Marketing is about getting great ideas in front of the right people at the right time. The digital landscape makes this more complex, but also provides tools for success. 

One type of tool, marketing automation platforms, saves time and increases efficiency across a range of marketing channels. Learn more about what they are, who should use them and how to select one for your business. 

Marketing Automation Tools Basics

Many aspects of digital marketing are repetitive, such as email campaigns and data collection. For some brands, implementing marketing automation tools counters this drain on time, energy and creativity.

What Are Marketing Automation Tools?

Marketing automation platforms handle the monotonous tasks of marketing, like mass emails, social media, ad campaigns, CRM updates, SMS and more. For example, using email automation software can ensure you’re properly targeting emails in the customer journey. 

Who Needs a Marketing Automation Tool?

Not everyone needs a marketing automation tool, or to upgrade to the latest marketing automation software. In fact, you can overcomplicate your marketing before you’ve gotten a foothold into a solid strategy. 

Generally, marketing automation software for small businesses should be easy to learn, if you use any at all. Larger organizations are likely better positioned to consider marketing automation platforms in the first place, especially complicated tools offering several capabilities. 

If you’re confident in three or more specified areas of your marketing operation, you’re probably ready to explore marketing automation. However, if most of these are still uncertain, give yourself time before diving in.    

Minimum One-Person Marketing Team Established

Without a knowledgeable human running your marketing, automation tools won’t be much help. Proper marketing requires an understanding of nuance and connection, while the technological tools should make the operation more efficient.  

Identified Effective Marketing Channel 

Marketing automation platforms operate within existing marketing channels, such as email, advertising, social media and content. It’s important to have one or more already working for you before integrating automation. 

Operations Guided by Defined Strategy

Marketing operations are chosen because they support your strategy–how you plan to address challenges, grow and connect with your target audience. Marketing automation tools that don’t ultimately support your strategy are simply going to muddy the water of your operations.    

Sufficient Budget Over Time

The point of marketing automation platforms is to help you do more in less time, but for a price. If you have room in your budget and too little time, automation tools could be the right investment. However, if you still have more time than money, hold off on spending the cash.

Implementation of Growth Marketing Strategy Initiated

Every tool you use should move your business forward as part of a growth strategy. If you clearly see how automation software can do that, go for it. If you’re not yet to a place where a growth strategy applies, it may be best to wait before onboarding new software. 

Tips for Choosing a Marketing Automation Tool

Depending on the size and scope of your business, the best marketing automation tools may be relatively niche (small business marketing) or offer a spectrum of capabilities (enterprise level marketing). Weigh where tools fall in key areas and how that will work for your brand and goals.   

  • Examine software usability: Do interface and integration processes match the time you have to learn them? Are support services available?
  • Explore integration options: If your company uses other software, how well will your automation options integrate with it? 
  • Assess budget and business requirements: Does the automation platform justify its cost? Can the price scale with your operations? 
  • Note potential constraints: Does the automation software limit monthly actions or space? Will it meet your needs?
  • Schedule a demo to evaluate: Are free trials or demonstrations available? Take advantage of these before commiting to the cost. 
  • Investigate analytics and reporting features: Can the marketing automation tools monitor your most important metrics? Will the reporting provide stakeholders with the right information? 

10 Top Marketing Automation Platforms to Keep an Eye On

Ready to explore automation platforms? Check out this list of the top 10 marketing automation tools.

1. Hubspot

Ideal for large companies with established marketing operations, HubSpot’s Marketing Hub integrates with numerous other solutions. While it is complex and quite expensive, it offers in-depth tutorials and an extremely navigable user interface. 

2. Active Campaign

Designed for experienced marketing teams and accessible in multiple languages, Active Campaign is extremely powerful for those with the time and knowledge to master it. Although the user experience can be a bit glitchy and you’ll pay a monthly fee, customer experience is their platform’s priority. 

3. Ortto

With free and trial options for those new to marketing automation, Ortto is one of most pleasant and visually appealing platforms available. While the tool offers more for those with greater experience, it provides excellent analytics and reporting on user behavior. 

4. Omnisend

Offering free email marketing plans for small businesses and priced plans for larger organizations, Omnisend is primarily for ecommerce sites. That narrow focus limits capabilities for non-ecommerce users, but the flexibility, support and intuitive workflow can’t be beaten.   

5. Klaviyo

Enjoy ideal price-to-value with free options and a large, customizable template library. Klaviyo is ideal for smaller brands and less experienced marketers, though with relatively few workflow options.  

6. Sender

Simple and effective, Sender offers low-cost plans for small, growing brands. Although it’s not the best option for scaling up as you grow, it offers a range of functions and accessible usability.  

7. Marketo

Ideal for enterprise businesses, Marketo comes with numerous features for the full spectrum of channels. While it may be overwhelming and too costly for brands with basic needs, it could work for those hoping to start basic and scale up over time. 

8. Constant Contact

Primarily for email automation but with other features available, Constant Contact is accessible for small and large businesses alike. You can choose from a range of plan costs, and enjoy customization and ease of use. 

9. Drip

Mainly focused on email automation for ecommerce, Drip aims to work for a variety of strategy types. Although it can quickly become costly and offers no free plan, the personalization and analytics are top-notch.   


With automation as the focus, is for those starting out with automation or looking to expand their capabilities. You’ll need to invest time to make the most of it, but with a range of cost options and a light user interface, it’ll be well worth the investment. 

Unlock the Power of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms aren’t for everyone. If you’ve got the budget and need to save time, they’re worth the investment. You’ll increase efficiency and be better prepared to compete against leaders in your market. 

Skillshare offers the best class selection, from beginner to advanced, for mastering marketing concepts, strategies, and automation platforms. Check out classes on email marketing, lists of business growth blogs, and so much more to position yourself and your brand for success.  

Written By
Katie Mitchell

Katie Mitchell

Katie lives in Michigan with her husband, kids and pets. She enjoys cooking, travel and live music.

  • Click here to share on Twitter
  • Click here to share on Facebook
  • Click here to share on LinkedIn
  • Click here to share on Pinterest