Many marketers currently mainly use the basic functionalities of marketing automation. And that is a waste of your time and money. How do you make the next step, from the basics to full use? A good selection process helps you on your way.
More than 55% of marketers used only one form of marketing automation in 2019, the survey shows “State of marketing automation 2019“. Although there is a lot of difference between the forms in which it is used, it mainly concerns the basic functionalities (GetResponse research).
The next step in automation: from the basic to full use
It is of course unfortunate that less than a quarter use the software for which it was intended – and probably purchased -. A large part of the organizations does not yet use automation. And the marketers who do use it use it as an email marketing tool. A waste of time and money you would say.
A good selection procedure can prevent this from happening to you when you get started with marketing automation. Or if you are considering switching supplier. Below I give you an overview of the things to look out for during a selection.
Business you in one next step can pick up, for example:
- Personalization. Automation is all aboutthe right message, to the right people at the right time“. Personalization in e-mail and on the web makes this possible within automation based on segmentation;
- Intelligent CRM links. The basis of a link is sending leads back and forth. An intelligent link also provides insight into single and multitouch attribution, lead times of the sales cycle and intelligent reporting.
- Insight into pipeline. With automation you become a real revenue marketer. You get 100% insight into your contribution to the pipeline. So it is no longer just about leads, but about the actual contribution to sales and / or profit.
- Linking automation to the rest of the martech stack.
The different packages in the market by company size
If you look for an automation software package, you will soon discover that there are literally hundreds of different packages. Then it is useful to make a pre-selection of solutions that may be placed on your long list. A useful distribution is based on the size of the companies for which the software is suitable. It is simply the case that large companies opt for different solutions than smaller ones.
There are roughly three categories:
- SMEs (micro, small and medium-sized): <10, <50 or <250 employees
- Great business (mid market): 250-1000 employees
- Corporate / Enterprise:> 1000 employees
Of course, not only the number of employees is important for the choice of automation, but also matters such as the size of the customer base and internationalization.
A nice overview of the solutions for the different segments at company size can be found on G2:
All-in-one vs. best-of-breed
You can make a further distinction in the packages based on all-in-one and best-of-breedsolutions. In brief:
The packages offer a multitude of integrated functionalities. Think of CRM, automation, chatbots, website optimization and social media management. Often these also become the marketing suites called. Think of solutions such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Active Campaign and Hubspot.
An important advantage of this solution is the fact that you are ready in one go for one price. There is also a disadvantage: because everything is in such a solution, it is all very middle of the road. The packages do not really excel at a certain point.
Best of breed
On the other hand you have the packages that are specifically focused on marketing automation. They excel in segmentation options, reporting, lead nurturing or for example email marketing. Think of packages such as Marketo, Act-On and Emarsys. These solutions are part of a more extensive one martech stack in which you link the best solution for every functionality, often via native integrations. For example, you link Marketo to Drift for chat and you choose Desktop Desktop for your social media management.
A disadvantage of these solutions can be that you buy several solutions next to each other. This means that you also manage different contracts and are sometimes more expensive. An important advantage is that you do not pay for functions that you do not use and you often have a higher conversion, because you use better tools for the right purposes.
Regardless of which solution you choose, make sure that the solution is part of an ecosystem so that you are not limited in functions. Check the website of your supplier to see if there is an overview available. A good example is the stack-builder on the Launchpoint website from Marketo.
Why choose a leader?
If you have completed the above steps, many packages will still remain. A logical next step to come to a shortlist. For that you can look at the position that a supplier has in the market. There are various studies of this Gartner and Forrester from it. Like Gartner's “magic quadrant” with leaders, challengers, visionaries and niche players:
It is wise to choose a leading party (one leader). These parties are at the forefront of innovation, especially when they are visionary are in the Gartner study. Consider the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Other developments are also being taken up quickly.
In addition, the choice for an automation solution is a decision for the long term, for a minimum of 3 years. Then continuity of a supplier is very important. Nothing is more annoying than a supplier that stops or stands still in development.
