How to choose a winning marketing automation platform without stress – comparing 7 leading solutions Vol. 2

Comparison of seven leading marketing automation platform. Know how to choose a winning platform for your business needs.
Published July 17, 2019
Last updated November 14, 2021

The Martech Landscape Infographic grew once again. The 2020 version of the supergraphic counts 8000 martech vendors competing for customers’ attention.

Meanwhile, the post-pandemic market changes have prompted marketers to reevaluate their technology stack and optimise as fast as possible.

Most of us want marketing automation to facilitate higher revenue. However, to get there, we need to be clever with marketing first.

In this article, we will dive into seven platforms – Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Emarsys, Act-On, Ontraport, Oracle Responsys and Acoustic.

We want to paint a picture of essential functionalities that will benefit your marketing practice in the current situation and the future.


The differentiators we will use are:

  • Data management platform
  • AI
  • Cross-channel personalisation
  • Scalability 

How to compare 7 marketing automation platforms for your business?


According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report, 67% of marketing leaders are already using at least one marketing automation platform.

But not all of them are success stories.

Most companies still struggle with siloed systems, ROI reporting, and data management.

On top of that, there is talk of an ‘expertise gap’ among marketers today.

Sometimes, no matter how well designed the system you put in place if your employees don’t apply it, you miss out.

So before you get into the process of choosing a marketing automation platform, examine the state of your current marketing procedures. Review the strategies and tactics you use at the moment and the roadmap you want to follow in the future.

To sum up, these are the questions you need to have answers to:

Armed with your newfound marketing automation criteria, you will have an easier time comparing the solutions out there.

However, our comparison will be based on:

So let’s look into these platforms, one by one.

1. Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce Marketing is a robust marketing automation solution mainly aimed at helping B2C enterprise users.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud can also include Pardot, a B2B marketing automation platform. If you need both systems, be prepared for the cost of both licenses.

According to Forrester’s 2018 report, Salesforce and Adobe lead the pack of enterprise technology marketing suites.

Salesforce places a lot of emphasis on the customer experience.

We talked more specifically about how to optimise your customer journey with this platform here.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud delivers all of the key functionalities to enable B2C marketers to optimise end-to-end journeys across channels and at scale.

Its users mostly praise the platform for the abundance of its features.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud features

Additionally, Salesforce Marketing Cloud offers a few different editions that you can choose from as per your requirements. Its pricing isn’t available to view online, and it will depend on your particular needs.

So, let’s see how Salesforce Marketing Cloud compares on our table of differentiators between the 7 platforms.

It’s worth noting that Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a quite large suite of ever-evolving marketing automation features. On top of that, it natively integrates with the Salesforce Customer Success solutions which only makes it bigger. To fully exploit its automation power, make sure you have the in-house marketing expertise or are willing to invest in training.


2. Adobe Marketing Cloud

Adobe Marketing Cloud was part of Adobe Experience Cloud — a centralised platform for all of your marketing, advertising, and analytics tools.

Following the Magento and Marketo Engage acquisition, the Adobe Cloud offering improved even more.

As Adobe integrated all of its marketing solutions — Adobe Experience Cloud became the end result.

Like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Adobe supports enterprise B2C organisations with its plethora of features and tools.

Another similarity Adobe shares with Salesforce is that they both offer first-class B2B marketing automation. For Adobe, it’s Marketo Engage, and for Salesforce – Pardot.

Based on Forrester’s analysis in their 2018 reports, Adobe is the ultimate leader for enterprise marketing software suites.

Additionally, in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs of 2019, Adobe also comes out on top.

Adobe Experience Cloud features

Additionally, Adobe Experience Cloud offers native integration of all the tools available under the company umbrella, including over 100 products.

The downside to this solution is its cost. While there is no pricing guide displayed online, customers often mention it as an objection.

If you are looking into the Adobe Experience Cloud offering, make sure you have the budget and the team available to use it fully.

Since the platform offers so many features, you don’t want them sitting unused.

Let’s see how Adobe EC compares.

3. Acoustic (formerly known as IBM Watson Marketing)

In 2019, IBM Watson Marketing was sold to become a new marketing cloud company named Acoustic.

Even though the marketing automation platform changed its ownership and name, it still carries the same features. Acoustic now aims to bring humanity back to marketing by providing marketing-focused features.

Acoustic would appeal to B2B and B2C enterprises who require solid marketing tools and strong customer segmentation fuelled by AI.

