What you need to look at while choosing a Marketing Automation platform

When you decided that you need and want a Marketing Automation platform, the search begins. Because there are a lot of different tools and systems available. Also, the number of technologies that claim they are a Marketing Automation platform is definite, but the key question is, are they exactly Marketing Automation platforms? The truth in many cases is no.

So, what do you need to look at while choosing a Marketing Automation platform? And how are you sure you choose the right system? There are a few things very important while choosing your Marketing Automation platform. We can sum them up in five areas. 

The top five areas are:

  1. Scalability
  2. Functionality
  3. Integration
  4. Lead/contact management
  5. Reporting

Scalability

This doesn’t mean the ability to add on users – that’s a given. What it means is the ability to grow and support more advanced requirements and more advanced setup. You need to think about folder structure/permissions to access different areas of the system and different records within the system. The more complex and more ‘stuff’ you have in the platform the more you need to consider people’s access. Also, as your knowledge increases, your requirements will too, so you need to know your chosen platform can accommodate this. For instance, your platform should be able to know what content someone has consumed and not send them it again, otherwise, you have to spend hours mapping out every possible permutation.

Functionality

To maximize your marketing, you have to make sure that the platform is more than you need right now. This is because you will want to push what you can do with your digital marketing and your customers’ expectations will continue to increase. It is therefore important to consider items like how the platform personalizes (think dynamic content across multiple segments and web personalization, not mail merging someone’s name). Are there sufficient options to ‘trigger’, e.g. can you move people down different streams based on interest, segment, persona, tag, etc.? All these things become increasingly important as you increase your Marketing Automation knowledge.

Integration

It is a fact that Marketing Automation cannot achieve everything you need within your digital marketing field; no platform can. No platform should because they should specialize in what they are good at. If the platform isn’t going to do it all then integration is key. First of all, it should integrate into CRM and especially integrate natively – no third parties. Furthermore, it needs to be two-way sync across all the major objects/entities – not just pushing a few standard fields. The second key element is that there is an open API as this not only means that they are likely to have good integration into other platforms, e.g. webinar, Google, BI platforms and other marketing channels, it also means you can build into any platforms where there isn’t a current integration or even into your platforms.

Lead/contact management

Marketing Automation, despite its name, is not all about marketing. Of course, marketing isn’t successful unless it feeds the sales engine and you cannot do that effectively if you cannot manage your leads and contacts effectively. Therefore, you need to think about how you can prioritize leads. Again, this isn’t just through behavioral scoring but demographic and firmographic elements too. This needs to be fed into CRM and presented to sales in a meaningful way. Also, consider integration into tasks as being able to notify sales at the right time is paramount in seeing results at the bottom of the funnel.

Reporting

Data-driven marketing and the ability to prove ROI are more and more important, therefore it goes without saying that ROI reporting and being able to view marketing results in a meaningful manner are capabilities of Marketing Automation. ROI, of course, means that it needs to integrate into opportunities, otherwise how will you know what has closed and what hasn’t? Further reports linked to the success of marketing are lead velocity, leads by score and leads by the campaign. Of course, all of the standard reports: CTR, downloads, open rates, etc. are necessary but any platform can do that and should have been able to for years. It is the funnel and more strategic reporting that set Marketing Automation apart.

In summary, you should be able to distinguish between what is essentially an email service provider and a ‘real’ Marketing Automation platform by asking a few simple questions:

  • Does the platform have extensive segmentation and automation options?
  • Could the platform accommodate a larger, more sophisticated team?
  • Can I natively integrate CRM into custom fields and objects?
  • Can I update sales in near to real-time with key information?
  • Am I able to report on ROI?
     

Of course, we answered these questions as well and made an overview of the top Marketing Automation systems available. In this whitepaper, you find a comparison of the top 9 Marketing Automation systems. Do you have another question about Marketing Automation? Don't worry we are always here to help, just contact our digital marketing experts.