A 2010 hailstorm in South Dakota dropped the largest hailstone in recorded history. It was the size of a soccer ball and weighed two pounds. When we hear facts like this, it’s easy to understand why “cloud seeding” – trying to control the time and place of precipitation – is so popular.
Stanford University studies cloud control techniques to gauge its effect on climate change. Recently, some 37,000 Chinese peasants shot rockets with silver iodide into a cloud formation to try and induce rain for their crops. Point is, clouds are powerful, important, and are receiving more attention than ever.
For marketers, picking the right cloud software is a crucial component of everyday workflow. As of 2016, 49% of marketers are using marketing automation. With the industry expanding, it’s getting more difficult to choose the solution to your marketing automation needs.
Content management tools, social media, analytics, workflow automation – we need all these functions to work and we’re always looking for the best options.
Read on for a review of the top 10 marketing cloud solutions. I’ve sourced the most insightful user reviews and testimonials to give you down-to-earth information as to which digital marketing hub is right for your organization.
Adobe pioneered the digital marketing hub in 2012 and has since been a technology acquisition machine. Focusing on marketers alone, the Adobe Marketing Cloud is a complete integrated marketing system featuring Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Adobe Social, Adobe Experience, Adobe Media Optimizer, and the recent Adobe Campaign. Through all these solutions, multiple sources reveal a 360-visual of each customer that allows marketers to create custom campaigns that centralize user experience. But Adobe doesn’t quite do it all: sales-side features like Oracle or Salesforce are lacking.
“Adobe lacks a link to CRM, which brings all the marketing efforts back to measurable results. Having that CRM piece is becoming more and more critical in closing that loop to find out what type of campaigns are working.” — Rebecca Wettemann, Nucleus Analytics
But being able to combine content creation, data, and insights in one centralized platform lets teams do much. But like most Adobe creations, the Marketing Cloud has a steep learning curve. However, its capacities are potent when you’re up to speed.
“This is definitely a tool for enterprises. You need to have a certain level of complexity before you pay for this tool. You should have multiple funnels, websites, or an insane amount of content. If you are involved in ecommerce, this is a worthwhile investment.
However, if you have a smaller site, little content, only a single funnel, or don’t sell anything online, this is a much less worthwhile tool for you.” — Gitai Ben-Ammi, Marketing, Web Analytics, and Testing Lead – Avalara via TrustRadius
#2 IBM Marketing Cloud
The IBM Marketing Cloud offers three key solutions. Marketing Center is the hub, where website personalization, analytics, and A/B testing are combined with campaign creation. Unica is the multi-channel automation function, mainly operating as email marketing. Coremetics involves campaign measurement, customer profiles, plus web and social analytics. In the future, IBM could pull ahead of the marketing cloud competition with Watson, it’s AI language processing platform.
What do you like best?
“IBM Marketing Cloud is a robust marketing automation tool that I use as an agency for many clients across multiple industries and verticals. We like their programs functionality that allows you to drag and drop steps (emails, lead routes etc) and modify your database based off behavioral information. Our clients have been very impressed with how useful the tool is for lead nurturing, landing page creation, and web tracking.
What do you dislike?
I dislike the reporting as it very limited in terms of customization (but they are working on improving this). I also wish that some features were included like creating an automated data export from the user interface or creating super customized reports that can be generated on a daily basis. A/B testing in programs isn’t a current functionality that we’d like to have as well.”
— Faith A., Digital Account Strategist at Whereoware via G2Crowd
#3 AgilOne Marketing Cloud
The AgilOne Predictive Marketing Cloud takes the reins with personalization and targeting capabilities. Using broad datasets, the company’s algorithms assess variables across all channels – click ratios, email open rates, order value – to calculate predicted LTV. Other functions include cart recovery, email retargeting, repeat purchase program, and reactivation. Ultimately, the benefit of AgilOne is flexibility and segmentation.
“AgilOne has empowered us to personalize our marketing campaigns to a near one-to-one level. Doing so has improved our customer’s engagement with our marketing programs and has also allowed us to win-back a significant portion of our lapsed or lost customers. We have also been able to gain insights into our customer base and product offering that would have taken loads of hours and hardware without the help of AgilOne.
