Which marketing automation tool should I choose?
Great question! It is one we are asked all the time.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you aren’t going to find the definitive answer here because what works for one organization doesn’t always work for another. Here at thunder::tech, we look at platform selection as a process and not merely a recommendation, mainly because it is much more complicated than asking a single question.
Right now you are probably asking yourself, “if you aren’t going to tell me the answer, why should I keep reading?”Here’s why: By the time you are done reading this post, you will learn what factors to consider and which key areas to focus on during your platform selection process. You will also find a few platform hints to give you a helping hand when first starting out, which focus on the merits of HubSpot, Pardot and Marketo, but our tips can be applied to any other marketing automation platforms as well.
As I just mentioned, platform selection is a process, so take your time and do your due diligence when making your selection. Consider each of these during your search to find the best fit for your organization:
So let’s get to it!
Price – The cost of a platform is typically the first factor that can eliminate options from your search. But don’t be quick to strike one from the list from initial sticker shock, opting for a cheaper platform instead. What you will come to notice is some platforms with lower entry costs end up nickel and diming you for years to come.
So instead, put together a five-year cost projection to give you a clearer picture of the type of investment a platform will truly be. We highly recommend this because the pricing structure is different on pretty much every platform.
Here are the things you should include in your projection:
Time – After price, having a clear understanding of the amount of time you will need to invest in a platform is vital. If you are going to be the person in the platform, executing campaigns and analyzing metrics, ask yourself this question:
How much time am I able and willing to commit to making marketing automation successful for my organization?
While you formulate your answer, keep this in mind: Automation isn’t easy, and it requires dedication for it to be successful. Some platforms can get pretty complex, requiring additional time to invest in learning the system. If you are able to take on this responsibility full-time, learning the ins and out of your selected provider, then going with a more advanced system could be right for you.
While conducting your platform demos, be sure to have the instructor walk you through some of the basic tasks you will need to complete during daily platform usage. This includes things like building an email or landing page, pulling reports, developing automated process and creating prospect lists for campaigns. If completing these seems overwhelming, that system might not be right for you.
If you come to the conclusion that you might not be the right person for the automation job, the world isn’t ending. There are plenty of agency partners that can help you set up, build and execute campaigns and tactics within automation platforms.
Use case – Not all platforms are created equally. Keep this in mind: Your organization has a target audience and ideal customers to use your product; so do marketing automation platforms. Building off of what we mentioned above in relation to price, platforms offer different packages with different functionality. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your platform needs are before starting your search. We have seen new clients come to us time and time again with legacy systems they purchased that don’t do what they need or have functionality they don’t use or want.
Be realistic when planning how you will use a platform. Paying for added functionality because you think you might use it takes funds away from other initiatives that could use the cash. Start with what you need before adding what you want.
Integration – Having an automation platform is great, but only if it integrates with legacy tools and systems you are currently working with. This is a huge point that is overlooked by many organizations. The best thing you can do to avoid costly platform migration down the line is to make a list of all of the current platforms and applications that you want to integrate with automation. Below is a list of examples to help get you started.
Reporting – This is by far the most important piece and should not be taken lightly. Showing the ROI on your marketing automation platform is vital for the C-suite, so be sure that the reporting capabilities of the platform you select can provide you with the details you need across the channels you utilize.
This means that reporting and integration go hand in hand. Your goal should be to create a closed-loop reporting system, which allows you to accurately attribute conversions and sales to the appropriate source. By having a structurally sound attribution system with hygienic data passing through it, you will be able to identify what tactics work and which ones don’t.
Time to wrap things up….. If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this: There is no magic bullet or specific platform that will solve your marketing needs. A marketing automation platform is simply a tool that, when utilized properly, can be the most valuable asset in your marketing stack.
We know that was a lot of info, so let it soak in. You can always come back to this post and use it as a guide while you navigate the selection process waters.
And if you don’t want to dive into the automation pool alone, or need help as you go through the platform discovery process, we will have sunblock on our noses and our goggles at the ready.
Lizzie Thornton is a Content Marketing Specialist at thunder::tech. When she's not writing strategic content she spends her time watching true crime documentaries and saying "hi" to every dog she meets.
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