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Choosing the Best Marketing Automation Platform

Choosing the Best Marketing Automation Platform

In today’s fast-paced digital world, businesses are constantly seeking innovative ways to boost their marketing efforts and enhance efficiency. As the owner of a marketing automation agency with over a decade of experience working for IT corporations—eight of which were deeply involved with marketing automation tools like Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) and Adobe Campaign (both Classic and Standard)—I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of these technologies.

According to a recent report by Statista, the global marketing automation market size is expected to grow to $8.42 billion by 2027, indicating the increasing reliance on these technologies across industries. The adoption of marketing automation platforms not only transforms business operations, allowing for personalized customer interactions and a significant increase in marketing ROI, but also opens a plethora of job opportunities in the field. As companies integrate these platforms into their marketing strategies, the demand for skilled professionals to manage, analyze, and optimize these systems grows exponentially.

Studies show that marketing automation can lead to a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. Moreover, 80% of users saw an increase in the number of leads, and 77% witnessed an increase in conversions, underscoring the powerful impact of automation on marketing efficiency and effectiveness.

However, selecting the best marketing automation platform for your business is no small feat. With a plethora of options available, each offering a unique set of features, it can be challenging to navigate the market and make an informed decision. This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and insights needed to identify the ideal marketing automation solution that aligns with your business objectives, budget, and long-term growth plans.

Whether you’re a small startup or a large enterprise, understanding the key considerations for choosing a marketing automation platform is crucial for leveraging the full potential of your marketing strategies and capitalizing on the burgeoning job market in this domain.

What is Marketing Automation Platform?

Marketing automation platform is sophisticated software solution designed to automate repetitive marketing tasks, nurture customer relationships, and provide detailed analytics to drive decision-making.

This technology enables marketers to deliver more personalized, relevant content to their audiences, leading to improved engagement rates, higher conversion rates, and a better overall customer experience.

What is Marketing Automation Platform

The Evolution of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has evolved significantly since its inception. Initially focused on automating simple tasks such as email marketing, it has now expanded into a comprehensive suite of tools that cover everything from social media management and content marketing to lead nurturing and analytics.

This evolution reflects the growing complexity of the digital marketing landscape and the increasing demand for more sophisticated, data-driven strategies to engage customers across multiple channels.

A look into the past reveals some of the pioneers in the marketing automation space:

Unica (1992): One of the earliest players, Unica offered a robust marketing automation platform that has evolved over the years. It’s known for its robust marketing automation platform, was initially acquired by IBM in 2010. It became an integral part of IBM, offering advanced automation capabilities. In a significant move, HCL Technologies acquired Unica in July 2019 as part of a broader $1.8 billion deal involving several IBM products.

This acquisition marked the beginning of a new chapter for Unica, now under HCL’s umbrella, where it continues to evolve and expand its marketing automation solutions, demonstrating HCL’s commitment to enhancing its platform and services.

Eloqua (1999): Eloqua played a significant role in shaping the marketing automation industry. Acquired by Oracle in 2012, it remains active today as Oracle Eloqua, catering to a wide range of marketing automation needs.

Silverpop (1999): Initially focusing on email marketing, Silverpop expanded its offerings before being acquired by IBM in 2014. It’s now integrated into IBM’s Watson Marketing suite.

ExactTarget (2000): ExactTarget was known for its email marketing services but quickly expanded its offerings to include mobile, social, and web marketing solutions, making it a comprehensive digital marketing platform. In 2013, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, and it became the backbone of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This acquisition helped Salesforce significantly expand its digital marketing offerings, with ExactTarget’s technology enabling businesses to connect with their customers through personalized, cross-channel marketing campaigns.

Neolane (2001): Founded in France, Neolane was a software company specializing in cross-channel campaign management. It distinguished itself with a strong focus on managing campaigns across email, web, social, mobile, and offline channels. Adobe acquired Neolane in 2013, and it now operates as Adobe Campaign, an integral part of Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, providing advanced, cross-channel marketing automation capabilities. Currently there are three versions customer can opt to:

  • Adobe Campaign Classic v7 is the last version that allows customers the option for a full installation on premises, offering a complete on-premise solution. In instances where customers wish to delegate the complexities of deliverability and warming up, they often opt for an on-premise solution complemented by midsourcing. In this arrangement, the delivery servers (MTA instances) are hosted and managed by Adobe, alleviating some of the technical burdens on the customer.
  • Adobe Campaign Classic v8 introduces an enhanced user interface and promises incredible processing power by incorporating Snowflake into its architecture. However, this version can only be hosted by Adobe, limiting the deployment flexibility compared to its predecessor.
  • Adobe Campaign Standard represents the cloud version of Adobe Campaign, offering limited functionality for custom development and platform customization. Despite these limitations, it serves as a sufficiently robust marketing automation platform for regular marketing campaigns, providing a streamlined solution for users with straightforward needs.