Acoustic features

For costing options, you will have to contact the vendor.

To compare Acoustic in our differentiators’ table, take a look below.

Want to know more about How We help Leverage B2B Marketing Automation To Increase Sales?

Oracle Responsys features

The features of this platform include:

Oracle Marketing Cloud also offers a data management platform — Oracle DMP (formerly BlueKai) — that integrates natively with Oracle Responsys.

To this point, Oracle Marketing Cloud continuously adds new features for both B2B and B2C organisations, that can be integrated natively with Oracle Responsys platform if required.

According to Forrester’s 2018 report on enterprise marketing software solutions, Responsys’ biggest gap relative to competitors was its analytics capabilities.

However, in November 2020, Oracle introduced a new product called Advanced Intelligence — a suite of AI-powered features that will uplevel your marketing campaign management.

To get the Responsys pricing, contact the vendor.

Let’s compare Oracle Responsys, based on our differentiators.

5. Emarsys

Emarsys recognized again as a leader in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Personalisation Engines.

In November 2020, SAP acquired Emarsys and added it to the SAP Customer Experience portfolio, so you can expect platform changes to continue to roll out in the future.

The platform aims to streamline B2C marketing efforts. However, it does offer B2B optimisation tools like lead nurturing and management.

Emarsys targets enterprise and midmarket organisations. They offer turnkey solutions for the retail, e-commerce, travel and hospitality sectors, as well as a general marketing automation platform.

Emarsys features

As of April 2020, Emarsys’s key features include:

Emarsys offers an AI-powered marketing automation platform to satisfy your omnichannel personalisation needs.

Furthermore, Emarsys provides industry-specific solutions for retail, mobile, e-commerce, travel and cross-industry, so you might want to check with the vendor about your options if you don’t fall under any of the listed sectors.

Additionally, Emarsys comes with a fully integrated own Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) for better-streamlined marketing efforts.

Let’s compare this platform too:

6. Act-On

Act-on offers well-rounded B2B marketing automation, providing a number of tools necessary for streamlined digital marketing.

Based on its low cost, Act-on is mostly aimed at small to medium-sized businesses.

It provides a data management platform, CRM integration and tools for B2B automation such as account-based marketing (ABM) and progressive profiling.

There are two versions of the platform, depending on your business scale and needs.

Act-On features

As shown on the Act-On website, the product features include:

As far as the features of the Act-On platform go, we can see there is enough to play around with. However, based on the G2 reviews, Act-On performs best when it’s integrated with other solutions.

Let’s see how it compares in our table:

7. Ontraport

Ontraport is positioned as a sales and marketing automation platform for growing businesses, but in essence, it’s an around business software. Ontraport is primarily used by SMB’s, as it fits perfectly with companies with teams of one to ten people, and 2,000–20,000 contacts.

Its offering includes tools like CRM, E-commerce automation, and reporting.

The buzz about Ontraport within the marketing circle is mostly great. Customers can even enjoy the CEO’s occasional comments and helpful tips in the community.

The platform is easily scalable; however, if you are an enterprise or a medium-sized business looking to optimise at scale, you may want to look for other solutions.

Ontraport offers a 14-day long free trial, after which you can choose from the below packages:

Ontraport features

The features of its marketing automation platform include:

  • Ontraport Systems – Pre-packaged systems to help marketers customise and publish prebuilt marketing and sales funnels in minutes.
  • Campaign Automation – Campaign orchestration tool with drag and drop editor.
  • Email + SMS Messaging – Email and SMS tracking and management includes 2-way SMS messaging capabilities.
  • Email Deliverability – Support for elevated email sending, optimised for 2020 with capabilities such as SPF, DKIM and custom sending domains.
  • Tracking and Attribution – Lead and contact tracking with advanced attribution capabilities.
  • Facebook Custom Audiences – Integrated with Facebook to support hyper-targeted Facebook Campaigns.

Let’s see how Ontraport compares on our table:

And there we have it. A comparison of 7 marketing automation platforms, based on our points of comparison.

However, it doesn’t follow that our criteria are the same as yours.

Before you go searching for a solution, make sure you have clarified your needs with your team and business.

Every solution has something to offer, the question is – What are you looking for?

If you’re still feeling stuck or confused, give us a shout.

We would love to help.

Want to talk specifics?

Click on the button below to book a FREE discovery call!
We are an omnichannel strategy consulting firm and would love to see you succeed in your omnichannel marketing initiatives.

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