How to Choose a Marketing Automation Platform - 7 Questions

Written by James Self

Aug 25 2017

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There are many questions to keep in mind when considering a marketing automation solution. So what aspects should you note when evaluating a platform for your business?

Implementing the right marketing automation platform is the gateway to slicker, more accurate and more cost-effective marketing and sales. 

But when evaluating which solution is the right fit for your business, there are many considerations to take into account. With no shortage of platform options - from HubSpot to Pardot, Eloqua to Marketo… and more - it’s important to choose a solution that maps to your goals and requirements, that your team can use effectively and is an overall investment; a good marketing automation platform is a tool to align all aspects of your business.

Of course, your needs, organisation size, strategies, budget and more will all influence your decision, and taking trials or demos, and using review sites such as G2 Crowd can help to narrow the options. But at a top level, what should your top questions be when evaluating a marketing automation platform? 

What Should You Consider When Evaluating Marketing Automation Software For Your Business?

1. What platform are other businesses, similar to yours, using?

If you’re not sure where to begin, looking at what other businesses (of similar sizes, industries and with similar growth as you) are using may help.

After all, if a vendor works with lots of organisations like yours, their platform is likely designed to address many of the challenges you’re facing. However, it’s important to still do your research to choose a platform meets your specific business requirements - don’t base your decision solely on the fact that another brand uses it.

Make sure you also found your considerations on an understanding of the exact functions you require - know what drivers are behind your need for marketing automation, and keep them front of mind. 

Related: How Automated Lead Nurture Shortens Sales Cycles

2. Does the platform integrate with your CRM?

Are you planning to use marketing automation to integrate and align your marketing and sales teams? With the right fit solution, marketing automation can be considered a long-term investment that aligns all sides of your business and transforms process. 

A key consideration here is whether the platform integrates with your CRM and other external systems. Choosing a platform that can integrate with current systems will make the transition easier, minimise disruption and ensure you can maintain clearer tracking and reporting. 

Related: What is B2B Sales Enablement?

3. What about other third party apps you use?

Similarly, consider if a platform integrates with other third party apps you use, (such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator) to help close the loop on reporting and minimise disruption to personnel and workflow.

What integrations might you expect? Taking Hubspot as an example, they list a number of integrations that work with their software, some that they have built and support themselves, and others that have been built and supported externally.

Related: Integrating HubSpot and LinkedIn Sales Navigator

4. Can the solution scale with your business?

When considering marketing automation, be sure to plan for future growth. You want to ensure the platform you choose can expand and grow with you seamlessly and accommodate increased users without impacting functionality, efficiency or cost.

Take into account all departments that will be using the platform as well as overall company growth. It’s important that with expansion, comes the ability for your platform to handle increased communication, structured lead nurturing, scoring, tracking, closed loop reporting and detailed analytics.

5. Does the solution fit your budget? 

Although cost shouldn’t be the only yardstick when selecting an automated marketing solution, it is of course, important.

Investment price may be an obstacle to purchase, but remember that long-term, you’re improving the efficiency of your business, so should see ROI. Remember too, that the initial cost of software often includes support and advice on integration and set-up, training and any onboarding or implementation fees.

Make sure you are aware of all costs at the outset. If you’re unsure of how to maximise your software investment, consider consulting an experienced agency who can help to advise, implement and assist in managing your campaigns via that platform. 

6. How complex is the solution?

Can your whole team access and use the platform? How much training is required? 

At the outset, be sure you know exactly what’s needed terms of functionality, and outline what internal resources will be required to implement. Core solution features should include lead nurturing, scoring, and tracking, email and landing page creation and closed-loop reporting. However, the more functions you require your platform to handle, the more complex it may become. 

Using a platform that is intuitive and user-friendly for your team can greatly help with the transition, as can choosing a platform that incorporates team training.

Related: Lessons From HubSpot Partner Sales Training

7. What level of reporting can you access?

To maximise on your investment you will need tools that help your marketing and sales team interact and report to each other.

The more tracking and in-depth reporting insight your platform can provide, the better you can optimise your campaigns and assets throughout the funnel. Look for a tool that can provide your team with analysis on each lead, contact and customer you have - and that details every engagement and touchpoint they have with your organisation.

The 2017 HubSpot State of Inbound shows that 40% of marketers are prioritising marketing automation in their strategies.

With the right considerations and right strategies, marketing automation is a solution that can amplify your success; helping you save time, improve productivity, increase conversion rates, sales effectiveness and more. Of course, no solution will make an ineffective strategy work, so it’s important to consider how your strategies are already working before investing. Be sure to do your strategy research, as well as your software research, to ensure a healthy, successful marketing and sales ecosystem.

B2B Marketing Zone