Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped thousands of businesses choose the right marketing software so they can create more strategic campaigns and automate workflows.

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Pardot

Pardot, a Salesforce company, is designed for organizations that primarily focus on business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing automation. This email marketing system offers automated support for the longer timespan and multi-step... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot is a leading growth platform. Over 52,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Marketing... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Act-On

Established in 2008, Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool designed to offer a complete suite of applications, including email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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KIZEN

Kizen offers a cloud-based suite of marketing, customer relationship management (CRM) and sales tools suitable for small and midsize businesses in a range of industries. Features include contact and lead management, form automation,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Ontraport

Ontraport provides a customer relationship management (CRM) system for small and growing businesses looking to automate marketing and sales efforts. The solution includes tools for email marketing, lead scoring, lead nurturing, lead... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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SharpSpring

SharpSpring is a fully integrated cloud-based marketing tool that offers customer relationship management, marketing automation, mobile and social marketing, sales team automation, customer service and more, all within one solution. SharpSpring... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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EZ Texting

Since 2004, EZ Texting has served over 160K customers, setting the standard for business texting in the U.S. and Canada. EZ Texting is a cloud-based platform that includes bulk texting, MMS, delivery reports, reminder campaigns, text... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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Delivra

Delivra is a cloud-based marketing platform designed for companies looking to manage automated email marketing campaigns. It’s suited for small to midsize organizations in a variety of industries, such as education, healthcare, real... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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Maropost

Maropost is a cloud-based marketing solution enabling marketing teams to strategically engage with their audience through marketing automation and analytics. It has proved to be successful for businesses of all sizes across multiple industries.  Maropost expands... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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Avochato

Avochato is a messaging and reputation management solution designed for companies of all sizes. It offers customer review management, response management, review monitoring and reporting functionalities within a suite. The product... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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Mozeo - Marketing

Mozeo is a cloud-based SMS marketing platform that offers marketing solutions for text messages, mobile messages, emails and mobile websites. Mozeo’s users can send and receive text and picture messages through the platform. A variety... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Net-­Results

Net-Results is a cloud-based marketing automation solution for small, midsize and large businesses. Primary features include lead management, lead scoring, marketing list management, email builder, social media management, insights... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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emfluence Marketing Platform

emfluence Marketing Platform is a cloud-based marketing solution that offers tools to create, track and run online marketing campaigns. Key features include email marketing, form and landing page builders, calendars, social media marketing... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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Akero

Designed and developed exclusively for student-specialist marketers and recruiters, Akero helps you improve marketing performance and increase student enrollments. It’s an easy-to-use, subscription-based platform that sits as an... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Textedly

Textedly is a cloud-based SMS marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. The system offers mass group texting, text scheduling and customizable auto replies. Users can send texts over 300 characters long. The system also offers a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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EmailsAndSurveys

EmailsAndSurveys offers an SMS/MMS marketing platform, which helps businesses create, launch, and manage text-based marketing campaigns that can be sent on-demand or scheduled to be delivered. The SMS/MMS service also supports creating... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Keap

Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is a cloud-based sales and marketing solution that offers customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and e-commerce functionalities in one suite. Keap helps small businesses across various... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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BenchmarkONE

BenchmarkONE (formerly Hatchbuck) is a sales and marketing solution designed for small to midsize businesses. The integrated solution offers combined sales automation, marketing automation and email marketing features. BenchmarkONE... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Trumpia

Trumpia is a SMS marketing automation platform that helps small to large businesses manage messaging campaigns and communication across all digital channels. The SaaS solution allows users to automate processes for sending messages,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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PinPointe

PinPointe is a cloud-based email marketing tool that helps small, midsize and large enterprises across various industry verticals to create, distribute, analyze and manage their email marketing campaigns.  PinPointe allows users... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: October 19, 2020

The marketing technology landscape is growing and diversifying. As more consumers go online to look for information and research products, more marketers are focusing on digital strategies. Over the years, new categories of marketing software have emerged to support this shift.

Today, there are a plethora of software options to help marketers manage and optimize digital campaigns. In fact, some experts estimate the greater marketing technology landscape now has close to 2,000 vendors across nearly 50 categories. If you’re new to marketing software, this breadth of options can feel daunting.

This guide will help you understand your many options and make an informed purchase decision. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Marketing Software?
A Comparison of Top Marketing Solutions
Common Features of Marketing Software?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Key Considerations
Recent Events You Should Know About

What Is Marketing Software?

In general, marketing software helps organizations perform the following functions:

  • Attract new customers and visitors 
  • Turn customers into leads that can be nurtured through the sales funnel
  • Deliver marketing and promotional materials (e.g., via email marketing, social media, etc.)
  • Surface insights about customers to improve marketing efforts
  • Automate time-consuming, repetitive manual tasks

Reporting dashboard screenshot in Pardot

Reporting dashboard screenshot in Pardot

While some products are sold as “best-of-breed” systems (i.e., they offer a single marketing application), others are sold as “marketing clouds” or “integrated suites” (they house multiple marketing applications all in one place).

Whether a business should choose a suite or a best-of-breed solution depends on the range of functionality needed. Marketing suites are generally more expensive, but allow users to do more without having to integrate products from multiple vendors.

Best-of-breed solutions tend to be more affordable, and are best for companies that want to focus more heavily on specific applications—or that want to build their own suite of marketing tools.

