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 trackingYesYes
Web trackingNoYes
Batch and Blast EmailsYesYes
Nurture/Customer JourneyNoYes
Email MetricsYesYes
Lead ScoringNoYes
Triggered MessagingNoYes
Tracked AttributionNoYes
Automated WorkflowsNoYes
Forms and Landing PagesNoYes
Social IntegrationNoYes
Multi Step CampaignsNoYes
Revenue cycle trackingNoYes
Data on Anonymous LeadsNoYes

*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 FameConcernsTop FeaturesMissing Features
MarketoStarts at: $1k + Standard: $1.5k+Personalization, Innovation, Attribution, IntegrationCost, ComplexityRevenue Cycle Modeler, Lead ScoringBlog, Ecommerce
PardotStarts at: $1k+

Pro: $2k+

Salesforce integration, Sales connectivity, Good for B2BCost, Non-intuitive, Poor Cust. ServiceEngagement studioLimited integration, Slow to innovate
HubSpotStarts at: $200

Pro: $800 Enterprise: $2,400

Blog, Free CRM, ScalabilityCost when database growsEase of use, Full-funnel w/ CRMLimited features in Basic (e.g. No A/B testing)
SharpSpringContact us for Partner PricingAffordable, Complete Suite of FeaturesComplexity of Set UpUp to 100,000 LeadsBuilt-in SEO, Content Management
MailChimpStarts at: Free

Up to: $1k+

(with 3 tiers)

Usability, ScalabilityToo simple, limited reportingEase of use and low cost, TemplatesReporting is basic, Can’t track leads
Act-OnStarts at: $600

Enterprise: $2k

Intuitive dashboard and reportingClunky databaseDashboards, Templates, Low costWeb personalization, invoicing
MaropostMonthly rate +

CPS (cost per send)

Low cost, easy to use and scalableSometimes buggy, missing featuresGraphical Automation, SMS TextLimited Integrations and reporting


Starts at: $2k

Standard: $4k

List of integrations, Powerful automationHigh cost, Built for EnterpriseWebinars, Templates, AutomationAdWords 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.