Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Solution

Announced at last week’s event, the MarTech landscape now has over 5,000 software products to choose from. Oh-my-lanta. This infographic literally hurts my eyes. A bunch of little logo dots splashed into similar sounding categories, how do you sift through this madness and assemble the right technology stack?

Develop clear marketing goals and a plan for how to get there

Before you start looking, establish the baseline of your near term objectives and have a vision for your future state. You don’t want to blindly buy software with the promise that it does account-based marketing or builds and sends email campaigns. You need to establish where you’re going, and build a plan for how you think your company is going to accomplish each initiative. Then evaluate the tools that potentially support your plan.

Each product does things a little differently. And those nuances are what you should be paying attention to in relation to your goals. Do you have employees that are already familiar with a marketing automation platform? If not, training and ease-of-use are big factors. How easy is it to build a form? What about a landing page or an email? How long does it take you to learn the software? Are we talking a week? Multiple weeks? Months?!?

These are all questions you should be asking right away. You want a solution that lets you move fast. And fast means more than just quickly building a good-looking landing page. It means fast to implement, fast to learn and train the team, fast to build emails, forms and landing pages, and fast to integrate with your other solutions.

Pay Close Attention to the UI in Your Marketing Automation Demo

Anyone can click a few buttons in a demo and have a form magically appear. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean it only takes three steps to get there or that the product is super intuitive. The person giving the demo is a product expert. They’re building things in the platform day-in and day-out. Naturally, the product is easy-to-use… for them.

In any new software product I use, I look for:

  • Ease-of-use: Do the names of each button make sense? Can I figure out the software on my own or do I need extensive training?
  • How responsive the software is: Are there short loading times? Is it quick to navigate from one module to another?
  • Features I can use now and in the future: Is this a solution that solves my immediate problem? Or is it something we can grow into?
  • Price: Both in the time it takes to learn the software and train the team AND the actual price of the software itself.

These are my baseline boxes to check. After that, I look for:

  • How it integrates with my stack: Are there existing integrations where we can just flip a switch to activate? Or do we have to request or build them ourselves?
  • Accessibility: Can I limit permissions of certain users?
  • Security: This one is self explanatory.
  • Support: Do we have a dedicated account manager? Are there resources online that will teach me how to use the software or troubleshoot any issues? How accessible is the company’s support team?

If all these tests are passed, the solution gets my endorsement.

Now, just because you used a solution at your last company doesn’t mean it will work for this one. Each stack is different, each talent pool has different strengths and skills, and each management team has different preferences. Make sure your solution emphasizes your team’s strengths and helps overcome your weaknesses.

To learn more about choosing the right marketing automation solution for your business, check out this new analyst guide from Nucleus Research.

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