One of the things I dislike about the current AgilOne solution is that any of the marketing execution outside of building a customer list has to come from outside sources. The current solution doesn’t provide things like email templates or best practices for campaigns that can be utilized by the marketing team or data analysts.” — Anonymous, via G2Crowd
#4 SaaSquatch Referral Marketing Cloud
Create referral experiences customers love with the SaaSquatch Referral Marketing Cloud. With SaaSquatch, marketing teams can run personalized campaigns to encourage word of mouth referrals. With the flexible theme engine marketers can customize their digital touchpoints to maintain a consistent brand experience throughout the campaign.
Integrate these stylized campaigns across multi-channel touchpoints to improve your program’s success. Send triggered email messages to re-engage customers. Enjoy fraud-proof rewards management with a host of security features, as well as a comprehensive analytics suite to highlight and improve program performance.
“The SaaSquatch platform is user-friendly and has all the features necessary to run a referral marketing campaign. We are very satisfied with SaaSquatch’s Success Team because they gave us very clear instructions about widget implementation, always answered our questions immediately and issues were resolved in no time.” — Nika Kramžar, via Chipolo
“Their API is straightforward and simple to understand. I built a custom integration with Referral SaaSquatch and it was a fantastic experience because their devs were able to jump in and show exactly what was needed to get it up and running in our rushed timeline.” — Jessiah, via G2Crowd
#5 HubSpot Marketing Automation
Primarily concerned with lead management, HubSpot provides a host of tools for optimizing the inbound customer journey. SEO, CMS, social media – HubSpot Marketing Automation helps brands get found and then convert leads to customers with inbound marketing know-how, nurturing, and persona analytics.
Essentially, this is a blend of marketing automation and inbound marketing software, making it unique in the industry. Employ the integrated tools to create email workflows, landing pages, website tracking, content CTAs, and sales forms. Here’s what the field has to say:
“What I like best is that you can have everything in one place: emails, workflows, social media management, landing pages (LP), and analytics.” — Gerry Dapergolas, Executive at Inbound Marketing Consulting, via TrustRadius
“Landing Pages could be better. Changing/designing them is not very easy if you’re not willing to purchase already made templates. Having functionality to build pages easily, like you can in Leadpages or ClickFunnels would bring HubSpot’s game to a whole new level.” — Maja Jaredic
Digital Marketing Director at Flight Media, via TrustRadius
“HubSpot has built-in coding restrictions which make it difficult for coders to customize what they want.” — Ches Allen, Marketing Coordinator at Speak! Marketing, via TrustRadius
#6 Influitive AdvocateHub – Advocacy Marketing Platform
AdvocateHub arrived in 2010 from Mark Organ, the co-founder of Eloqua. The software allows companies to reward it’s brand advocates, build communities, and encourage word-of-mouth referrals. Advocates can redeem coupons and privileges, earning points and badges throughout the process.
“We launched our advocacy program with Influitive roughly 2/3 months ago, and the impact on our marketing activities has been very noticeable. Over this time frame, we’ve already received 25+ reviews, completed 5+ case studies (which prior to Influitive, 1 could have taken over 6 months to complete), received 15+ usable testimonials, and much more. It’s been a learning experience, especially since we had no community prior to launch, however, I’ve been nothing but pleased with the overall result. Influitive helps to humanize the interactions between customer and vendor.
Not necessarily a con, but more a realization, that we needed to scale down our expectations. This is not a program that will generate immense change overnight, but rather helps foster connections and encourage engagement. Be patient and persistent, and you’ll see results. Also – their reporting capabilities could use some work.” — Jordan Zenko, Marketing Coordinator, Dundas Data, via Capterra
#7 Salesforce Marketing Cloud – ExactTarget
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud includes email, mobile, social, and web for a total communications suite built to deliver an optimized cross-channel customer experience. Features like email marketing, campaign management, and mobile marketing join a host of integrations with their other cloud platforms (Sales, Support, BI). Expect campaign analytics to highlight the performance of your digital marketing programs and their impact on demand generation.
