The 7 Best Marketing Automation Software of 2020

Turn more leads into customers with just a few clicks

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

The success of any business results from one process: turning leads into sales. Whether a company is selling shoes or software, creating personalized, targeted messages is the key to getting more new and repeat customers.  

In fact, according to a Salesforce State of Marketing Report, 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications to them. As a result, 67% of marketing leaders currently use some kind of marketing automation software, and 21% plan to start using one.

We reviewed over a dozen marketing automation platforms and chose the best based on ease of use, range of features, scalability, price, and more. Here are our top seven picks.

The 7 Best Marketing Automation Software of 2020

HubSpot: Best Overall

HubSpot

HubSpot

HubSpot was created in 2005 to provide small businesses with inbound marketing, sales, and customer service tools. Today the company serves over 86,000 customers in more than 120 countries. We chose it as the best overall because it offers a comprehensive suite of marketing automation in an easy-to-use platform with paid add-ons and free starter services.

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub suite of inbound marketing tools lets users create content, landing pages, and email campaigns, as well as manage leads, social media, SEO, analytics, and more, all in one platform. Its marketing automation features, however, can be used on an existing website and don’t require users to host or build their site with HubSpot.           

HubSpot makes it easy to set up automated workflows using a simple visual editor that shows workflows in real-time. Users can create email drip campaigns with custom triggers, conditions, and actions tied to clear goals. Workflows can also be created to set up webhooks, score leads, move leads to sales, and even send notifications about a contact’s actions to HubSpot’s customer relationship management (CRM) or other CRMs, including Salesforce and SugarCRM. The platform also offers over 200 integrations with third-party software through its app marketplace.

Although HubSpot offers a Starter plan with free CRM, marketing, sales, and service tools, users will need the Professional plan to access its marketing automation features. 

Starter Plan

  • $40 per month 
  • Landing pages
  • Ad management
  • Live chat
  • Conversational bots
  • Forms
  • Contact website activity
  • List segmentation
  • Email marketing
  • Ad retargeting

Professional Plan

  • $800 per month 
  • All Starter Plan features
  • Marketing automation
  • Smart content and reporting
  • Blog
  • SEO recommendations and optimizations
  • Social media
  • A/B testing
  • Calls-to-action
  • Video hosting and management
  • Website traffic analytics
  • Campaign reporting
  • Custom reporting
  • Filtered analytics view

ActiveCampaign: Runner-Up, Best Overall

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign

Founded in 2003 as a consulting firm, ActiveCampaign later transitioned to a software as a service (SaaS) business offering an integrated email marketing, marketing automation, and small business CRM for over 100,000 customers worldwide. We chose it as our runner-up because, although it offers powerful marketing automation tools, it’s not as beginner-friendly and takes more time and effort to learn than HubSpot.

ActiveCampaign was the original creator of the visual automation sequence builder used by other marketing automation software. Users can choose from over 280 pre-built automation “recipes” or templates to accomplish their goals. These include abandoned cart reminders, gathering feedback, creating a welcome email series, updating and tagging contacts, and more. ActiveCampaign’s automation recipes also integrate with over 280 third-party apps, including WordPress, Zapier, and Shopify.

ActiveCampaign places a strong emphasis on using machine learning to create custom user experiences. Unlike other platforms that make things more complicated by overloading users with customer data, ActiveCampaign delivers insights to help make better decisions. From testing the best email send times to determining which leads are more likely to close, users can literally flip the switch to turn on the insights based on what matters most to them.         

Although ActiveCampaign offers three pricing plans plus an enterprise-level plan, users will get the most out of the platform’s machine learning capabilities with its popular Professional plan.

Lite Plan

  • $9 per month
  • Unlimited sending
  • Email marketing
  • Send newsletters
  • Subscription forms
  • Marketing automation
  • Chat & email support
  • Up to three users  

Plus Plan

  • $49 per month
  • All Lite Plan features
  • CRM with sales automation
  • Facebook custom audiences
  • Lead & contact scoring
  • Integrations
  • SMS marketing
  • Dynamic content
  • Custom user permissions
  • Up to 25 users

Professional Plan

  • $129 per month Now
  • All Plus Plan features
  • Predictive sending with machine learning
  • Predictive content with machine learning
  • Customer attribution & path to purchase
  • Conversion attribution reporting
  • Split automations
  • Site messaging
  • In-depth onboarding consultation
  • Automation strategy consultation
  • Three one-on-one training sessions per month
  • Up to 50 users

Marketo: Best for Client Engagement

Marketo

Marketo

Marketo was created in 2006 to help chief marketing officers and their teams track the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing investments. In 2008, the company launched a lead-management tool and was purchased by Adobe in 2018. Today it serves over 500 enterprise-level businesses with its integrated marketing and sales platform, Marketo Engage. We chose it as the best for client engagement because it’s optimized for use with Salesforce as well as Adobe Experience Cloud, which offers powerful analytics and audience management tools.

