An Important Feature for B2B Sales Lead Generation
Which Marketing Automation platforms offer website visitor identification and tracking features? How do they compare against dedicated software tools built just for this purpose?
This post summarizes some of my findings, along with thoughts on choosing the best visitor tracking approach for B2B marketing and sales teams.
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Do Marketing Automation Tools Offer Website Visitor Tracking?
Marketing automation software platforms such as HubSpot, Marketo, and several others have transformed how modern digital marketing works today.
By combining features such as blogging, website lead funnels, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO tools, account-based marketing (ABM), and CRMs, marketing automation (MA) platforms offer a powerful integrated toolbox for marketers who can invest the resources required to really take advantage of them.
Several marketing automation tools also provide features for website visitor identification and tracking, as part of their inbound marketing lead generation focus for B2B companies.
This post takes a closer look at MA platform website visitor tracking features and compares them against the dedicated website visitor tracking software from companies such as Lead Forensics, Leadfeeder, LeadLander, Visual Visitor, and others in this category.
Marketing Automation Vendors Included Here
Use these links or the Article Contents menu to jump to specific MA vendors discussed below.
Visitor Tracking Features in Marketing Automation
Turning Website Traffic Into Outbound Sales Leads
Marketing automation tools generally have at least some website visitor tracking features built in. They use browser-based tracking cookies to track visitor behavior both before and after a website visitor becomes personally identified through form submissions, etc.
Once the visitor becomes identified, e.g., by name and/or submitted email address, their future visits can be tracked at an individual level to build up a more complete lead profile, update lead scoring, and include or exclude them from automated lead nurturing campaigns. With some MA tools, this also allows for some degree of website content personalization.
Website Visitor Tracking Automation
MA tools may also be used to proactively and automatically identify B2B sales leads from the inbound website traffic that comes in every day. This is separate from the automated campaign sequences defined in the MA tools, and allows the sales team to potentially get involved much earlier for prospect outreach and qualification.
For example, visitor tracking automation includes the ability to customize email alerts for the sales team. These alerts can be triggered when a specified company returns to the website, or when a lead score reaches a specified level, and so on.
Let’s take a look below at what several of the top marketing automation platforms provide in the area of visitor tracking features for B2B lead generation.
HubSpot’s visitor tracking features include all the essentials required for this aspect of B2B lead tracking and reporting.
- HubSpot IP tracking: reverse IP lookup for IP-to-company lead matching
- Real-time visitor tracking, including on-site behavior
- Filtering capabilities with a wide range of filtering criteria, including company size, number of visits, geography, and more
- Automated email notifications and activity reports
HubSpot users get the benefit of a decent website visitor tracking tool in addition to all the other marketing automation features available in this popular platform.
Unlike HubSpot, Marketo doesn’t explicitly advertise a visitor tracking function that focuses on identifying B2B leads from incoming website traffic.
Marketo uses AI technologies to help companies know which accounts to target, understand account engagement and potential fit, and then rank and prioritize these accounts.
Website Personalization vs Visitor Identification
Their platform also allows personalizing website content and calls-to-action based on visitor data. Websites can then present different content and messages based on target account status, location, company size, industry, browsing behavior, referral sources, etc.
Finally, Marketo offers a Sales Connect feature set for increasing sales productivity and coordinating associated marketing activities.
While Marketo clearly has the technology capabilities to offer a standard set of website visitor identification and tracking features for B2B sales lead generation, they have instead taken a more account-based marketing (ABM) approach with website personalization as a priority focus.
As such, Marketo may not be the best visitor identification solution for companies that really want that as a core feature set.
Like HubSpot, marketing automation vendor Act-On offers a specific feature set for website visitor tracking.
Their Website Prospector tools provide the standard anonymous visitor tracking and identification features:
- Company lookup based on IP address
- Traffic analytics based on visitor-level details
- Prospect activity history and tracking across separate website visits
- Automated real-time alerts for sales rep review and follow-up
Similar to Marketo, Act-On also provides website personalization (e.g., content recommendations) with their Adaptive Web solutions.
I’ve also covered Act-On in another post on website visitor tracking. Read more here about Act-On in the context of other dedicated visitor tracking and lead generation software tools.
SharpSpring provides basic website visitor tracking through its Visitor ID tools.
(Please note… I have an affiliate marketing relationship with SharpSpring.)
SharpSpring Visitor ID performs the following:
- IP-to-company matching through reverse IP lookup
- ISP filtering
- Company contact lookups
- Lead scoring based on web page value assignments (‘Important Pages’)
- Visitor pageview tracking (clickstream data)
- Other filtering (by company name, industry type, etc.)
- Automated email notifications based on lead identity and on-site activity
SharpSpring covers all the core website visitor tracking capabilities. They are definitely worth a closer look for anyone in need of both marketing automation *and* B2B website lead tracking functionality in a single platform.
SharpSpring also promotes their platform as a much more affordable alternative to other marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Marketo, etc.
See links below for SharpSpring’s comparisons to other popular marketing automation platforms. The overall cost savings can be very significant for SharpSpring users.
Pardot is now part of Salesforce, the dominant vendor in cloud-based CRM tools. Pardot is a major marketing automation component of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Their marketing automation tools are very ABM-focused, with AI and machine learning capabilities that help B2B companies focus on the right accounts at the right times with the right personalized messages for those web-based interactions.
