How to select the right marketing automation platform
So, you think the time is right to take the next steps in communicating with your prospects and your customers? Then you should also think about investing in a new marketing automation tool. This blog post helps you choose the right one.
As the market and the consumer (or customer if you are in a B2B environment) is constantly evolving, you and your company must be ready to tackle the needs and wishes required in the modern marketplace. The number of channels and contact points is exploding, and it is important that your company can communicate consistently with your contacts.
Why a new platform?
Your current platform is an email marketing tool or a marketing automation platform that no longer supports your go-to market strategy? Do not worry, there are plenty of solutions out there to help you tackle those next steps.
However, all these platforms have their particular strengths (and weaknesses), so you must make sure that you select the correct solution for you and your business. This article aims to give you some tips on the selection process. In this article, I presume that you already have a (digital) marketing strategy regarding automation. If not, I - and my colleagues at Intracto - can assist you to define that strategy, so do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance.
The different steps in the selection process
To be able to select the correct marketing automation platform in an objective manner, it is important to lay out the criteria to score the different suppliers beforehand.
Following decisions have to be made when scoping:
- What is the focus of your marketing automation strategy? Is it primarily lead generation (frequently for B2B), customer engagement (B2C) or both? Do know that most marketing automation platforms are stronger in one or the other.
- What channels do you want to employ in your automated strategy? It is not feasible to be present on all channels, so select those where your audience is most active on.
- Define the existing systems that need to be integrated with the marketing automation platform. Obvious candidates are the website and your CRM-application. But other applications can also be integrated, such as your ERP-system, the accounting system, the web shop, … And, how deep do these integrations need to be: daily data interchange, real-time data interchange or deep integration?
- Inquire about standard integration with other systems.
- Select the processes/flows that need to be supported by the selected platform.
- Define the functionalities the platform should cover. Classify these functionalities as ‘must have’, should have’ and ‘nice to have’. Ask that the answer is not a simple yes/no but insist on a more elaborate answer.
Based on this input, you can start writing the cases that you want the selected platform publishers to demonstrate. This helps you during the selection process but also the platform suppliers since they can tailor their presentation to your needs and wishes.
Based on your decisions and the cases above, prepare the invitation to tender (RFP, RFQ) document.
We now know what the criteria for selection of your ideal marketing platform are. Armed with this information, it is time to select which parties we will be inviting to submit a proposal.
There are two ways to approach the selection of which suppliers to contact. You can cast a wide net and select as many parties as possible. Or make the first selection yourself, using several inputs including websites, white papers, word-of-mouth, ….
Another decision to make is who to invite: do you focus on the platform publishers or do you select agencies that specialise in implementation and deployment of the solutions? The inclusion of Intracto in this phase is a bonus, as we are partners of several leading marketing automation platforms and we can advise and guide you in the selection of the applicable tools for your situation.
Based on the submitted proposals, you can now proceed to making a shortlist of the platform providers.
Criteria to base your selection on include:
- Quality of the proposal
- Strength of the company
- The roadmap
- References, both in your type of business as well as general references
- The answers on the desired functionalities
- Description on how the platform will handle the cases
- The licence fees
- The budget needed for implementation and deployment
Demos and workshops
Next step is to invite the platforms in the shortlist for a demo and workshop(s). Now it is important to see first-hand what the platform looks like and how it will help you implement your marketing automation strategy.
Take particular notice of following elements
- The user-experience
- How the supplied cases are handled and how easy it is to implement them
- Drill deeper into some of the desired functionalities as described in the invitation to tender. Especially focus on those items where the language in the proposal seems to indicate a ‘commercial answer’
- The integration with other systems
- The possibilities of the system that allow further growth in your (digital) marketing strategy in the coming years
Final selection and contract negotiations
Based on the total input of proposals, demos and workshop(s), you have the information allowing you to make the selection of the platform that will assist you in the roll-out of your marketing strategy.
Now it is time for contract negotiations, but that is the realm of the procurement and legal departments. Next step: the implementation of the selected tool, but that is the subject of another article…
Let’s perfect your marketing automation
Need help finding the right marketing automation tool or implementing your marketing strategy? Come talk to our experts and we’ll get you on the right track.Contact us