You’ve recognized a need: your business needs marketing automation software. The next step is to address that need by beginning your search for a marketing automation solution.
Marketing automation helps you develop and nurture customer relationships, automate sales and marketing programs, and measure your marketing ROI. Specific functionality includes:
- Managing email campaigns, from writing and designing the email, to including links to landing pages and forms
- Testing your content
- Lead management, which includes compiling a lead database, segmenting prospects into lists, nurturing prospects on custom nurture tracks, and tracking a prospect’s progress with a customizable scoring and grading system.
- Integration of your current CRM with marketing automation, depending on system requirements for both
- Reports that show a wide range of data points to analyze the overall success of your campaigns
As excited as you may be to start your search for marketing automation, don’t fall victim to one of the most common software search mistakes: not involving the right (or enough!) people in your search.
Yes, this is marketing automation, so the marketing department will probably be the primary searchers. But they aren’t the only ones affected by the system. Here are a few examples of who you should consider involving during your search.
Again, obviously the marketing department will take the lead in the search for marketing automation software. They’ll be the primary users, creating and managing the various campaigns and initiatives. Therefore, their list of must-haves is longer and will overlap with the other departments’ needs. Some things Marketing should consider during the search are:
- Ease of use – Do you actually understand how to use the program? Can you accomplish your goals without calling support every 30 seconds with questions?
- Available features (email, landing pages, etc.) – You want to make sure the software you purchased actually accomplishes the tasks that you need it to accomplish. If the program doesn’t have the features and capabilities you need, then the purchase won’t be worth it.
- Reporting capabilities – You could create and implement genius campaigns, but how will you know if they worked? You need reporting so that you can understand the success, or failure, of a campaign. And you need to make sure the software program reports data that will be relevant for your business.
- Customization – When creating a campaign, you want your content to reflect your brand and company so that your target audience knows who you are. If the marketing automation software doesn’t allow you to customize, then you can’t achieve that primary marketing task.
- Support resources – I’m not embarrassed to say that technology is not my forte, and sometimes I need help. A software company that provides support along with their product is a necessity. Who knows the product better than the developers? Plus, they can help you with the many issues you could face, from implementation through advanced use. Some companies offer different levels of support, so be aware of how much help you’ll actually need as a customer before buying.
Some of the main features of marketing automation software are its lead management capabilities. Therefore, the Sales team needs to be involved in selecting a solution that will help nurture and qualify leads to their specifications, and allow them to track their prospects’ interactions with marketing. Some things for Sales to consider during the search are:
- CRM system integration – Your current CRM stores your prospect data, so it’s important that you can easily transfer this data into your marketing automation system. Many solutions are designed to integrate with CRMs, but make sure you know which ones will work with yours specifically.
- Lead management – One of the best features marketing automation offers Sales is the ability to nurture, score, and grade leads so that all they have to do is follow up and make their pitch. You can set your marketing automation system up to automatically move prospects through the sales funnel until they’re considered a qualified, sales-ready lead. With lead scoring, you can score certain prospect actions depending on their value to your team, such as opening an email, clicking a link, or visiting a page. The Sales team can decide which actions are worth how much, and qualify a lead when they reach a certain score and grade, all automatically!
Marketing automation offers a lot of great features that allow you to customize your campaigns with formats, colors, and images that match your company’s brand. Who’s going to do all that for you? Unless you’re a one-person marketer/designer, the design team will likely be the ones applying creative touches to your campaigns. Some things Design should consider during the search are:
- Customization – You want your emails and landing pages to reflect your company and your brand. Therefore, the software needs to allow for customization so you can create content and collateral that matches your brand (colors, fonts, logo, etc.). The Design team will create the custom templates and will want to be able to implement their hard work.
- Ability to import designs/images for branding – What good is the branded collateral you created for your prospects if you can’t deliver it to them through your marketing automation system? If the software can’t be customized with your company’s designs, your messages might get lost in the crowd.
Who will you go to when the program just isn’t working right? Sure, customer support is usually included in your overall purchase, but what if you need an answer now? Some things Tech should consider during the search are:
- Ease of use – If the software is too complex for Tech, it’s probably too complex for you! You need a solution that will not become a burden for you and the Tech team, so you can both concentrate on your other work and not constantly have to fix minor bugs in the system.
- Support – Yes, the Tech team can be very helpful when it comes to solving those annoying computer problems, but they can’t deal with everything that might go wrong. It’s important that there’s a good support resource from your marketing automation provider that you can depend on if Tech can’t help you right away (or if they don’t know how to fix the problem).
- Integration with current systems – Most likely, the Tech team will be responsible for integrating the new software with your current systems. If this isn’t possible, or it’s much harder than you thought, then the purchase could be a complete waste! Don’t let Tech be the ones to break the bad news that you bought the wrong solution; do your homework and ask them if they can actually get the system up and running (and how long it will take them) before you sign on the dotted line.
Finally, after you’ve purchased a marketing automation solution to nurture and qualify leads, don’t forget about your current customers! It’s important to maintain good relationships with your customers, and marketing automation can help. You can set up campaigns to keep your customers informed about your business, such as a newsletter. Keep track of their activity with lead scoring that could suggest when they’re ready for upgrades or resources that could be interesting to them. The most important thing to realize is that, once a lead makes it through the sales funnel and becomes a customer, marketing automation doesn’t become irrelevant.
For more insight into the marketing automation buying process, check out Capterra’s Marketing Automation Diary, a first-hand account by the marketing team about finding a solution for our business.
Do you think anyone else should be included? What have your marketing automation search experiences been like?
Looking for Marketing Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Marketing Automation software solutions.