Marketing automation is no longer the new kid on the block when it comes to helping your company maintain a competitive edge. If you intend on keeping that edge honed, you’re probably already dabbling in marketing automation software solutions, or you should be.

Marketing software solutions vary from vendor to vendor in many significant ways:

  • Level of automation
  • Core functions
  • Advanced features
  • Support
  • Costs

No marketing automation software package is the precise right fit for every organization. You’ll need to do a bit of legwork to find the solution that’s perfect for your company’s needs. Our Marketing Automation Software Guide is a great place to start comparing options.

But before you start lining up various solutions and comparing what they can and can’t do, it can be helpful to have an idea of what you need and don’t need.

The first question we often hear is “Do I need expensive automation tools, or are free or inexpensive alternatives enough?” There isn’t one right answer to this question. However, it’s a good one to start with, and this guide will help you navigate the question to find the answer that’s right for you. We’ll be mostly checking out options at the extreme ends of the spectrum to give you an idea of what’s available—but be aware that

In the end, the cost of a solution itself won’t determine whether it’s enough for your needs. What you need to determine is whether it does enough for the cost, and whether it’s fulfilling your needs while requiring no more than a reasonable amount of resources.

Arm yourself with a list of your needs and wants in terms of functionality—and we’ll lay out what options you have in both higher and lower cost categories. Just a few of the capabilities you should keep in mind are:

  • Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
  • Email Marketing
  • Campaign Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration
  • Reporting Tools
  • Dynamic Content Generation
  • Integration with Other Software Solutions

High Cost Marketing Automation

High cost marketing automation software solution packages are often geared toward organizations functioning at the enterprise level. Marketo and Eloqua are often touted as the top contenders for large enterprises.

Both are quality software solutions, as are many of the popular options in this category, and you probably won’t find a lot to differentiate between them when you’re looking at functions they both provide. That is, both are probably going to have excellent automation tools for email marketing and other core functionalities. You don’t have to—generally—trouble yourself overly regarding the fine details when it comes to fundamental capabilities.

However, that doesn’t mean that both are equally suitable for your needs. Concentrate on what features one includes that the other (or any other solutions from other vendors you’re using in your comparison) does not. While third party apps and integration are a great thing, it may make more sense for your company’s training and deployment practices to have as many of your marketing automation needs fulfilled by a single package.

Low Cost Marketing Automation

While services like Marketo and Eloqua may run thousands of dollars per month, there are much lower price points in the marketing automation game. Some vendors even offer a free entry point.

While choosing high cost marketing automation solutions can be a process of ruling out what you don’t need, or examining the relatively minor differences between two services, the opposite is true when you’re approaching minimal cost software packages. You need to have a set in stone idea of what you do need and do some digging to find it. Leadsius, for example, focuses largely on web traffic, and its free and lower price point options do a good job of reflecting this.

Sales Autopilot also has a zero-dollar entry point, but offers full functionality… however, their free service requires you to have only one registered user and send 400 or fewer emails a month. Costs can ramp up quickly as business scales, and this is something you should keep in mind with any low cost service.

There are dozens of solutions at every possible price point—doing your research before embarking on your company’s journey into the wide world of marketing automation can help you get the best possible results for the best investment.

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