Marketo offers a number of marketing automation features, including customizable website templates, automated emails, web analytics, lead nurturing, social media marketing, and more. The platform also makes it easy to create personalized customer messages across multiple platforms using content performance analytics and AI-powered insights. 

Marketo offers multiple automation triggers as well as lead and account scoring and integrates tightly with multiple CRM platforms, including Salesforce, to keep prospects engaged and help sales teams create best practices and sales funnels. Finally, Marketo integrates with Adobe Experience Cloud to deliver more marketing, analytics, advertising, and commerce features.    

Marketo offers four service plans and requires customers to request a quote based on their needs. Third-party research shows that plans start at $895 per month and can be as high as $3,195 per month.

GetResponse: Best for Small Businesses

GetResponse

GetResponse

GetResponse was created as an email marketing software in 1998 and launched the first autoresponder. It has since grown to become an all-in-one marketing automation software serving over 350,000 customers in 183 countries. We chose it as the best for small businesses because it lets users experiment with basic marketing automation for an affordable price.

GetResponse offers some of the best email marketing and marketing automation features on the market. Users can create autoresponders, set up automated email triggers, and use the platform's advanced analytics tools to help emails land in the right inbox at the right time. GetResponse’s emails also enjoy a 99% deliverability rate due to partnerships with SpamHaus, SpamAssassin, and other email spam-filtering software.

GetResponse marketing automation tools make it easy for users to set up simple or complicated campaigns with a drag-and-drop workflow builder that gives them a straightforward view of their workflows. Users can create events based on customer behavior, set condition-based actions, and apply detailed filters and targeting to their actions.

GetResponse’s e-commerce features let users turn more website traffic into sales by creating targeted email marketing campaigns based on the pages customers visit and their buying habits and sending abandoned cart and recommended product emails to improve sales.  

GetResponse offers three pricing plans suitable for small businesses as well as an enterprise-level package. All plans include a 30-day free trial.

Basic Plan

  • $15 per month
  • Email marketing
  • Autoresponders
  • Unlimited landing pages
  • Unlimited automation templates
  • Sales funnels (1 funnel)
  • Unlimited lead funnels
  • Facebook ads
  • Sell e-products

Plus Plan

  • $49 per month
  • All Basic Plan features
  • Automation builder (five workflows)
  • Webinars (max 100 attendees)
  • Contact scoring & tagging
  • Sales funnels (five funnels)
  • Work together (three users)
  • Webinar funnels (five funnels)

Professional Plan

  • $99 per month
  • All Plus Plan features
  • Unlimited automation builder
  • Paid webinars
  • Webinars (max 300 attendees)
  • Unlimited sales funnels
  • Unlimited webinar funnels
  • Work together (five users)
  • On-demand webinars

Sendinblue: Best for Scaling

Sendinblue

Sendinblue

Sendinblue was founded in 2012 as a tool for creating newsletters and transactional emails. Today it offers a cloud-based marketing communication platform that includes email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, landing pages, and more to over 180,000 customers in 160 countries. We chose it as the best for scaling because it offers an easy-to-use interface with workflows for both beginners and advanced users.

Sendinblue’s marketing automation platform includes lead scoring, detailed reporting, email marketing, segmentation, and even SMS marketing campaigns. Even with its free plan, users get basic marketing automation features, phone support, and the ability to send up to 300 emails per day.

Sendinblue prides itself on being an adaptable platform that empowers small businesses to reach their goals and grows with them. Users can get started by simply choosing a template and setting up basic automation, like sending a welcome email when a user signs up or a coupon code on their birthday.

When they’re ready, users can create more advanced workflows using lead scoring as well as actions, conditions, and other filters based on existing or blank templates. Sendinblue walks users through the simple process of creating both basic and advanced workflows right on its features page instead of burying it in complicated user documentation.

Sendinblue offers three plans suitable for small businesses as well as an enterprise-level plan.

Free Plan

  • $0 per month
  • Email campaigns
  • Mobile-friendly email designer
  • Email template library
  • SMS marketing
  • Email & SMS personalization
  • Chat
  • Daily sending limit: 300 emails
  • Unlimited contacts & details
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Customizable signup forms
  • Sales CRM

Lite Plan

  • $25 per month
  • All Free Plan features
  • No daily sending limit
  • A/B testing

Premium Plan

  • $65 per month
  • All Lite Plan features
  • Remove Sendinblue logo
  • Send time optimization
  • Landing page builder
  • Facebook ads
  • Retargeting ads

Pardot: Best for B2B Marketing

Pardot

Pardot 

Originally created in 2006 to generate leads from potential technology buyers and then sell them to technology vendors, Pardot soon pivoted to building marketing automation software. In 2012 it was purchased by Salesforce and now serves over 2.8 million customers. We chose it as the best for B2B marketing because it offers powerful enterprise features specifically built for B2B marketing.

On the surface, it may not look like Pardot is any different than much of the other marketing automation software we reviewed. The platform offers automated email marketing, CRM integration, streamlined lead management, lead generation, and lead nurturing. Users also get insights based on the way prospects engage with emails, websites, and more and build automation workflows with an easy-to-use visual builder.