Like Marketo, Salesforce Pardot does not bundle the classic website visitor tracking features into a single branded feature set focused just in that area.
They do, however, offer real-time prospect alerts and website activity tracking, even for anonymous website visitors. These are both essential components of a typical website visitor tracking tool.
Learn more here about Pardot’s other marketing automation lead generation capabilities.
CallidusCloud is now part of SAP, branded as the SAP Sales Cloud. They offer marketing automation tools via their LeadRocket platform.
Aside from the typical MA capabilities, LeadRocket also offers visitor identification and intelligence features.
In this specific area of B2B lead generation, CallidusCloud’s LeadRocket provides the following features, all typical of modern website visitor tracking tools:
- Company lookup based on IP address
- Company / firmographic details
- Contact lookup
- Lead scoring based on interests and intent data
- Daily reporting for lead pipeline management
- CRM integrations (multiple)
Purely from a B2B website visitor tracking standpoint, LeadRocket looks a lot like HubSpot, Act-On, and SharpSpring.
Comparison with Other Visitor Tracking Tools
Marketing Automation vs Dedicated Visitor Tracking Tools
Comparing marketing automation vendors specifically with B2B website visitor tracking features in mind, it’s clear that some provide and promote this capability more intentionally than others.
Vendors such as HubSpot, Act-On, SharpSpring, and CallidusCloud do a better job of bundling and promoting their visitor identification and tracking features as an important part of their overall MA platforms.
For many marketing and sales teams, however, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy into a complete marketing automation platform *just* to get access to the website visitor identification and tracking tools.
You will probably wind up paying much more per month for the full-suite marketing automation solution, but underutilizing much of the platform.
Sometimes You Need It All
On the other hand, if your company really does want and need a full marketing automation feature set, *and* also values the B2B IP lead tracking features for more proactive lead generation and direct sales outreach, then an MA solution with good website visitor tracking features may be perfect for you.
In this case, for small to medium sized companies, digital marketing agencies, and anyone on a tighter budget, the winner may very well be SharpSpring.
For those with larger budgets, the MA and website visitor tracking tools provided by Act-On or HubSpot may also be viable choices.
When A Focused Website Visitor Tracking Tool is Best
If most of what you want to do in the near future is identify who is visiting your website and then convert some of those anonymous visitors into leads for your B2B sales team, then the tools that exist just for this purpose will be your best visitor identification option.
- They are much less expensive per month than a full marketing automation platform, so your budget and CFO will appreciate the savings.
- They may offer a more complete feature set for visitor tracking and sales workflow when compared to the basic features in the MA platforms. Their user interface / experience (UX) may also be superior in comparison to marketing automation vendors.
- You won’t get constant upsell pressures from a vendor trying to upgrade you with different MA feature bundles.
- You won’t need the additional marketing staff or time requirements required to take good advantage of a complete marketing automation tool.
- You’ll be up and running with it quickly, with a relatively short learning curve for sales and marketing staff.
Other Leading Vendors
Here are some of the leading providers of website visitor tracking software.
Click on any of these logos to reach the vendor websites in a separate browser tab.
Picking the Best Visitor Identification Solution
Marketing automation software has dramatically impacted how modern marketing teams reach their target audiences, promote products and services, and contribute to lead generation, sales pipeline progression, and revenue growth.
The platforms offer a bundle of capabilities, often including visitor identification and tracking features along with everything else provided.
For companies already using marketing automation tools, it makes sense for them to also try any built-in website visitor tracking features. The incremental software cost is probably zero in these cases.
For others, it may make the most sense to focus on the purpose-built visitor identification and tracking software tools, rather than buy into a complete marketing automation or account-based marketing platform.
Using Both Is OK, Too
Some B2B companies will want to do both. They will deploy a full-featured marketing automation platform as well as a dedicated product for website visitor tracking.
For example, these firms will use HubSpot and also Lead Forensics. Or HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot with Leadfeeder. And so on.
There is no single correct approach here. It may come down to a combination of budget, marketing staff / resources available, and degree of focus on proactive lead generation specifically for sales reps.
Help from Marketing Agencies
Marketing agencies can also help with MA tasks, of course, including website visitor tracking for lead generation.
This post on marketing automation for agencies may be helpful for agencies interested in marketing automation vendor comparisons.
Other iBeam Content Related to Website Visitor Tracking
For a deeper discussion of the B2B visitor identification capabilities built into Google Analytics, see the top half of this post: Google Analytics and B2B IP Tracking Tools
To learn more about many of the top 3rd-party vendors who provide website visitor identification and tracking tools, see this post and scroll down for the vendor overview videos: Website Visitor Tracking Software
More related content…
Insights and tips about conducting free trials of these products
How website visitor tracking vendors handle GDPR compliance
How Lead Forensics works (product demos and reviews)
How LeadLander works (product overview)
How Visitor Queue works (product demo and reviews)
Comments and Feedback
Have you used Marketing Automation platforms or any 3rd-party software tools for identifying website visitors and converting them to B2B sales leads?
How do the MA platforms compare to the more dedicated visitor tracking tools in this specific functional area? Any better or worse, or about the same…?
Drop a quick comment below if you have feedback, questions, or any other insights to add here.
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