There's been an explosion of marketing automation software over the past several years as the industry grows into the billions of dollars.
While a select few have established themselves as market leaders, others are clawing and scratching their way into the industry, one small business at a time.
So how do you go about researching these tools? More specifically, how do find objective reviews and comparisons, sans marketing hype and promotions?
Read on dear friend, this article was purpose built for you...
First, a Quick Look at Why the Marketing Automation Industry is in Hyper-Drive
What we're now witnessing is more than the dawn of fancy new technology. It's even more than the dawn of great investment opportunities (i.e. HubSpot's IPO). We're witnessing dawn of an industry hyper-dedicated to small to mid-size business (SMB) empowerment via software-as-a-service (SaaS).
This is stellar news for SMBs but can be terrible news for traditional marketers and agencies.
You see, this constant flux in marketing automation and SaaS tools brings with it a whole slew of challenges for marketers and business owners. To modify a classic quote from Biggie Smalls, "Mo' SaaS, mo' problems." Well, at least as far as marketers are concerned. The typical problems created by the implementation of marketing automation and SaaS products center around integrations, alignment with sales processes, alignment with company culture and development of clear management roles.
That's NOT to cast a dark cloud over these wonderful SaaS tools.
Marketing automation software has proven to be one of the most powerful tools a business can adopt to gain control over its marketing and sales capabilities Let's get on to the resources now, eh?
G2 Crowd is quite possibly my favorite place to review and compare marketing automation solutions. It's a great place to research any business technology, really.
The biggest benefit here is the sheer amount of data they have. We all know bigger sample sizes improve the accuracy of the data and results. G2 Crowd has plenty of data.
You can get plenty of data and reviews for free on their website but they do offer a much more in-depth report for $599 US. Worth the money if you've got it.
TrustRadius is right up there with G2 Crowd in it's ample marketing automation comparison data and objectivity. It's also similar in that it hosts fantastic comparisons of all business software tools, not just marketing automation.
TrustRadius also offers a free Buyer's Guide to Marketing Automation Software, as long as you're willing to divulge some basic business info (classic lead gen tactic). Having read the guide, I can say it's worth the effort.
Since the user base is a bit different from G2 Crowd, I recommend using TrustRadius alongside G2 Crowd in your initial research to get the widest breadth of data in front of you as possible.
SimilarTech is just plain cool. With it's fun, side-by-side comparison of various SaaS products, it's designed more for companies looking to engage buyers using comparable technologies.
You won't find reviews here but you will find interesting comparative data. This data tells you which popular websites are using the specified marketing automation software, the estimated market share of the product and many other types of demographic goodies.
I recommend this tool once you've narrowed down your choices in products to less than a handful. Then use SimilarTech to see how popular it is in your industry, region and even among bigger competitors.
Do Some Internal Research and Comparison
Don't forget that the most important research you can do prior to implementing a new tool (like HubSpot, Marketo or others), is to research your own internal operations and capabilities first.
While these SaaS products can help you skyrocket your digital marketing capabilities, they can also be a massive drain on the budgets of those ill-prepared for adoption. Only once you're confident you have the ability to truly leverage this technology should you engage in further research.
Do so and the end result will be more traffic, more leads and more growth.