Running a business is nothing if not time-consuming, so it’s important to grab at opportunities to make your marketing strategy more efficient wherever you can. The best marketing automation software can put your business promotion efforts on autopilot to save you time and help you spread the word at scale. Rather than losing countless hours on repetitive tasks, you can focus your energy on major initiatives—like creating a website—and let automation handle the rest. This guide will help you sift through the best marketing automation tools to find the right solution for your needs.
What is automation software in marketing?
Marketing automation software refers to digital tools that harness artificial intelligence (AI) to expedite and refine marketing tasks so you can prioritize the work that only you can do. These tools typically target repetitive, time-consuming tasks, such as personalizing content delivery, asking customers to write reviews or sending abandoned cart emails. Moreover, marketing automation software often integrates data collection and analysis, providing valuable insights that inform decision-making and enhance the overall effectiveness of marketing strategies.
Best marketing automation tools in 2023
01. Wix: best for onsite automation
Since its inception, Wix has been using AI to level the playing field, allowing everyone, regardless of their tech skills or budget, to build an online presence that shines and operates smoothly. Therefore, it's no surprise that its marketing automation software is such a well-rounded powerhouse.
Because Wix has dozens of internal marketing tools and offers over a thousand external app integrations, its marketing automation software is versatile in ways that most aren’t. You can use it for:
Lead nurturing: By automating personalized engagement, follow-ups, and tracking, Wix simplifies the process of converting leads into loyal customers.
Ad management: With Wix's ad management automation, you can automate ad campaign scheduling, track performance and optimize targeting for optimal reach. The manager also provides recommendations for ad content improvement and facilitates easy A/B testing.
Content creation: With features such as its site generator, text creator, and product description writer, Wix can help you streamline content production and effortlessly enhance your online presence.
Analytics: Through automated ad campaign scheduling, performance tracking, and targeting refinement, Wix simplifies the complex process of ad management.
Social media: Wix's social media management tool empowers you to automate your posting schedule, content recycling, content queue management and cross-promotion efforts. Moreover, it provides hashtag recommendations, tracks engagement and facilitates cross-promotion.
SEO: You can use Wix SEO to automate many time-consuming tasks, such as optimizing keywords, implementing structured data markup, updating sitemaps, optimizing page speed, and ensuring a mobile-friendly design.
The marriage of AI, a user-friendly approach, and a diverse toolkit has positioned Wix's marketing automation software as a powerhouse in the field, offering an unparalleled range of capabilities that cater to the diverse needs of businesses and entrepreneurs alike.
Pricing: Check Wix’s Pricing Plans for the most up-to-date options.
02. Hootsuite: best for social media management
In many businesses, social media serves two purposes: marketing and customer service. Most social media automation platforms focus on one function or the other. However, Hootsuite has earned a spot on our list of top marketing automation platforms for its ability to seamlessly close the gap between social media managers and customer service teams.
In addition to post scheduling and caption generation, Hootsuite stands out with the capability to automatically respond to in-app messages that feature frequently asked questions, filter messages based on content and route queries in different languages to relevant team members. The software also automatically sends feedback requests to customers to help you understand what you’re doing well and how you can improve.
Pricing: While Hootsuite starts at $99 per month, you’ll need an Enterprise plan to access all the automation features. Hootsuite doesn’t share pricing for its Enterprise plans, but you can expect it to cost more than its $739-per-month Business plan.
03. Pipedrive: best for sales teams
Pipedrive is the CRM created for salespeople by salespeople, which is why it’s our top choice for the best marketing automation software for nurturing leads. Its intuitive sales pipeline comes with automations that help you close bigger deals faster. In fact, Pipedrive claims to have helped its average customers close 28% more deals within their first year on the platform.
Pipedrive offers a range of features that you can tailor to your specific needs. By adjusting the sales pipeline according to your requirements, you gain the flexibility to structure your sales process effectively.
The solution enables you to save time with automations that take care of repetitive administrative tasks, such as transferring deals to the right person when they move to a new stage on the pipeline or creating deals whenever you add a contact to the system. What’s more, Pipedrive provides timely reminders, ensuring that no task slips through the cracks.
The AI Sales Assistant uses team performance and behavior data to inform its recommendations for improvements. It also automatically pulls data about customers and leads from X, LinkedIn and Google to help you learn more about them.
Pricing: While Pipedrive starts at $14.90 per month, you’ll need an Advanced plan (starting at $27.90 per month) to access automations. You can try Pipedrive for free for 14 days with a trial.
04. Attentive: best for SMS marketing
While many of the tools on this list treat SMS marketing as an afterthought, Attentive takes an SMS-first approach. This approach has yielded impressive results. According to Attentive, the software has helped users double both their conversion rates and list growth.
Attentive's strength lies in its automated message creation and scheduling, facilitating the sending of personalized and on-brand recurring messages. Powered by AI, it identifies the content that will resonate with your audience and identifies the best time to schedule your next message.
In addition to its marketing capabilities, Attentive simplifies customer service interactions through text messaging. It effortlessly gathers customer data and prompts replies through number- or keyword-related responses. For instance, you can prompt subscribers to reply "YES" to receive notifications about new product launches.
The Attentive Concierge uses both AI and live agents to swiftly respond to messages while maintaining adherence to your brand guidelines. For inquiries that need your special touch, Attentive seamlessly routes inquiries to your in-house customer service tool.
