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Marketing Automation Pricing Comparison

Elizabeth Sullivan-Hasson
September 10, 2021
Marketing

Marketing Automation Pricing Comparison

If you find yourself individually sending more than 100 emails per day, your business needs automated ways to handle marketing communications. Enter marketing automation and email marketing software. 

Email marketing software handles all aspects of setting up, running, and tracking email marketing campaigns. Small businesses looking for ways to automate and track email sending should look no further than email marketing platforms.

But if your business needs a way to automate marketing activities beyond just email sends, you’ll likely need a marketing automation platform. Marketing automation software is email marketing software on steroids. I.e. more channels, more tracking, more campaigns, etc. 

Here’s the lowdown on pricing for three of the most popular marketing automation products, with one well-known email marketing product thrown in for good measure. The products reviewed in this post include:     

Product name trScore Free version Entry-level pricingBest fit for: 
Hubspot Marketing logo8.5/10Yes $45/mo for 1,000 contactsSmall businesses that need a free CRM
Mailchimp Logo8.3/10 Yes$9.99/mo for 500 contactsSmall businesses that need robust email marketing tools
activecampaign logo8.8/10No$7.50/mo for 500 contactsSmall and growing eCommerce businesses
Marketo Logo PNG8/10 NoContact vendor Businesses with complex marketing automation needs and enterprises 

What is Marketing Automation Software?

While email marketing tools are fantastic, marketing automation software is the next level up.

Marketing automation tools allow marketers to set up multi-channel campaigns, track campaign progress, and evaluate overall campaign performance. Marketing automation platforms also act as a contact database for your email list. 

Some marketing automation products have a free built-in customer relationship management (CRM) platform for your business to use. This option may be especially attractive for smaller businesses with a tight budget. For example, vendors like Keap, Mailchimp, and Ontraport are focusing on providing a blended sales and marketing automation solution ideal for smaller businesses. 

For marketing automation platforms that don’t double as a CRM, having tight integration with your business’ CRM will be essential. Not only does this help streamline marketing and prospecting activities, it allows your teams to share critical information (contact records). This helps ensure all potential leads are followed-up with and correctly qualified. 

For marketers looking for an all-in-one style platform, marketing automation software can be a great choice. This type of software gives so much more than standard campaign functionality, including: 

  • Landing page creation 
  • Form building 
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead management 
  • Lead scoring and qualification 
  • Marketing automation workflows
  • Social media engagement analytics

To learn more about what marketing automation is and what it can do for you, watch this video:

Marketing Automation Pricing

How much your marketing automation software will cost largely depends on two things:

  1. The size of your contact database (i.e. list size) 
  2. How many and which advanced features you need

Most marketing automation and email marketing solutions are priced by the number of contacts you have. Entry-level plans typically start with a limit of between 500-2,000 email contacts. 

The number and range of features included in the plan also help determine the cost of the marketing automation software. For example, many vendors offer basic functionality (e.g. email builder, email marketing, reporting dashboard, CRM, forms and landing pages, etc.) for free. 

But advanced features like the ability to add your own branding, build customer journey maps, and do email list segmentation are only available on paid plans. Many vendors give customers the option of having a monthly or yearly subscription plan. 

The trick, of course, is finding the right platform for your budget.

Hubspot Marketing Hub

Hubspot Marketing Hub is a great choice for small businesses and people who want to start their own businesses. It offers a wide range of forever-free tools, including a free CRM. For small and new businesses, this is a special type of boon. HubSpot’s free CRM is one of the best fully-featured free CRMs available in the market. Along with standard CRM features it includes capabilities meeting scheduling, calling, ticketing, and prospecting. 

Other free tools that come with the Marketing Hub include: 

  • Forms 
  • Email marketing 
  • Ad management 
  • Landing pages 
  • List segmentation 
  • Reporting dashboard
  • Email reply tracking 

See here for the full list of free tools HubSpot offers. 

Marketing Hub Pricing Tiers

Along with its free tools, HubSpot offers advanced CRM, email marketing, and marketing automation features on its three paid tiers. Each tier has annual or monthly billing options, which include discounted prices for yearly bills. 

