The world of marketing technology and marketing automation is wide, complex and full of different functions and features to pick from. Digital marketers are constantly looking for new ways to do their jobs faster, create more meaningful messages and connect with their audiences. Marketing automation makes managing campaigns, channels, follow-up and everything else much simpler. The key is choosing the right tools.
My career background is in Marketing Operations, specifically Email Marketing. I have worked with six different marketing automation platforms – some have been robust and reputable, some adequate but lesser known, and some you couldn’t even find with a Google search. However today I’d like to focus on two products specifically: Mautic, the open marketing automation platform and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (which I’ll refer to the rest of the way as SFMC).
Both solutions offer marketing automation and campaign management capabilities as well as the ability to enable personalization and dynamic content. What qualifies me to compare these two systems? In my roles at two different companies prior to joining Mautic, I used SFMC every day for 5 ½ years. Along the way, I acquired advanced developer and ‘superuser’ access credentials, and I learned SQL, HTML, and SFMC’s internal scripting language, AMPscript.
Here’s a list of the features and activities in SFMC that I’ve used extensively and for which I would consider myself to be a power-user.
- Creating and deploying emails
- Personalizing messages with AMPscript and Data Extensions
- Querying and segmenting the database
- Creating automations with Automation Studio and Journey Builder
- Tracking automated customer journeys
- Creating multi-channel and platform reports
- Building forms
- Setting up landing pages
- Sending mobile push messages
- Posting to social media
- Importing contact data
The History of SFMC
Let’s review a little history about SFMC. The “Marketing Cloud” was essentially created in 2013 when Salesforce acquired the email company ExactTarget. I had been an ExactTarget customer for a while already, and after the acquisition, I became a SFMC customer. For a long time, I had to catch myself from saying “ExactTarget,” or “ET,” because, despite the name change, the functionality of the tool did not change and the interface only underwent a very minor redesign. Data Extensions, the Query tool, and AMPscript – the existing features from ExactTarget – still worked in exactly the same ways. Like many former co-workers and users in my network, I missed the days when ExactTarget existed apart from the behemoth that is Salesforce, but more on that in a bit.
Since the acquisition, the email tool formerly known as ExactTarget has been revamped to become a suite of marketing products – what SFMC calls “Studios” – and it has undergone some updates to broaden its usability. This expansion has allowed for more communication channels such as mobile push, web advertising, and social media publishing, as well as enhanced automation, easy-to-use builder tools, and analytics functions.
SFMC vs. Mautic: Email Builders
SFMC has certainly improved their email creation experience over time, and I’ll give them credit for making their tools more usable. Mautic was also built with usability in mind. No coding experience is required for either platform.