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B2B Marketing

Tips for Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform

Marketing automation platforms are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your business is unique and your marketing needs will also be unique. The first step in choosing the right marketing automation platform is to carefully examine those needs.

The first step is to define exactly the term “qualified lead” means to your business. The discussion to define this term should include your executive, marketing, and sales departments. You may want to first differentiate between a “marketing qualified lead” and a “sales qualified lead.” Additionally, you may want to create a chart that identifies your current lead generation process – from initial awareness through point of purchase and on to post-sale.

Questions that need answers before choosing an automation system:

  1. Where do our leads come from now? Which is our best source?
  2. What contact information do we now collect.
  3. What additional information do we want, and why?
  4. What happens to a lead once it reaches our office? This might make another useful chart!
  5. Who follows up on leads from the different sources identified in #1?
  6. What steps do they follow?
  7. What information is sent, how and when?
  8. What sources are we using to communicate with leads?
  9. Do we have a process in place and is that process being followed?
  10. What happens with leads that are disqualified?

Considerations for evaluating different marketing automation platforms:

  1. Do we have someone already on staff who has the time, experience or inclination to take on this program?
  2. Is this system easy to use, easy to learn and user-friendly for all departments? And is ease of use important?
  3. What type of training is offered by the vendors of these platforms?
  4. Is it ongoing and as updates and upgrades are made is there additional training?
  5. Is the training included in the initial cost, and how many people can be trained within that parameter?
  6. How long is the training?
  7. How well does this platform meet our needs now?
  8. Will this platform meet our projected needs in five years? In ten years?
  9. Does this platform provide the reporting and monitoring needs we need to ensure a successful marketing campaign?
  10. How extensive do you need tracking to be?
  11. What statistics are important to your business and does this system provide that information?
  12. Does the vendor provide online, in-person and/or telephone support?
  13. What is their guarantee for response time in case of trouble?
  14. Do they offer a guarantee for operational uptime?
  15. Does the vendor demonstrate they are willing to spend the time to understand the particular needs of this company?
  16. Or, are they attempting to sell more (or less) than we need simply for their own convenience.

Additionally, marketing automation systems are not an instant fix. Many experts caution business owners to “be realistic in their time expectations, and then add another six months.” It is important to plan for the time needed to get a system running efficiently, while keeping current lead generation techniques functioning.

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