The cost of each plan depends on the number of marketing contacts you have and the range of features you require. 

One important aspect of all HubSpot Marketing Hub plans: you only pay for the number of ‘marketing contacts’ you have. I.e. the contacts you send marketing emails and messages to. Hubspot allows businesses to store up to 15 million contacts for free in its CRM, so you’ll only be charged for the number of contacts you reach out to with marketing messages. 

Starter

HubSpot Marketing Hub’s Starter plan has a base cost of $45/mo. or $540/year. You get the first 1,000 contacts free of additional charge, but then the cost increases by $45/mo. per additional 1,000 contacts. 

Discounts kick in as you increase your contact list size. For example, you can purchase the Starter Marketing Hub plan for $3,36//mo or at $43,632/year for 100,000 contacts. 

The main benefit of purchasing the Starter plan rather than just using HubSpot’s free tools is the ability to remove HubSpot branding. Some smaller or newer businesses may not mind HubSpot branding on things like forms, landing pages, or emails. But replacing generic (in this case HubSpot) branding with your own helps your business look that much more professional.  

Professional

The Professional plan costs $800/mo. or $9,600/year to start. You’ll get the first 2,000 contracts free of charge compared with the first 1,000 free for the starter plan. After which the cost increases by $224.72/mo. per additional 5,000 contacts. 

Similar to the Starter plan, discounts apply as you increase your overall marketing contact list size. If you have between 62,001 to 82,000 marketing contacts, you can purchase the Professional plan for $157.30/mo. per extra 5,000 contacts. 

While it’s more expensive than the Starter plan, the Professional plan is ideal if you’re looking for extra automation and orchestration features. It provides you with omnichannel marketing automation and allows you to schedule posts on various social media channels. The Professional plan also gives you the flexibility to create customized reports, including campaign performance reports. 

Enterprise 

HubSpot Marketing Hub’s Enterprise plan is designed for businesses that already have a sizable marketing contact database. It has a base cost of $3,200/mo. or $38,400/year. Just like the other two tiers, Enterprise plan users get the first 10,000 marketing contacts free. Pricing then increases by $100/mo. in increments of 10,000 contacts. 

If you have a large number of marketing contacts but don’t necessarily need advanced functionality, the Professional tier may be the right fit for you. But if you need the ability to create custom objects and do multi-touch revenue attribution, you should consider the Enterprise plan. 

These advanced capabilities are the main benefit of upgrading to the Enterprise plan. It also allows for more team organization and permissions control within the HubSpot platform. 

Here’s a basic breakdown of the pricing across the three HubSpot Marketing Hub plans: 

Hubspot pricing breakdown

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a classic example of an email marketing platform that turned into an all-in-one solution. While it now provides businesses with a wide range of marketing and sales automation tools, Mailchimp has its roots in email marketing. If you’re looking for a free yet best-in-class email marketing solution, Mailchimp may be right for you. 

Similar to HubSpot Marketing Hub, Mailchimp has a free version of its platform that includes a fantastic set of tools. These include: 

  • Marketing CRM
  • Up to 2,000 contacts
  • Signup forms 
  • Email marketing 
  • Subject line helper 
  • Landing pages
  • Social posting 
  • Websites and domains 
  • Content studio 

Read more about all the free tools Mailchimp offers here

Mailchimp Pricing

Mailchimp’s free plan may not have all the bells and whistles that HubSpot’s free marketing tools do. But Mailchimp’s free plan is ultimately a better deal for marketers looking for a free email marketing solution. Mailchimp allows up to 10,000 monthly sends on it’s free plan while HubSpot allows only 2,000 per month. 

Besides the free plan, Mailchimp has three main pricing tiers that charge every month. Each tier has both contact and email send limits in place. All three plans offer all of the free tools along with more advanced features and branding options. 

Essentials

Mailchimp’s Essentials plan starts at $9.99/mo. For 500 contacts. It then increases in price based on the number of contacts in your email list. For example, the Essentials plan will cost $52.99/mo. For up to 5,000 contacts or $230/mo. For up to 30,000 contacts. 