Pardot (2006): Pardot quickly became a key name in B2B marketing automation. Salesforce acquired it in 2013, and it continues to operate within the Salesforce ecosystem as Salesforce Pardot.

Marketo (2006): Marketo has been a major influence in B2B marketing automation, particularly for its ease of use and comprehensive features. Adobe acquired Marketo in 2018, and it remains a vital part of Adobe’s marketing cloud solutions.

The Benefits of Marketing Automation

The adoption of marketing automation platforms offers numerous benefits to businesses, including:

  • Increased Efficiency: Automating repetitive tasks frees up marketers’ time, allowing them to focus on strategy and creative efforts that drive growth.
  • Enhanced Personalization: Advanced targeting and segmentation capabilities enable marketers to deliver highly personalized messages, improving customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • Better Lead Management: Marketing automation facilitates effective lead management by scoring, nurturing, and routing leads based on their behavior and engagement.
  • Insightful Analytics: With comprehensive analytics, businesses can measure the performance of their marketing campaigns in real-time, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimize ROI.
  • Scalability: Automation makes it easier for businesses to scale their marketing efforts without a proportional increase in resources or budget.

Why Marketing Automation is Essential?

In the digital age, customers expect personalized interactions and seamless experiences with brands. Marketing automation platforms empower businesses to meet these expectations by delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

Moreover, as the volume of data generated by online activities continues to grow, the ability to efficiently process and leverage this data for marketing purposes becomes increasingly critical. Marketing automation provides the tools necessary to navigate this complex landscape, making it an essential component of any successful digital marketing strategy.

Key Features to Look for When Choosing Marketing Automation Platform?

Choosing the right marketing automation platform is crucial for maximizing marketing efforts and ensuring a high return on investment. For my comparison, I have set aside the price of the platform and focused solely on features that are important to me as a marketing automation consultant

Illustration of key marketing automation features including integration, analytics, and personalization.

To help you navigate through the options, here are the key features to look for:

Integration Capabilities

A robust marketing automation platform should seamlessly integrate with other tools and systems your business currently uses, such as CRM software, social media platforms, and analytics tools. This integration is crucial for maintaining data consistency across your marketing stack and enabling a unified view of your customers.

Lead Management

Effective lead management is at the heart of successful marketing automation. Look for platforms that offer advanced lead capture, segmentation, scoring, and nurturing features. These capabilities ensure that you can manage leads at every stage of the customer journey, from initial interest to the point of conversion and beyond.

Personalization and Targeting

In today’s marketing landscape, personalization is key to engaging customers. The best marketing automation platforms allow for deep personalization, enabling you to tailor messages based on user behavior, preferences, and past interactions. This personal touch can dramatically improve engagement and conversion rates.

Analytics and Reporting

Data-driven decision-making is essential for optimizing your marketing strategies. Ensure the platform provides comprehensive analytics and reporting tools that offer insights into campaign performance, customer engagement, and ROI. These metrics are invaluable for continually refining your approach and achieving better outcomes.


As your business grows, so will your marketing needs. Choose a platform that can scale with you, accommodating an increasing volume of leads, customers, and campaigns without compromising performance or user experience.

User Experience

Finally, consider the user experience of the platform itself. A user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation are important for ensuring your team can effectively use the platform to its full potential. Look for platforms that offer training and support to help you get the most out of your investment.

Application Support

The level of support provided by the platform vendor is a critical factor. Comprehensive application support ensures that any issues you encounter can be promptly addressed, minimizing downtime and disruption. Look for platforms known for their excellent customer service and technical support capabilities.

I can only speak from the perspectives of Salesforce and Adobe, where both companies provide support at a very high level. While I used to hear a lot of negative feedback about Adobe, I cannot say anything bad nor have I had any bad experiences.

Customization of the Platform

Customization enables you to tailor the platform to suit your specific business needs and workflows. A flexible marketing automation platform, offering customization options for dashboards, reports, automation workflows, APIs, and advanced personalization languages such as AMPScript or JSSP, can significantly enhance both efficiency and effectiveness. It’s essential to ensure that the platform you choose can adapt to your unique requirements.


