Enterprise vs. Small Business Marketing Automation: What’s the Difference?

Enterprise vs. Small Business Marketing Automation: What’s the Difference?
It can be hard for mere mortal marketers to keep track of all the touch points in the modern buyer’s journey, and even harder to take advantage of the opportunities those interactions provide. That’s why marketing automation is so useful. With a single platform, you can manage: 
  • On-site SEO
  • Lead capturing and scoring
  • Landing pages
  • Email marketing
  • Automated emails
  • Retargeting
  • Lead delivery (via CRM integration)
That said, not every tool is the same. Some are built for large-scale enterprise deployment, while others offer a low learning curve for small business users. The differences between enterprise and small business marketing automation tools come down to scope and usage. Marketing tools designed for small business are often less robust in their capabilities, excluding some of the more advanced features like lead scoring or built-in reports. There may also be limits on the number of users or active contacts these programs allow. Enterprise tools, on the other hand, strive to provide a 360-degree experience, from integrating your existing CRM to advanced reporting, data export, and extensive contact capacity. All of this comes a price, however, that is often out of reach for small teams.

Market Overview

Small Business Solutions

InfusionSoft: marketing automation is available at any pricing plan, but extras like e-commerce and sales automation are only at higher pricing levels. Act-on: Professional edition is a complete marketing automation platform (MAP) for small and medium-sized companies. Supports 1,000 contacts per month and three active marketing users. Leadsius: starts with free access to all tools and builds with the size of (active) contact list. Lots of analytics and data discovery included Hatchbuck: dedicated trainer assigned to each account for three hours of support and onboarding. Reasonable pricing plans based on list size and user count GetResponse: reasonable pricing with scalable marketing automation and a full email marketing platform

Enterprise Solutions

Oracle Eloqua: complete marketing automation platform designed for large, global enterprises, offering over 700 integrations Marketo: packages are bundled based on your marketing focus (lead, email, mobile, etc.). Pardot: the dedicated Salesforce marketing automation platform; blends seamlessly with your sales data Hubspot: stand-alone marketing, sales, and CRM are available, or combine for the full stack Salesfusion: includes email campaigns, lead scoring, website visitor tracking, web analytics, lead capture through forms, landing pages, and surveys; less expensive than other enterprise solutions

Understanding the Difference

Small business marketing automation usually offers low(er) pricing based on the number of users, contacts, or outside app connections. You’ll also find that many of these solutions have less technical interfaces where coding is not required for most activities. Just keep in mind, that means less room for customization when it comes to things like landing pages, pop-ups, or emails. If you’re shopping for small business tools, it’s important to know the focus of your marketing funnel. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time and money trying different options that don’t have the right features. Some marketing automation tools are stronger at the top of the funnel with content, landing pages, email newsletters, and email capture forms, but offer less in the way of lead scoring or analytics. Mapping your customer journey and deciding on a focus before testing software can save a lot of time and money. You should also understand the current software environment at your company. Do your salespeople already use a particular CRM, or are they looking to adopt one? If you can spread the cost of the marketing automation tool over both sales and marketing, you may be able to bring on a more advanced system. Do you currently use an email marketing app that you like? Will the marketing automation options you’re researching replace it, or serve as a complement? Can you connect the two systems directly, or will you need to transfer your leads lists in a spreadsheet? Enterprise-level marketing automation should be able to handle the large amounts of leads you currently have in your system and automate communications with these leads over various channels. That means sending out regular emails, connecting or advertising through social channels, building search and retargeting ads, and understanding customer behavior on-site through digital body language. Content management systems that are either run in-app or through API connections are a nice option, too.  Finally, enterprise marketing automation tools tend to provide more detailed analytics and a greater ability to customize reports for your campaigns. 

6 Factors to Consider


Analytics are in higher demand in the Enterprise, where large marketing departments have to quantify their success to many stakeholders, but every marketer should be tracking their numbers. Robust marketing automation systems will let you compare data across different platforms and reference historical trends. Less robust systems should give you basic engagement metrics for campaigns so you can track performance, and basic reports at the list level. Whether you’re able to track performance directly inside the platform or have to download a spreadsheet, understanding the success of your efforts is a critical step for building future campaigns. Another type of analytics you may want to look for is lead scoring and systems-based data. These rule-based tests will help you segment your incoming leads and better understand where in the overall sales funnel every prospect or customer lives. Lead scoring can be done manually via CRM data, but having this information in your marketing platform and the ability to create custom rules will cut out a lot of redundant effort. 

A/B Testing

It’s a safe bet that, at some point in the maturity of your marketing automation efforts, you will need to A/B test something. Some marketing automation tools provide A/B or multivariate testing; others don’t. If you find a good solution that doesn’t include A/B testing, you can always build your own A/B tests using a third-party tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), but this will take a little more work — just depends how often you think your team will use the feature. Most platforms that include site ads and retargeting will offer some kind of comparative analytics. 

Content Management

How necessary this feature is within your marketing automation tool really depends on the type of company you have and the current structure of your site. If you’re running a full inbound marketing program that relies on consistent content pushed out to the internet for discovery, you’re likely to find the more robust marketing automation tools like Hubspot and Marketo helpful. These types of tools will integrate all portions of your inbound marketing, including content/blog management. In the course of your research, you’ll want to find out if the marketing automation tool requires that you migrate your existing content, or whether you can connect and manage the existing content via proxy. If you don’t have much of a blog strategy, an integrated CMS is less important, but you should still research how a given marketing automation tool will connect with your website. Some platforms will require coding, which may disqualify them from your search.

Connections and Integrations

The degree to which a MAP integrates with the rest of your sales and marketing technology can make a huge difference in onboarding and ROI. Document your existing systems or the programs you plan to begin using, including:
  • CRM
  • CMS
  • Retargeting
  • Social media management
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and reporting
Let’s say your sales team works entirely in Salesforce CRM. If your new MAP doesn’t integrate with Salesforce, it’ll be a lot harder to push new leads to your existing lists. On the other hand, if your company uses an existing email marketing program, but it doesn’t allow connections with your MAP, you should be able to export email contacts without too much hassle. 

Design or Campaign Consulting

This is certainly an extra, but it’s worth looking into if your team doesn’t have dedicated marketing or design staff, or if you’re moving into a new market. It’s helpful for first-time search and remarketing advertisers to get support so not too much money is spent learning what makes a good campaign. Lots of marketing automation tools offer 24/7 support, while others outsource campaign setup and optimization to private companies. These outside consultants will charge a fee for their services, but should affect faster ROI.

Implementation Fees

This is not so much a feature, but it’s definitely something you want to keep in mind when you’re researching MAPs. An implementation fee can make or break the decision for any size company, as it can double or triple that first month’s subscription. Implementation fees also have a hidden implication that the software is difficult to set up and will require developers to build your connections. This could mean that the initial setup takes a long time, or that adding, replacing, or servicing the connections is time-consuming and expensive.

* * *

The difference between SMB and enterprise marketing automation tools is more than just the size of your contact list and the number of user accounts you need. Many tools are built to scale, but a lot of this software reserves the more advanced features for enterprise customers. Decide which features you want to see included with the new system, versus what you can take care of using your existing tools. Still confused about all the features you can get with marketing automation? Try browsing our software category page for more ideas and industry-specific suggestions.
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