Marketing Automation (MA) is certainly a buzzword these days, but how, when and where do you actually make it work for your company? It can honestly be overwhelming! Marketing Automation platforms come in many shapes, sizes and costs, but the one you ultimately choose will depend on some key business drivers. I have found this four-step approach to be extremely effective in selecting the appropriate MA platform.
1). Narrow Your List of Potential Vendors
Below are logos from some of the many MA platforms on the market today. As you can imagine, with so many choices, determining the appropriate platform requires a very conscientious and thoughtful process. In order to get a manageable list of vendors, it’s best to narrow your consideration set to 4-6 vendors that match your needs at a high level in terms of cost, complexity, and number of users.
2). Conduct A Detailed Need Analysis
Once you have settled in the “general ballpark” of which platforms to consider, here are the 21 essential questions you should ask to refine your selection and build a detailed needs analysis. You may even want to augment this list with some of your own pertinent questions, based on your own company’s needs.
1). Is an easy interface required in the MA platform?
2). Does the MA platform provide secure web access for remote users?
3). Does the MA platform require (your company’s) IT staff for setup and maintenance?
4). Is there a try before you buy option / free trial available?
5). Does your company have a CRM system already in place for your sales team?
6). If you do have a CRM system, will you need bi-directional CRM integration with your MA platform?
7). Does the MA platform provide Outlook email integration?
8). Are reports allowed to be exported in a MS Excel format from the MA platform?
9). Does the MA platform easily integrate emails and web analytics? (Google Analytics)
10). Do paid search applications integrate within the platform? (AdWords)
11). Does the platform measure Marketing campaign ROI? (allow to calculate a cost for: search, direct mail, PPC, tradeshows)
12). Does the platform offer “closed loop” reporting? (all sales can be traced back to original lead source)
13). Does the MA platform show a lead’s daily activity report?
14). Does the platform handle lead management with the CRM system?
15). How large is your company?
16). Does your company have the need to work in business Units, keeping your units separate?
17). How many users will your company need in the MA platform?
18). How long and how much is the training in the MA platform to get all users up to speed?
19). Does the platform have the ability to score leads based on both behavior and demographic information?
20). Does the platform have the ability to follow (and) categorize a complete lead to sales journey?
21). What is the monthly cost of the MA platform with maintenance and support?
Something that I find extremely helpful when assessing vendors is to create a matrix of all your needs versus what all the vendors provide. In this way when you are interviewing a potential vendor, you have a checklist of items that you can compare and contrast so that you know you’re getting what you need, and how those needs size up to each vendor.
Below is a sample matrix that show needs v/s the vendor’s features:
Once you have a clear picture of needs and feature sets, you will obviously need to consider costs. Implementing a Marketing Automation platform is a subscription based payment. The costs involved will vary from vendor to vendor, but there are also several ways vendors charge for their services. They include, but are not limited to items such as:
- How many records you have in your database
- How many emails you will send per month
- What kind of service/support package you want
- Add on tools such as
- Social Integration
- Webinar Integration
- Customized Development
- Training packages
- Consulting hours
Lastly, you will need an admin for your MA platform (after they have had training!) This is the person that will “hold the keys” to all admin functionality within the system. This involves things like adding users to the system, changing or creating new objects, creating new fields, managing the data, etc. It is helpful if this resource is technical in nature. Be sure to include any necessary staffing in your “total platform cost”.
Like any enterprise software purchase, selecting the appropriate marketing automation platform requires careful needs analysis as well as a thorough understanding of the available feature sets and pricing options. If you are still hesitant to get started, we can help in the process of selecting just the right MA platform for your business. We are vendor agnostic, so we are not biased when we do our research to find a fit for your company. We also have the expertise to tailor the MA platform so that it mirrors your company’s business setup, and can provide strategy and execution for any of your Marketing Automation needs.
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