The Battle for Marketing Automation Begins


For many years, the likes of HubSpot, Eloqua and Marketo have led the charge for acceptance and growth in the marketing automation sector, from relative obscurity to the big names they are today.

Along the way, other smaller marketing automation services have arisen, such as SharpSpring, Infusionsoft or Hatchbuck. The industry leaders, backed by millions of dollars, have stayed relatively far ahead of the smaller competition, not bothering to worry about potential upheaval. That is, until now.

Last week, HubSpot sent some of its users an email survey asking about their experiences with SharpSpring, in order for HubSpot to learn how to improve their own services. Now, obviously, this isn’t some insane proclamation of war as I might’ve joked about above, but rather a smart marketing decision for HubSpot. SharpSpring, though smaller than the marketing automation giant, is an industry competitor to learn from.

SharpSpring countered in a blog post about what they think may be reasons for their current state of success. Some of these reasons include cost––because while major marketing automation services can charge an arm and a leg for their services to giant companies, it makes it a bit harder for any small or medium-sized business to drive their marketing automation. Sure, there are other cheap or free services out there, but none provides quite the same quality or quantity of tools as SharpSpring.

Some other reasons it includes, not to slight HubSpot, are innovation (citing the release of their CRM platform ahead of the marketing automation giant), clarified relationships (agencies are their customers, not their agencies’ clients) and a focus on providing what the agencies need (rather than what sounds good). The latter includes everything from a re-brandable platform to ensuring SharpSpring “doesn’t compete with marketing agencies. Instead, [they] built [their] entire company around [agencies].”

So what does this news between HubSpot and SharpSpring mean to us as marketers? It’s hard to see the repercussions just yet, but one would hope that different marketing automation platforms would take a leaf out of SharpSpring’s book, whether that comes in the form of reduced costs or new, innovative approaches. The marketing automation industry will definitely be something to watch over the coming months.