Marketing Automation Platforms: Do They Deliver?

Clay Collins, founder of Leadpages, wrote about The Centre Thesis, he dwells on the future of marketing technology.

He writes:

“In a lot of ways, traditional all-in-one marketing software is on a collision course (albeit a long one) with irrelevance.

Five years ago, traditional marketing suites could actually be the go-to solution for handling all your marketing needs across your business, or multiple businesses.

Today, this is unlikely.

In the near future, it will be almost impossible”

When I first read it, I just gave it a passing read. I understood where Clay was getting at. I knew, however, that he was tugging at my heart since I sit right there lounging at the interception of that imperceptibility that he talks about.

The tides have indeed turned. While I absolutely love and respect the modern all-in-one marketing automation systems like InfusionSoft, OntraPort, The RainMaker Platform, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot, I am afraid they just won’t cut it.

What’s often just a feature bolt-on in an all-in-one marketing solution is usually the “only” product with years of expertise on that product niche alone.

Now, when it comes to the choice of marketing automation tools, there are no right or wrong answers. It’s just that you’d have to know with absolutely certainty if these are the right choices for you.

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We can agree to agree that we all need automation. It’s just the how that we need to address:

The WordPress approach to automation

Chances are that you are on WordPress. More than of the Internet is on WordPress anyway.

For the average joe to be able to do marketing the right way, you’d need tools. Plenty of them.

You’d have to stitch these tools together

With tools like Divi, Elementor Plugin, Beaver Builder and Hosting like Flywheel and WPEngine, setting up a website on a rock-solid hosting platform takes less than a day.

With the hosting and design taken care of, here’s what else you’d need:

The Setup

Hosting Your Website: Shared Hosting or Managed WordPress Hosting Like FlyWheel or WPEngine.
Tools to help you grow email signups: Sumo me or Bloom Plugin
Email marketing Providers: Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, ConvertKit, or Drip?
Landing Pages: Unbounce or LeadPages
Ecommerce: WooCommerce or Ecwid Plugin. Brenda Barron of WpMuDev has a list of the best eCommerce plugins for WordPress, and that’s worth a read.
Social Media Management: HootSuite or Buffer


If you are just starting out, the setup above covers the basic digital marketing that you’d need to do. Then, the only challenge that remains is to:

1. Do blogging, get on social, and everything else you need to do for the digital marketing hustle.
2. Get traffic
3. Grow your email list
4. Sell later to the list you built.


  • Setup Google Analytics (Also set up eCommerce analytics if you have products or services to sell).
  • Add Mixpanel or GoSquared to the mix
  • Use Mouseflow too, if you wanted to.

For this to work, you’d need your setup (above) to work in tandem. One with the other. All the time.

The Big Marketing Automation Tools Conundrum

The big appeal for all-in-one marketing automation tools is that they provide hosting, allow you to build websites, have analytics built-in, and email marketing is taken care of.

Each of the points that you had to do above is taken care of for you so that you don’t have to work with 16+ tools to make marketing work.

But then, that’s just the promise.

Marketing automation tools invest and only work on making their respective tools better. Mailchimp has more engineers and staff working on email alone compared to The Rainmaker Platform (and their RainMail feature), for instance.

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When you consider all-in-one automation tools, you’d have the consider the following:

  • The total cost of using the automation tool you are considering
  • Integrations (or the lack of Integrations) with other tools you might already be using for your business.
  • Your ability to set up automation in sync with your business.

When you take all the three points together and then start shopping, you’ll often see:

  • Some marketing automation tools necessitate complete migration on to their systems. HubSpot, for instance, uses its own CMS and it’s a different beast compared to a WordPress-based system you might be using. Are you ready for that?
  • Not all automation tools allow for integrations with everything. Let’s say you switch to Ontraport, you’ll find that it easily integrates with WordPress but if you have anything to do with eCommerce + WordPress, it’s not going to be straight forward: Ontraport has its own shopping cart system that you can use when you are on a pro plan. Now, if you have WooCommerce enabled (like I do), how does this work exactly?
  • Let’s say you use Drip for your email marketing and automation. Did you know that Drip doesn’t directly connect with WooCommerce? You’d need a separate extension for that. Also, Drip only works with premium versions of SumoMe.

Why All-in-one Automation tools don’t appeal to me?

The answer is simple: the individual tools that I use (and you might be using them too) do what they do exceptionally well.

WordPress is the easiest CMS to use. It allows you to integrate with possibly anything else you might want to use it with. There’s an ecosystem of tools, services, solutions, plugins, and themes that you have the option of using.

The hosting options available for WordPress? You don’t have those options with the big boys.

Mailchimp is spectacular with straight-line automation. Paul Jarvis bets that Mailchimp can actually do what Drip and Convertkit do just as easily (if you knew how).

Nothing comes close to what Unbounce helps you do with Landing Pages. You’ll see that HubSpot landing page builder lacks character and oomph. Ontraport’s landing page builders (OntraPages) leaves a lot to be desired.

Even if you built landing pages with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, or HubSpot, you are still somewhat limited to use them in conjunction with the rest of their systems. It’s a miracle how HubSpot’s own landing pages (the ones they use for their own campaigns) even convert with forms as tall as a building.

I saw a few examples of landing pages built with Marketo and Pardot. I don’t know the results that those landing pages get but from the looks, they are butt ugly.

Automation Tools: Will I Use them Or Not?

I won’t. At least not now.

The diplomatic answer would be that I’d use it these tools can match my purpose, allow me a certain degree of freedom, and make those individual systems that they claim to offer (like their website or blogging platform, email marketing tool, their dashboard, their analytics, their landing page builders, the actual automation) work as good as any of the existing tools I use.

But I don’t think they’ll get there. They have grown too big and they do well for themselves. I am too small. Their support won’t care about the average joe writing in crying that his favorite email marketing tool, the landing page builder, and WordPress won’t integrate.

Their target audiences don’t like to hack things together. They want ready-made systems so that they can focus on what “they” think matters to them.

What do you think?

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