7 Best Marketing Automation Software and Tools in 2021

Kyle Hamer • November 11, 2020


2% of industry leaders support the need for marketing automation. Now that many companies are digitally transforming, it’s hard to pick each company’s best software. There is so much marketing automation software available; how do you know which one to pick.

To find the best tools for your business, you need a comprehensive breakdown of the tools available. Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about HubSpot, Marketo, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, NetResults, SharpSpring, and Autopilot.

Necessities and Desirables for Marketing Automation Software

Many marketing automation tools come with must-have features. Some software is accompanied by desirable features that enhance the experience. If you’re unsure of what qualifies as necessary or extraneous for your marketing automation software, here’s a breakdown for you.

Must-Haves for Marketing Automation

Your marketing operations need three basic things to run. Any automation software you explore needs to offer affordability, usability, and compatibility.


Pricing is a non-negotiable for any business. There’s no such thing as limitless spending, no matter your budget. Ideally, your marketing automation tools include exactly what you need at the right price.

The right price for your business may vary by size and preferred extra features. If you need certain utilities and integrations, your budget must accommodate these needs. The right platform offers what you need at an affordable price.


Certain platforms bring ease of use, while others bring many complications. The lower cost might mean a bigger learning curve in the end. The more time you spend learning to use a platform, the less valuable it becomes.

For marketing automation software, you can’t sacrifice usability. Paying for training can ultimately undo the initial benefit of a seemingly cost-effective software.


How many types of software do you use? Any digital transformation often uses different software. Integration compatibility plays an essential part when considering an automation platform.

Any existing CRM systems or third-party apps you use need to work with your marketing operations. If the platform you’re considering doesn’t use compatible integration, it’s not the right one for you.

Extra Features for Marketing Automation

Now you’re aware of the must-haves for marketing automation tools; you need to know about additional features that may benefit your business needs. These extras serve important functions, but you won’t find them in all marketing automation software.

  • CRM: some platforms include a CRM function, some integrate existing ones, and others don’t
  • Email: various forms of testing including; some include A/B testing, segmentation, and drip campaigns
  • Content: creating varied content forms, such as landing page copy, webinar hosting, and more
  • E-commerce: direct integration with your e-commerce platform of choice
  • Social media: monitoring, platform integration, and CRM interaction
  • Training: cost and ease of implementation for a marketing operations team

With a breakdown of your marketing operations’ absolute necessities, you’re ready for the best list of marketing automation tools. Read this list to discover the benefits of each platform and choose the right one for your business.

1. HubSpot

One of the most well-known marketing operations online, HubSpot offers both free and expensive options for automation. The marketing hub offers highly intuitive, straightforward solutions for small businesses. Its features include:

  • Blog: publish desirable, attractive content with strong CTAs
  • SEO: strategize content with strong search authority and outrank the competition
  • Ad tracking and management: determine where ad spend is most lucrative
  • Social media management: monitor, prioritize, and create trackable interactions
  • Video: file and host management with easy embeds on multiple locations
  • Live chat: use bots for easy connection with site visitors

This overview gives you a basic idea of what the HubSpot Marketing Hub has to offer. Be sure to visit the page for more details and pricing.


The platform offers 24/7 customer support to address your needs via chat, email, or phone. You can expect personal onboarding with training, consultation, and tech support. There are also constant education opportunities for free and paid certification.


Although HubSpot offers a free plan for smaller companies, the rapid price increase is its biggest deterrent. Its free tools and training cut this cost, but only so much. If you work with a large company or a small with the need for rapid scalability, this platform offers it at a high price.

2. Marketo

One of the better-known marketing automation platforms around, Marketo, offers similar features to other software. Here’s a list for quick reference:

  • Ad targeting: engagement data for prospects and customer, account discovery, and predictive audiences
  • Mobile engagement: data security, privacy, and enrichment with bidirectional CRM sync
  • CRM integration: upsell and crossed products and services with better onboarding
  • Marketing analytics: pre-built dashboards, intelligent reporting, and accessible data
  • Marketo moments: channel, content, and engagement performance
  • Data-driven engagement: drive leads and match the buyer experience

This overview highlights some of Marketo’s best features. It has more to offer than other platforms, and at a reasonable cost. See more about its pros and cons below.


With pre-built dashboards, Marketo has similar features to ActiveCampaing. Its marketing analytics and reporting are superior. Unlike other platforms, this marketing automation software promotes alignment with sales campaigns (i.e., bidirectional CRM sync).


Marketo is a dated platform; because of this, there are more intuitive platforms available. Some comparably priced software also outmatches it with better features. This platform’s cost largely benefits larger businesses, excluding smaller ventures.

3. ActiveCampaign

Used and preferred by small businesses numbering close to 100,000, ActiveCampaign offers necessary and extra features. As a marketing automation software system, it boasts about its intuitive construction.

With a claim like this, “It’s like getting an extra employee without needing an extra desk,” you’re not left wonder about what it offers. Here’s a quick overview of the platform’s features:

  • Site tracking: track site visitors for better contact offering
  • Event tracking: monitor your apps, memberships, site, and portal interactions
  • Automation goals: observe funnel behavior and dropoff patterns
  • Automation map: find bottlenecks and automation connections
  • Attribution: find top-performing channels on social, SEO, PPC, email, and more
  • Split action: test customized content for automation control

With this brief breakdown of the platform features, you have a clearer understanding of what it offers. Visit the site for a pricing breakdown and more detail on each feature. Below, you can learn about a few pros and cons to inform your choice.