What makes Pardot different, however, is in the depth of reporting it offers and how it integrates with sales teams. The platform allows any sales rep to send pre-approved mini-campaigns to their customers, drop leads into nurturing tracks from Salesforce or another CRM, track interaction with messages sent through Gmail, and more. Sales teams also get real-time alerts when a prospect engages with a campaign, email, or website to help them have the right conversation at the right time.

Because Pardot is geared toward supporting enterprises with B2B marketing, it’s the most expensive option we reviewed. There are too many plan details to go into here, but pricing starts at $1,250 per month and tops off at $15,000 per month.

Omnisend: Best for E-commerce Marketing

Omnisend

Omnisend 

Originally founded in 2014 as an email marketing platform, Omnisend grew into a robust omnichannel marketing automation platform in just three years. Today it serves over 50,000 customers worldwide. We chose it as the best for e-commerce marketing because it’s specifically built to help e-commerce companies automate marketing tasks across multiple channels to drive more sales.   

Like many of the platforms we reviewed, Omnisend offers a simple and intuitive visual builder with templates for creating workflows, forms, landing pages, popups, and emails. The software also collects user information from custom forms and dynamic email capture features to help users communicate across multiple channels.

From there, users can pull shoppers into their sales funnels and create automated email marketing campaigns introducing products, offers, and incentives to help them make their first purchase. Best of all, Omnisend lets users combine email, SMS, push notifications, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger into their automation workflows.   

Omnisend features a clever tool called Automation Splits which lets users send different offers and incentives along personalized messaging paths within a single workflow, like offering discounts for higher-value cart abandoners or sending a special message to first-time buyers. Finally, users can compare metrics from campaign to campaign to determine which messages resonate with their customers using the platform’s detailed reporting and insights.

Omnisend offers a 14-day free trial and a free plan to help users get acquainted with the software before upgrading to paid plans with more advanced features.

Free Plan

  • $0 per month
  • Email campaigns
  • Signup forms, boxes & pop-ups
  • Reports
  • 1,500 email sends per month

Standard Plan

  • $16 per month
  • All free plan features
  • SMS campaigns & automation
  • Email automation
  • Audience segmentation
  • 24/7 email & chat support

 Pro Plan

  • $99 per month
  • All Standard Plan features
  • Push notifications
  • Facebook custom audiences
  • Google customer match
  • Priority support
  • Advanced reporting

What Is Marketing Automation Software? 

Simply put, marketing automation software helps businesses of all sizes send personalized messages that convert prospects into paying customers and customers into repeat customers. In practice, however, the process is slightly more complicated.   

Creating personalized messages involves collecting customer data, qualifying leads, following up, segmenting mailing lists, and creating targeted marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software does most of these tasks for businesses, allowing them to gain the insights they need to create more highly personalized messages that will lead to more sales.

How Does Marketing Automation Software Work?

The most important task of any marketing automation software is to collect customer data. This can include the behavior of website visitors, customers that abandoned their shopping carts, or prospects that opened and read an email. 

Using this information, the automation platform can determine what messages will resonate best with each customer. It can also assign a score to each lead to determine who is likely to convert into a sale.

Finally, marketing automation software can automatically send emails and series of emails, recommend products, and more to track where each lead is in the sales cycle and better determine what message will turn them into a customer.  

How Much Does Marketing Automation Software Cost?

Because marketing automation software can be complex and is primarily targeted toward enterprise-level businesses, it can be on the pricier side. However, some providers have gone to great lengths to create plans smaller businesses can afford.

On the low end, some of the providers we reviewed offered plans for as little as $9 per month for very basic and introductory-level automation. Typical mid-range tiers that offer more advanced automation and data range between $49 to $99 per month. At the high end are providers that offer enterprise-level tracking, data management, analytics, and messaging for $1,250 to $15,000 per month.   

Is Marketing Automation Software Worth the Cost?

Marketing automation software can be a game-changer for any business that has a complex sales cycle. Sales reps are notorious for dropping or ignoring “cold” leads that they don’t believe will convert quickly due to the effort required to communicate with and nurture those leads. Marketing automation software can warm up those cold leads, making them more appealing to sales teams and more likely to convert.

Even smaller businesses can benefit from dipping their toes in marketing automation tools. Being able to send out a welcome email series, reminders for items left in an online shopping cart, or special discounts for loyal customers can all make a big difference in a business’s bottom line, especially when most of it is done automatically.          

How We Chose the Best Marketing Automation Software 

We looked at over a dozen marketing automation software platforms for this review. At the top of our list were platforms that were easy to use since many of the processes involved in lead management can be complex. We also wanted to find software that was scalable so businesses could expand into different types of automation when they’re ready.

Finally, we wanted to find software that was affordable, giving small businesses the same tools large enterprises use to scale. With marketing automation, businesses of any size can focus on what they do best and get the insights and tools they need to build a base of happy, paying customers.