Pricing: Attentive doesn’t publish pricing on its website. One source reports that the platform costs $300 per month, plus one cent per SMS, plus carrier fees (about $0.0025-$0.0035 per SMS). Attentive has quarterly spending minimums and offers contracts and month-to-month plans.
05. Mailchimp: best for email campaigns
Mailchimp earns a spot on our list for its email campaign management tools and automations. The platform goes beyond the basics of sending and tracking emails by leveraging campaign data to show you how to grow engagement and sales. The company says that people who use their automations builder experience up to fourfold increases in orders and a 127% surge in click rates.
While Mailchimp made a name for itself as an email marketing platform, it has become a multi-faceted content marketing platform. You can use it to send emails, manage SMS and social media marketing campaigns, segment your audience, create content, build websites, manage Google Ad campaigns and more.
Transaction emails like receipts and confirmations are automatically dispatched, allowing you to focus on impactful email content. The platform provides over 60 pre-built and customizable customer journeys, including welcome sequences and abandoned cart reminders. Furthermore, Mailchimp can help you elevate your email game with A/B testing for subject lines, ensuring optimal performance of your messages.
Pricing: While Mailchimp offers a free plan, you’ll need at least the Essentials plan, which starts at $13 per month, to access basic marketing automations with up to 500 contacts. You can try Mailchimp for free for one month.
06. ActiveCampaign: best for customer journey management
When it comes to managing the customer journey, ActiveCampaign is a good choice. This robust platform offers a comprehensive suite of tools designed to seamlessly guide customers from initial engagement to long-term loyalty. Through its advanced automation capabilities, ActiveCampaign empowers businesses to create highly personalized and dynamic customer journeys.
ActiveCampaign excels at nurturing leads, engaging prospects and retaining customers through tailored communications. Its sophisticated automation workflows allow you to automate and optimize interactions at every stage of the customer journey. From welcoming new subscribers with personalized emails to re-engaging lapsed customers, ActiveCampaign provides the tools to deliver the right message at the right time.
The platform's deep integration of customer relationship management (CRM) functionalities further enhances its customer lifecycle management capabilities. You can track interactions; segment customers based on behavior, preferences and demographics; and provide a consistent and personalized experience across all touchpoints. The ability to automate tasks like lead scoring, follow-ups and targeted offers ensures that no opportunity is missed and that each customer receives the attention they deserve.
ActiveCampaign's analytics and reporting features provide valuable insights into customer behavior and campaign performance. This data-driven approach enables businesses to continually refine their strategies, enhancing customer satisfaction and driving business growth.
Pricing: Small teams of one can use the Marketing Lite solution for $29 per month. Larger teams will need the Marketing Plus plan, which starts at $49 per month.
07. Klaviyo: best for retailers
Tailored specifically for eCommerce businesses, Klaviyo's platform is designed to meet the unique needs of online retailers. The platform offers powerful automation tools that respond in real-time to customer actions, such as abandoned carts or post-purchase interactions, enhancing customer engagement and retention.
In addition to the email and SMS marketing functionality mentioned in other tools above, Klaviyo can be used to schedule push notifications and manage your review collection. And, with over 300 integrations, Klaviyo is a potent asset for consolidating your tech stack and streamlining your marketing.
Klaviyo offers a centralized dashboard for tracking results, simplifying the process of monitoring and attributing the outcomes of your marketing endeavors. Its arsenal of messaging flows, which can be customized and dispatched with just a few clicks, further empowers your communication strategy. Automated A/B testing takes the guesswork out of content and subject line optimization, automatically sending the best-performing variants to the majority of your audience.
Pricing: Klaviyo has a free plan that’s suited for customers with up to 250 contacts. Plans for more than 250 contacts start at $20 per month for email automation and increase as your contact list grows.
Why should I use marketing automation software?
Marketing automation software can empower you to:
Save time: Automation software puts your most tedious marketing tasks on autopilot, saving you countless hours and enabling you to focus your energy elsewhere.
Scale up: Automated marketing tools can help you do more with less so you can surpass your growth goals.
Work smarter: Marketing automation solutions analyze your data so you can see patterns and identify new opportunities.
Personalize your marketing: These tools can help you customize your promotional efforts to every viewer in order to optimize the impact.
Boost your return on investment (ROI): Marketing automation software costs less than human labor and can help your workforce do more. By adopting automation, you can spend less money and get better results, thereby achieving a greater return on investment.
How do I choose marketing automation software?
You have countless options when it comes to shopping for software, which can make decision paralysis inevitable. However, knowing what to look for can make the decision easier.
Before you begin your search for the best marketing automation software, consider these factors:
Your needs: Software solutions vary in their scope, ranging from specialized tasks to comprehensive functionalities. Decide if you need a platform that can do it all or one that can help you with specific tasks.
Your budget: How much can you afford to spend on marketing software? Can you justify a higher budget if the software helps you make more money or reduce costs elsewhere in the business? Can you save money on the software by paying for a year upfront instead of month to month? Does the software charge a flat, predictable rate or or does it charge according to usage or results? You’ll have to consider all these factors before deciding how much of your budget to allocate to these tools.
Reviews: To avoid being blinded by marketing materials, read customer feedback and authoritative reviews to determine if a particular software will meet your expectations.
Integrations: Before making a commitment, evaluate its capacity to function symbiotically with other tools, particularly those in your existing tech stack.