There is no doubt, investing in a marketing automation platform makes infinite business sense. You are able to automate a major chunk of your marketing activities, enhance their accuracy, ensure better consumer targeting, measure marketing outcomes, save a lot of time that can be used in other strategic business growth activities, and become more productive from the marketing perspective.
A marketing automation platform moves the marketing needle by a long way. This is why the adoption of marketing automation solutions is achieving newer highs year-on-year.
The above figure gives you a bird’s eye view of the adoption rates of marketing automation platforms across businesses, based on their revenue. But, there are plenty of businesses out there who want to use marketing automation (as reflected in the study here, wherein, the adoption rates are seen to be tapering off), but don’t really know how to go about choosing the right platform for their needs.
Why? There is a problem of plenty.
There are more than 7000 marketing automation platforms out there that you can choose from, so you have your work cut out for you. So, how do you navigate this problem of plenty? Here are a few ways that you can go about choosing the perfect marketing automation tool:
By plan, we mean strategy. You don’t have money to burn and therefore want to get your investment right. You need to strategize your marketing automation efforts.
First, ask yourself the question – What do I want to automate?
In order to answer this question, it is important to note that automation is not replacement for core marketing activities. E.g., the tool isn’t going to write marketing messaging for you. It is also not going to replace all your marketing personnel.
What automation will do is help you target customers at different times in the customer journey to push them through the sales funnel. Personalized messages can be delivered to website visitors, potential customers, leads, and existing customers throughout the buying process. What’s more, automation can also be used to deliver actionable information to your target audience that will drive positive buying outcomes. You can automate various marketing activities such as follow-ups, reminders, and more, that are essentially the building blocks of your larger marketing efforts.
Think of automating those marketing tasks that are being performed repeatedly, and can be performed without the need for human intervention. E.g. a drip-email campaign, lead qualification, etc.
Lack of an effective strategy is detrimental to your marketing automation success, so strategize your adoption.
Do not, and we repeat, do not invest in a system that isn’t cutting-edge and not smartly configured. An ideal platform is able to effectively respond to changing marketing needs and the evolving expectations of your target audience. You don’t want to be stuck with a rigid system that cannot adapt and is catering to a specific use case or set of needs, while the world has moved ahead. Choose a scalable solution that can also be customized to cater to the specific needs of your business.
Think of an automation platform that allows you to focus on Twitter and Facebook messaging. What happens if you believe a section of your target audience has moved to Instagram? The platform you choose must be able to respond quickly and effectively to such needs.
Don’t think of a marketing automation tool as a one-track tool, that drives your marketing efforts forward. Your investment will deliver more value if it can be used across departments. At first glance, this might not make much of a sense but read on. It will make a good deal of sense.
You will use your marketing automation tool to automate repetitive and tedious marketing activities that leads. Awesome. But what if your sales team wants help in qualifying these leads so that they are able to invest time and effort on marketing qualified leads (MQLs)? What happens then? Do you go in for another tool? No!
Choose a tool that can integrate with third-party systems like a CRM and can propel your sales activities forward. But, wait! What if your HR wants to get into the act as well, and start a campaign to pitch your company as a great place to work? You need something for them too! The right marketing tool can help you out here as well. Look for a tool that offers plenty of diverse features and sports an array of native integrations. It needs to be able to seamlessly integrate some of the systems that you have already installed such as CRM, MRM, and more.
In a nutshell, choose a tool that has multiple use cases rather than just one.
Choose a platform whose UI/UX doesn’t overwhelm you, and make sure you pick one that doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Consider the image above. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to understand at a single glance. It offers all the information you want, and what’s more, you are not left scratching your head, what everything means.
So, how do you go about choosing a platform, with an uncomplicated user interface? Simple! Ask for a platform demo and all reputed vendors in this space will give you a demo. The parameters that define the user interface whose potential you can maximize include navigation, contextual information, one-click operation for specific tasks, simple navigation and features that can be used quickly and effectively.
Before you move on to the reviews, check up on the numbers of platform users. The more the number of users of the platform, the more its usage. This also gives you an indication of the popularity of this platform and user trust.
It’s important to go through the many reviews that users have left for the platform on various sites and also the testimonials on the vendor site. Another way of making sure that the platform you have chosen is well-regarded is by going through expert reviews of the platform. Every platform worth its salt has expert reviews to its name. You could also leverage the reach of social media to ask for a review of the platform you plan to choose. There will be plenty of people willing to share their reviews with you on platforms such as Quora as well.
Finally, it’s all about the money. You have to play within your budget otherwise the ROI won’t make sense. Different platforms are available at different price points and the pricing depends on the number of contacts, the scalability of the contacts database, features, and more. It’s important to work with a vendor who is transparent about pricing structure and very clear about it right at the start and doesn’t come out with hidden costs when the negotiations are underway.
But it is also important to understand that you must make a focussed effort to understand the pricing structure of the product you are choosing, so make sure you have a detailed conversation about pricing with the sales rep.
Don’t follow a herd mentality while choosing a marketing automation platform. And remember, ‘best-of-breed’ is different for different people. You need to choose a platform that not only meets your requirements but also fits within your budget. Don’t pick a platform just because someone recommended it to you or your competitor uses it as well. Pick a platform, because you believe it will meet your expectations every step of the way.
At TransFunnel, we work on some of the best automation platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Segment, and so on. Contact us to talk to a marketing automation expert today!