Navigating the marketing automation landscape

Greg Caleo, The Certainty Principle
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Navigating the marketing automation landscape

Navigating the marketing automation landscape 

Selecting a marketing automation system is a minefield. There are seemingly hundreds of options to choose from and given it’s a complex, often expensive and time-consuming project to embark on, it can be hard to know where to start.

Plan upfront.

An effective way of approaching the task it is to work out what the business needs are upfront, and involve everyone who will use the system. This may include frontline staff who will need to navigate the data capture screens, marketing, and the sales team, to name a few. It’s important to get input from these departments, both to ensure the solution will deliver to the business needs, and to ensure that the right people are onboard and committed to the project.

And plan for the future. 

Businesses are likely to utilise the system for several years so it’s important to consider what might be required in the future. While it’s not possible to imagine every possible scenario with certainty, good vendors will demonstrate how they evolve their offering to meet ongoing requirements.

Keep what’s already working for the businesses.

Already have a data capture screen that works for the company? If there are products in place that work well, choose vendor solutions that are compatible. This not only saves time and money, but also saves the effort of retraining staff, while avoiding negative sentiment that something that was working has been replaced, especially during the early teething phase.

Check everything is included.

It’s not uncommon for elements such as email delivery, campaign management, or other functions to be add-ons that require additional configuration and cost. Be clear about what is needed and ensure vendors outline all inclusions and exclusions in their response.

Be realistic

If you don’t have the money, time, or resource to dedicate to a complex marketing automation system, bypass the big players. Mid-level solutions such as Marketo and m-savvy are more nimble and easier to implement, without sacrificing performance.

Put it out to tender responsibly

By having worked out requirements upfront, it means the vendors know what will be required of them, and they can respond with certainty about how they would approach YOUR requirements. This is important so you can adequately critique their response. Aim to approach at least five vendors. From this, three or four should respond.

Don’t just take them at face value.

Request references, and contact them. Vendors always put their best foot forward to win new business, but given they will be part of the team for the coming months or years, it’s important to know what they’re like to work with. 

Preparation means you can be confident in your decision.

Choosing a marketing automation system is a big decision and one every business wants to get right from the start. Work through what the business requirements are first. After all, how is a vendor supposed to know what your needs are, if you don’t? The right vendor will demonstrate that they understand your goals and provide a solution that ticks all the boxes.