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Marketing Automation Software

Marketing Automation software enables organisations to automate their marketing functions including campaign creation, market segmentation and response analysis. Marketing Automation tools also allow greater integration between sales staff and management as well as expanded abilities to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Marketing Automation platforms enable the enterprise-wide sharing of information, providing an essential conduit between management, sales and marketing operations. Marketing Automation software is related to Campaign Management software, Email Marketing software and Search Marketing software. Find the best marketing automation platform for your organisation in Australia.

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Marketing Automation Software Buyers Guide

Introduction

Marketing automation software is a type of marketing software, which has been designed to allow businesses and marketing professionals to manage and automate key aspects of their marketing campaigns. Some of the most common and significant areas that are covered by software of this type include marketing campaign design, campaign creation, content publication, lead management, market segmentation, campaign tracking, and marketing analytics.

As the name indicates, the automation component of these applications is critical, and the software is typically able to perform predictable, repetitive, or clearly defined actions automatically, always at the ideal time. This allows marketers to spend less time focusing on small details within a marketing campaign, freeing up time that can be better spent elsewhere.

The best marketing automation tools will accommodate a variety of different marketing types, including email marketing, display advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing. Not only can the software be used to speed up marketing processes, but it can also enhance the quality of marketing campaigns by targeting content where it will be most effective. Alerting stakeholders to campaigns that are performing well—and performing poorly—allows for more timely intervention and better overall business outcomes.

Aside from the core function of automating aspects of marketing campaigns, these marketing automation tools can also be used to oversee marketing campaigns more generally, to improve personalisation, and to nurture leads throughout the entire customer journey. The comprehensive range of features ensures marketing automation software can be compared, integrated, or otherwise associated with lead management software, campaign management software, email marketing software, and a variety of similar applications and online services.

The precise features that are included in different marketing automation platforms or software solutions can vary significantly, and the specific features on offer are likely to be a key factor in any purchasing decision. Nevertheless, there are also some core features, which can help to define the entire software category, which can be expected to be found in almost all solutions on the market. With this in mind, when using marketing automation software, expect to have the ability to carry out the following tasks, activities, or processes:

  • Design a marketing campaign, create marketing actions, and continually track reach
  • Sort leads and other contacts into different categories or segments, based on their attributes
  • Track conversion rates, financial results, and other key performance indicators
  • Manage and coordinate marketing campaigns across multiple different channels

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software enables marketing professionals and the businesses they work for to oversee or manage their marketing campaigns and automate key elements, with a view to making those campaigns more effective and more efficient. In order to accurately answer the question of what marketing automation software is, it makes sense to first ask, 'what is marketing automation?' In simple terms, this describes the various processes that exist, which allow businesses and marketers to streamline their processes and carry out repetitive and predictable tasks automatically in order to save time and perform actions at the most opportune moment.

Among the tasks that can usually be carried out using software of this kind are campaign design, content publication, campaign tracking, market segmentation, lead management or nurturing, and analytics or performance tracking. Indeed, the comprehensive nature of many marketing automation packages means they can often be described more generally as marketing software solutions. However, as the name indicates, automation features are one of the most defining elements, and these tools can help businesses get to grips with how marketing automation works.

While convenience and efficiency are some of the key reasons why marketers and businesses adopt software of this kind, these packages also can bring together a number of functions that may otherwise be carried out separately, which could lead to unnecessary compatibility issues. Therefore, marketing automation can help reduce friction within marketing departments, resulting in greater overall productivity levels.

What are the benefits of marketing automation software?

The benefits of marketing automation software are primarily centred around its ability to carry out core marketing functions automatically, either without human intervention or with only a limited amount of human intervention. With that said, it is important to be specific about some of the advantages or benefits of using the software and precisely how investment in an application of this kind can improve the quality of a marketing strategy. Some of the most common and most significant benefits of using marketing automation software solutions allow users to:

