Long term progress

Managers use pulse surveys to conduct regular temperature checks on the organization, but this doesn’t mean they can only focus on short term objectives with employees. Managers can also use employee engagement software to define long term goals with employees and track employee progress toward those goals. HR professionals and managers often use this feature to help employees with professional development.

Example: In 15Five, managers can fill out quarterly performance reports to help employees reach their long term goals. Team leaders or department heads can also set team-wide and department-wide goals to keep everyone on the same page and to increase transparency within the company.

Reports and dashboards

While employees won’t usually have access to them, most employee engagement systems let managers and HR staff analyze company wide trends through reports and dashboards. Managers can use this feature to view employee engagement rates, pulse survey completion rates, engagement rates by department, and even employee net promoter scores (eNPS) in some cases.


Many employee engagement platforms include automatic notifications after users reach a goal. Users of gamification software understand the value of such instant feedback. Instant gratification via feedback reinforces positive behavior, making employees more likely to improve over time as they use the employee engagement system. Some systems also use notifications to remind people to complete pulse surveys and to notify them when they’re recognized by co-workers.


Though not a feature of the software itself, most employee engagement platforms now offer mobile applications. After downloading the mobile app, employees can complete pulse surveys on the go, a particularly attractive option for companies that manage large numbers of remote employees or employees who travel often.

What is marketing automation software?

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Marketing automation software is designed to help marketers capture leads, develop relationships, and move prospects through the sales funnel at scale. This includes several categories of functionality: email, social media, web marketing, multi-channel marketing, and analytics. Marketing automation is an out-of-the-box method for harnessing customer data from multiple sources and developing marketing strategies and tactics that work across different mediums.

While marketing automation does automate some processes, this software doesn’t turn your brand into a robot. Marketing automation lets you scale your efforts to build relationships with multiple prospects across several different channels and provide them with a consistent experience despite their differing interests or needs. And when you properly segment your audience, this technology actually allows you to build more meaningful relationships with your prospects by providing them with content that’s relevant to their interests.

Best marketing automation software by company size

Enterprise SMB
Eloqua Infusionsoft
Marketo Hubspot
Pardot Salesfusion
Silverpop Act-On

Common marketing automation features

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While CRM and MA software are inherently different, they do share some features. MA software is essentially more specialized, but can appear as a subset of CRM platforms in certain cases.

Regardless, common features do exist for marketing automation tools, and can be classified in the following ways.

1. Email marketing

Email is one of the oldest forms of digital communication, but remains extremely effective. Although consumers have grown somewhat jaded to email marketing due to marketers’ past and continued abuse of the medium, email remains one of the most effective means of communicating with your audience. This makes it an excellent starting place for marketing automation.

Email functionality is one of the core components of what marketing automation vendors offer, and every decent platform should include features that allow you to send emails en mass to segmented audiences. More advanced platforms will send triggered emails after prospects take certain actions, such as filling out a form or downloading a piece of content. Marketers can also use these tools to create, edit, and embed forms on their website that they can use for lead generation and email outreach.

Basic marketing automation email features

These features should come standard with most solutions. Use them as a checklist when doing a basic marketing automation software comparison.

  • Segmentation and batch emails: All marketing automation vendors include platforms that allows users to send emails en mass to segmented groups of customers. Templates and a native email design are also common features. These functions make your marketing efforts more personal if you use them to send segmented and targeted emails.
    • By segmenting your prospects and communicating with each group in a way that’s relevant to their interests, you build trust. And as a key benefit, one Mailchimp study found that segmented campaigns had a 14 percent higher open ratethan non-segmented campaigns.
  • Behavioral trigger emails: A behavioral trigger email sends designated content to prospects if they take an action on your site such as downloading content or completing a form. Follow up emails offer your audience reassurance by confirming that their action was noticed by your organization and that you are currently in the process of responding to their request. While most email marketing tools and MA platforms have the ability to trigger automatic emails, 43 percent of marketers don’t use these tools, which leaves a lot of room for newcomers to the tools to take advantage of their benefits.
  • Forms: A form creator gives you the freedom to build and edit your own email marketing forms. The tool provides code that you embed on your website pages, and the information the user enters will show up in the marketing automation tool. This code lets you collect email addresses and other lead data from visitors in exchange for content, promotions, or an email newsletter.
  • Mobile Optimization: Most people check email on their phone, so ensuring that your email content is readable and just as eye-catching on a phone as it is on desktop is essential. Most email and MA tools have made the switch to mobile optimization, letting you view an email in mobile and desktop view before sending.

Advanced email marketing features

These features offer users more advanced functions, and may not be found in every MA platform.

  • Dynamic Personalization: Personalization of marketing emails has come a long way since we first started making different lists for different types of customers. Using dynamic personalization, marketing automation tools can pull pretty much any type of customer information from your CRM or contact list to build a tailored email. These tools use dynamic tagging to select, match, and include content in the email. Marketing teams often use dynamic personalization to send mass emails while still keeping a personalized feel for the email.
  • Split Testing: Synonymous with A/B testing, this email tool lets you run different versions of the same email campaign to a test audience, analyze which version of your email has a better engagement rate, and even automatically send the best performer to the rest of your list. Teams often use split testing to find the best subject line, content, design, send time, or to test pretty much any element of the email you can change.


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