the time about where Marketo was headed, those fears have been allayed in the past three years. Marketo continues to be a market leader for marketing orchestration, lead management, engagement, and measurement and the trusted platform for thousands of marketers thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. This year alone, the product line has seen enhancements around content personalization, cross-channel engagement, experience automation, data synchronization, privacy enhancements, and more. Marketo, Lager says, “is probably the first vendor most people think of when marketing automation comes up, and it’s as much for the expertise as for the name.”

Oracle’s best-in-class B2B marketing automation solution, Oracle Eloqua, offers campaign design and orchestration, advanced lead scoring, real-time firmographic data, and integrated sales tools. Oracle this year launched a number of updates, including behavioral analytics and orchestration abilities of Oracle Infinity, integrations with Data Cloud and DataFox, and AI and machine learning to help marketers create content. “Oracle continues to have one of the most complete marketing automation solutions on the market,” says Rebecca Wettemann, principal at Valoir.

Salesforce offers two main marketing automation products, Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Both help marketers send emails, create long-term automated campaigns, categorize and group consumers, track visitors, and send information to Salesforce for reporting; both are plenty robust enough for most tasks. And Salesforce this year added a number of capabilities, including digital capabilities through Digital 360, loyalty management, text message marketing through an integration with Attentive, and greater marketing analytics through an Adjust integration. “Salesforce continues to invest in its marketing automation and [customer data platform] capabilities, including, most recently, integration of Datorama reports and loyalty management,” Wettemann says.

SugarCRM’s Market product is a powerhouse for lead capture, qualification, nurturing, and hand-off to sales. It offers inbound and outbound email marketing tools, social media management capabilities, AI-driven predictive analytics, performance tracking, and even Google Ads management tools. Sugar this year updated Market with SugarPredict to facilitate lead qualification and prioritization through artificial intelligence-powered predictive lead scoring. “Sugar continues to invest in its solution,” Wettemann says.

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