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Use marketing automation to trigger messaging automatically based on a central hub of your customer data. That’s because your customer should see the same brand identity from all of your teams. With marketing automation, your business can better bring together marketing, sales, and customer service to create one seamless customer experience across your brand. 
The goal of the platform is to spark new relationships and rekindle old ones — Autopilot has found that two times as many leads are generated by businesses that maintain contact every two to four weeks. By capturing data from a small business’s website or app, the platform can integrate with other systems to fuel personalization and segment customers. It then monitors the performance of each journey and delivers insights into how messages are converting so entrepreneurs can adjust instantly.
Now, with a little more than a month to go before the end of 2018, retailers will try to keep the momentum going, both online and in stores. Though many companies are expecting strong fourth quarters, there's some concern the sales growth won't be sustainable into 2019, especially if the U.S. economy's strength starts to fade or consumers lose confidence.
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Once you have visitors on your website, the next step is to convert them. At the very least, you should start collecting their email addresses. Once you start building an organic email list, you can start reaching out to your customers and prospects so that you can re-engage them through your content: ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets. Here are the most important components of conversion optimization:

So why doesn’t every company use one? For one thing, it’s a relatively new application type. For another, most of the companies in this space are relative start-ups, very small and some are struggling to survive. But Vittal believes it’s a big enough need that these tools, either alone or after being swallowed up by larger CRM vendors, will become an integral part of the CRM landscape. 

The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes — and marketing is one area ripe for automation. The key for small businesses is finding a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, and these seven platforms take different approaches to automating marketing processes to make entrepreneurs’ lives easier.
In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.

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Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing[2] especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by a customer.

ActiveDEMAND is a flexible marketing platform for digital marketing agencies and marketers. ActiveDEMAND packages range from the full-featured call tracking application for the small business marketer to the powerful Marketing Agency Portal designed for digital marketing agencies with multi-client management needs. Engage and track prospects using the integrated, comprehensive call tracking module, do more with built-in email templates, landing pages and social media. Convert leads and prospects into customers using automated marketing to manage nurture campaigns, auto-replies and more. Retain customers and grow your repeat businesses with powerful newsletters, special promotions and more.
Large enterprises have long found value in the technology, but marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. In fact, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now. And thousands of companies even smaller than that are using automation as well. Similarly, companies across all industries are using it. The early adopters were primarily in “business-to-business” (B2B) industries such as high-tech / software, manufacturing, and business services. But increasingly companies across all categories–including “business-to-consumer” (B2C) industries such as healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail–are adopting the software for its real-time, engagement-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.
Forms and landing pages: Build custom landing pages without having to know HTML and link marketing assets stored in automation systems to use as downloadable content. Progressive profiling helps marketers shorten forms to ensure prospects aren’t turned off by long forms. They can be shown additional fields in future forms allowing marketers to build up a detailed prospect profile over time.
Has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and receive targeted content and messaging, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale. Commonly used in business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), or longer sales cycle business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles, Marketing Automation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.
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Pica9 is a local marketing automation platform offering brand resource management, web-to-print, email, social, landing pages, and more with its comprehensive CampaignDrive™ platform. Pica9 empowers local marketers to streamline marketing efficiency and enhance results from a single, intuitive interface to manage a multitude of marketing functions.
You can think of Eloqua as the Ferrari of marketing automation. It’s fully loaded, provides an exceptional level of service, and comes with a matching price tag. One of Eloqua’s key differentiators is the amount of time they spend teaching and helping their customers get the most out of the product. Like Marketo, Eloqua also has a great marketplace with plenty of integrations with third party services.
GetResponse is a web-based, all-in-one marketing platform that helps business owners to build permission-based mailing lists, maximize conversion ratios, increase profitability and build customer confidence. GetResponse serves more than 350,000 active users from 182 countries, engages more than 1 billion subscribers every month, and delivers 10 billion permission-based emails per year with an average deliverability rate of 99.3 percent. GetResponse platform includes: Email Marketing With GetResponse Email Marketing, send beautifully-designed, responsive emails. Increase your sales and subscriber engagement through comprehensive email marketing campaigns. In just a few easy steps you can have an entire campaign up and running, whether you’re an experienced marketer, or just starting out. Use newsletters to send updates or announcements to your list, autoresponders to nurture and educate, forms to grow your list, and 99% deliverability to ensure your messages always reach your subscribers’ inboxes. Features: Newsletters, 99% deliverability, autoresponders, mobile-responsive email templates, dynamic content, advanced segmentation, responsive design, perfect timing, advanced analytics, AB testing, forms, list building apps Landing Pages With the simple to use drag and drop landing page creator, create 100% responsive landing pages and web forms. GetResponse landing pages include hundreds of professionally designed, ready-to-go templates. Create top-notch web pages for opt-in, thank you, sales, webinars, and more in less than ten minutes without touching a single line of code. Features Video integration, 150 responsive templates, mobile design, custom domain, image editor Webinars Nurture your leads with complete webinar marketing solution. GetResponse is the first email marketing service to provide a complete webinar marketing solution. With GetResponse Webinars, you can not only acquire new leads but also nurture existing customers, thanks to an advanced integration with GetResponse email marketing. Use GetResponse Webinars to host trainings, product announcements, trainings, demos, and more. Features: Desktop sharing, polls, presentation sharing, chat, moderation tools, VOIP camera and voice capabilities, attendee management. Marketing Automation Scalable workflows based on customer journeys. Create marketing automation workflows in an easy drag-and-drop creator to track subscriber behaviors in real time. React to completed purchases, abandoned carts, key web page visits, message engagement, and much more. Features: Email marketing automation, lead scoring, web traffic tracking, cart abandonment, automation segmentation CRM Create customizable, drag-and-drop sales pipelines to nurture your leads and turn them into repeat customers. Spot opportunities using deals and stages that fit your sales process. Add notes and comments to your deals to easily keep up with daily activities and smash your sales and marketing goals. Features: Pipeline view, deals, stages tasks, notes, reminders.
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In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
“Converting mobile traffic to sales has long been a thorn in the side of retailers, but investments in making the experience faster and easier have paid off,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights. “Cyber Monday shoppers relied heavily on their mobile devices, resulting in an unprecedented 55.6 percent year-over-year increase from smartphones alone. Additionally, Buy Online Pick Up Instore saw a record 65% increase, signaling that retailers are increasingly fulfilling consumer expectations for integrated cross-channel experiences.”

