So you’ve decided to purchase a marketing automation platform. You’ve read the studies proving its benefits. You know your company needs it.
Now, you just need to pick a marketing automation platform.
Obviously, we’ve got a favorite product in the marketing automation space. It’s a tool we’ve built ourselves and use every single day. But for the moment, we’re going to hold off on recommending our particular solution.
That’s because this guide is for you. It’s written purely to walk you through the questions you’ll need to ask and answer if you want to pick the best marketing automation system for you.
Note that we said, “for you.” Because what’s best for your competitors might not be best for you. The ideal marketing automation platform for your company will depend on many things. Like your company’s size, your database size, your CRM, and how sophisticated you want your marketing automation to get.
The solution you pick will also need to grow with you. That can be a big challenge. It’s one thing to find a solution you’ll be happy with today. It’s quite another thing to be happy with that same software solution two or three years from now.
But it’s not impossible. It’s not even all that hard. What looks like a very complicated decision can become quite simple once you’ve answered a few questions.
One last word before we jump in: A lot of this “pre-purchase homework” can be … less than fun. A bit tedious, in fact. You may already have a hunch about which solution you want, and you don’t really feel like slogging through any more specs to back it up. That’s understandable.
But stay with us. Doing your research now might be less enjoyable than just picking your favorite and moving on, but this is the groundwork that will determine whether you’re successful later on.
It might also (ahem) make you look very good once the solution is finally up and running.
This one key question should determine which solution you choose more than anything else. So think hard, consult with teammates and senior staff, and agree on three core goals for your new marketing automation initiative.
Don’t pick any more than three goals, otherwise, your focus will be diluted. And try to pick one overarching goal. If at all possible, quantify it, too. For instance, “I want to drop my cost of a sales-qualified lead from $250 to $175.”
We know you think for yourself, but, just for context, here’s what your peers say their goals are:
Notice anything? There’s basically a three-way tie here. It’s between “increasing marketing ROI,” “optimizing productivity,” and “acquiring more customers.”
Each of those priorities has a lot of influence over which marketing automation package you’ll pick.
If your goal is increasing marketing return on investment, consider:
If your goal is optimizing productivity, think about:
How fast is fast? It depends who you ask, but most marketers seem to think
that implementing a marketing automation system in three months or less is fast.
If your goal is to acquire more customers, ask these questions:
Of all the criteria mentioned here, the ease of use and time to implementation (aka “time to value,” or TTV) are the often the most important. That’s what Act-On discovered when they crunched the numbers from research by Forrester and G2Crowd. The webinar “Choosing Marketing Automation: Two Must-Haves that Predict Success” and this companion ebook outline that research and go into detail about how marketers can evaluate marketing automation platforms through that lens.