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Jennifer Scheer

Vice President of Marketing Services of LEWIS

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Choose Your Marketing Automation Platform Wisely

October 27, 2016

The internet and cloud computing have transformed every business function, and marketing is no exception.

The internet and cloud computing have transformed every business function, and marketing is no exception. There are lots of technologies available today to help marketers improve the way they develop and deliver messages to their target audiences. For many organizations. marketing automation is an important tool to help scale activities. But how do you choose the right one for your organization? My colleague, Jan Bryson, offers some tips to help you evaluate the options.

Marketing automation has become a “must have,” allowing marketing teams to more efficiently generate, track and evaluate the quality of leads, and prevent those leads from getting lost during the marketing-to-sales handoff. But choosing and implementing a marketing automation system can be a headache. There are so many options, and they can be expensive, time-consuming and resource-intensive to implement. On top of that, it can be a challenge to use it to its full potential after it is up and running.

Before you start comparing the features and functionality of platforms such as Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot, ask yourself a few questions:

What is the budget for this initiative?

Setting the overall spend for a marketing automation platform – both upfront costs and annual / monthly fees – can help narrow down your options right from the start. Marketing automation comes with a hefty price tag, so it’s a good idea to figure out your total budget as a starting point.

Which systems will need to integrate with it?

The very nature of marketing automation means that it can’t exist in a vacuum. To be effective, it needs to tie into your overall ecosystem, such as your CRM or other marketing software. Be sure to confirm that the automation platform you are evaluating is compatible with the systems you are already using.

Does it have all of the required features?

What do you need in addition to the standard email campaigns, landing page builders, lead nurturing and scoring, and A/B testing? Are you able to customize and change templates? And make sure the features you require are not only available, but available within the price or package that fits your budget. Sometimes things that seem standard can actually be extra.

Is it intuitive to use?

Let’s face it, if the system is difficult to use, it’s going to discourage the team from using it. There are some automation systems that just seem to make things unnecessarily complicated. You want something that has the capabilities you need but is still easy to use. Of course, if you have a team of marketing automation whizzes on staff, this may be less important. A demo should give you a good idea of the platform’s ease of use.

Can you get the data you want out of it?

Since the goal of a marketing automation system is to improve overall performance and drive sales, the ability to report on and analyze results is key. Make sure it will align to your entire sales funnel and processes, and that you can pull out the data you need to make informed decisions.

What will you need in the long term?

When reviewing features and functionality, be sure to think about your future needs and choose a system that will grow with you. How many users are you likely to need in a few years? How many names will you have in your database? All of these things can impact cost, and how happy you are with the system you choose, a few years down the road.

This article originally appeared on the LEWIS blog.

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