The Essentials plan maxes out after 50,000 contacts, so you’ll need to upgrade to the Standard plan if you have more than 50K marketing contacts. There is also a monthly email sending limit. According to Mailchimp, the limit is 10X your maximum contact count. 

Wondering why you should upgrade to the Essentials plan from the free one? If you upgrade, you’ll get access to features like email templates, custom branding, message A/B testing, multi-step journey orchestration, and more. 

Standard

The Standard plan offers everything in the Essentials package, plus more advanced features. This is an ideal plan if you have 50K contacts or more and need features like: 

  • Customer journey builder
  • Email send time optimization
  • Behavioral targeting 
  • Dynamic content 
  • Custom templates 

Pricing for this plan starts at $14.99/mo. for 500 contacts. Like the Essentials tier, it increases in price based on the number of contacts in your email list. You can purchase the Standard plan for $170/mo. for 15K contacts and $430/mo. for 75K email contacts. 

If you have over 100,000 marketing contacts, you’ll need to upgrade to Mailchimp’s most expensive plan. The limit for monthly email sends on the Standard plan is 12X your total contact count. 

Premium

Mailchimp’s most expensive plan also allows for the largest number of email contacts and offers the most advanced features. Prices for the Premium plan start at $299/mo. for 10,000 contacts. You can purchase this plan for $580.mo. for 40K contacts and $850/mo. for 130K contacts. 

The Premium plan has an unofficial contact limit of 200,000, after which you’ll need to contact a sales rep to discuss a customized plan. The monthly sending limit for emails is 15X your maximum contact count. 

While Mailchimp is a great platform for small businesses, this plan is designed for a larger business with more complex marketing needs. The benefits of upgrading to this tier include access to features like advanced audience segmentation, multivariate (rather than just A/B) testing, and unlimited seats & role-based permissions. 

Here’s a simple overview of the different plan levels Mailchimp offers: 

Mailchimp Pricing Breakdown

ActiveCampaign

Like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign has its roots in email marketing. But it has since transformed into a ‘customer experience’ automation platform. I.e. It offers businesses a blend of both sales and marketing automation tools.

ActiveCampaign has also developed machine learning capabilities that allow you to extract insights from all your customer data. 

ActiveCampaign Pricing

ActiveCampaign offers four different pricing tiers and charges on either a monthly or annual basis. Like other products in this list ActiveCampaign pricing largely depends on the number of email contacts you have. 

But unlike Mailchimp and HubSpot Marketing Hub, ActiveCampaign does not offer any free marketing automation or email marketing tools. So ActiveCampaign may not be the right choice for you if you’d like to start with a free plan. On the other hand, ActiveCampaign does offer a 20% discount for nonprofit organizations. 

Lite

ActiveCampaign’s Lite plan costs only $7.50/mo. for up to 500 contacts. Of course, prices increase as the size of your email contact database grows. For 25,000 contacts, the Lite plan would cost you $12950/mo. 

The Lite plan maxes out after 100,000 email contacts. Businesses with over 100K email contacts can reach out to ActiveCampaign sales to discuss creating a customized plan. 

The Lite plan can support up to three users, provides chat and email support, and gives you access to 850+ integrations. It also offers the following core marketing automation features: 

  • Email marketing 
  • Email reporting 
  • Marketing automation
  • Unlimited email sends
  • 125+ email templates 
  • Forms 
  • Drag and drop email builder 
  • Site and event tracking 

Plus

The Plus plan costs $35/mo. for 500 contacts, and can increase up to $199.50/mo. For up to 25,000. However, the Plus plan maxes out after that. So businesses with over 25K contacts will need to contact the vendor for a custom quote. 

It offers more advanced features than the Lite plan does, plus all of the Lit plan capabilities. Other features include landing pages, landing page templates, contact scoring, SMS marketing, advanced performance reporting, and more. 

See here for a more detailed breakdown of the features associated with each ActiveCampaign plan. 

