Did you know that 58% of B2B companies plan to adopt the marketing automation technology (Emailmonday “The Ultimate Marketing Automation stats”. (2021)? and this number is rising as the marketing organisations embraces the new ways of working.
Let us imagine, you organisation wants to invest in getting a new marketing automation tool and they have asked you to choose the tool. It is indeed challenging to make a decision on choosing your automation tool.
There are plenty of things to be considered to make a sensible decision and these 5 things would cover the most important areas and helps you with your decision-making process.
#1 Compatibility With Your Existing CRM Tool
While you need to look into the features and benefits that an automated tool would offer. It is essential to understand the feasibility of your CRM/ERP and the new automation tool works together.
There are tons of questions one should ask: What kind of database does the tool work with? Do you already have a customer list that you can import into the tool? If yes, what kind of database format does it accept? Excel? Access? SQL Server? Oracle? What if you don’t have an existing database? Can the tool work with flat files?
Conducting feasibility study by involving the subject matter expert focusing on data structure, data flow and data synchronisation is necessary.
If not, you may end up having to pay a lot extra for the privilege of using the tool.
#2 Integration Support
Automation tools comes in various forms from focusing on a specific task automation to a suite of modules that helps to automate majority of the marketing activities.
While choosing a marketing automation tool, it is important to make a decision on level of automation that you are looking for.
For example, if you are only looking for email automation vs only social media automation vs automating all digital activities.
If you are looking for a full suite that would help you with automating various aspects of marketing. You would need to look for a tool that has integration support with other 3rd party marketing tools you are using currently.
If there are any 3rd party tools that are not listed in the sales brochure from the automation tool maker, that’s when you might hit a snag.
So, ask the tool provider if there are other solutions to integrate it or if they have plans in pipeline that would support integration.
#3 Ease of Migration
This somewhat tie back to the first point. When you decide to move with the new automation tool, you would be migrating the existing assets, data, programs, work flow from the old system.
This type of migration is often painful and results in a lot of problems that take up time and effort.
To ease the migration process, look into the tools that offer migration support in form of technical resource or automated migration management.
The goal is to shorten the time and effort spent on migration and reduce the marketing downtime which would cost the company.
#4 Future Proof
The world is changing at an alarming rate. As technology advances, it is becoming harder and harder for businesses of all sizes to keep up with the changes. This makes it critical for your business to have a “Future Proof” strategy in place. A Future Proof strategy is one that enables your company to quickly adopt new technologies and adapt to ever-changing customer demands.
It is absolutely necessary to discuss with your IT team to understand their plans for the next couple of years to make sure the tool is relevant for good amount of time and avoid pitfalls.
It is also necessary to look into your marketing team’s vision that would demand for new tools, campaigns and workflow.
Most marketers tend to look into the current workflow and challenges to address the need of automation tool and forget to consider the future plans that would cost more to implement or even worse that might result in looking for totally a new marketing automation tool altogether.
Once you are confident about your requirements, have a clear indication on budget availability. This will help you to eliminate the ones that doesn’t fit into your budget and shorten your list to consider.
Keep in mind that costs are often unclear when it comes to automation tools. Get clarity on costs in the beginning to avoid surprises.
Do some research to find out the approximate costs of the different solutions that can fulfill your requirements. Remember that the lowest cost is not always the best option. You should always consider other factors when choosing an automation tool.
Example of things to look for would be: license (renewal vs perpetual), extra license costs in case of expansion, features / modules available for the costs mentioned, development cost if you need a custom solution etc.,
As a rule of thumb, you should aim for the lowest possible price, but still get the maximum return on your investment.
Choosing a marketing automation tool is a big decision with a lot of unknown variables. There are tons of things to consider to ensure you are signing up for the right tool that would help your marketing organisation.
These 5 basic things are bare minimum to consider before you sign up and should help you with avoiding pitfalls.
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About the author:
Sravana is a marketing practitioner with 15 years of experience. He works as Marketing Automation Manager for a global B2B company.