You made a great case for getting marketing automation and got approval hands down. Congratulations. But here comes the difficult part, “Which is the best tool in the market?” With significant money and your reputation attached to getting the right tool, making a well-informed decision becomes all too critical.
Here are few tips that may come in handy when you go shopping.
Define Your Objectives
Before you dive into the sea of marketing automation tools, sit back and define the objectives you wish to achieve with the tool.
- Understand your lead nurturing process and decide what elements would you prefer automated. Segregate the “must have” from “nice to have” features.
- Establish the metrics to define successful implementation
- Define the budget, management is willing to spend on the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the tool.
- Identify who will be using the tool, only the Marketing Team or there will be tech support when needed.
Tip: Most vendors claim their solutions are click and play but often need some dev support to give desired results – custom landing page and email templates, integration with software et al
List down your ‘Must have’ features
Based on your objectives you should be able to segregate the ‘must have’ from ‘nice to have’ features.
Basis this list you should be able to narrow down your prospective tool list to 4-5 vendors
Drill down and understand each offering – weigh it against your requirements. If required you can give a score to each vendor for each feature. Key features to keep in mind include:
Robust Customizable Lead Scoring
The real benefit of marketing automation is not that if gives you mail templates or simplifies email blasts. The real benefit is to be able to see where a lead is in the sales funnel.
Tip:If your lead scoring system is rating leads on a scale of one to ten, it’s not deep enough to make this system truly work.
Campaign ROI Reporting
Lead nurturing can’t happen without the knowledge of analytics. And analytics don’t stop at number of hits on your website, or the open rates of your nurture emails. Analytics need to provide in depth information about lead status, performance of each marketing campaign, what is the ROI on each campaign. and alignment of CRM and analytics
How robust is the software support and what kind of support is being offered are critical questions to be answered before going ahead with a software. Many a times, support makes big promises but is unable to maintain them.
Tip: Get Written SLAs for all the promises the sales rep makes on product support and performance.
Degree of Automation
Contacts, leads, customers – are all data in the end. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how the tool handles data and how much of it needs to be manually entered, in terms of both volumes and relevance of data being entered. If key data needs to entered manually (more error –prone), the tool may not be worth the investment. Another important aspect is the flexibility of adding manual data, where data automation is present – all marketers have exceptional cases at varied stages of marketing campaigns, and this feature comes in handy there.
Integration with Other software
Seamless integration /alignment with the existing CRM, analytics tools etc to track leads in their journey to becoming customers; sync with tools like Webex; or other software that may be an imperative part of your marketing efforts is an important deciding factor.
Social & SEO Ready
New age marketing has blurred the lines of earlier defined channels of SEO and social. Today Marketing is an integrated mix of SEO, social and everything else you do to get more leads, and build brands. Not integrating social voice and SEO in your marketing effort can be fatal. Currently, many vendors may not be offering complete Social and SEO integration but here again, it is critical to identify what Social and SEO metrics will you want you want to keep your marketing going at top speed.
Onboarding & Implementation
Understand the onboarding and implementation process of each vendor. Many automation tool providers fail to impress on this aspect. The onboarding needs to detailed, with in person presentation and walkthroughs, downloadable reference content and training to get you going.
The cost of the tool goes beyond the plan or feature set you choose. Consider the below questions to evaluate the actual cost of the tool before arriving at a decision.
- What is the actual price tag of the tool?
- Does the tool demand additional skills/training? If so, what will be the cost incurred?
- What is the cost of maintaining the platform?
- Does the support you are looking for come at a cost? If yes, what will be the additional overhead?
- If required, what will be the cost of migration to another tool?
- What is the cost in terms of setup and implementation time?
- How frequent are upgrades and is their cost involved in upgrading?
Marketing Automation is marketing tactics and degree of automation that will best benefit your company’s requirements. Going for the most feature-rich, or cost competitive option may not be the best buy. It’s about buying a tool that will really put your marketing effort on the express highway and get you faster ROMI.
All the best with your search.
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