Professional

ActiveCampaign’s Professional plan has a starting cost of $79.50/mo. for 500 contacts. At the highest end of the plan, you would pay $299.50/mo. for 25,000 contacts. Just like the Plus plan, the Professional plan only offers pricing for up to 25K contacts. Interested buyers with a list size of 25K+ will need to contact the vendor directly for a custom quote. 

The Professional plan offers all the features of both the Lite and Plus plans, with additional advanced functionality. Extra features on this plan include: 

  • Website personalization
  • Marketing attribution 
  • Predictive content 
  • Predictive sending 
  • Conversion reporting 
  • Sentiment analysis

If your business needs any of the above-advanced functionality, the Professional plan may be the right choice for you.

Enterprise

ActiveCampaign’s most expensive plan has a base cost of $139.50/mo. for 500 contacts. The Enterprise plan maxes out even sooner than the Plus and Professional plan; at the 10,000 contact market. After which, interested buyers will need to contact the vendor directly for a quote. You can purchase the Enterprise plan for $249.50/mo. for 10K contacts. 

Along with all of the features included on the less expensive plans, ActiveCampaign’s Enterprise plan offers a couple of extra perks. It’s the only ActiveCampaign plan with: 

  • Unlimited web personalization 
  • Unlimited number of users 
  • Unlimited inbox previewing 
  • HIPAA compliance 

Here’s a basic breakdown of pricing for all ActiveCampaign plans: 

Activecampaign Pricing Breakdown

Marketo

Marketo is a well-known name across the marketing world. It has been known as a best-in-class marketing automation solution for years. Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo in 2016 only served to increase the platform’s power. 

But Marketo has an industry-leading price to go along with its market leader status. For this reason, it’s a great choice for midsize companies and large businesses looking for a best-of-breed marketing automation solution. 

It will likely be too expensive for smaller companies. 

Marketo Engage Pricing

Marketo offers four main plans that each charge based on the size of your marketing database. It also does not offer a free set of tools or reveal pricing information on its website. However, Adobe does offer a breakdown of feature sets for each pricing tier, which the sections below will focus on. 

Select

Adobe recommends this plan level for growth marketers that are looking to scale up their marketing program. It supports up to 25 users, allows for daily API calls, and provides a lead and account database. 

The Select plan also offers a host of critical marketing automation tools, such as: 

  • Audience segmentation & targeting 
  • Advanced personalization
  • Dynamic content 
  • Email marketing
  • Social marketing 
  • Lead scoring, routing, and alerts 
  • Marketing calendar
  • SEO tools
  • Paid media targeting 
  • Campaign reporting 

Prime 

Marketo’s Prime plan is designed for businesses looking to streamline the customer lifecycle and align their marketing and sales teams.

Along with all the features in the Select plan, the Prime plan offers the following capabilities: 

  • Website retargeting 
  • Target account management 
  • Website personalization
  • Predictive content 
  • Predictive audiences 
  • Advanced journey analytics

Ultimate

Adobe describes the Ultimate plan as an idea for advanced marketers looking to supercharge ROI and marketing pipeline. It certainly includes all the features needed to run a high-performing marketing organization. 

If you want all of the features included in the Prime plan but need some extra functionality, this plan may be the right fit for you. It offers email deliverability tools, a dedicated sandbox environment, and multi-touch attribution. 

Enterprise

The Enterprise plan is arguably the most expensive Marketo tier, though you’ll need to contact the vendor to see prices for it. 

Adobe also does not provide any information on which additional features the enterprise plan offers. 

Here’s a breakdown of the different Marketo plan levels and the different features they include: 

Marketo pricing breakdown

More Marketing Automation Options

If none of these products are what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other options available. You can check out our marketing automation software page to learn more about what these types of products do. 

You’ll also find the list of top-rated marketing automation products and filter products based on the integrations and features they offer. 

About the Author

Elizabeth Sullivan-Hasson
Elizabeth is a Research Analyst at TrustRadius where she focuses on tracing the evolution of business software and finding new ways to synthesize and visualize reviewer data. Elizabeth has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MSc in International Development from the London School of Economics. When she’s not in the office, Elizabeth enjoys exploring new cities, hiking, trying out new recipes, and diving into sci-fi novels.

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