How to Choose the Best Marketing Automation System for Your B2B Marketing Operations?
As a marketing leader or marketer, you need to deal with a slew of complex processes and competition. They want to speed up customer engagement across various digital marketing channels simultaneously.
Why do you need a marketing automation system for your business?
Digital transformation of your business requires you to build your presence and connect with your targeted audience across your company website, email marketing, newsletter, social media pages, virtual events, mobile marketing, and other channels.
You need to drive your customer engagement on all these marketing channels and create your sales funnel opportunities. You also need to monitor and measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and nurture your leads by adopting multichannel marketing strategies.
Additionally, you need to collate and analyze real-time and massive volumes of customer data to understand your customers and improve customer experience. Use this data to segment customers, select the right channels, send the right message at the right time, and maximize your ROI from investment in marketing operations.
Which automation software can help you maintain your revenue in the long term?
Marketing automation software developed for marketers should add the capability to make things easier for marketers. That’s why it is essential to look for functionalities that can significantly impact the day-to-day activities of your marketing colleagues—not on sales, human resources, or finance. When you select a marketing solution, do not assume that an all-in-one suite will provide the best functionality.
Instead, look for the following features:
Marketing Automation vendors are not one-size-fits-all. You must choose the right vendor that reflects your specific business requirements. Modern B2B marketing operations are getting more complex, involve longer than earlier buyer journeys, and need more people in the buying process.
Focus your Marketing Automation platform selection in finding the platform that will fit well with your business plans, resources, and company culture. There are several ways to navigate the choice process, including a proper RFP (Request for Proposal) for shortlisting vendors to running through demonstrations.
Here are seven steps that will help you in this process.
Define your business goals
To understand what a marketing automation vendor should be ready to deliver to you in terms of features, it is crucial to define the unique business challenges you face. Describe the gap between the present situation and the desired state. This will be a great starting point to consider a list of requirements that may summarize your needs and collect internal stakeholders’ feedback to build support from your company.
Avoid shiny object syndrome.
While looking for potential marketing automation platforms’ features, you may get overwhelmed with the numerous features. To avoid “shiny object syndrome,” shortlist what you want and need and then split it into the following categories:
- Must-have features
- Key features marketing automation systems should have
- Nice to have features
Restrict your choices
After learning about the changes and making your first list of requirements restrict your choices of vendors quickly. You can find numerous marketing automation and lead management vendors from 3,874 marketing technology solutions listed in Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape. Your research can be time-consuming for each vendor to analyze, consider, discuss with vendors, and make the right choice. Assess all the features found in your preferred and top-notch marketing automation vendors so that you can shortlist four to six automation software in your Request for Proposal or RFP.
Professionally manage your team and the vendor.
The vendors may not pitch all the benefits, features, and functionalities useful in every marketing situation. Still, their helpful and knowledgeable suggestions can significantly improve your process of selecting an automation platform. Include a feasible time frame in your RFP to outline your selection process steps and how you want to interact with vendors. Do your base work and ask them to present all the features, functionalities, and benefits that interest you. Use the same requirements while comparing all vendors so that you will make a thorough, fair comparison.
Challenge vendors with a scenario
After you receive the RFPs back and spoken to the vendors to get an introduction, it is time for you to shortlist two to three vendors for an in-depth demonstration. You need to take an in-depth look at the features and benefits the vendors explained and how those match your requirements. Create a scenario and ask them how to handle using the automation system. You can also request a product demo to see how the software works. This will speed your moves decision-making process and provides you guidelines on selecting the right system for you.
Services are as important as the product.
The implementation, setup, and software training are essential because the features will be a crucial area of the choice process. Speak to similar companies that have used those vendors’ automation products and services, found solutions in similar challenges within similar industries like you. Ask the seller to supply a high-level implementation plan, set up a demo or training meeting with your internal resources to move forward into implementation smoothly.
Submit a detailed questionnaire
When you have narrowed your choices down to only two or three vendors, it’s time to send them a detailed questionnaire they’ll need to fill out. A simple Excel file works well for this. Create several tabs, such as Features & Functionality, Cost, Support, CRM Integration, Scalability, and Company Attributes. List as many questions as you can think of within each tab and be as specific as possible.
The reason for asking the vendor to complete this questionnaire is because many reps will overload you with information at the beginning that may overwhelm you. You may take six to eight months in research and consultation; then, you will have plenty of supporting documents, phone calls, and demos to do comparative studies on your shortlisted automation platforms.
It’s hard to keep track of everything. A final wrap-up gathers answers to all your essential questions together and offers the vendor an opportunity to shine. A new system might seem shiny and exciting, but a poorly completed questionnaire with vague answers will only make it a costly mistake. Submitted questionnaires will help you compare vendors’ responses side by side.
Once all internal discussions are complete, and all questions are answered, it is time to make a purchase decision. In some cases, the answer will be crystal clear. In other cases, it might be a toss-up between two vendors.
If you’re stuck, go back and reread their answers, or you can simply chat with our certified marketing automation experts who can guide you throughout the process, and later, implement or migrate you to the new marketing automation platform. In case you are busy, then drop us a “Hello” or any message you prefer at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are active on social media now, then you can simply DM us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – talk to you soon!