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Marketing Automation: How to Narrow Down Your Options

by Katie Liesmann on September 2, 2015

4 minute read

Beginning research on marketing automation software can be a little bit like trying to get directions in a country where you don’t speak the language.

After working with several customers to find an optimal platform for them, we have developed some critical steps to choosing a platform that’s right for your organization.

First Thing’s First

A tight integration to your CRM is the most important qualifier for a good marketing software for your organization. If this requirement isn’t met, you may run into issues further down the road. You know it’s a tight integration if it’s well supported and natively built. If the integration is well supported, the platform company will assist you with bug fixes and upgrades. And having a native integration will allow you to report on marketing activities from within the CRM on all types of devices. This is important, so eliminate all companies who don’t have a strong integration or API.

From Goals to Features

The second step is to determine what features are needed in a platform. Look at your marketing goals, and then determine what features are necessary to help you move towards them. Also consider what is currently preventing you from reaching your goals. Is the marketing team spending time on something tedious instead of focusing on the big picture--and can it be automated via a marketing platform? One example is lead qualification. If marketing is spending time manually qualifying large quantities of leads, it could be automated using lead scoring profiles. Once you’ve determined must-have features, you can pare down your list to platforms that include those.

Features vs. User Experience

Next, weigh the features of the platforms against usability. If you select a platform that is extremely easy to use, it may not be robust enough. If you look for an all-in-one platform, it may be too complex and not user-friendly. Search for a good balance in a platform so that it promotes user adoption, but is also advanced enough to push your team to meet company goals.

Outside Opinion

Once you’ve narrowed it down using the steps above, you’ve done your due diligence internally. Now, it’s time to dig into your external resources and network. And while we certainly hope you trust the partner you choose, it never hurts to get an unbiased opinion. There are several options for getting some external feedback. You can talk to friends in the industry or business owners to see what they use and what they know about your options. You can hire a consultant who is an expert on business automation and see what they suggest for your business model. Or, you could do some online research using references such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Choosing a marketing platform isn’t as easy as 1-2-3, and we aren’t trying to tell you that. While the list above isn’t comprehensive, we hope it points you in the right direction. We are also happy to jump on a call and discuss a platform recommendation for you. Reach out to us here to get started.