Platforms that offer certification programs for users not only demonstrate their commitment to education but also ensure that marketers can verify their expertise in using the platform. Certifications can be a valuable asset for professionals looking to advance their careers.


Comprehensive, clear documentation is essential for maximizing the value of any marketing automation platform. It ensures that users can find answers to their questions and learn how to use the platform’s features effectively.


A vibrant, active user community can be an invaluable resource for marketing automation platform users. Communities provide a platform for asking questions, sharing best practices, and learning from the experiences of other users. An engaged community often indicates a committed user base and a platform that values user feedback in its development process.

Salesforce marketing cloud offers to me up to this day the best experience for the community, documentation (trailheads) in form of game achieving ranks that are well recocnignized and rewarded by the company.

Also for to me best certification approach in a way that certificates are renewed by passing trailheads for new features and there is no neeed to take part every two years in certification renewel.

In recent years, Adobe Campaign has also started to enhance their community efforts by creating the Experience League and Communities and removing the requirement for paid certification renewals.

Evaluating Your Business Needs

Choosing the right marketing automation platform goes beyond simply comparing features; it requires a deep understanding of your business’s unique needs and goals. Here’s how you can evaluate your business needs to find the perfect match:

Identify Your Marketing Objectives

Start by clearly defining your marketing objectives. Are you looking to increase lead generation, enhance customer engagement, improve sales conversion rates, or perhaps all of the above? Understanding your objectives will help you pinpoint which features and capabilities are most critical for your success.

Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience is key to effective marketing automation. Gather insights about your target customers, including their preferences, behavior, and the channels they use most. This information will help you select a platform that excels in engaging your specific audience.

Assess Your Marketing Channels

Consider the marketing channels you currently use and plan to use in the future. Ensure the marketing automation platform you choose supports all these channels seamlessly, from email and social media to webinars and in-person events.

Evaluate Your Team’s Skills and Resources

Take stock of your team’s expertise and the resources available to manage the marketing automation platform. Some platforms require more technical knowledge than others, so it’s important to choose one that matches your team’s skill level or offers comprehensive training and support.

Consider Integration With Existing Tools

Your marketing automation platform should integrate smoothly with other tools and systems you’re already using, such as CRM software, e-commerce platforms, and customer data platforms. Integration capabilities are crucial for a unified marketing ecosystem and for maximizing the value of your existing technology investments.

Budget and ROI Considerations

Finally, evaluate your budget and consider the potential ROI of the marketing automation platform. While cost should not be the only deciding factor, it’s important to choose a platform that offers the features you need at a price that makes sense for your business. Also, consider the long-term benefits and how the platform can help you achieve your marketing objectives.

Which are the Best Marketing Automation Platforms?

Everybody tends to consult the Gartner, or Forrester chart; let’s look at one to see which B2C marketing automation tools have been at the top in recent history.

Business to Customer (B2C)

Prioritizes reaching a large audience quickly and efficiently, driving immediate sales and enhancing the customer experience. Important features for B2C include ecommerce integrations, instant messaging and SMS marketing, dynamic content for personalization, and strong analytics for understanding consumer behavior. The aim is to stimulate quick purchases and foster brand loyalty among individual consumers.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

  • Key Features: Customer journey management, email personalization, social media integration, AI-powered insights, programing languages (SSJS, AMPScript)
  • Best For: Businesses looking for a comprehensive, cloud-based platform that integrates deeply with sales and service departments.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its strong CRM integration capabilities and the extensive use of AI (Einstein) to predict customer behavior, optimize campaigns and segment customers.

Adobe Campaign

  • Key Features:
    • Classic: Advanced workflow design, cross-channel marketing orchestration, on-premise or hosted deployment.
    • Standard: Intuitive user interface, drag-and-drop workflow creation, tight integration with Adobe Experience Cloud.
  • Best For:
    • Classic: Large enterprises with complex marketing needs and a requirement for deep customization.
    • Standard: Businesses seeking a user-friendly, cloud-based solution with strong digital marketing capabilities.
  • What Sets It Apart: The comprehensive integration with Adobe’s suite of creative and analytics tools, providing a seamless workflow from content creation to campaign execution and measurement.


  • Key Features: Advanced analytics, customer segmentation, campaign management, and optimization tools.
  • Best For: Organizations that prioritize data-driven decision-making and require robust analytical capabilities.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its powerful analytics and customer insight tools, enabling highly personalized and optimized marketing campaigns.


