How to Choose the Right Marketing Automation Technology

Marketing automation technologyIn my last post, I talked about how the promise of marketing automation is often not matched by the reality. And one of the most important aspects of achieving success is to make sure your technology is a good fit with the size of your organization and the complexity of your marketing and sales processes.

Here are a few guidelines to help you make the right selection.

  1. Processes should lead, not technology. By this, we mean that you need to thoroughly understand your business objectives and develop the processes that best drive the objectives. Only then should you look at technology. For example, your business may be heavily reliant on telesales, so you must consider integrating this key process when looking at MA system features.
  2. Pay attention to two important acronyms: Time-to-Value (TtV) and return on investment (ROI). In short, you want quick TtV and large ROI.
  3. Ease of use is a crucial factor. Any product you consider should not come with a steep learning curve. We have seen many expensive systems neglected or underutilized because they were too complex for the average user. Back when software was actually delivered in boxes, we referred to this as “shelfware” because you would find the software sitting on someone’s shelf, not being used.
  4. Flexibility is critical. Even if your software fits your needs today, it may not do so if your business processes change. Make sure you have systems that are configurable – which means they can be changed without software coding and expensive outside resources.
  5. Make sure the solution is scalable. By this we mean that you will not have to purchase a new solution or significantly upgrade your existing solution as your company, data and number of users grows. At the most, you should only be required to add new licenses.
  6. Pick the right deployment model. For most companies, a Cloud/SaaS solution is the right option. Cloud software is much easier to implement, requires no hardware purchases and can be operated anywhere the user can get to an online connection. It also tends to be much easier to customize/configure than on- premise solutions.
  7. Find the right balance between a proven solution and new technology. The solution with the most customers may be appealing, but it could be based on an older architecture that gives you less flexibility at a higher price.
  8. Don’t forget integration. If you already have a CRM or marketing automation (MA) application, it is best to choose a new technology that works well with your existing solution. In particular, pay attention to your CRM, demand generation tools and website. Systems that don’t play well together cause lots of headaches.
  9. Monitor marketing metrics. Make sure your chosen solution allows you to capture the key performance indicators important to your marketing operation.

Note: this post was excerpted from our new whitepaper, Navigating the B2B Marketing Automation Minefield.

Christopher Ryan
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