B2B Marketing Guide

Top 10 Marketing Automation Solutions for B2B Small Businesses

Published , Updated 9 mn
Profile picture for Quentin Sureau

Quentin Sureau


Quentin Sureau heads Cartelis, a CRM and Data consulting firm. With almost 10 years of experience, he's helped many clients, from scale-ups to big companies. As a co-founder of Salesdorado, he shares top B2B sales and marketing practices.

As the volume of customer data explodes, the tools to exploit it are increasingly numerous, differentiated, and comprehensive. In the marketing automation tools market, we see 3 segments gradually emerging:

  • The classic, complex and complete tools : There are tools such as Pardot and Marketo, which are veterans in a very mature market – large companies with real marketing pressure management challenges, advanced segmentation needs, etc. – and which can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Lighter or mid-market tools: They focus on a relatively specific context and use case and develop more specific functionalities. Hubspot (inbound marketing), Klaviyo (e-commerce), or Customer io (SaaS) come to mind.
  • Ultra-lightweight tools: These include Brevo (ex-Sendinblue), Activecampaign and ActiveTrail, which focus on one-to-one conversations. For SMBs, marketing automation generates a relatively low volume of conversations, especially in B2B. This puts these companies in a delicate position, halfway between the need forautomation and the need for conversation – and these software applications have understood this quite well.

We have selected for you the best marketing automation solutions on the market, and we present them to you from the lightest to the most complex to help you see more clearly!

How to choose the right marketing automation solution for a B2B business?

What to expect from B2B marketing automation tools?

When we take the subject technically, a marketing automation software aggregates and transforms raw customer data into segments, then into marketing campaigns.

If you’ve been following the Martech press for the past few years, everyone wants to become the go-to Customer Data Platform (CDP). The idea is to be able to aggregate all data sources in one place, from which you can build your segments and generate campaigns.

Unsurprisingly, all software claims to be CDP, but with different arguments:

  • Show the power of their segmentation capabilities
  • Define itself as a key interface, by relying on the richness of its integration catalog. This is the case with solutions such as Segment, which lives up to its name, or Octolis, which allows marketing teams to keep control of their customer data.
  • Demonstrate their ability to leverage multiple channels, which justifies feeding them all your customer data to result in well-deployed marketing campaigns.

Key features of marketing automation software

To choose the right solution, look at the features of the software on the following 3 points:

  • Input data aggregation capabilities: This is often the main problem of marketing CRM projects. The integrations offered by the software, with your CRM, with platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads, and their web tracking capabilities to generate relevant events, are a real differentiator.
  • Segmentation skills: Without going into theories of sets, you will have to make joints and more or less complex aggregates to constitute your marketing segments. All solutions allow this, but in a more or less simple and efficient way.
  • Ability to create outbound campaigns: Email is the core channel of all these programs, but more and more other channels are available: SMS, live chat, push notifications, Whatsapp, social networks, popups and other on-site devices, etc.

If we take our 3 segments of the marketing automation market:

  • Ultra-lightweight tools integrate well with many data sources, offer fairly limited segmentation tools, and multiply output channels to help small brands use the same tools as larger ones.
  • Mid-market tools bring more data sources and better segmentation tools, specializing a bit vertically.
  • The most complex tools offer very deep integrations (but are more cumbersome to set up), very advanced data and segment administration tools, and allow you to design much more complex campaigns, with pressure management, dynamic segments, etc.

#1 Brevo (ex-Sendinblue)

The ultra-light marketing automation software made in France

Sendinblue started out as a simple and affordable newsletter creation tool, but soon integrated basic marketing automation functionalities. Now called Brevo, the solution is very complete.

Brevo integrates really well with most CMS, and released pretty advanced integrations with many CRM apps a few years ago. They also have a Salesforce Dot Com (SFDC) integration but it’s only available for Enterprise plans.

The segmentation tools are technically quite complete, but the user experience isn’t really best in class. It’s great for designing simple segments (with 3 or 4 conditions) but if you make it a bit more complex, you’ll get lost very quickly. And if you want to update a contact, count on 4 clicks and 3 redirection pages – it’s almost faster to import a CSV file.

