Forbes has ranked the top 30 marketing automation tools based on a proprietary algorithm that evaluates and scores 14 distinct factors.
The report states that “Marketing automation tools help businesses automate the tasks associated with marketing and sales. They can be used to create, send, and track marketing emails, schedule tasks and automate interactions with customers.”
While the ranking may come as a surprise to some, others will recognize the importance of a tool that helps them automate the repetitive tasks on their marketing to-do list.
1. It scores highly on the functionality scale.
The report measures the functionality of each tool based on 14 sub-scales, which are:
- Data collection
- User experience
- Email Marketing
- Lead Generation
- Automated Content
- Inbound Marketing
- Campaign Management
- Digital Marketing Analytics
- Data Import
- Mobile App
- Web App
2. It has a robust API.
APIs (application programming interfaces) are a tool’s ability to communicate with other systems or applications. In software terms, an API provides something similar to a “function library” or an “application programming interface”.
APIs are useful because developers can integrate your tool into their applications or use your tool to build applications of their own. When an API is available, it reduces the amount of time needed to develop those applications.
3. It provides a good price-to-value ratio.
The ideal marketing automation tool will have functionalities that correspond to your needs and will fit your budget. Some tools may offer the most features at the highest price point, but that might not be the best option for you if your budget is more stringent.
4. It has a simple and friendly user interface.
User experience is all about how a tool makes a user feel. It can be incredibly valuable to have a pleasant and intuitive user experience when using a marketing automation tool because users will be interacting with your tool more frequently. Simplicity and friendliness also make the tool more accessible for non-technical users (e.g., marketers, sales people, and executives).
In terms of UI (user interface), HootSuite, which is ranked #2 on the list, offers a clean and intuitive design that is simple to use. HubSpot, which is ranked #1, followed closely by Wunderlist, offers a minimalist design that puts the focus on the content.
5. It is secure.
Every year, businesses are hacked, and millions of records are compromised. If your tool isn’t secure, then there’s no guarantee that your data won’t be stolen. Hackers can easily access unauthenticated accounts and sensitive information without much effort. When selecting a tool, make sure that security is a major consideration.
6. It has a high level of extensibility.
Extensibility is all about the tool’s ability to grow and adapt to your evolving needs and desires. One of the best ways to assess the extensibility of a tool is to look at its documentation. If it is documented well, then you can have confidence that it can be easily extended to address your specific needs. Narrowly focused tools that don’t have a high level of extensibility are difficult to adapt to new needs because they have a limited set of functionalities.
7. It handles big files and has a good support team.
Big files are those that are too large to be fit into a standard email. They can be cumbersome to work with due to their size, and they can also be difficult to transport due to their size as well. When picking a tool, make sure that it is capable of handling big files and that has a helpful support team.
8. It offers multi-channel marketing.
If your tool doesn’t offer multi-channel marketing, then it might be a good idea to look elsewhere. Multi-channel marketing is the practice of reaching a customer through more than one type of medium (e.g., website, email, social media, etc.). The more channels you have, the more opportunities you have to reach your customers.
The report states that “Marketing automation tools help businesses automate the tasks associated with marketing and sales. They can be used to create, send, and track marketing emails, schedule tasks and automate interactions with customers.” Multi-channel marketing isn’t the only consideration when choosing a tool. You also need to think about whether or not the tool is capable of handling big files. Additionally, make sure to consider its API and user experience.
9. It provides good value for businesses of all sizes.
Value for businesses refers to the tool’s perceived cost-effectiveness compared to similar tools. The size of your business will determine the value you’ll place on this attribute. For instance, if you are a small business with limited funds, you might focus your attention on cost-effectiveness over other factors.
10. It handles the basics well.
The last but not least factor is “it handles the basics well”. This attribute refers to a tool’s ability to perform the tasks that you need it to perform without any major glitches. Repetitive tasks are a pain, and they can be time-consuming if done manually. That’s why it is desirable to have a tool that handles the basics well and doesn’t require much manual intervention.
While the above-listed factors are important to consider when picking a marketing automation tool, it might be difficult to identify the best tool for your needs if you don’t have extensive knowledge about marketing and digital marketing. In that case, it might be a good idea to consult with a trusted friend or colleague to get an unbiased review of your options.