Marketing Automation Software is still an extremely competitive market. Though there are a few big names out there, dozens of players are still grappling to capture market share. That’s why one of the most common questions for digital consultants is: “Which marketing automation platform should our company invest in??”

Simply searching the most “popular” companies may not always be the best solution for SMBs because popularity is often gauged by sales revenue — which would be higher for more expensive platforms — or by number of customers — which would be higher for platforms targeted to large firms that need bulk licensing.

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We really try to come up with customized solutions based on the individual needs of our clients instead of blanketed general advice since bigger companies are likely to have different needs than SMBs. However, you may find it helpful to at least familiarize yourself with the different names in marketing automation before speaking with a consultant so you’re not totally in the dark. has a very helpful article on the most popular marketing automation software for 2015.

2015 top marketing automation platforms

According to the stats, these platforms have most of the market share:

1. Hubspot (36.3%)
2. Infusionsoft (24.3%)
3. Marketo (11%)
4. Pardot (8%)
5. Eloqua (7.8%)
6. Act-On (6.5%)
7. Silverpop (2.8%)
8. Ontraport (1.9%)
9. Sharpspring (1.3%)

Here is our list of the best marketing automation platforms for small and medium sized businesses:

1. Hatchbuck

While it didn’t make the most popular list above, Hatchbuck is our firm’s preferred marketing automation platform. We’ve found that this affordable, all-in-one platform has everything Mod Girl and our clients need. Reviewers at largely give it a 5/5 star rating, which has earned it the Summer 2015 “High Performer” Award on the site. Their slogan is that they “help small businesses connect, engage and grow.”

Features include:

  • – Simple CRM
  • – Online form builder
  • – Email template library
  • – Made-for-you newsletter templates
  • – Ability to create and save custom newsletter templates
  • – Import, tag & segment contacts
  • – Lead scoring
  • – Send targeted emails and automated follow-ups (including drip marketing campaigns)
  • – Track visitor webpage stats (leads who are in the system)
  • – Track email opens and link clicks
  • – Custom forms
  • – Mobile optimization
  • – Manage and track tasks
  • – Track sales pipeline progress
  • – Multiple 3rd party integrations like LeadPages
  • – Ecommerce integration
  • – Easy-to-understand reports of sales and marketing performance

One thing we love about Hatchbuck is how easy it is to learn and use. We were up and running in just 1 week and our email marketing staff was able to quickly learn the platform so there was no lack in productivity due to training.

The Hatchbuck staff is also amazing and always available via phone or email.

Their pricing you cannot beat and is one of the reasons we decided to go with them over other popular marketing automation platforms.

You can invest on a month-to-month basis or save 10% with semi-annual billing. Prices start at $89/month for 1 user, 2,500 contacts and unlimited emailing. Upgrade to 3 users and 10,000 contacts for $179/month or unlimited for $269. They also have a partner program for agencies and an affiliate program.

Users like that Hatchbuck is really easy to use with friendly “above and beyond” customer service. The Tag Rule function makes it particularly easy to move prospects along the sale cycle intuitively.

Hatchbuck-marketing automation


2. SharpSpring

SharpSpring was our #2 choice when deciding what marketing automation platform was best for Mod Girl. We really loved their robust platform which has the ability to track visitors before you even know their name! Sharpspring is also specifically designed for agencies, like Mod Girl, and is set up for agencies to add multiple clients to the platform.

Customers rave about the amazing customer support provided by the SharpSpring staff and, from a prospective customer’s view, we have to agree, based on our interactions with them for several months leading up to our decision.

Features include:

  • – Built-in and 3rd party CRM
  • – Email design, creation and marketing
  • – Visitor ID tracking from leads and non-leads (this is a very cool feature!)
  • – Fully integrated call tracking
  • – Custom, dynamic forms built for conversions
  • – Audience segmentation
  • – Lead management
  • – Social media tools
  • – Mobile optimization
  • – Hundreds of 3rd party integrations
  • – Robust analytics
  • – Real-time campaign performance insights

The price is the main reason we chose Hatchbuck over SharpSpring. They require a $2,000 set up fee and monthly fees start at $500 per month (for agencies) and cap off at $800 per month. Non agency pricing starts at $200 per month (for up to 500 contacts), according to this blog post.

sharpspring review

3. InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft was our #3 choice when we were searching for the best marketing automation software. InfusionSoft requires integration with an existing CMS that holds content (like WordPress), but appeals to users with its flowchart-style campaign builder that makes email creation fun. Their email deliverability rates are high and their lead scoring is efficient. If you’re used to sub-par service and slow platform loading, you’ll be relieved by InfusionSoft’s performance.

Features include:

  • – CRM
  • – Marketing Automation
  • – Sales Automation
  • – E-Commerce
  • – Drag and drop landing pages
  • – Web forms
  • – Robust analytics and reporting
  • – Hundreds of 3rd party integrations
  • – Social sharing
  • – Automated email campaigns
  • – Marketing reports
  • – Lead scoring
  • – Sales reports

One of the reasons we chose Hatchbuck over InfusionSoft was twofold.

  1. We heard many people telling us that “ConfusionSoft” was overwhelming and difficult to learn.
  2. Their pricing was higher than what we were wanting to spend and didn’t feel we needed all of the available options.

Onboarding starts at $1,500 for new customers.

Monthly cost options are: $199/month (2 users, 5,000 contacts, 500,000 emails); $299/month (5 users, 20,000 contacts, 500,000 emails); or $499/month (10 users, 10,000 contacts, 500,000 emails).