A Comparison of Top Marketing Solutions

There are many popular marketing solutions on the market, and it can be hard to know what distinguishes one product from another and which is right for you. To help you better understand how the top marketing systems stack up against one another, we created a series of side-by-side product comparison pages that break down the details of what each solution offers in terms of pricing, applications, ease of use, support and more:

Top Act-On Comparisons Top AWeber Comparisons Top Constant Contact Comparisons
Act-On vs. HubSpot
Act-On vs. Marketo
Act-On vs. Pardot
AWeber vs. Constant Contact
AWeber vs. MailChimp
AWeber vs. Constant Contact
Top Eloqua Comparisons Top HubSpot Comparisons Top MailChimp Comparisons
Pardot vs. Eloqua Act-On vs. Hubspot AWeber vs. MailChimp
Top Marketo Comparisons Top Pardot Comparisons  
Act-On vs. Marketo Act-On vs. Pardot
Pardot vs. Eloqua

Common Features of Marketing Software

Below is a list of common types of marketing applications that may be available either on their own, or bundled as part of a marketing suite:

Marketing automation Used for developing, executing and tracking marketing campaigns. Automates workflows, tracks prospect behavior and qualifies leads.
Lead generation Automates the capture, segmentation and assignment of leads to improve targeted marketing communications and shorten sales cycles.
Lead management Automates the movement and tracking of leads through the life cycle from acquisition to conversion.
Email marketing Used to create, send and track email campaigns and autoresponders.
Social media management Provides the means for users to create, launch and administer social campaigns and promotions. Manages creative assets on social media platforms.
Social media monitoring Identifies words used in association with brands, and locates where on social media platforms these conversations are occurring.
Social media analytics Measures campaign performance and impact, and tracks a brand’s share of voice across social channels to determine how effective social media efforts are.
Mobile marketing Handles the routing, management and delivery of SMS messages.
Marketing resource management Manages marketing projects, digital assets, workflows, budgets and approval processes across teams, departments or agencies.
Marketing analytics Measures marketing activities across multiple online and offline channels to get a view of those channels’ return on investment (ROI).
Content marketing Helps manage the distribution of content across the Web. Creates, deploys, manages and stores content on Web pages.
Search marketing Helps businesses generate traffic by providing information or advice to improve marketing content so it’s optimized for search engines.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Before making a purchase, companies should evaluate their marketing strategies to determine how to choose software that supports overall business objectives.

Outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is when a marketer contacts prospects, hoping for engagement. Tactics can include advertising on search engines, paying website publishers to post your ads or sending emails to lists of leads. Businesses that primarily want to reach out to customers in these ways should look for applications that offer email and/or mobile marketing functionality. Most marketing automation platforms include outbound email marketing capabilities. You could also consider lead generation and lead management solutions.

Inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing gets buyers to find you. This is done by providing interesting, helpful content on websites, blogs or social media that engages buyers. Businesses using inbound marketing tactics should look for software that helps optimize marketing content for Web search (so that buyers can easily find it) and provides lead nurturing functionality—for example, inbound marketing automation, content marketing or search marketing applications.

Social media marketing.

If you use (or plan to use) social media channels to connect with customers, consider applications that monitor social media conversations, track the results of social media marketing activities and allow you to measure the results of these campaigns. While social media marketing functionality is sometimes included in marketing automation platforms, many vendors also offer this as a best-of-breed solution.

Planning and measurement focus.

Marketers that want to measure the ROI of marketing projects should look for software that provides detailed analytics. While this functionality is often included in other types of marketing software, you may want to consider the in-depth reporting tools offered by best-of-breed marketing analytics and social media analytics software. Additionally, businesses that need help planning and executing marketing campaigns can consider marketing resource management software.

It's important to note that marketing functionality can also be incorporated into suites outside of the typical marketing software industry. For example, leading event management software often includes some element of marketing, such as tools for creating customizable websites, email marketing and push messaging campaigns. These are described in more detail here.

Key Considerations

To further narrow things down, here are two key factors to keep in mind as you evaluate marketing products:

Prioritize the applications you use most often

Avoid purchasing systems with bells and whistles that don’t support your business processes. However, do consider any applications, features and functionality that you will need in the future, even if you’re not quite ready to use them today.

Make sure your new system supports necessary integrations.

When comparing options, you’ll want to know whether—and how well—a given marketing system will synchronize with your existing data and tools. For example, you may want to consider marketing software that offers native CRM integration. If you plan to access the system while on the go (via mobile phones or tablets), consider a system with a native mobile app. If you’re building your own marketing technology stack, be sure to check that the systems you combine will work together seamlessly. You may also want to look for vendors that offer integration support and services.

Recent Events You Should Know About

Cincopa adds video intelligence to email marketing. In September 2016, video hosting and web management platform Cincopa announced new compatibilities with most email marketing platforms. This allows for video marketing analytics to be added to email campaigns in MailChimp, Constant Contact and GetResponse, amongst others.

Streamsend launches new marketing automation platform.In February 2016, email marketing vendor StreamSend launched a new platform, StreamSend Insights. It helps users track a subscriber’s actions on business websites (such as browsing trends and cart abandonment) to enable behavioral-based marketing campaigns.

OtherLevels announces release of OtherLevels2. In September 2016, digital marketing automation vendor OtherLevels announced the release of their OtherLevels2 platform. This new platform is designed to use big data and statistical models to maximise audience reach and message delivery. It leverages this data to optimize the delivery of content to the end users’ preferred channel, increasing the likelihood of engagement.