Deciding whether or not your company needs a marketing automation platform requires the same thorough evaluative steps involved in any software adoption.
You must do a comprehensive self assessment of your businesses’ needs, staff capabilities, management support, and financial resources.
The following questions are from Digital Marketing Depot: MARKET INTELLIGENCE REPORT: B2B Marketing Automation Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide. They can be used as a guideline to help you determine whether a marketing automation platform is right for your business and should set you off on the right foot for choosing a solution that is the right fit for your needs and goals.
Have we outgrown our current marketing system?
Determine where the lost opportunities exist in your current system. Do you have data in multiple databases that cannot be consolidated? Or are using an email system that can’t deliver the level of behavioral targeting you need? Marketing automation will help you scale your efforts.
What marketing automation capabilities are most critical to our business?
Identify and prioritise the key capabilities you’ll need from the new system. By knowing what you need, you’ll be able to choose the platform that will most benefit the business.
What kind of marketing automation platform do we need?
Marketing automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution and it’s important to find the right fit. Nearly all companies offer the same basic capabilities for email, website tracking, and a marketing database. However, additional capabilities vary so it’s important to identify what you need. Identify the core strengths of each system and align these to your own marketing needs.
Does management support this purchase?
Every marketer should secure C-suite buy-in – especially if you are not the ultimate decision maker for this purchase. This won’t be easy so present a compelling case that the benefits of new software vastly outweigh the costs.
Do we have the internal skillset and staff necessary?
To maximise your ROI, your staff will need training to develop and execute new business processes. If marketing and sales have been operating in silos, they will need to work together on lead scoring and routing systems, lead qualification definitions, and more effective marketing communications.
How will we measure success?
You’ll need to know what you want to achieve from automation before it’s implemented in order to measure its impact. If your goal is to increase conversions, you’ll need to know your current conversion rate. It’s also wise to measure the depth and breadth of platform usage. Many marketers end up using only basic email capabilities, which ends up being a costly investment. Set benchmarks that will help evaluate the success of the automation.
Have we realistically assessed the cost?
Some marketing automation platforms are all inclusive, while others feature add-on tools and services that can significantly increase costs. In addition to the cost of the software license itself, consider the costs of ongoing services and training, as well as the indirect costs associated with getting staff up and running on the new system.
If you don’t have your own IT or design staff, be sue to find out how much these services are going to cost externally. For example, if the platform offers templates, find out how many, and how much it costs to customise template design.