Choosing the right marketing automation tool is crucial for effective B2B marketing. With a plethora of options available, it’s essential to base your decision on specific requirements.
In this blog, we’ll evaluate four leading platforms against a set of criteria for a B2B business that uses Salesforce to help you make an informed choice.
We won’t include Pardot in the comparison because it is, well, terrible and hasn’t evolved in years…
Before diving into each platform, let’s outline the key requirements for our evaluation:
- Salesforce Integration
- WordPress Integration (e.g. via Gravity Forms)
- Email Building Capabilities
- Campaign Types (Newsletter, Autoresponders, Drip)
- Tagging and Segmentation
- Social Media Integration
- Live Chat Features
- Data enrichment
- LinkedIn integration
- User Event tracking
Summary of Tools
Customer.io is a behavior-driven communication platform that is designed to automate personalized messages based on how users interact with digital products. Its primary point of difference lies in its ability to harness real-time behavioral data to drive personalized messaging. Here are some key strengths and unique features that make Customer.io stand out:
- Behavioral Data-Driven: One of the core strengths of Customer.io is its ability to use real-time behavioral data to trigger communications. This means that messages can be highly personalized and relevant to the user based on their actions within an app or website.
- Segmentation: Customer.io offers robust segmentation features, allowing marketers to create highly targeted user segments based on behaviors, attributes, and events.
- Flexibility: The platform is designed to be highly flexible and customizable. This means that it can be tailored to specific business needs and use cases.
- Integration with Product Stack: Customer.io can be deeply integrated into a product stack, making it particularly useful for SaaS companies or businesses with digital products.
- Event-Triggered Emails: Emails and messages can be triggered based on specific events, such as when a user signs up, abandons a cart, or reaches a particular milestone in an app.
- API-First Approach: Customer.io emphasizes its robust API, allowing for deep integrations with other tools and custom-built platforms. This makes it suitable for businesses with complex tech stacks or those looking to build custom solutions.
- Workflow Automation: The platform has a visual workflow builder that helps in designing complex messaging sequences based on user behaviors.
- Scalability: Customer.io is built to handle large volumes of data and users, making it suitable for both startups and large enterprises.
- Twilio Integration: With its Twilio integration, Customer.io can send SMS and push notifications in addition to emails.
Best For: Businesses that want to send highly personalized, automated messages based on real-time user behavior, especially within digital products. This makes it a go-to solution for many tech and SaaS companies.
HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing, sales, and CRM platform. Its strengths and unique features include:
- Inbound Marketing: HubSpot popularized the concept of inbound marketing, and its platform is built around attracting and nurturing leads through content.
- All-in-One Platform: It offers tools for marketing, sales, CRM, and customer service, allowing businesses to have a unified view of their customers.
- Marketing Automation: Robust automation features to nurture leads based on their interactions and behaviors.
- CRM Integration: Its integrated CRM provides a seamless flow of information between marketing and sales.
- Reporting and Analytics: Comprehensive dashboards and reports that provide insights into every aspect of the marketing and sales funnel.
- Landing Pages and SEO: Built-in tools for creating optimized landing pages and blog posts.
- Educational Resources: HubSpot Academy offers a wealth of courses and certifications for users.
Best For: Businesses looking for a comprehensive platform that covers marketing, sales, and customer service with a focus on inbound strategies.
Intercom is a customer communication platform that emphasizes real-time chat but has expanded its offerings over time. Key strengths and features:
- Real-Time Chat: Core feature allowing businesses to communicate with customers in real-time on their website or app.
- Conversational Marketing: Automate marketing campaigns through chatbots and personalized messaging.
- Customer Support: Integrated tools for support ticketing and knowledge base creation.
- Product Tours: Create interactive product tours to onboard and educate users.
- Segmentation and Targeting: Send targeted messages based on user behavior and attributes.
- Integration Ecosystem: Integrates with a range of third-party apps and services.
Best For: Companies looking to engage customers in real-time, whether for sales, support, or user onboarding.
Mailchimp started as an email marketing tool but has evolved into an all-in-one marketing platform. Key strengths and features:
- Email Marketing: Comprehensive tools for designing, sending, and analyzing email campaigns.
- Automation: Set up automated email sequences, such as welcome emails or cart abandonment reminders.
- Landing Pages: Design and publish landing pages to capture leads.
- Segmentation and Tagging: Segment contacts based on behavior, preferences, or demographics.
- Ads: Create Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads directly from the platform.
- Reports and Analytics: Detailed insights into email performance and audience engagement.
- Integration Ecosystem: Vast ecosystem of integrations with e-commerce platforms, CRM systems, and other tools.
Best For: Small to medium-sized businesses looking for a user-friendly email marketing tool with additional marketing capabilities.
Here is a high level comparison of the tools against these requirements.
|Salesforce Integration||Native||Via third-party||Via third-party||Native|
|Gravity Forms/Wordpress Integrations||Native||Via plugins||Via third-party||Via plugins|
|Drag and Drop Email Builder||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Account Based Sales Support||Yes||No||Limited||Limited|
|Live Chat for Application Support||Limited||Yes||No||No|
|Segment.com/Event Tracking Integration||Via marketplace||Yes||Yes||Limited|
The best tool for each of the broad requirements is as follows:
- Best for Salesforce Integration: Hubspot
- Best for WordPress Integration: Hubspot
- Best for Email Campaigns: All tools have strong email campaign features, with slight edges for Hubspot and Mailchimp due to their advanced segmentation features.
- Best for Live Chat: Intercom and Hubspot.
- Best for Future Functionalities: Hubspot seems to be the most versatile and ready for the future requirements
Overall, we feel that the best solution for B2B companies that use Salesforce as a CRM is Hubspot. In addition to meeting the key requirements listed above, it is:
- Very well established
- Relatively easy to use once set up
- Robust and reliable
You won’t get fired for choosing Hubspot, but it can be (very) expensive….