According to Capterra, 14% of marketing teams are using marketing automation and another 14% of are planning to implement marketing automation software this year (Source: Capterra).
That means that over the coming years, plenty of companies will be sifting through the ever increasing number of vendors to determine what solution fits best.
For many marketers, purchasing this type of technology is unchartered territory. Therefore it’s vital that they understand what they’ll need to consider in order to make sure they make a successful investment.
Here are five things every organisation should consider before investing in a marketing automation solution (courtesy of G2 Crowd).
1. Strategy first
Marketing automation tools help automate a marketing strategy, but you won’t see results unless your strategy is up to scratch in the first place.
So, the first step when selecting a tool is to FULLY document your strategy agreeing the actions arising and timescales to complete.
- Reconfirm the segments of your target market
- Document buyer personas
- Map your customer journey
- Map content to your buyer journey
- Design campaign flows
- First draft your lead scoring rules
- Align sales and marketing
Make sure you understand all the marketing automation options when creating your strategy.
2. Inbound vs. outbound marketing
Outbound marketing strategies focus on sending content or messages to prospects through email, telemarketing, direct mail, or other advertising campaigns.
Inbound techniques are focused on getting customers to find you via search, referrals, social media, etc.
3. Size of company and customer base
Typically, smaller companies require a suite tool that is easy to learn and handles a wide variety of features but only handles the most common use cases.
Larger companies often seek out a tool that handles more complex use cases, but often takes longer to implement and requires more training.
In addition, larger companies tend to have a segmented staff and therefore could choose to use several marketing tools that focus on a certain area.
The requirements for B2B vs. B2C companies vary considerably. Strategies tend to be different and so automation requirements are different.
Different sales cycles, emotional buying behavior, number of people in the decision process and the database size can all influence the software that will best fit your strategy.
Often the data that needs to be used to automate a marketing process is held in another system (CRM, ERP, image files, etc.). The number of data points and systems you need to integrate to can increase maintenance costs.
Also, some marketing automation platforms integrate better with certain CRM systems better than others.
6. Optimisation priorities
To understand automation requirements, consider these funnel steps and how much of a priority they are:
Brand presence and content management
A good first step in the marketing funnel is to make sure you can be found if someone is looking. This includes optimising your website for search engines, creating and distributing content, and establishing and maintaining a social presence.
Although many marketing automation suite tools handle this part of the funnel you could also consider specialised tools web analytics, social media management and content marketing.
After you’ve established a presence, you need to capture a lead when a prospect views your content or contacts you. Most marketing automation systems provide plenty of features and analytics to help you optimise your lead capture process.
- Webforms in front of landing pages that users access via your website
- Event management capabilities to capture leads at trade shows and events
You can also enrich and score your leads based on the prospects’ behaviour across all your touch points. In addition, you may want to do some outbound lead generation as well.
Lead tracking, nurturing, and conversion
After establishing a presence and capturing leads, the leads need to be nurtured and ultimately converted to a sale. With marketing automation tools, you can set up various types of nurture campaigns, some with custom content and messaging.
Most marketing automation suite tools focus on four channels:
Managing and analysing content on your site or external sites and optimising search
Sending emails to generate leads and nurture existing leads
Managing social presence across multiple social media channels, including social analytics, monitoring social activity for your brand and your competitors’ brands, and managing the content across all the social media channels
Messaging via mobile and SMS marketing
7. Suite vs. best of breed
Marketing automation can divided into several subsections; based on your needs, you could purchase one software that has a wide range of functionality or purchase one or more best-of-breed solutions that focus on solving a specific problem.
If you’re looking into marketing automation and have any questions at all, feel free to contact us on 01202 805 655.
We’ll be glad to discuss any specific issues and how we can help you address them quickly.
In the mean time, take a look at the rest of our site.