“Marketing Cloud is very robust in terms of functionality and offers a lot of features, there is lots to learn but after you get past that hurdle you can see the benefits of using Marketing Cloud. Backend functionality could be improved a bit to be on par with Sales Cloud but I’m sure that’s to come in future releases (ie permission updates) … It’s great to automate email schedules and have dynamic templates to really customize the user experience.” — Christine K
Salesforce Developer, OTIP Insurance, via Capterra
Good tool but training has to be done separately or on your own. It’s been a little hard to ensure we’re using it to its full capability unless we figure it out on our own or hire someone to train us.” — Kristi Thomas, Marketing at Dex Media, via Capterra
#8 Oracle Marketing Cloud – Eloqua Marketing Automation
Instead of creating an overblown suite, Oracle opted to pursue lean and mean marketing automation via open integrations. For cross-channel content, data management and social marketing Oracle Marketing Cloud offers a handful of solutions, such as Social Cloud and Data Management. Eloqua is the marketing automation software with analytics aimed at the B2B industry while Responsys is Oracle’s B2C offering.
“Eloqua allows our sales team to instantly and accurately know what material our prospects have reviewed and are interested in learning about. It allows the team to quickly engage with a potential customer which increases the chances of moving forward in the sales cycle. The information is easy to read, and allows you to see what webpages prospects/clients have viewed, and also send a notification once there is activity on our site.” — Kelly O’neill, Software Sales at CPA Global, via Capterra
“The bones of the Eloqua program are great. The email builder and campaign campus are fairly intuitive and building segments are ultimately logical. The biggest issues that lie in Eloqua is Oracle’s Management of the software. There are a ton of bugs that pop up, support is slow or not very helpful and you will hit some type of outage at least once every two months. The quality of Eloqua seems to be declining as Oracle continues to let it get stale (not updating or innovating).
In summary, it is a good marketing automation tool but is frustrating to use due to Oracle’s mismanagement of the platform.” — Caroline Gould, Marketing Specialst at Lexia Learning, via Capterra
#9 Marketo Marketing Automation Cloud
Marketo has a range of small, medium, and large business solutions for moving leads through the funnel. It’s used by both B2B and B2C marketers, providing email marketing, nurturing, SEO, lead scoring, website personalization, reporting and analytics. Like the other marketing clouds Marketo has a lot of the functionality you’re looking for but will require lots of time and energy to make it work. So if you’re going for scale, this could be just right for you. Users call it “robust” and “powerful,” though not perfect.
“Easier to use than Eloqua and more robust than Pardot and Hubspot. Unless you value SFDC nativity (Pardot) or tons of features over usability (Eloqua), then Marketo is most likely going to be the right tool for your business. I’ve come across very few problems I couldn’t handle. It also has a top class sync with SFDC.” — Adam Golden, Events at Skuidify ITS, via Capterra
“Engagement program works well. Getting a simple engagement program up and running isn’t difficult. Cloning programs so that you don’t have to rebuild another one is great. Marketo community is very supportive. –Ben Cooper, Marketing Associate at Benetech Non-Profit Management, via Capterra
“Building landing pages. Having to pay a lot more money to add additional functionality that is built into other platforms. Basic reporting isn’t all that great.”
–Ben Cooper, Marketing Associate at Benetech Non-Profit Management, via Capterra
#10 Salesforce – Pardot Marketing Automation Platform
As a Salesforce product, Pardot Marketing Automation software syncs with the CRM functions to increase functionality between sales and marketing. Email automation and content creation capabilities work for enterprises of all sizes, creating customized dialogues with consumers. Analytics throughout the funnel help with decision making while a full suite of marketing automation capabilities help you reach and sustain more quality connections with online users.
“The best thing it has going for are its deep Salesforce integrations. It has all the enterprise features you’d expect, from effective lead scoring to campaigns with a wide variety of triggers. In closing, my advice, as with all marketing automation tools is to take a good hard look at your strategy and know exactly what you are looking to achieve before you move forward.”
— Aaron Marshburn, Marketing Consultant, via Capterra
Choosing Cloud Software
My hope is that our marketing automation platform reviews have cleared the air around which marketing cloud is right for you. While many platforms are similar in scope, costly to implement, and painstaking to try, this post has cultivated a broad range of marketer testimonials to help guide your decision.
As we’ve seen, no digital marketing hub has a monopoly. Each platform has strengths and weaknesses that you can weigh in importance depending upon your company’s immediate and long-term needs. When choosing your marketing cloud, opt for a centralized suite with robust performance and minimal drag on your workflow, since you’ll be using it day in and day out.
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