  • Streamline a marketing strategy: a major benefit linked to the use of marketing automation software is the ability to oversee different marketing campaigns and the marketing strategy as a whole. This can include everything from social media marketing to the use of landing pages within content marketing, all the way through to search engine marketing. Streamlining a number of complex and distinct marketing processes in this way can make it much easier to see how things are progressing and what needs to change.
  • Monitor performance in real-time: aside from gaining a general sense of the way marketing campaigns are progressing, most marketing automation software will allow the tangible measurement and monitoring of performance. This includes tracking key performance indicators for each individual component of a marketing strategy so that users can see how it is performing now, how it has performed in the past, and whether the campaign is on an upwards or downwards trajectory. From there, it becomes easier to gain a clear sense of how well a marketing budget is being spent. Many solutions also allow for performance reports to be produced automatically.
  • Greater efficiency and effectiveness: one of the most important concepts when evaluating the benefits of marketing automation software is the idea of efficiency. Automation, by its very nature, is intended to make processes happen faster and without unnecessary manual actions being performed, and the ability to bring all marketing campaigns into a single place can also greatly improve efficiency by removing the need to move between applications. Additionally, marketing automation software can make campaigns more effective by alerting users to campaigns that are not performing well or by improving the speed at which actions are performed.
  • Optimise marketing resources: the opportunity for predictable or repetitive tasks to be carried out automatically and accurately, with minimal need for any input from human marketing professions, means that marketing automation software has the ability to optimise the use of marketing resources within an organisation. If the most simple, basic, or easily anticipated tasks are not being performed by a human user, those human users are then free to perform more complex, unpredictable, and sophisticated marketing activities instead. Automation also has the potential to allow businesses to reduce costs by operating with a smaller team of marketing professionals.
  • Enable swift adjustments: another major benefit associated with marketing automation software is the ability to make adjustments to a marketing campaign and have those changes immediately enacted. This means that campaigns can be tracked, and any necessary changes can be made swiftly, resulting in less wasted expenditure on failing campaigns. In many cases, rules for when changes should be made can be outlined, meaning that those changes will occur automatically as soon as the right conditions exist. As a consequence, any alterations to a marketing strategy can be made at the best time possible, even if no staff member is available.
  • Allow campaigns to be scaled: finally, a key aspect of marketing that is sometimes overlooked is the importance of being able to adjust the scale of a campaign. On a basic level, this could mean spending more money in order to increase the reach of a campaign. Alternatively, it could mean reducing the scale of a campaign and reducing associated expenditure at the same time. However, a variety of other changes can be made to the scale of a campaign, such as increasing the focus on a specific target demographic or reducing expenditure on a particular platform that is not generating the right results. At key times of the year, an inability to upscale a marketing campaign could lead to missed sales opportunities, while at other times, it may be best to reduce the scale and save money. Marketing automation software will typically allow adjustments to be made to the scale of a single campaign, or of multiple campaigns, all from one place. Moreover, this will usually be a quick and simple process too.

What are the features of marketing automation software?

The features of marketing automation software are based on using data, artificial intelligence, and other technology to make as many marketing tasks or actions as possible occur automatically, without the need for human intervention. Although the precise range of features included within programs of this kind can have significant variance, there are a number of core features present in most options on the market, which help to actually define this software category. Find out more about some of the main marketing automation features below:

  • Campaign management: design, create, and continually manage marketing campaigns in order to generate the best results. With many applications, it is possible to build a full sequence of marketing actions, which can then be carried out automatically, all with a view to reaching specific objectives. Multiple campaigns can be viewed and managed from one place, and progress can be tracked throughout, enabling a clear sense of what performance looks like, which campaigns are strong, which campaigns are struggling, and when a campaign may need to end.
  • Marketing automation: create automated marketing processes so that many of the more repetitive, mundane, or time-consuming tasks associated with marketing campaigns can instead be carried out automatically by the software. In many ways, the value of marketing automation comes from the ability to save marketers time in these areas so that more of their energy can be geared towards areas that require the human touch. The best marketing software solutions will offer automation options for everything from mailing list creation to upselling and cross-selling while also providing manual intervention options if and when necessary.
  • Multi-channel marketing: oversee marketing campaigns across all of the different channels used, all from one place. This may include everything from display advertising and email marketing through to content marketing, social media marketing and search engine marketing. In many cases, it is not only possible to automate functions for each of these marketing channels, but also to make changes that then automatically apply across all of the applicable channels at once. Ultimately, this ability to run and control multi-channel marketing campaigns will help to maximise reach and optimise overall return on investment (ROI).
  • Lead management: store contact details and other information about leads, and then manage interactions with them over time. The best solutions will allow the automation of certain aspects of communication with sales leads, and this can be tailored to different types of leads and the stage of the customer journey they are at. Within this, there may also be segmentation options, allowing the grouping of different types of leads together. From there, it becomes easier to target each of these categories with different marketing messages, based on what is most likely to appeal to them and the channels they are most likely to use.
  • Social marketing: manage almost all aspects of social media marketing strategy, including the chosen target audience, expenditure, and the platforms selected to focus on. One of the big plus points of social marketing is the ability to target users based on their interests, online activity, and the demographics they fall within. High-quality software solutions will offer specific features for different platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Analytics/ROI tracking: monitor the performance of marketing campaigns, view in-depth analytics information, select the key performance indicators that matter most based on specific objectives, and track the return on investment being achieved for each campaign. The ability to see the performance of marketing campaigns in real-time allows timely decisions to be made and a much better sense of which campaigns are working, which ones are falling short, and why. This then allows trends to be identified and adjustments to be made, including the pausing or cancellation of unsuccessful campaigns and increased investment in successful ones.

With the Capterra software directory for marketing automation software, it becomes easier to narrow down the available options based on the features they offer. As a result of this functionality, a search can begin by focusing only on the software solutions that include the specific features that matter most to a business.

What should be considered when purchasing marketing automation software?

