Selecting a Marketing Automation Platform

How do you determine which advertising and marketing automation platform is proper for your business?

The solution has emerged as more and more complicated because greater vendors are promising synthetic intelligence (AI) and system gaining knowledge of abilities, dynamic content, and direct integrations with analytics gear, supply-side systems (SSP), and demand-facet structures (DSP), and social media advertising.

The quantity of platforms to be had continues to amplify: In 2017, Gartner ranked 22 specific products in its Magic Quadrant assessment of multichannel campaign management gear. Unfortunately, the collection of phrases market research agencies use to define (and verify) automation equipment doesn’t make it any less complicated to narrow all the way down to the center abilities you want.

Selecting a Marketing Automation Platform

Vendors with marketing automation talents seem in Forrester Research and Gartner evaluations of actual-time interaction control systems, digital advertising hubs, and employer advertising software program suites. Of course, vendor websites aren’t constantly perfect for navigating either, mainly when you’re searching for unique features.

When attempting to find the right platform, you can come to be bombarded with numerous records you don’t want — or want. After completing an advertising automation vendor assessment for a client, I prepare the subsequent guidelines for assessing potential companies. These are intended to be used as a starting point in growing fixed requirements. They can also serve to guide your improvement of a request for proposals (RFP).

1. Database Size

First, bear in mind the size of your consumer database.

The range of contacts you have is where you ought to begin. For example, if you most effectively have 10,000 contacts for your database, even a popular platform like Salesforce or Marketo is probably too advanced. Similarly, at the same time as Mailchimp offers plans for upwards of one million contracts, a complete-stack organization degree device along with Adobe or Emarsys will offer you greater state-of-the-art abilities and enable you to construct a more complex purchaser profile.

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2. Likely Users

It’s very vital to think about the employees who may be using the platform and how they’ll find paintings with others.

If you’re a B2B company, and also you need to have a high degree of coordination among your advertising and sales groups, a platform that consists of a consumer relationship management (CRM) system including Salesforce, HubSpot, or Marketo assist you to tighten your sales and advertising cycle. For example, your sales group might also want to touch ability clients who engage with a particular e-mail campaign or touchdown page. With a CRM machine, you can create a workflow that directly notifies your sales team after a customer engagement.

However, in case you’re a B2C agency with a big digital advertising crew, and you want to coordinate personalized promotions throughout the internet, email, and virtual commercials, a platform built mainly for virtual marketing campaign introduction and customer profile management, which includes Adobe, Emarsys or SAP may be stronger healthy.

Related Article: Diving Headlong Into Marketing Automation? Slow Down

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3. What You Need to Accomplish

The subsequent step is to pick out your priorities and decide what you want an advertising automation platform to do.

Marketing automation tools variety from programs that recognition especially on email engagement, to full-scale organization-level marketing suites that allow you to accumulate information from the first-party, 2d-birthday party, and 1/3-celebration records sources and increase personalized messages that may appear on any wide variety of platforms — from your very own website to email messages, social networks, and 0.33-birthday party ads. Start by way of outlining the particular advertising features and integrations which you need your platform to have. That listing would possibly consist of the subsequent:

f you discover which you’re the usage of an automation tool to engage especially across the e-mail and social channels, a device constructed mainly for B2B corporations, such as Marketo or Hubspot, is probably better for you than a tool with greater advanced abilities, along with the Adobe Marketing Cloud or IBM Watson Campaign Automation.

Related Article: Step Up Your Marketing Automation Game

4. Ease of Integration

Now you want to consider whether the automation device will integrate effortlessly with your present structures, including your content material management machine (CMS), your CRM device, and your statistics control and analytics tools. Some systems offer prebuilt integrations with WordPress, Google Analytics, and the Salesforce Sales Cloud, making it simpler to create campaigns based totally on users’ internet site behavior and demographic traits or where they are in the income funnel. Others require custom improvement work to integrate information from other platforms.

5. Reporting Features

Today’s advertising and marketing automation systems provide an ever-expanding array of virtual advertising functions, but regularly their reporting abilities nevertheless lag. Therefore, it is vital to decide what degree of reporting is within the structures you’re deliberating shopping.

What dashboards are available on the platform that will let you reveal your marketing campaign performance? Is it smooth to distinguish between one model of a multivariate marketing campaign and every other? Can you create reports based on age, demographics, and geography? Are you capable of discovering the variety, percent, and spending totals of clients who make purchases, in addition to what they purchase, after starting a marketing campaign?

6. Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

Another essential factor to remember is whether or not a platform’s AI competencies stay as much as the seller hype.

In the past few years, an expansion of vendors, consisting of Salesforce, MailChimp, IBM, and Adobe, have popped out with AI-pushed capabilities that might be designed to supply predictions and guidelines based on your consumer facts. However, customers of Salesforce’s Einstein and IBM’s Watson have stated that these functions are still immature.

7. Setup, Usability, and Support

Before shopping for something, you should decide how a good deal effort it’s going to take to set up and use the platform. You additionally need to discover what sort of customer support the vendor gives.

Often, ease of use trumps advanced technological competencies when determining whether or not an advertising automation platform will include paintings on your organization. It doesn’t count number if the platform has a zillion capabilities — in case your team can’t parent out how to use it or has the issue integrating it with present platforms; then it won’t be a fulfillment.

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To get an idea of ways clean or tough a machine is to set up and use, you should examine online critiques and ask the vendor for references. And make sure to ask the vendor those questions:

What custom work will need to be executed to integrate the automation platform with our present systems, inclusive of our analytics platform, our CMS, and our CRM system?
What sort of person schooling can you offer? Will it want to be purchased one by one?
During what hours and on which channels is customer support to be had? How long does it normally take to reply to questions and remedy problems?
Do you’ve got a dedicated employee or an assigned team to provide customer support?
Don’t Take ‘Yes’ for an Answer
Arming yourself with the know-how of the way your people will need to apply an advertising and marketing automation system in advance of your seek will make it easier to narrow your picks all the way down to a platform this is proper for your commercial enterprise. It would help if you prioritized ease of use, adaption time, customer support, who will want to apply it, and your current use cases over “best to have” features.

Here’s one ultimate piece of advice: When you ask for a response to an RFP, you need to ask vendors to explain how they provide certain functions — in place of simply asking whether they offer them at all. Vendors will constantly say yes to a requested function. Asking how they offer the characteristic offers you with perception into whether or not or no longer the platform will characteristic as you need and expect it to.

About the Author

Alisa is the advertising supervisor at MaassMedia, a boutique digital analytics company primarily based in Philadelphia. She has sizeable experience creating digital techniques for businesses within the technology, financial, consulting, manufacturing, education, and non-income industries.