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Why Salesforce Outpaces the Marketing Automation Competition

There is a multitude of marketing automation tools on the market today, but none come more highly recommended from Cloud for Good than Salesforce Marketing Cloud.  Marketing Cloud is a platform that allows marketers to create and manage marketing relationships and campaigns with customers through automation.  This multi-talented marketing tool enables listening and engages through advertising, mobile, social media, and email to manage the lifecycle of your constituents in one, central location.  Especially when coupled with Salesforce Pardot, users are provided an all-encompassing marketing tool that reaches the right audience at the right time every time.  But before we get into why Marketing Cloud outpaces its competition, let us first take a look at how we got here through the history of marketing automation tools. 

The History of Marketing Automation Tools

Salesforce Marketing Cloud was founded in 2000 under the name ExactTarget with an original focus on marketing through multiple channels.  After being purchased by Salesforce in 2013, Marketing Cloud quickly evolved into the multi-faceted powerhouse we know today.  Salesforce Pardot was also acquired by ExactTarget in 2012 after its founding in 2007.  Originally focused on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, Pardot shifted its focus to email functionality in 2009.   

MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and HubSpot, Salesforce’s main marketing automation tool competitors, were founded in 2001, 2004, and 2005, respectively.  Like their Salesforce counterparts, these tools went through several different iterations before becoming the products we’re familiar with today.  Mailchimp added social media and landing pages to their offerings in 2017 after focusing exclusively on email marketing.  HubSpot originally focused on inbound marketing before incorporating social media and email marketing capabilities, and Campaign Monitor first focused on email marketing prior to a continual expansion of their Salesforce integrations. 

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Salesforce’s Competition

A product like HubSpot has exceptional value as a social media tool, especially for Facebook Ads.  Its email template builder is intuitive and features a plethora of easy-to-use templates, and a brand-friendly landing page builder makes HubSpot particularly effective for organizations with a dedicated Marketing team.  HubSpot data, however, can become complex due to standalone CRM capabilities, limited behavior segmentation, and a cumbersome campaign management process.  Advanced reporting also requires additional costs, and the product might not be robust enough for very large organizations with complex processes. 

After years of siloed marketing data, former HubSpot clients who transitioned to Marketing Cloud now have better access to CRM data, which they leveraged to build more personalized emails and journeys, all the while ensuring the organization was always utilizing a single source of truth. 

MailChimp excels best at newsletters and simple inbound lead capture campaigns with tools that are simple to use and set up.  Organizations can import their own email templates or customize supplied templates, utilize a simple form tool for sign-ups, and even integrate directly with Facebook pages.  This product is intuitive, straightforward, and cost-effective for small organizations with limited marketing resources.  It should be noted though that filtering and segmenting on MailChimp data is limited, and the product itself will charge for duplicate subscribers.  Even with a Facebook integration, MailChimp does not include a social posting tool, and automation/workflow features strict limitations.  MailChimp will also not allow users to customize their automation program, and you must upgrade your account to remove any MailChimp branding to your communications. 

Specifically, with our client, Children’s Health Council, moving from Mailchimp to Marketing Cloud afforded them a more robust automation tool that allowed them to automate communication with their constituents across a variety of marketing channels (social, advertising, and email) at the right time and on a channel that made the most sense for the individual they were trying to reach. 

Campaign Monitor offers integration with Salesforce, is lightning compatible, provides a large variety of email building templates, and works well for organizations with small marketing teams.  A subscription center is available through Campaign Monitor, as is a native form tool with embedding capabilities, and engagement details are available on lead/contact records.  Unfortunately, even though Campaign Monitor is primarily an email tool, email template flexibility leaves much to be desired.  With email taking up the primary focus of this product, organizations will need a third-party add-on to handle additional marketing tools, such as landing pages or social posting.  Complex form requirements, too, may require a third-party add-on, and automation is limited by rigid journey-based requirements. 

Moving to Pardot streamlined access to Salesforce data for our former Campaign Monitor clients. After many years of exporting & importing data needed for communication efforts in Campaign Monitor, our clients are now able to focus on innovating their digital communication practices through more complex segmentation lists and engagement programs in Pardot. 

What Separates Salesforce from the Pack?

Salesforce is heavily invested in the capabilities of both Marketing Cloud and Pardot, as evidenced by the significant amount of time and resources funneled into maximizing the integration capabilities for Marketing Cloud and Pardot.  Marketing automation tools are most powerful when leveraging a CRM, and Salesforce has taken steps to ensure its customers are able to capitalize on that fact.  In addition to significant investment, Salesforce has made its marketing automation more efficient through seamless data syncing with Salesforce, as well as establishing unrivaled personalization and automation tools through the Marketing Cloud and Pardot connection. 

The key to effective marketing automation lies in the ability to deliver the right message at the right time with the right tool.  With Marketing Cloud and Pardot’s powerful automation tools, like Journey Builder or Engagement Studio, connecting these two tools allows the user to leverage a powerful flow of data from Salesforce that helps deliver timely and relevant messages.  This goes a step further with Pardot’s customizable lead scoring and acquisition capabilities, as well as Marketing Cloud’s ability to handle a large volume of contacts with complex data relationships to create powerful segmentation. 

Donors, volunteers, service leaders, and members of an organization are vital to the growth and prosperity of that organization.  The nonprofit space is highly competitive, so the way in which organizations are managing their relationships with these personas is of the utmost importance.  Through Marketing Cloud, marketers can bring data in from anywhere to automate programs and secure the data they most need to be successful.  There is no shortage of options available on the market today for marketing automation tools, but if you’re looking for the best value, with the greatest amount of configurability and connectivity, Salesforce Marketing Cloud is the clear best option for marketers today. 

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