  • Key Features: AI-powered customer segmentation, omnichannel engagement strategies, personalized messaging across channels.
  • Best For: Mid-sized to large businesses focusing on mobile-first customer engagement strategies.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its emphasis on AI-driven personalization and analytics, enabling dynamic customer engagement based on real-time data.


  • Key Features: Real-time data collection, advanced segmentation, personalized messaging, and cross-channel orchestration.
  • Best For: Businesses looking for a flexible, agile platform to engage customers in real-time across apps, websites, and more.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its strong focus on real-time, data-driven customer interactions and its ability to scale personalized messages across millions of users seamlessly.


  • Key Features: AI-driven search and merchandising, personalized content and recommendations, comprehensive customer insights.
  • Best For: E-commerce businesses seeking to enhance online shopping experiences through personalized content and product recommendations.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its use of AI to drive personalized experiences at every touchpoint, improving engagement, conversion rates, and customer loyalty.

Business to Business (B2B)

Focuses on nurturing leads through long sales cycles and building strong, lasting relationships with clients. Key features include lead scoring, detailed segmentation, personalized email campaigns, and content marketing tailored to decision-makers within other businesses. The goal is to educate and engage potential business clients over time, guiding them through the decision-making process.

From the Gartner chart, we can see that the following tools are the top B2B marketing automation tools at the end of 2023:


Salesforce product, is a powerful B2B marketing automation platform designed to help sales and marketing teams more effectively create, deploy, and manage online marketing campaigns.

  • Key Features: B2B marketing automation, lead nurturing, Salesforce integration, email marketing, and lead scoring.
  • Best For: Medium to large businesses already using Salesforce CRM or looking for a powerful B2B marketing automation solution.
  • What Sets It Apart: Seamless integration with Salesforce CRM, making it a go-to choice for Salesforce users. Its focus on B2B marketing with advanced lead management and nurturing capabilities stands out.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing

Part of the broader Dynamics 365 suite, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing offers tools for customer journey orchestration, email marketing, and event management, integrated with Dynamics CRM.

It enables businesses to create seamless customer experiences and personalized marketing campaigns. Microsoft’s entry into the marketing automation space emphasizes integration and data unification across business processes.

  • Key Features: Customer journey orchestration, email marketing, event management, and integration with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights.
  • Best For: Organizations using Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM or businesses looking for a marketing automation solution that integrates deeply with other Microsoft products.
  • What Sets It Apart: Deep integration with Microsoft’s ecosystem, enabling a unified customer view and streamlined workflows across sales, marketing, and customer service.


I’m not sure why HubSpot ranked among the top B2B marketing automation tools for corporate-sized businesses, nor why it secured third place in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. But, who am I to question their analysis?

HubSpot, founded in 2006, revolutionized inbound marketing by offering an all-in-one platform that includes marketing automation, CRM, SEO tools, content management, and social media marketing. Designed for small to medium-sized businesses, HubSpot helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers by leveraging content and personalization.

  • Key Features: Inbound marketing tools, content management, email marketing, social media management, and CRM integration.
  • Best For: Small to medium-sized businesses looking for an all-in-one inbound marketing solution that combines ease of use with powerful automation capabilities.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its comprehensive, user-friendly platform that supports all stages of the inbound marketing process, from content creation to conversion and customer service.


Marketo, known for its robust B2B marketing automation platform, focuses on lead management, email campaigns, and analytics. Established in 2006, Marketo became a key player in the marketing automation space. It was acquired by Adobe in 2018 and is now part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, enhancing its offerings with Adobe’s extensive analytics, content, and commerce capabilities.

  • Key Features: Lead management, email marketing, revenue attribution, and marketing analytics.
  • Best For: Medium to large enterprises requiring a scalable, comprehensive marketing automation solution with a strong emphasis on lead management.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its extensive ecosystem of integrations and its ability to deliver personalized, engaging experiences across the customer lifecycle.


Oracle Eloqua, acquired by Oracle in 2012, is a high-end B2B marketing automation platform that excels in campaign management, lead management, and analytics. It is part of Oracle Marketing Cloud, offering advanced targeting and segmentation tools to help businesses personalize customer interactions at scale.

  • Key Features: Advanced segmentation, campaign management, lead scoring, and marketing measurement.
  • Best For: Large enterprises looking for a robust, scalable marketing automation platform with deep customization and integration capabilities.
  • What Sets It Apart: Its sophisticated marketing orchestration tools and the ability to personalize customer experiences at scale, making it ideal for complex marketing environments.

