Choosing a marketing automation system that fits hand in glove with your business model is an essential component of effective marketing strategy. In fact, HubSpot reports that “spending for marketing automation tools is expected to reach $25.1 billion annually by 2023.” Top performing companies see that marketing automation leads to optimized lead generation and conversion rates.
The question is, how can you determine which marketing automation system will work best for your business? Here are 11 important considerations in selecting a market automation system.
1. Total Costs
While this may seem like an obvious factor, it is important to gain a clear understanding of not just upfront costs for any particular automation solution, but also total costs that may be accrued in the future.Some automation platforms come with usage fees, or fees per number of leads generated. Add-on features could also come with a hefty price tag. For instance, the higher-end Growth Pardot package comes with a monthly cost of $1,250; and that’s without additional upgrades! Make sure to carefully examine the platform’s pricing information to accurately estimate ROI.
2. Recommended Company Size
Some marketing automation software is gear towards supporting small to mid-sized businesses; other options are designed for enterprise-level solutions. If you’re running a smaller company with only a few dozen employees, you neither need nor want to pay for the same level of service afforded a huge corporation. Conversely, bigger companies will likely need advanced technical support and larger capacities for their lead volumes.
Determining the recommended company size for each option under consideration can help you stay within budget, while selecting a platform that will provide adequate support for your marketing initiatives.
3. Level of Scalability
Does your marketing activity stay constant throughout the year, or do business needs fluctuate? What about budgetary constraints? With such factors in mind, you may want to consider the scalability of the marketing automation systems under consideration. While many platforms function as fairly straightforward SaaS solutions, and are therefore very scalable by nature, older or more high end solutions may not offer the same amount of flexibility.
4. Desired Features
Before choosing a marketing automation platform, much less a specific package within that platform, it is vital that you already know what features you’ll want to implement as part of your marketing strategy.
Some businesses may only require a narrow set of features focused on one marketing channel. For example, InstaSky handles scheduling for Instagram posts, and provides detailed reports and analytics regarding post performance. In contrast, SharpSpring provides a comprehensive email marketing solution.
Your specific objectives and business needs will play a large role in deciding whether you need an all-in-one platform, or more specialized software.
5. Funnel Management Focus
Certain types of marketing automation software focus on mid-to-bottom funnel management, which is great for capturing leads and nurturing them, but not so effective for top of the funnel activities, such as generating web traffic through SEO.
Other platforms specialize in optimizing one marketing channel only. These are typically low-cost options, but they almost always need to be utilized as just one aspect of a multi-pronged marketing strategy.
Of course, “full-funnel” platforms offer the most comprehensive CRM features, but also tend to be more expensive. You’ll need to decide which type of platform will work best for your current circumstances.
You’ll need to consider the level of customization required for your marketing, and how well each platform can accommodate those specific needs. Be sure to find out additional costs associated with customization options.
Most marketing automation solutions come with preset limits. For example, some software places limits on how many emails you can send, how many contacts can be associated per engagement, or how many users can be in the system.
For certain solutions, the limits imposed may not be very limiting at all for your company. However, like cost considerations, it is vital to have a detailed understanding of what those limits entail. You don’t want your marketing automation solution to end up stunting your company’s growth in any way.
8. Easy API Access
While compatibility between marketing platforms is becoming more and more common, it is still important that your company’s developers are able to easily access your marketing automation software’s API. Even if there is no need for integration with other programs at the present time, in the future, as your company continues to expand, such integration may become critical.
The level of security offered by automated marketing platforms may be an important factor for your company, especially if it’s a corporate-sized organization, or one that regularly handles highly sensitive information. Enhanced security will often come with a steep increase in costs, but it may well be worth it.
10. Technical Support
Technical issues can lead to loss of revenue and loss of credibility, among other things. You want to avoid unnecessary downtime for your funnel management process. It is important to ensure that the level of technical support you receive will provide sufficient coverage in case of emergency.
11. Customer Reviews
Sometimes looking backwards can be as important as looking forwards. You’ll want to ask yourself, how has this platform performed for past customers? Did this software meet or exceed expectations? What recurrent issues, if any, have been pointed out by other clients? A platform’s track record will give you an idea of future performance.
Marketing Automation Software Options
There are several marketing automation options available today. The following are some of the more popular platforms:
- HubSpot is one of the industry leaders for marketing automation services. It offers comprehensive automation services and a wide range of marketing tools, including its Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub platforms. The Marketing Hub Starter only costs $50/month; however, to run complete inbound marketing campaigns with the Marketing Hub Professional package costs $800/month.
- Marketo, which is an Adobe company, has a reputation for openness, reliability, and scalability. Reviewers have ranked Marketo in the 87th percentile for cost, indicating that most reviewers feel their pricing is above average in reasonableness.
- Pardot is a higher-end, comprehensive lead management solution. Its lead management features include CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing and scoring, and detailed ROI reporting.
- Eloqua, part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, provides integrated lead and campaign management services, and is known for its “marketer-friendly” interface. It is an enterprise-level solution. Its basic package starts at $2,000/month.
- Drip is an eCommerce CRM platform designed to be extremely scalable. It is geared towards smaller online businesses and entrepreneurs. Its basic package starts at $49/month.
- LeadSquared is a full funnel marketing automation platform that offers services ranging from basic to enterprise-level. It provides a wide range of service options; however, many reviewers have found it to be more expensive than other, comparable automation platforms.
Finding that marketing automation system that perfectly fits your overall business plan cannot be left to chance. A streamlined, well-functioning automation system can help you effectively nurture leads, and nourish precious relationships with customers.