When purchasing marketing automation software, there are many important things that need to be considered in order to find the ideal solution. This is a critical concept to explore because the best solution for one business may not be the best option for another. A good way to explore the most crucial considerations is to ask the following questions about the options in order to clarify the ideal solution:

  • What is the total cost of software ownership? How much a software package costs is always going to be an essential thing to consider, but it is better to contemplate the total cost of ownership rather than the simple cost of making a purchase or subscribing to a service. When thinking about this, consider upfront costs, setup costs, and continuous costs, or costs that may manifest over the longer term. Are there likely to be extensive costs involved with training employees to use the software? Will there need to be an investment in additional data storage? What are the costs associated with accessing support or upgrading the software when new versions are released? Answering these questions can help to make a more informed decision.
  • Is on-premises or cloud deployment better? The two main deployment options for marketing automation platforms are on-premises solutions or cloud-based solutions, and making a decision on which is most appropriate can help to narrow down the available solutions on the market. Cloud-based software can be described as software that is owned, delivered, and managed remotely by a service provider or by multiple providers. This model can be ideal for minimising on-site hardware requirements and providing remote access. Typically, all that is required to make use of cloud-based options is a compatible internet-enabled device and an internet connection, and this also makes the deployment method ideal for remote and mobile work. The subscription model also helps to make costs predictable. However, on-premises solutions offer full ownership and avoid continuous subscription fees.
  • What features are included in marketing automation software? Although the core features of marketing automation software solutions tend to be similar, at least in terms of what they are intended to do, the supplementary features can vary quite drastically. It is important to think carefully about what features are essential and which can be done without. Remember, seeking the best solution for an organisation may not necessarily be the same as the best all-round solution on the market. Some packages will include features that are not needed, while others may give extra attention to the areas that matter most.
  • Does the software cater for mobile and voice-based marketing? Content marketing options form a vital part of the best online marketing software solutions, but it is important that content marketing efforts are not simply focused on desktop users because this cuts out a significant chunk of the potential audience. With this in mind, it is worth considering whether or not different options on the market include tools for mobile optimisation and optimisation for voice search. If landing pages and other content can be optimised for users who are on smartphones, tablets, or using voice assistants, there is a better chance of reaching all of the people the company needs to connect to, and more likelihood of achieving the desired marketing outcomes.
  • Will software automation comply with legislation? Without the right level of care, online marketing can become intrusive for audiences, and legislation has been created in different parts of the world to curb this. Therefore, look to find a software solution that operates in compliance with legislation, especially in areas like email marketing spam. In terms of compliance and best practices, email marketing should never contain misleading subject lines, and opt-out links should be provided. It is also important that businesses include contact details, such as their physical address and a contact email address. Compliance is especially important with any software that is designed to facilitate automation because this could otherwise result in the extensive use of marketing materials that do not comply with rules and laws, and these materials may be sent without your knowledge.

The most relevant trends can be another important consideration when conducting a marketing automation solutions comparison. It is important to consider wider technology and software trends too, but with a view to how they impact marketing automation tools and whether or not the trend is relevant for the organisation and its marketing strategy. Some of the most significant trends are outlined in more detail below:

  • Artificial intelligence for automation: Automation relies on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) because software solutions need to know the conditions that indicate that action is required. However, as the quality of AI technology improves, so do outcomes. One trend that is especially significant with regards to the use of AI within marketing automation software is its ability to deliver a greater degree of personalisation. Using data gathered from leads or customers, it is possible to target them in specific ways, using precise messages that reach them in the spaces they are most likely to respond to. All in all, this means the right software, powered by AI, can improve the quality of marketing campaigns and adapt as new data is available.
  • Conversational user interfaces: The concept of conversational user interfaces was identified several years ago by Capterra as one of the most important technology trends for small businesses to get to grips with. This refers to user interfaces that respond to voice commands from the user, allowing for voice control. The benefits include increased ease of use and greater accessibility, especially for users with disabilities, who may find it difficult to operate some applications. While it remains an optional feature at the moment, a growing number of marketing automation solutions include conversational user interfaces, and this is likely to be a continuous trend in the years ahead, so it is worth thinking about whether to adopt a solution that includes this functionality today.
  • Growth of cloud-based solutions: A general software trend that has emerged over recent years has been the growth of cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. It is sensible to pay particular attention to the benefits linked to this trend, as the cloud-based approach allows costs to be more predictable. It also keeps data secure, eliminates the concept of having a single point of failure within the IT infrastructure, and allows access to the software from anywhere in the world. While cloud-based software will not suit all needs, it does offer some significant advantages. It may be the ideal approach for marketing software, where many users may require access to the information contained within while working from different locations.
  • Demand for remote access: Regardless of the chosen deployment option, most businesses now understand the importance of offering remote access to work tools, and marketing automation software is no different. Whether a company has consciously adopted a remote working or hybrid working model, or whether circumstances force a company to allow employees to work from home, it is advantageous to be able to respond to the growth in demand for remote accessibility. Look for software solutions that make this a possibility and consider the features that are available for controlling access and altering permissions as circumstances and needs shift.