Things were rather simple when social media mostly meant Facebook and Twitter, and ‘digital marketing’ revolved around flashy banners, email marketing and Google Adwords.

But that was our marketing past. With ever growing digital platforms and changing consumer behavior, choosing the right marketing automation tool is a big deal for businesses today. Research shows that companies that use marketing automation to create leads have a 53% higher conversion rate on average.

Below is a breakdown of my top marketing automation tools. You can also refer to G2Crowd for further insights into more digital automation tools.

  1. Marketo


A one-stop-shop for marketing automation, Marketo offers a plethora of services. From CRM integration to lead management and nurturing; sales cycle management to automated email marketing, Marketo takes the lead in driving revenue and improving marketing strategies. The company offers a lower-priced Spark plan and more comprehensive Standard and Select plans to meet different levels of marketing needs.

Pros: Ease of use- a clear winner when it came to usability and design.

Cons: Reports can take a while to run. Support response time for Spark users can be hours or days but is better for Select and Standard users.

  1. Oracle Eloqua


A leader in contact management and lead nurturing, Eloqua can rank qualified sales leads your team generates according to buying interest. It can enhance overall lead quality and improve conversion rates.

Pros: Robust email platform with simple user interface.

Eloqua University offers great resources to new learners.

Cons: Integration with CRM is tedious and reporting can be challenging for inexperienced users.

3. HubSpot


A leading all-rounder, HubSpot helps businesses convert their outbound lead generation into inbound lead generation further enabling them to be discovered by potential customers in the natural way they use the internet.

Its wide selection of tools supports marketing teams to take a range of performance related measures including putting up websites, managing social media, improving SEO, building CTA’s and measuring success to name a few.

Pros: Does a bit of everything. Convenient to use.

Cons: Does a bit of everything! More breadth than depth in functions.

4. InfusionSoft


Popular with small business owners, InfusionSoft simplifies creating and executing marketing and sales strategies. The software boosts a variety of features and can build and manage automated email campaigns.

Pros: Campaign Builder and multiple safety nets for broadcasting emails.

Cons: Inconsistencies in email reporting and web analytics are cumbersome.

5. Pardot


An easy to use B2B marketing automation platform, Pardot helps in generating high quality leads, creating custom targeted emails and calculating marketing ROI.

It gives marketers a clear idea of the lifecycle of leads, keeps them informed on new features and offers training on what their user case will be for these features.

Pros: Integrates well with SalesForce

Cons: Social media management tools aren’t the best

6. Sprout Social


One of the best social media tool for small businesses and digital marketing consultants, Sprout Social offers publishing, analytics and team collaboration tools.

Pros: Incredibly easy user interface. Well integrated with Google Analytics.

Cons: Some users may find the price steep, but you get what you pay for!

One thing is for sure, no matter which software you choose, it will cost you time, energy and money. Marketing automation tools are, well, tools at the end of the day. Their use should be carefully considered and SEO best practices should be taken into account.

So before you begin, be clear on what your expectations and priorities are. Many a time, customers are frustrated because they know they are paying for extensive features that they simply don’t have the time and resources to use.

Review your own requirements. Decide what are the must-haves. You will be surprised at how easy this simple step will make it for you to identify “the one.”

Which is your favorite marketing automation tool? Are you using something which is a complete nightmare? Jump in with your comments, feedback and reviews in the comment section below or tweet at @jennifered