Which are the Top Marketing Automation Platforms Based on Job Opportunities?

Exploring top marketing automation platforms from a career perspective offers unique insights. Let’s find out which platform yields the most job opportunities in today’s market.

The numbers below could be somewhat inflated since not all roles correspond precisely to the skill I searched for. Some may be seeking a marketing automation specialist and list a bunch of tools, or the job openings have been listed on LinkedIn for a long time. I gathered these numbers as of March 2024.

Salesforce maketing cloud

There are 3,500 job opening worldwide related to Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

When I was researching the same statistics for my e-book on Salesforce Marketing Cloud vs. Adobe Campaign Marketing Cloud, there were around 12,000 job openings exactly one year ago.


There are 1,500 job opening worldwide related to Eloqua.

Adobe Campaign

There are 1,000 job opening worldwide related to Adobe Campaign.


There are 800 job opening worldwide related to Unica.


There are 524 job openings worldwide related to HubSpot. This number might be skewed since HubSpot is an all-in-one platform.


There are 150 job opening worldwide related to Braze.


There are 60 job opening worldwide related to bloomreach.


There are 20 job opening worldwide related to MoEnagge

Implementing Your Chosen Platform

Successfully implementing a marketing automation platform in your business operations is crucial for maximizing its benefits. Here are key steps and best practices to ensure a smooth and effective implementation process.

Preparation and Planning

Understand Your Goals: Clearly define what you aim to achieve with marketing automation. Set specific, measurable objectives that align with your broader marketing strategy.

Audit Your Current Processes: Evaluate your existing marketing processes and workflows. Identify areas that require improvement or automation.

Create a Project Plan: Develop a detailed project plan that includes timelines, responsibilities, and milestones. Ensure everyone involved understands their role in the implementation process.

Data Integration and Migration

Cleanse Your Data: Ensure that your customer data is clean and up-to-date before migrating it to the new platform. This step is crucial for effective segmentation and personalization.

Seamless Integration: Work closely with your IT team or the platform’s support team to integrate the new system with your existing tools and databases smoothly.

Training and Support

Invest in Training: Provide comprehensive training for your team to familiarize them with the new platform. Consider both in-house training sessions and utilizing the training resources provided by the platform vendor.

Establish Support Channels: Set up internal support channels to address any questions or issues that arise during and after the implementation process.

Testing and Optimization

Conduct Pilot Tests: Before fully launching, conduct pilot tests with a subset of your data and campaigns. This approach allows you to identify and address any issues early on.

Iterate and Optimize

Use the insights and data gathered from your tests to optimize your campaigns and workflows. Marketing automation is an ongoing process of refinement and improvement.

Monitor and Measure

Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Establish KPIs to measure the success of your marketing automation efforts. These should align with your initial goals and objectives.

Regularly Review Performance

Continuously monitor the system’s performance against your KPIs. Use this data to make informed decisions and further optimize your marketing strategies.


In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, the strategic implementation of marketing automation platforms stands as a pivotal element for businesses aiming to enhance their operational efficiency, drive meaningful engagement, and ultimately, achieve higher conversion rates.

As we’ve explored, the demand for skilled professionals adept in these platforms is reflected in the thousands of job opportunities worldwide, highlighting the critical role of marketing automation in today’s business landscape.

For businesses, the journey towards selecting and implementing the right marketing automation platform hinges on a thorough evaluation of key features such as integration capabilities, scalability, user experience, and community support, among others.

Equally important is the consideration of the platform’s alignment with the company’s specific marketing objectives, audience understanding, and the existing technological ecosystem.

For individuals, the burgeoning job market underscores the value of honing skills in these platforms. Certification programs offered by these platforms not only bolster professional credentials but also deepen understanding, ensuring that marketing professionals are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of modern digital marketing strategies.

In conclusion, whether you’re a business seeking to capitalize on the efficiencies and insights offered by marketing automation platforms or a professional looking to advance your career in digital marketing, the importance of choosing a platform with a robust set of features, a strong support community, and significant job opportunities cannot be overstated.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the strategic implementation of marketing automation will remain a cornerstone of successful marketing strategies, driving the future of engagement, personalization, and customer satisfaction.

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MarTech consultant

Marcel Szimonisz

Marcel Szimonisz

I specialize in solving problems, automating processes, and driving innovation through major marketing automation platforms.

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