For those of you just starting out in your marketing careers or changing companies – the chances are you’ll be faced with a marketing automation system that will be new to you. There are quite a number of solutions out there, from the big players like Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Hubspot to the slightly lesser known ones like Silverpop, Communigator and Act-On software.  Companies will opt for the solution that best suits their needs and budget so you’ll likely find you may switch between systems over the course of your career. That said, we increasingly see clients asking specifically for candidates with particular automation experience (most often Marketo and Eloqua, though others too on a less frequent basis), so these could be skills you carry with you.

Never fear though there are common features so you shouldn’t be completely in the dark when starting with new software. Typically you might use marketing automation for the creation and management of:

  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages and forms
  • Campaigns
  • Lead nurturing / scoring, lead lifecycle management
  • Marketing analytics / ROI measurement and optimisation
  • Social media marketing and content

 

It might also include:

  • Website visitor tracking
  • Web and mobile personalisation
  • Search marketing
  • Segmentation
  • Event management automation, webinars
  • A/B testing
  • Budgeting and reporting

 

As you can see from this list, marketing automation works across multiple channels and can integrate with your other systems, i.e. CRM.  However it isn’t a panacea for all the company’s marketing challenges, nor does it replace marketers – indeed, you need strong marketers to get the most out of the technology. With the right strategies in place, using marketing automation can ensure activities are executed and measured more effectively.  Embrace it, rather than fear it – marketing is going that way.

With many marketers grappling with automation for the first time, there is much to be learnt as you go as well as online user training and community support. To fast track their process, companies often bring in an automation expert on a contract basis to work out initial set up and ensure best practices are followed from the beginning. This is a great person to learn from if you are lucky enough to be there at this initial stage.

So what are some of the differences between them?

We regularly have companies ask us to find a marketer with experience of Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot and Hubspot so let’s focus on these as the big four. It would, after all, take us forever to go over them all. Check out this the marketing automation section of @ChiefMartec’s marketing technology landscape and you’ll see what we mean (full version here)

Oof, there are a lot of options. Not using any of the big 4 at Marketing Moves, we are instead drawing on our conversations with technology marketers who do have hands on experience (and their own biases!). Perhaps you agree or disagree with their comments? It might be there has been a recent update that has changed things? Please do let us know but for now here is what we’ve heard:

Marketo (£££) ‘engagement marketing’

Marketo has until recently been more of a solution for SMB size businesses, however they are now investing in scaling their application to meet the needs of multi-national enterprises. We’ve heard mixed comments on how intuitive Marketo is but most agree it’s a little easier than Eloqua for a beginner (though for some they’ve found Eloqua more workable in the end). Marketo do provide good educational resources to help you get up to speed quickly. With a fairly active online community, you may find the answers to your user queries online, without needing to turn to customer service. There are a lot of Marketo fans among our candidates, who could wax lyrical about how much it improves customer engagement and managing their lead generation process. We’ve heard positives on everything from dynamic content on landing pages to the fact you can organise your campaigns and assets into folders (sounds simple but makes a tremendous different, apparently!). Other marketers have mentioned its drawbacks, like the difficulty of making its forms look good.

Key features: lead scoring and nurturing; progressive profiling; triggered communications; email marketing; landing pages and forms; campaign management; analytics and revenue reporting

Eloqua (Oracle) (£££)

We hear from marketers that Eloqua is the more complex tool, however with this difficulty comes greater flexibility in the way you can set up programs. Support and an online community can help you make the most out of its functionality. It’s traditionally been the tool for large enterprises, and this remains their main market. There are definitely marketers in the Eloqua camp, praising its in-depth analytics, reporting and A/B testing features. Some speak highly of Eloqua’s ‘campaign canvas’ in particular as a good way to visualise the structure of their campaigns.

Key features: campaign management; lead scoring and progressive profiling; reporting and analytics; (event-triggered) email marketing; web management (incl. landing page), social media management

Pardot (Salesforce) (££)

Pardot is aimed at both B2B SMB and enterprise businesses. Apparently its ‘engagement studio’ is a great tool for setting up nurture tracks (and it’s visual like Eloqua’s campaign canvas) and its ‘lead deck’ gives helpful real-time updates on prospects’ activity on your chosen webpage(s).

Key features: visitor tracking; progressive profiling; lead scoring and nurturing; real-time sales alerts; form and landing page creation; dynamic content & tracking; email marketing

Hubspot (££) ‘inbound marketing’

Hubspot is seen as a bit of an all-in-one multi-tool. It also includes a CRM and with the more expensive plans has many of the features of other automation platforms.

Where Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot are more associated with B2B marketing and really focus on lead nurturing, Hubspot is also popular in inbound B2C marketing. We see a lot of marketers using Hubspot to nurture leads and manage multiple channels: social, email, blog, website.

Some of our candidates praise the way you can grow into Hubspot, starting off with the cheaper option with basic marketing tools before upgrading to the automation and more feature-rich plans. One complaint we had was quite a specific one – that you can only build workflow based on yes or no answers – i.e. ‘did the prospect open the email?’ ‘click the link?’ rather than time-based triggers, i.e. ‘send an email if the prospect opened the email x days ago’.

Key features: CRM; social media management; blogging; event-triggered email marketing; landing pages; lead generation and scoring; campaign planning

Now you know a little more about the major players in marketing automation, we hope you’re keen to try them out, rather than put off. In any case, it’s going to be hard to avoid some exposure as you grow in your marketing career, so our best advice is to embrace it. Keep an open mind when it comes to learning new tech – the most promising marketers are adaptable polymaths.

For support finding the next step in your marketing career, contact us on 01932 253 352 or email Melvin on mday@marketingmoves.com

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