HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, InfusionSoft... There is an abundance of Marketing Automation platforms available aimed at small and large organisations alike with wildly varying features, benefits, levels of integration and price points.
How do you know which is the right platform for your business? As Inbound consultants who help businesses develop an effective over-arching strategy for growth, we often get asked which Marketing Automation platform/software is best. Our answer has been, and will always be, start with the business' strategy, and use this to develop a Marketing Automation strategy.
1. Consider your team's capabilities. How easy is the software to use? Hop on a 30-day free trial.
Here are the key competencies your team will need to hold to build up an effective Marketing Automation programme. Consider what roles your team members will
Every platform says their software is 'easy-to-use'. You don’t want to be reliant on developers to set up and edit basic landing pages, forms or email sequences so do a litmus test internally. Get key team members onto a 30-day free trial and get their feedback on building out these key features. No 30-day free trial? Walk away.
2. Is there an active community of users who share info and insights? And how responsive is the customer service desk? You want to know you can get answers when you need them.
Encourage the team to Google search for any questions they have as part of the free trial (rather than just defaulting to asking a sales rep any questions they have). You'll soon discover whether there's a community of users who offer up solutions to problems
Check what their SLA response time is for queries, then read reviews of the Marketing Automation platform online via social media. Understand the experience of others and you're likely to understand what your experience will be.
3. What does training look like? Is it
self-service? Or is it an on-site training course?
How extensive are training tools? And do these go beyond the application of the software, into more valuable resources that will upskill the team on techniques and methodologies?
4. Don't forget sales: consider how the Marketing Automation software will support conversion of leads to customers, and hand-off from marketing to sales.
If marketing and sales are not aligned in their thinking & objectives, leads will fall over when it comes to conversion. Lead scoring is meaningless to a team who is not brought into the thinking behind lead scoring: leads will disappear into a long-forgotten email folder.
5. A decision should be made collaboratively as Marketing Automation impacts marketing, sales, customer service and I.T, but marketing & sales should hold the final decision.
Marketing Automation can drive the entire customer experience - from attracting customers through to delighting customers.
- Customer service will be concerned with Marketing Automation can improve response times, and quality of response.
- I.T. will be concerned with data security & privacy.
- Marketing's focus will be on high-quality lead generation and demonstrating ROI.
- The sales' team's focus will be on how software delivers actionable insights they can use to sell, the efficacy of tools that'll support their sales process and closing customers.
Ultimately, it's the marketing and sales teams who'll be the ones that use the Marketing Automation software (and are the business units accountable for getting results) so ultimately, this decision should rest with marketing and sales.
Need some help working out what platform is right for your business?