Our opinion

If you design your segments on another tool and feed Brevo with these segments, it’s unbeatable. The bang for buck is 10x better than what you’d get with any other solution. Overall, Brevo is very powerful to set up the fundamental sequences (nurturing, upsell, renewal, NPS, …), but it might fall a little short if you already have advanced automation in place.

Brevo really shines in its campaign capabilities. For a remarkably low price, the tool allows you to use an impressive number of channels: email, SMS, live chat, inbox management, Facebook Ads… The events associated with each channel are well brought up on the automation builder, and exploitable to build advanced scenarios. This part is very impressive, especially at this price.

All plans include an unlimited number of contacts. A special Brevo feature is that rates are based on email volumes sent, not contact volumes. For 20 000 emails per month, count 49 euros / month for the Business plan. Count 159€ / month to send 200 000 emails / month.

Try Brevo

Take advantage of Brevo’s free plan to discover the tool!

#2 Active Campaign

A little more complex, and a little more expensive

When it comes to integrations, ActiveCampaign goes one step further than Brevo, with a rich catalog of integrations that lets you integrate with most of the CMSs and CRMs on the market. Event tracking features are very effective.

In terms of segmentation, we are also moving up a notch. Lead scoring features allow you to continuously improve your campaign allocation and refine your segments effortlessly. We also like the features related to e-commerce (abandoned cart automation), available from the Plus plan.

In terms of output channels, ActiveCampaign offers something similar to Brevo, with email, SMS, Facebook Ads, live chat, popups… Above all, the predictive features for campaign content and recipients are very powerful and a factor in the continuous improvement of your marketing strategy.

For the Professional plan, which offers all the advanced features (including predictive), you should pay $149/month for 1000 contacts. We go up to $549/month for 20,000 contacts. You can benefit from a free one-month trial without credit card.

Try Active Campaign

Take advantage of the Active Campaign free trial to discover the tool!

#3 ActiveTrail

Advanced marketing automation with phone customer support

ActiveTrail is one of the oldest email marketing programs on the market, created in 2004. But the software has evolved to offer an advanced marketing automation solution. ActiveTrail makes it easy to create complex automated customer journeys, conduct surveys, or create ad-hoc landing pages for your campaigns.

In terms of channels, you can count on their experience in mail routing for impeccable deliverability, but you can also envisage multi-channel sequences with SMS, Whatsapp, social network integrations, and push notifications on cell phones.

But the big plus at ActiveTrail, in my opinion, is the personalized support they offer their customers, with phone support available Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm by phone on +1 (929) 214-1037 – and by chat or email.

In terms of pricing, ActiveTrail is positioned right across the range, with a very affordable “Basic” plan, remarkably complete for the price, and a much more “turnkey” Premium plan with a dedicated account manager to help you get even more ROI from the solution.

Discover ActiveTrail

Take advantage of a free 30-day trial to try out ActiveTrail and get an idea of the tool’s capabilities.

#4 Hubspot Marketing

The inbound marketing giant

Hubspot Marketing goes pretty far when it comes to tracking, offers attribution tools, and even SEO tools, making it an indispensable inbound marketing tool. A great strength of the Hubspot suite is that it obviously integrates very well with the CRM of the same name. Hubspot even offers a very complete CMS to build your website and take advantage of native tracking of all possible events from your site.

In terms of segmentation, it’s quite powerful. We can find our way around, the objects are well distinguished as with Intercom (companies, leads, contacts, products, content, …) and it allows us to consider quite complex segments relatively easily. The lead scoring features allow you to continuously refine your segments.

In terms of campaigns, Hubspot is one of the most complete tools, with all channels (email, SMS, live chat, Facebook Ads and Messenger, popups). Reporting is also very advanced, with customized campaign reports and website traffic analysis.

For pricing, the Pro plan will allow you to access most of the features mentioned. Count 740 euros/month for 2000 contacts, and 1567 euros/month for 22 000 contacts. Hubspot Marketing offers a free plan, limited to 2000 emails per month and with Hubspot branding.

Discover Hubspot Marketing
Take advantage of Hubspot Marketing’s free plan to discover the tool!

