How to select a marketing automation tool for your small business

Marketing automation. It’s the key to really scaling your business in a short amount of time.

Not only do marketing automation tools allow you to take a step back and get a bird’s eye view of your email marketing campaigns, but they can also free up valuable time, allowing you to work on more important aspects of your business.

In this piece, we’ll compare three of the more well-known marketing automation tools with three that you might not have heard of, and suggest things that you should consider when looking for marketing automation software.

1. Hubspot

You’ve probably heard of one of the market leaders in this area, Hubspot. With over 52,000 regular customers, their marketing automation tool is one of the most well known.

What’s on offer?

Hubspot says that they offer an ‘all in one marketing automation tool’, which on further investigation is divided neatly into ‘hubs’ – a free Hubspot CRM, a Marketing Hub, a Sales Hub, and a Service Hub.

What they can offer is incredible – email templates, landing pages, integration with Gmail, youtube, a list of your customer activity, meeting booking bots… the list is endless!

What’s the cost?

Hubspot says that you can get an all-in-one solution for free. However, this is more of a starter pack to get all of your leads into a pipeline and to start tracking your customer data. You won’t get most of the cool features on offer, and you won’t be able to remove the Hubspot branding from your communications.

They divide their levels of features into Starter, which is $42 a month, right up to Enterprise, which is $2,624 a month.

The growth suite allows you to have the entire Hubspot experience; however, it’s only for those who can afford it.

2. Active Campaign

What’s on offer?

Active Campaign offers an impressive array of email marketing, marketing automation, sales and CRM, and messaging.

They say that their marketing automation ‘gives you back your time’, and each of the four sections on offer includes dynamic features such as email segmentation, split testing, event tracking, attribution, Gmail extension, machine learning, SMS and more.

What’s the cost?

Pricing is tiered, ranging from a ‘Lite’ $17 a month version to a $229 a month Enterprise package. They offer FREE migration, transferring you from any other platform onto theirs.

The cool thing is that they offer a 20% discount for nonprofits, which may swing you if you’re in the charity sector.

3. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is more email focused, and is one of the grandfathers of marketing automation software, having been around for a long time – since 1996, to be exact!

What’s on offer?

As email marketing experts, they have developed a huge list of features for customers that include email scheduling, custom lead import, marketing calendar, subject line A/B testing, polls, and online donations.

They’ve also partnered with Shopify to give you an e-commerce element to your marketing automation, which means you can directly insert Shopify products into your newsletters.

What’s the cost?

There’s a simple two-level pricing model – ‘email’ at $20, and ‘email plus’, at $45 a month.

If you prepay for a year, you can save up to 15%. Nonprofits get up to 30% off their plan.

When it comes to other types of software, there are also some more other less known marketing automation tools on the market. You might not have heard of these as they are newcomers, but they could be more suited to what you are looking for.

4. Outfunnel

Here at Outfunnel, we offer a sales-centric marketing tool that tightly integrates with modern CRM’s like Pipedrive. You can automate your email campaigns, track email and website behavior from click to conversion, as well as gaining useful insights and data.

What’s on offer?

Our marketing automation tool has fewer features than many other tools on the market. Why do we do this? To keep it simple for our clients.

Sometimes this will mean building a deep integration instead and sometimes this will mean finding novel solutions to problems one would typically solve by building a new view or a feature.

We sync our automation in two ways:

What’s the cost?

Pricing is as low as $15 a month, and you’ll only ever go up to $99 a month for up to 50,000 contacts, which is a great ROI.

We offer a free demo, in which you have a full two weeks to see if our product is right for you, perfect for trialing it on a small campaign. What’s more, we’re a small, friendly team, always on hand to help with any questions relating to your service.

5. is an automated messaging service covering email, push and SMS messaging. It can trigger messages so that your customers receive relevant and timely content to onboard people to your app or win them back after a period of inactivity.

What’s on offer?

With your email campaigns can create segments from any type of data you have, from page views to attribution, to events. There’s also a huge range of tracking and measurement available, from A/B testing and learning about user behavior.

You can also use SMS messaging to target your customer, sending them a push notification to their phone one minute after they have signed up, for example.

What’s the cost? isn’t cheap. It starts from $150 per month to a whopping $1,000 a month, so it’s not for one-man bands and startups. However, the good news is that you can have a 30-day free trial to see if it’s right for your needs.

6. Drip

Drip is a marketing automation tool specifically designed for e-commerce businesses. From first glance, it appears to offer every solution for a business owner – from personalization to landing pages, to native integrations to a wide range of e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce.

What’s on offer?

Drip offers a five-part solution: integrations, tracking, marketing automation, personalization and analytics, and reporting.

This means that all aspects of your marketing can be automated seamlessly with your online store – so when your customer abandons your shopping cart, for example, a nicely timed email can woo them back into converting.

What’s the cost?

Drip’s pricing is more flexible than other marketing automation software and works on a sliding scale, dependent on your customer base.

For example, up to 2,500 subscribers to your list will cost you a mere $50 a month, but if that figure grew to 100,000, it would be $1049 a month. This means you won’t be penalized for having a service you won’t be able to pay for with your subscribers.

What else should I be looking for when selecting a marketing automation tool?

Price versus value:

For a small business, it’s not always about picking the most popular solution.

Could several affordable or free tools work together, instead of investing thousands into one all singing and dancing CRM? Work out exactly what you need from the software in the short term, until you’re ready to use the additional features you’d be paying for.

Time investment:

Sure, the marketing automation tool offers you lots of features, but do you know how they all actually work? The time investment it may take to learn all of their many features may end up defeating the point of getting the tool in the first place! Less is more when it comes to automating your business.

Search online for information as to how long it took other businesses to start using a tool. If it is already more than 1hr, then that’s too much time.

Customer service:

It’s important to know how responsive the customer service team are, as you might have some questions about your marketing automation tool. Send them a message and see how fast they reply, and how helpful their response is.

If you can try before you buy, even better! Request a free demo so you and your team can have a play around with the tool first.


Overall, choosing a marketing automation tool for your small business is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

You’re investing in the infrastructure of your business. It’s important that it not only works seamlessly but allows you to gather the correct data and communicate with your customers in the best way possible.

A great marketing automation tool should be like a breath of fresh air to your business, and you should be able to see and feel the difference immediately.

Written by Brit Tammeorg