InfusionSoft Review


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4. HubSpot

Users especially love HubSpot’s advanced Content Optimization System, which features fast-loading pages of content that change based on the viewer and lifecycle stage. SEO benefits are huge with robust keyword analysis, link tracking, on-page recommendations and an optional blogging module with analytical tools to show lead generation performance. The user dashboard is also said to be very user-friendly.

inbound marketing hubspot


Features include:

  • – Business blogging
  • – Social media management
  • – SEO tools
  • – Lead management
  • – Landing page and call-to-action button generator
  • – Website builder
  • – Marketing automation
  • – Email campaign management
  • – Competitor benchmarking
  • – In-depth revenue, full-funnel, marketing channel analytics

Prices are: $200/month (3 users, 100 contacts); $800/month (3 users, 1,000 contacts); $2,400/month (3 users, 10,000 contacts). Each subsequent level unlocks additional features, including CRM integration, smart content, A/B testing and advanced reporting.

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5. Marketo

Users like Marketo for its wide set of features, professional support, different layers of reporting and customization options.

Features include:

  • – Marketing Automation from email campaigns to lead scoring and nurturing
  • – Social media sharing
  • – Landing page and forms creation
  • – Content optimization
  • – CRM integration with Dynamics and Salesforce
  • – Reporting and analytics
  • – Event marketing
  • – Lead management
  • – Unlimited users
  • – A/B testing

Pricing is either $1,395/month for consumer email marketers or $2,995 for marketing firms.

6. Oracle-Eloqua

As one of the first marketing automation tools on the market, Oracle Eloqua packs a powerful punch. If you’re wondering what big companies like Sony, LinkedIn and American Express use to manage their complex campaigns, then wonder no more! The large range of integrations with over 100 third party platforms makes it easy to add to your existing software system. The site and campaign builders are visually impressive and powerful to use.

Features include:

  • – Drip marketing
  • – Multi-channel campaign management
  • – Email marketing
  • – Advanced data-cleansing and reputation management
  • – Landing page & form creation
  • – Content calendar, publishing and promotion
  • – Lead scoring & nurturing
  • – Event management
  • – Social media sharing and monitoring
  • – Contact segmentation
  • – Display advertising

Their monthly plans sell for $2,000 (10 users), $4,000 (50 users) or custom quote pricing for unlimited users.

salesforce for marketing automation

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7. Salesforce-Pardot

Salesforce-Pardot is marketed to “SMB and B2B companies with between 10 and 500 employees.”

Features include:

  • – Lead nurturing via email campaigns and ROI reporting
  • – Real-time sales alerts
  • – Landing page / form generation and testing
  • – Integration with Salesforce, SugarCRM, Netsuite & Microsoft Dynamics
  • – Lead scoring and management
  • – Prospect tracking and analytics
  • – Social media scheduling and sharing
  • – Sales lifecycle reporting
  • – SEO campaign management

Pricing ranges go from: $1,000 /month for standard, $2,000/month for pro advanced or $3,000/month for the ultimate package and includes up to 10,000 records for each, with varying levels of features.


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8. Act-On

Real-time analysis with social media listening and KPI benchmarking are excellent functions for Act-On’s software. Users like the helpful reports assessing ROI, competitor performance and website prospect analysis.

Features include:

  • – Email design, creation and marketing
  • – Keyword analysis, SEO auditing, web visitor tracking
  • – Audience segmentation
  • – Landing page design
  • – Event management
  • – Lead management
  • – Social media tools
  • – CRM integration
  • – A/B testing
  • – Real-time campaign performance insights
  • – Competitor benchmarking
  • – Content creation tools

The cost ranges from $500/month (1,000 active contacts) to $6,120/month (1,000,000 active contacts).

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Honorable Mention: SimplyCast

SimplyCast isn’t as robust as some of the bigger platforms out there, but many smaller businesses find it delivers just the basics they need. Users like the easy list and autoresponder management features and the drag-and-drop email marketing component.

Features include:

  • – Email, survey, event, SMS, fax, social media and autoresponder marketing
  • – Form and landing page building
  • – Online survey creator
  • – List management
  • – Contact manager
  • – Facebook and Twitter automation
  • – A/B split testing
  • – Email customization and templates
  • – Link organization and tracking

The price depends upon the services selected: $49/month for 360 marketing automation software or $9.99/month for social media / landing page / event management / form building.

Want More Info On Marketing Automation?

Check out our recent blogs:

8 Ways to Use Marketing Automation to Generate Leads 4 Things Every CEO Should Know About Marketing Automation

The real nitty-gritty of choosing marketing automation software goes well beyond the scope of one article, so do contact us to discuss your needs, your past experiences and your visions for improving your marketing program. We’d love to help you choose the right platform, get trained on all the features and functions, and even implement some of your marketing tasks if need be!

*Please note that the pricing and features detailed on each platform may slightly differ from what we described in this post. We used various 3rd-party websites to compile our research and we cannot control price and feature changes. This post was last updated September 3, 2015.

*Oh, and one more thing to note – some of the platforms mentioned above include my affiliate links – meaning, if you become a paid customer, I will receive a small commission. Of course, I only recommend platforms that I believe in and would never become an affiliate for a lackluster product! All of the platforms mentioned above are great and each has unique features that your business may or may not need. Please use this guide as a starting point for conducting your own research on finding the perfect marketing automation platform for your business.