#5 Klaviyo

For e-tailers

Klaviyo has a rich catalog of integrations. The developed API allows to connect almost all available CRMs. The offer is very focused on e-commerce, with Shopify, WIX, Prestashop, Magento Commerce, WooCommerce…

In terms of segmentation, Klaviyo is very strong. It separates your contacts between the most committed and the others to save you precious time. Most importantly, the tool uses your customers’ purchase data and product table to design segments based on a contact’s interests and likelihood to buy.

For campaigns, it’s very classic, very mobile-first, and very B2C – hence its primary target, e-commerce players. Email is clearly the core channel of the software, but you can also do SMS, and push notifications.

For the rates, for 1000 contacts count 45$/month for the email channel, and 60$/month to add SMS/MMS. Rates go up to $400 and $415 for 20,000 contacts. Klaviyo offers a free plan with 500 emails per month and 150 SMS.

Discover Klaviyo
Take advantage of Klaviyo’s free plan to discover the tool!

#6 Customer.io

For B2B SaaS

When it comes to data sources, Customer.io does it right. The catalog of integrations is very developed and the Zapier integration multiplies the possibilities. We particularly appreciate the functionalities of synchronization with the audiences of platforms such as Google or Facebook, synchronization with a data warehouse, automated deduplication.

For segmentation, Customer.io is very developed, and allows you to filter according to your needs and without limit. One of the strong points is that we can send raw events to Customer.io (example: X did such and such an action in the product), and build intelligent segments on this basis in the tool. This is ideal for SaaS and mobile applications.

In terms of campaigns, Customer.io allows you to deliver via the great classics (email, SMS, push notifications) and in-app messages on your site (popup, chatbot, etc). The best part is that it also offers iOS & Android SDKs that allow you to push in-app messages to mobile.

For the Basic plan, which gives you access to segmentation features, all their channels and email support, you should pay $150/month for 8,000 contacts. Rates for advanced plans are available upon request. A free trial is offered by the solution.

Discover Customer.io
Take advantage of Customer.io’s free trial!

#7 Pardot

For Salesforce B2B users

On the data source side, the SFDC integration is ideal if you use Salesforce as your CRM. The leads and actions you take through Pardot are automatically synchronized, which allows you to easily assign the leads to the right salesperson. The Google Adwords integration allows you to integrate all the interactions of your prospects with your campaigns in the global Pardot tracking. The social network connectors (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) are also present.

In terms of segmentation, the real strength is the very powerful Einstein Behavior Scoring developed by Salesforce. It identifies prospects who are close to making a purchase and assigns them a score to guide and refine your marketing campaigns. But Pardot really shines when used as account-based-marketing software.

On the campaign side, journey builder and personalization tools allow you to target the best content and the best channels to deliver your marketing campaigns. The predefinition of customer paths and the sending of alerts according to predetermined critical thresholds allow for continuous improvement.

On the price side, the Plus plan is limited to 10,000 contacts and allows access to a good number of advanced features for 1250 euros/month. For access to Einstein Behavior Scoring, you can expect to pay 4,000 euros/month for 10,000 contacts.

Try Pardot

Discover Pardot and its features

#8 Marketo

Highly advanced in segment management and campaign creation

The solution is developed by Adobe, and it is the most advanced of our top. Marketo packs cutting-edge functionality into a platform that offers almost everything companies expect from marketing software.

In terms of integrations, the absence of a native CRM is frustrating, but Marketo remains one of the best options for businesses, and offers a large number of CRM integrations (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics).

The segmentation is very advanced thanks to the AI developed by Adobe Marketo.

Most channels are available (email, SMS, mobile applications, social networks, pop-up, push notifications…)

When it comes to pricing, Marketo doesn’t start small – it’s aimed at structures with lots of contacts. Count on about 75 000€/year for 100 000 to 200 000 contacts, and more than 100 000€ per year for 1 million contacts – only for licenses.

Discover Marketo
Discover Marketo and its features

About the author

Profile picture for Quentin Sureau

Quentin Sureau

Directeur @ Cartelis

Quentin Sureau heads Cartelis, a CRM and Data consulting firm. With almost 10 years of experience, he's helped many clients, from scale-ups to big companies. As a co-founder of Salesdorado, he shares top B2B sales and marketing practices.