What functionality do you need to achieve your goals?
If you start with automation, you may not yet know exactly which functionality you will use. Issues such as email marketing and lead nurturing are often basic (but not equally good in every package). But do you also need more advanced functions? And what about 2 years from now? You do not choose the solution for the short term, so a scalable solution is often desirable.
A useful way to see which functionalities you need is to first list your own marketing objectives for the coming years. Based on this, you can then decide yourself, or with a marketing automation specialist, which minimum functionalities should be in your automation package.
You can find a brief overview of the options on comparison sites such as Marketing Automation Insider:
Marketing automation within the martech stack
Whether you opt for an all-in-one or best-of-breed solution, you will always integrate the automation solution with other tools. In an earlier article on Frankwatching I already wrote about that martech stack (a set of tools and technologies that you use, ed.). A example of a stack where Hubspot is:
It is often stated in the description of a solution that an API is available or that it is possible to link via a third platform like Zapier. But you are not automatically there. Take a good look at how the link works, which things can be synchronized and whether it is easy to adjust. The better packages often have native integrations with other tools in the stack.
What does your team look like and what support do you need?
The composition of your team also determines which automation solution you choose. Smaller teams often consist of all-rounders who work with the tools themselves. Then a simple user interface is very desirable. It is therefore useful, for example, if you can arrange online certification and assistance online (in videos).
Larger lead generation teams consist of specialists who demand more from the tool and are truly specialized in it. Then a best-of-breed solution is often the better solution, because you can really ask the utmost.
In both cases it is important to ask yourself how much support you need and whether this is online, by telephone or perhaps face-to-face. Many companies like receiving Dutch support. That offers almost no (international) provider. In that case you can engage a Dutch partner of the software. Another advantage is that you can start faster and do not have to reinvent the wheel yourself.
What is your budget?
Ultimately, every marketer has to deal with a certain budget. That also determines the choice of your package. There are free packages available, but also solutions that cost several thousands of euros per month. The prices of the packages often depend on the number of contacts that you send an email each month.
Make sure you also view this for the longer term and have a good overview of the possible additional costs of add-ons. For example, there are packages where you can start very cheaply, but you quickly increase in costs if you really use the package for what it is intended. Cheap then becomes expensive. And switching is difficult once you're busy …
Tip: request a number of quotes from suppliers or partners and request insight into scalability. What are the costs if you grow in number of contacts or functionality? A number of providers also offer you the option of fixing the price for a long time.
Check reviews and watch out for the “we of WC duck” effect
Of course it is good to know what market researchers think of a solution. But it is perhaps even more important to know what users think of the software.
If you have finally made a shortlist of the packages that are relevant to you, view the experiences of others. Make sure that you read the reviews in terms of content and not only look at the averages (stars). This is to prevent you from comparing apples with pears. To illustrate: if you put a BMW X5 next to a Toyota and compare the reviews, the Toyota Yaris will look better:
Is the Toyota better than the BMW? Of course you can't say that. If you want to park easily in the city and are looking for an efficient car, the Toyota is probably the best choice. If you have a large caravan and 4 children, the BMW is the better choice. This is also the case with the automation packages. Moreover, the suppliers sometimes pay for giving a review and that can of course have an effect on the score.
In addition, you as a potential user benefit from those experiences, but at the same time these sites are used as lead generation for suppliers. So if you log in to the sites it may be that you are approached by a supplier some time later, because the leads are sold to the suppliers. Certain packages are also placed higher in the ranking against payment. This creates a “we-of-WC-duck-advise-WC-duck” effect.
If you really want to know how a package scores on user experience, ask the supplier (or a partner in the Netherlands) for references that you can approach. On G2 and Marketing Automation Insider you will find a good overview of the various user experiences and you can compare the packages that are relevant to you.
What is your experience?
I am curious about your experience in the selection of marketing automation software. If you want to share it, you can do that in a comment and we can all learn from it. Happy stacking!