Adobe leverages Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, to identify retail insights from trillions of data points that flow through Adobe Analytics and Magento Commerce Cloud, part of Adobe Experience Cloud. Adobe Analytics analyzes one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 55 million SKUs and 80 of the largest 100 U.S. web retailers* – more than any other technology company.
Selligent Marketing Cloud is a marketing automation platform that enables B2C brands to engage consumers across all critical channels. Built for the relationship marketer, Selligent Marketing Cloud is the only marketing cloud built on single code base, featuring artificial intelligence and a Customer Data Platform with a universal consumer profile at the core of every action. More than 700 brands across retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services rely on Selligent Marketing Cloud’s proven platform. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 agency partners and resellers, Selligent Marketing Cloud serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).

Propsect.io does one very specific part of marketing automation (finding cold leads and engaging them to become warm), but it does it very well. One particularly good feature about Prospect.io that’s not easy to find elsewhere is that the automation emails can be triggered directly from your mail server (e.g. G Suite or Microsoft Exchange) so your emails appear identical to if you had sent them manually.
When designed well, marketing automation solutions make your job easier. They perform the difficult, tiresome work that is a natural part of running a marketing campaign while drawing from various data sources. The software compiles information, such as the number of opened emails, abandoned e-commerce carts, and data from web forms, to help inform your marketing decisions. When you maximize the features that these solutions offer, they can truly improve your company's bottom line.
If you’re producing effective inbound marketing content, you’re generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your successful efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers. Below are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business.
Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?

To help entrepreneurs determine how successful their efforts have been, the brand delivers weekly reports and customized engagement scoring; it also spotlights the outcome of A/B tests. Delivra’s Drag & Drop Editor and Image Editor can lend a helping hand to less-than-artistic entrepreneurs who need to design and package their messaging. And for small businesses wanting to tie their marketing efforts directly to their e-commerce stores, Delivra integrates with multiple systems to enable small businesses to segment shoppers and re-engage them.
The brand’s goal is to scale with businesses as they expand so they can see true growth without the hiccup of finding other tools. And its marketing analytics tool spurs some of that growth by showing business owners the outcomes of their historical efforts and projecting how their future attempts will pan out. These insights, combined with ONTRAPORT’s Campaign Builder — which allows entrepreneurs to set goals and base their automation on achieving those goals — give small businesses the opportunity to customize.

Among the biggest retail winners, Amazon today said it was the biggest shopping day in its history. Although it didn’t provide sales figures, it said the ‘Turkey 5’ broke records as customers in the U.S. purchased millions more products over the five day period vs. the same period last year, with more than 18 million toys and more than 13 million fashion items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
Definition: A campaign management system that drives prospect interactions with the brand, measures prospect response to marketing programs, and delivers prospect information to sales representatives through the company’s CRM or salesforce automation (SFA) systems. When used effectively, marketing automation systems will deliver a continuous flow of qualified leads to the sales force, as well as the data needed to close sales with those leads.
Thanksgiving also saw $1 billion in online sales coming from mobile devices, Adobe says. Salesforce.com tracking found 54% of all digital orders on Thanksgiving were made from a mobile device, up from 47% a year ago. In addition, 68% of all digital traffic came from mobile devices, says Rob Garf, vice president of industry strategy and insights at Salesforce.
Now, with a little more than a month to go before the end of 2018, retailers will try to keep the momentum going, both online and in stores. Though many companies are expecting strong fourth quarters, there's some concern the sales growth won't be sustainable into 2019, especially if the U.S. economy's strength starts to fade or consumers lose confidence.
For the first time, according to Adobe, online prices Thanksgiving Day "were as low as on Black Friday" — potentially stealing some of Black Friday's traditional throngs of shoppers at malls and other stores. There were reports that traffic at many shopping malls Friday was lighter than in past years. Instead, more consumers turned to their phones or desktop computers to grab bargains.
B2C companies, however, probably have the most to gain from marketing automation technologies, as they can reach larger segments of their customers with personalized messages than they could afford to without it. In the past, B2C brands may have sent the same email to all of their customers in regular intervals, which, at best, got a marginal return and, at worst, turned off otherwise loyal customers with off-topic communications.
Eventually, your company’s marketing program will get so big that you can’t — possibly — manage everything via Outlook, Word, and Excel spreadsheets. You could always hire a team of marketing specialists, but eventually, you’re going to start wasting cash on redundant tasks like emailing new customers, setting up social media-to-email programs, and emailing your users every time you post blog content. 																
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