What is right for your company and budget?

Trying to choose the right Marketing Automation (MA) platform for your business can seem like a daunting and difficult task. It is an important decision that can have far-reaching repercussions into your marketing and your whole business. The goal of this article is to address some of the major concerns you may have when deciding whether to purchase a Marketing Automation platform and which platform is best for you. Let’s start with some questions on making the decision to get Marketing Automation:

Q. How will MA benefit my team?

A. Some of the benefits include: Channel integration, lead scoring, web tracking, triggered messaging, lead nurturing, customer retention, full-funnel engagement, and auto-segmentation.

Q. Is it right for my company’s size, industry, maturity, budget, goals, marketing team, etc.?

A. MA may once have only been for Enterprise-level companies, but the variety of options and tiered packages available today offer solutions for companies of all shapes and sizes. Some platforms even specialize in certain industries or can be customized to suit your exact needs.

Q. What platforms should I consider?

A. Your company’s goals, needs, and budget should help to narrow the list for you. There are comparison charts available, although most are produced by one of the platforms and will show results that will favor their own platform. We recommend taking the time to review your top choices and consulting VIB for professional guidance on what the best fit might be for you.

Q. How much is this going to cost?

A. Most MA platforms charge based on the size of your lead database. There are also a few that charge a flat monthly rate plus Cost Per Send. You can save some money by only uploading active leads that you plan on marketing to, however any time you remove a lead from the MA platform you will lose the activity data.

Q. Will it save me time, or will it require extra?

A. Although there will be some additional work upfront, MA is intended to reduce the overall workload for your marketing team and result in efficiencies and automated workflows. Getting VIB to help you set up your Instances can alleviate the extra upfront work and save you time and money in the long run.

Q. What is the expected ROI?

A. Of course, every company is going to be different in this area. Some can see ROI almost immediately, if they are going from little to no digital marketing efforts to implementing MA. Others who roll out the process slowly but have already been utilizing Email Marketing may see the ROI increase more slowly over time. Various sources quote boosts in Revenue of up to 25%, decreases in the Time Required for Sale of up to 22%, and Pipeline increases of up to 45%. Most companies will start to see the return on investment within the first year, but, again, this will vary on the resources available to roll out.

Q. What is the difference between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation?


  Email Marketing* Marketing Automation
Email tracking Yes Yes
Web tracking No Yes
Batch and Blast Emails Yes Yes
Nurture/Customer Journey No Yes
Email Metrics Yes Yes
Lead Scoring No Yes
Triggered Messaging No Yes
Tracked Attribution No Yes
Automated Workflows No Yes
Forms and Landing Pages No Yes
Social Integration No Yes
Multi Step Campaigns No Yes
Revenue cycle tracking No Yes
Data on Anonymous Leads No Yes

*Some Email Marketing Platforms now have additional features including some of those listed.

Now, what platform is best for your company? There are many options available, and based on your needs and budget, there is sure to be one or two that are a good fit. Some of the top MA companies include Marketo, Pardot, HubSpot, SharpSpring, MailChimp, Act-On, Maropost and Eloqua. Here is some basic information on some top contenders:

Cost* Claim to Fame Concerns Top Features Missing Features
Marketo Starts at: $1k + Standard: $1.5k+ Personalization, Innovation, Attribution, Integration Cost, Complexity Revenue Cycle Modeler, Lead Scoring Blog, Ecommerce
Pardot Starts at: $1k+

Pro: $2k+

Salesforce integration, Sales connectivity, Good for B2B Cost, Non-intuitive, Poor Cust. Service Engagement studio Limited integration, Slow to innovate
HubSpot Starts at: $200

Pro: $800 Enterprise: $2,400

Blog, Free CRM, Scalability Cost when database grows Ease of use, Full-funnel w/ CRM Limited features in Basic (e.g. No A/B testing)
SharpSpring Contact us for Partner Pricing Affordable, Complete Suite of Features Complexity of Set Up Up to 100,000 Leads Built-in SEO, Content Management
MailChimp Starts at: Free

Up to: $1k+

(with 3 tiers)

Usability, Scalability Too simple, limited reporting Ease of use and low cost, Templates Reporting is basic, Can’t track leads
Act-On Starts at: $600

Enterprise: $2k

Intuitive dashboard and reporting Clunky database Dashboards, Templates, Low cost Web personalization, invoicing
Maropost Monthly rate +

CPS (cost per send)

Low cost, easy to use and scalable Sometimes buggy, missing features Graphical Automation, SMS Text Limited Integrations and reporting


Starts at: $2k

Standard: $4k

List of integrations, Powerful automation High cost, Built for Enterprise Webinars, Templates, Automation AdWords Connection

*Costs are listed as monthly base, typically will increase with add-ons and database size, and are subject to change. Remaining information is based off user experience and gathered information, may be subject to change and will not be every user’s experience.

Each MA Platform is best suited to a market level. There are hundreds of other tools out there, but the above are just a few suggestions. Take your time, get some outside guidance, and enjoy the process. Setting up a new tool, especially one as powerful as MA is an exciting journey and should bring your company innumerable benefits for years. Here are our suggestions based off company size, keeping in mind your company’s needs may make a different recommendation a better fit:

Small Business: Mailchimp – You can start for free and they’ve been adding more features as they go, which makes it scalable. It is known for being easy to use and can get you started quickly.

Mid-Size Business: SharpSpring – This platform is a little less known but holds its own against competitors. It offers a complete suite of services including contact management, email marketing, dynamic landing pages, and complex, targeted workflows. Mid-range pricing makes this comprehensive solution ideal for small to mid-size businesses.

Large Business: Marketo – Marketo is known as an innovator and market leader who has made multiple acquisitions and updates in the recent past. The platform offers many integrations that deliver a hub-style interface for all your digital marketing needs. Leads are tracked from anonymous visitor through the funnel and reporting and revenue cycle attribution round out the features. Marketo can be a little complicated but offers an expansive center for knowledge with a highly engaged community.

Runner-Up: HubSpot – The issue here is the amount of time and money it takes to get started and how the cost jumps up quickly when you start building your database. HubSpot does have some nice features and some are free, like their CRM. The platform does have an affordable tiered marketing platform, which is great if you have a small database and only need limited features.