ActiveCampagin offers a slew of essential features to support your small business. With pre-built workflows, training, and live support, you won’t be left in the lurch.

The platform even includes premade engagement automation with just over a minute to setup. Talk about convenience and saving time!

You can map out your automation, so if you or your marketers are more visual, ActiveCampaign may be the choice for you. With its built-in segmentation feature, you can deliver targeted content to the right clients.

This marketing automation software offers simplicity, intuitive design, and affordability. It’s no wonder it makes the best lift of automation software available.


The biggest con about this platform maybe its reporting. Although not the best feature, it still outperforms other comparable software. With its overall advantages, you can’t go wrong with ActiveCampaign.

4. MailChimp

Well-known for its email marketing, MailChimp does even more nowadays. It offers marketing automation with its own preferable, specialized features. See for yourself:

  • Customer journeys: deliver on-brand messaging based on customer behavior journey maps
  • Send-time optimization: when to send content out at the best time
  • Transactional email: developer feature to update customers on purchase and account activity
  • Behavior or date-based automation: launch campaigns based on behavior or important dates (e.g., birthday, anniversary)
  • RSS to email: up to date content with the latest post sharing
  • Pre-built journeys: for a welcome, abandoned carts, product recs and retargeting, first purchases, loyal customers, order notice, follow-up, and reengagement

These features support businesses invested in e-commerce. No matter your business size, you can benefit from these automation features. See a breakdown of the pros and cons.


Recently rated as the number one marketing software by Capterra, MailChimp is on the ball with the latest tools. With its cutting edge pre-built journeys, its hefty competition for some others on this list. With award-winning support, a directory of experts, and over 250 app integrations, what’s not to love?


Although you can sign up free, you won’t get everything you need for sales support. There’s not lead scoring or sales intelligence included. Even with the app integrations available, many business owners need lead data to inform their prospecting efforts.

5. Net-Results

Built for mid-market companies, CEOs, and enterprises worldwide, NetResults makes this list for several reasons. See some of its convincing features for yourself:

  • Drag and drop builders: for email, contact/lead forms, and land pages
  • Dynamic content: for web and email, to personalize messages for each customer journey
  • Drip, nurture, A/B campaigns: quick, on-time communication capacity
  • Segmentation: leverage behavior, demographic, and firmographic data
  • CRM integration: built-ins for Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and SugarCRM (set up in 30 minutes)
  • Flexible reporting: determine your gaps easily for better targeting

These features (and more) put Net-Results as a top contender for the best marketing automation software for 2021. See why you could (or couldn’t) benefit from this platform with the pros and cons below.


The intuitive design of Net-Results means anyone at a large company can use it. From CEOs to marketing associates, it’s adaptive. It also comes with pre-builts, plugins, and other management tools that really support larger companies’ needs.


Net-Results meets the needs of many medium to large-sized businesses. Unfortunately, that means a hefty price tag. It’s not as expensive as HubSpot, but only affordable for companies with larger marketing budgets.

6. SharpSpring

SharpSpring is another easily recognizable marketing automation software. Its biggest selling point is its complete sales and marketing alignment. See a list of features for yourself:

  • Visual automation: intuitive builder to map every customer journey
  • Lead nurturing: drip campaigns and responsive messaging from behavior data
  • Lead scoring: find hot prospects with custom metrics for sales teams
  • Dynamic lists: real-time information to generate accurate behavior segments
  • Buyer personas: custom templates for any segments and personalized content
  • Direct updates: stay connected to your teams via email and SMS
  • Lead filters: tailor the buyer journey with customized workflows

These features support SharpSpring’s automation software. These aren’t the only benefits, as they focus solely on automation. See more for yourself below.


This platform includes other automation features like end cart abandonment, data and third-party integration, dynamic landing pages, and multi-device capacity. This lends flexibility to marketers and salespeople in the field. It also builds on the system’s features for email, forms, CRM, analytics, social, and more.


Although it claims affordability, SharpSpring still runs a high price. Small business owners need to be pretty financially well-off to afford this platform. On the other hand, it is more affordable for those companies with bigger budgets than other big-business software.

7. Autopilot

Autopilot offers a simplified platform that integrates well with other systems. Its intuitive design accompanies its basic features:

  • Visual workflows: drag and drop customer journeys from scratch or template directories
  • Email marketing: timely messaging based on time, behavior, or interest
  • Best in class integration: Slack, Trello, Facebook, Google, Typeform, and more
  • Native CRM integration: monitor performance and customer data

These features offer all the basic needs for marketing automation software. There are some deficits to a simpler platform, though.


Ease of use and affordability are the biggest pros for this platform. It requires minimal training, and you won’t suffer for this in the long run. Its simplicity does limit its capacity, though.


Ideal for small to medium businesses, Autopilot doesn’t feature intensive CRM support and other advanced features. Bigger companies might want to look elsewhere, even with the platform’s extra features. You can pay for Salesforce CRM integration, a custom IP, and activity streams (but every month).

Work With an Expert Team to Support Your Marketing Operations

Now you’ve surveyed the top marketing automation software available; it’s time to make a decision. Choosing the right platform doesn’t mean settling for what fits your budget. And you don’t have to sacrifice on extra features either.

At least, you don’t have to sacrifice quality in marketing automation with the Hamer Marketing Group. The above list only begins to meet your needs. Our team of seasons experts can support your digital transformation.

Say hello to sending the right messages on time alongside the customer journey. You deserve professional support to simplify your selection, implementation, and migration needs. Get an audit today to plan and coordinate your move to automated marketing.