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10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING A MARKETING AUTOMATION TOOL
Before you buy a marketing automation tool there are some key considerations and essential preparation that needs to happen first. Use this document to help guide you through the process of selecting a marketing automation platform.
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1. What size is your business?
The size of a business, and more specifically the size of its sales team, will largely determine what automation tool you buy.
Enterprise businesses typically need a suite of capabilities and flexibility to efficiently filter a high volume of responses into ready-to-buy leads for a sales team to convert. Only the top tools such as Oracle Eloqua, Adobe Marketing Cloud and Marketo can really deliver the automated filtering and processing capabilities required.
SME businesses will often require similar levels of automation functionality but are likely to have smaller sales teams and budgets plus they tend to require a quicker response to lead creation process. These businesses lean toward mid-weight tools such as Par-dot, Hubspot and Act-On.
SMB businesses will require a lighter, more cost effective solution that offers basic automation capabilities but in an easier to deploy tool. Simple to set up and use solutions like Exact Target and MailChimp work well here.
2. What is the nature of your business?
Businesses tend to fall into two broad camps, those that attract customers and others that prospect for customers.
Businesses that attract customers are operating a natural inbound marketing strategy whereby prospects are attracted to them. This could be due to several reasons, either the strength of their brand, a unique proposition, a free trial or because they have a market leading product or service. These businesses are ideally suited to use Marketing Automation.
Those businesses with an emphasis on outbound marketing and aggressive sales activity are less likely to be able to adopt marketing automation efficiently. This will be due to a lack of appropriate content driving high volumes of inbound enquiries. These businesses will need time to re-focus their approach.
3. What is the quality of data in your business?
Businesses with good quality data will find it easier to migrate to Marketing Automation as they can more easily segment and target different audience personas. This will require data that is complete, consistent and qualified.
Poor data that is incomplete, inconsistent and unqualified will be harder to segment and target for nurture campaigns. Businesses with poor data would be advised to undertake a full data audit and review prior to engaging with a Marketing Automation solution.
4. Does your business have a CRM tool?
If a business has an existing CRM tool this will often determine which Marketing Automation tools are most suitable to deploy. This is because most Marketing Automation tools have pre-existing integration capabilities with certain CRM solutions that make deployment a lot easier.
If the business does not have an existing CRM solution then this ideally needs to be considered before implementing a Marketing Automation tool.
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5. What do you want your marketing to achieve?
If marketings sole purpose is to build a strong brand presence then Marketing Automation isnt really a requirement.
If however marketings purpose is to find and secure qualified marketing leads for sales to close then
Marketing Automation is the ideal tool for you.
6. What level of commitment do you have from the leadership team of your business?
In order for Marketing Automation to be successful in your business you need the full commitment of your leadership team both financially and organisationally.
To make Marketing Automation work effectively it takes a lot of time, effort and investment by the whole business, not just the marketing team. Deployment and optimisation of Marketing Automation will require the attention and collaboration from all the key departments in a business, from product marketing through to sales.
Without this commitment any Marketing Automation
deployment is unlikely to meet its full potential.
7. What resources and capabilities do you have in-house?
Deploying and optimising Marketing Automation requires expertise. If you dont have knowledgeable experts in place to lead and educate the wider internal team you will need to either buy these in from a consulting agency or recruit relevant resources.
This takes time and adds costs to the business so needs to be part of your consideration. One solution to minimise this investment into resources would be to opt for an easier to deploy and use Marketing
Automation tool such as Act-On.
8. What marketing content do you have in the business and what is its quality?
Marketing Automation requires good quality marketing content to be truly effective. If you have none or just a limited amount then it would be advisable to create this first before trying to deploy a Marketing Automation tool.
If you do have lots of content its advisable to audit it thoroughly to make sure it marries well to your typical customer journey. Ask yourself;
Is it of the right quality?
Where does it sit in the customer journey?
Are you missing crucial pieces of content?
9. Timescales How quickly do you need to be operational with Marketing Automation?
Generally the bigger and more complex the Marketing Automation tool the longer it will take to set-up and integrate into your business. Furthermore you need to also allow time for your internal teams to become educated and familiar in its use.
For smaller, less advanced Marketing Automation tool you should allow for at least 2 3 months to become active. For enterprise solutions allows anything from 3 6 months to be effective.
For businesses that have a mismatched CRM solution and Marketing Automation tool the time to become effective can be anything from 6 months to a year.
10. Whats your budget?
All Marketing Automation tools have pricing that is determined by the volume of data held in the tool. This data volume is one of the main cost implications when considering the adoption of Marketing Automation. More data means a higher cost.
So, if your business markets to significant volumes of low value customers, or operates on the very low margin, the potential fees for implementing this via an advanced Marketing Automation tool might be hard to justify.