Have you ever been to a dealer to buy a car? Deciding on which features, trims, engines, or colors are right for you can be overwhelming. And selecting a marketing automation platform isn’t that different as there are a lot of things to consider as well.
For example, in a car you may want a lot of horsepower to propel your vehicle forward quickly. Comparatively, in marketing automation tools you might want higher throughput to pass large amounts of data or send high-volume emails quickly. In a car, you may need more seating, but in marketing automation tools you need a bigger database. In both instances, price is a big sticking point. Marketo will bill you on the number of records you have in the database, while HubSpot will only bill you for the records in the system which are marketable.
Therefore, when you are comparing marketing automation tools you can think of it like weighing the purchase of a car. It’s important to understand that each platform has its own bells and whistles, but any of them can get you from point A to point B. Consider what you want to do with your marketing automation platform – what are your business goals, and what near-term and future-state use cases you need to accommodate. That will help you decide on your product, and any add-on features you really need.
In this blog, I’ll walk through the primary features and functions of marketing automation platforms. Specifically, a comparison between Marketo and HubSpot, but there are many other platforms to explore before deciding.
6 Primary Marketing Automation Features and Functions
The main features and functions of marketing automation include the following.
- Lead Generation: The process of attracting and capturing potential customer information, such as names and contact information.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration: This allows a business to connect both its sales and marketing efforts. Marketo has a native integration with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. HubSpot has its own native CRM as a package add-on and the ability to connect to other CRMs through its App Marketplace.
- Email Marketing: These are targeted emails to a specific audience. Marketo requires a coded HTML template before you can use its drag-and-drop editor, while HubSpot has an out-of-the-box powerful, and user-friendly editor. Both systems support full custom and responsive HTML emails.
- Lead Scoring / Lead Journey: A method used to prioritize and rank records based on demographic and/or behavior data. A person’s score can help qualify people for sales follow-up, interest-based nurtures, and more.
- Landing Pages & Forms: A standalone page designed to have a clear CTA (call to action) that will encourage visitors to convert and provide their information. This data can then go directly into a CRM if connected.
- Analytics and Reporting: Enable the marketer to be able to measure the effectiveness of the different campaigns, develop personas for the audience, create segmentation, and help make data-driven decisions for upcoming campaigns. Marketing automation platforms have first-party cookies and can follow both known and anonymous users across external sites. This functionality combined with the behavioral data is what sets marketing automation tools apart from standard tracking tools.
Understanding Marketing Automation Terminology
There are different tools to accomplish the features and functions listed above, but as you start to look at each feature, notice the different level of sophistication each has, and the terminology used.
For example, both Marketo and HubSpot can fulfill the goal of marketing automation, but each tool has different levels of sophistication in each and even the names of these common features slightly differ.
|Action||Marketo Term||HubSpot Term|
|List of people based on specific criteria||Smart List||Active Lists|
|Activities in the system such as email sends, automation, nurturing, follow-up actions||Program||Workflow|
|Personalization placeholders||Tokens||Personalization Token|
|Scoring leads based on engagement, demographics, and behavior||Lead Scoring||Lead Scoring|
|Mechanism to capture information from a customer||Forms||Forms|
|Reporting on actions the customer||Revenue Cycle Analytics||Revenue Analytics|
Understanding the different terminology within each marketing automation platform is key to your success. You need to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with other marketers or technical architects to ensure the campaigns are built as desired.
I am not going to say whether HubSpot or Marketo is better than the other marketing automation tools. Ultimately, it comes down to the different use cases a company has, and which platform will fit their model the best
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The Driving Decision on Where to Invest
Remember, each marketing automation platform can get you from point A to point B just like a car, but the inside will work slightly differently depending on which brand you use. Overall, no matter which marketing automation platform you choose, understanding the full breadth of what marketing automation encompasses will guide your use cases and drive the decision on the tool sets to invest in.