10 tips to choose your marketing automation platform
Marketing automation is already a reality in every business model. It is a necessity for any type of company, either B2B or B2C, no matter the size since it does not just allow marketing and sales processes automation; it is also an essential support within a strategy of recruitment, conversion and retention of the clients. However, how do you know if a marketing automation solution is the most suitable for your business?
Here, we teach you 10 fundamental aspects at the time of evaluating and selecting your marketing automation platform.
1. It all depends on your strategy
We will never get tired of saying that although it is important to choose the right marketing automation platform, it is much more important to know and define which processes, situations, communications or actions we want to cover or set in motion.
Which is the strategic goal that a marketing automation project covers?
The goal of any marketing automation strategy is being able to optimize and improve the user/sales/services experience to comply with our business objectives.
For this, there is a wide range of methodologies and features given to us by technological platforms, such as hyper-segmentation, process and journey automation, multichannel networks, etc. as a roadmap towards that fundamental goal of user knowledge and improvement of their experience.
Having a well-defined strategy gives you the biggest part of the keys used to identify which technological platform is going to better adapt to the needs of your project.
2. Where do we start?
Are we starting from scratch or are we migrating from another marketing automation platform?
The platform selection may be conditioned by a previous experience and if we lacked (or not) certain features. Previous knowledge or any concrete needs will help us determine which platforms we should discard in order to make a final decision.
However, if we start from scratch, there will be more possibilities to contemplate more options since we do not have any previous experience to base our choice on.
3. What process and communication channels are we going to use?
Even though most marketing automation platforms claim to be “multichannel” or even “omnichannel”, the reality is that not all of them cover all channels, and in that case, they do not always do it in the right way.
As we have already stated in the first point, strategy is the most important part, and if it is defined, you will know which channels you are going to use and which ones you need incorporated, or not, within your platform.
The main channels that should be taken into account within a marketing automation platform are:
- Email marketing
- SMS Marketing
- PUSH Messaging
- Social audiences
- Site Messaging
- Call centre
- Messaging Apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
4. What team will we rely on to set up our project?
At this point, we can ask ourselves two questions:
- Who is going to participate in the platform selection?
- Which people/departments are going to use the platform?
It is essential that, at least, representatives of the main teams participate in the platform selection.
A frequent situation is that, for example, the IT and Direction teams participate in this selection, but they leave the operational staff that will use the platform outside of it. This does not make change easy, either because of fear of the unknown or because the needs and opinion of the team that is mostly going to use it have not been considered.
Therefore, that operational team must be kept in mind. That will not only give you clues as to which one will be the best that adapts to the needs of the project, but it will also detect the possible lack of profiles needed to “drive” that platform.
We must bear in mind that many of these platforms require an ecosystem of technical profiles and developers that cannot always be covered with the current team. It is essential to, before selecting the platform, contemplate if it will be necessary to hire those profiles or even externalise this service, taking into account the costs this implies.
5. Is it necessary to connect with other platforms?
A marketing automation project without integrations is a half-hearted project.
Your new platform must at least have these connections:
- Data origin connection (Forms, CRM, etc.)
- Web tracking (online user behaviour knowledge, landings, blog & e-commerce)
Besides, integrations with other platforms, such as ERPs, call centre tools, apps, data warehouse, etc., are found frequently.
6. Which licensing model makes more sense for me?
Usually, marketing automation platforms use one of these two licensing models:
- Contact volume, shipments are usually unlimited in this case.
- Shipment volume, an unlimited number of contacts may be stored in this case.
It is necessary to consider both current and future volumes, based on the retention strategy and the communication plan we are going to follow.
Another factor that must be considered is the licensing model depending on the type of contract: monthly or yearly. Some platforms only allow yearly contracts (payment is made in advance), while others offer more flexibility and monthly permanence, although this usually comes accompanied by higher rates.
7. Which extra features do I need?
Aside from everything already mentioned before, any extra features we would like to cover with our platform may be implemented, so we will need to make sure the one we are choosing has that option.
The most frequent features are, for example:
- Lead scoring: Internal scoring of contacts according to profile, behaviour, or business data, as well as any other criteria we are interested in.
- Webforms: Generating forms, hosted inside the platform itself or with an option to insert them in a website.
- Landings: Generating landing pages, hosted inside the platform itself.
- Transactional Messaging: Possibility to send emails different from “commercial email”. These messages include password recovery, registry or order confirmation, among others.
- Relational tables: Information tables, aside from the contacts table, let us have a wide relational model. It is important to have in mind that not every platform will allow this. In this case, Salesforce Marketing is the King, since it has a very flexible table model.
- CRM: Some platforms have an integrated CRM module, such as the case of ActiveCampaign, and it is a very interesting option for businesses that do not have a CRM.
8. Which process automation level do I want to reach?
It is important to stop and think about which type of processes we want to automate in order to identify the technical needs the platform will have to provide us.
In an automated journey, the most frequent actions and decision points are found in the next points:
- Email-based behaviour: Decisions and actions based on openings/non-openings and clicks/non-clicks.
- Web tracking-based behaviour: Decisions and actions based on pages seen, visit frequency, traffic source and channel, etc. Not every platform makes this information easily accessible.
- Internal notifications: Internal teams communications to trigger business processes based on that notification.
- CX Apps / Webhooks: Integrations with third-party applications that allow a more agile flux of actions. In this case, ActiveCampaign is one of the most flexible and complete platforms to integrate third-party apps from the same automation.
9. What future use does my platform have?
The volume of shipments/contacts our project could have in the medium/long term must be estimated.
If there is going to be considerable growth, the performance allowed by the platform needs to be kept into account. It is possible that, if there is a large volume of interactions, our marketing automation tool will have performance issues during data processing.
It is also possible that, currently, the platform will be used by only one department or for something more concrete, a situation that may change in the future thanks to new needs or because other departments want to make use of the application. For this reason, it is key to have a defined strategy and roadmap since day one.
10. Who else uses the platform?
And last but not least, we need to ask ourselves:
Which companies use that platform currently? Is our sector using it? Is our competition using it?
Knowing companies that already use the platform is a very important factor, since the biggest the community surrounding this technology is, the more support there will be when it comes to doubts through forums, blogs, etc. that will serve as support for its fix. Besides, it gives us an indicator that it is a mature, developed platform and it might have continuity, making the implementation and learning process profitable.
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