Marketing automation is a very popular technology acquisition for many companies right now – from small businesses to large enterprises. It is a core software for marketing operations, and when used correctly, is responsible for significant improvements in marketing and sales processes.
If you are unfamiliar, here are some of the key ways marketing automation benefits your sales and marketing team.
If you know marketing automation is essential already you need to still make the right platform selection. To do so, it’s critical that you understand what the key marketing automation requirements are for your company.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the most common marketing automation features and requirements:
Of all the functionality available within most marketing automation platforms (MAPs), Lead Nurturing is the most essential and powerful. Being able to nurture leads based on a variety of attributes (behavior, demographics, buying stage) is a perfect compliment to lead generation programs and is high priority amongst marketing departments and sales teams.
We all know that CRM has a long list of features. Marketing automation platforms that integrate seamlessly with customer relationship management platforms make for a powerful technology combination. Feed data to your CRM from your marketing automation and vice versa. Your marketing efficiency will never be the same.
At the core of marketing automation are various marketing campaigns, perpetual or limited time. Make sure campaign management within your platform is manageable without excessive work-arounds or gotchas and supports both inbound marketing and outbound campaigns as well.
Lead management is another fundamental feature of marketing automation software. Being able to move leads through the entire marketing funnel, all while passing this information to and from your CRM, is a huge task and should be handled effectively by your MAP.
While some may utilize landing page builder services independently or within their CMS, many marketing automation systems have excellent landing page builders. If this is a requirement of yours, make sure you select a landing page builder that isn’t just flexible and easy to use, but also mobile-friendly as well.
When you are selecting marketing automation, you are likely upgrading from your current and more traditional email marketing platform. Make sure your new MAP has a majority (if not all) of the functionality you use regularly in your existing e-mail marketing platform.
The marketing automation platform you select should either have built-in social media marketing and management tools or seamlessly integrate with one of the MANY social media marketing tools out there.
Lead scoring is often a sought after but challenging functionality to master in marketing automation. Nonetheless, lead scoring should come out of the box of any good marketing automation platform as it can make a huge difference to your lead management process when set-up correctly.
Make sure your marketing automation tools can provide sales intelligence and insights in real-time so that your sales staff can take the necessary actions to move their prospective customers forward.
Long before marketing automation platforms because a suite of features, visitor tracking was one of the early, original functions. Being able to identify companies by IP, then further being able to identify individuals’ activities on your site was a common practice then and now. Visitor tracking should be not only standard within your MAP but you should also be able to segment your database upon those tracked activities.
Find out how to increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site.
Reporting and Analytics
Obviously your marketing automation platform needs quality reporting and analytics. Surprisingly there are some that lack the robust and detailed reporting modern day marketing teams require.
Google AdWords Visibility
Integration with AdWords is very useful for better calculating ROI on your PPC spend. If AdWords is core to your marketing efforts, pick a platform that has a decent integration with it.
Having a marketing automation platform that is available via mobile devices is a huge plus in today’s modern, mobile world. Sales people on the go who want real-time alerts. Marketers working on tablets in coffee shops still want to be able to manage their marketing automation campaigns. If this sounds like people in your organization, get a MAP that works on mobile.
You’re more likely to select a cloud-based marketing automation platform, but there are a few that offer on-premise installs as well (last I checked). More of the contemporary and most popular solutions are cloud-based only so be prepared for limitations within your deployment environment options.
Your marketing and sales database is important. Whether using an on-premise or cloud marketing automation solution, ensure that the vendor has taken great care to create a secure environment to protect the vast data you intend on storing.
Availability & Scalability
Check on the uptime averages and SLAs to get a benchmark across the platforms you are considering. Also find out how fast you can scale your system (e.g. with new contacts, email sends, users, etc.).
Aside from CRM being the most common integration, many marketing automation platforms have a large ecosystem of integrations including content management systems, social, webinar, content marketing software, advertising platforms, chat, help desk and more.
Most likely you’ll be selecting a proprietary license if you go with any of the most popular, however there are open source marketing automation platforms entering the space that give organizations with an available development the flexibility to customize beyond the abilities of the most commonly used MAPs.
You should expect user support across all channels including phone, email, chat, support forums and more. Since marketing automation is a newer and evolving technology, there are not a lot of people who have deep expertise in it. You’ll need to count on your MAP provider to support you and your organization as you deploy and manage marketing automation.
Find out what to expect from planned and unplanned maintenance programs. Do your vendors make you aware of these events in ample time and do you know the full details of what is affected during maintenance windows? Further, find out if there are regular maintenance fees outside of your subscription price.
Consulting & Professional Services
Is the marketing automation technology complicated enough that you need to bring in outside consultants and agencies to plan and execute a marketing automation strategy?
It’s important to know how viable the the company is financially sound and staffed appropriately to take on a new account from an organization of your size, whether you work for an SMB or enterprise company.
Top Industry Reviews
Reviewing what other customers have said about marketing automation platforms is a common practice – visit popular review sites to see what customers similar to you have said about the marketing automation platforms you’ve shortlisted. You may even find a new platform recommendation that you hadn’t considered before.
Marketing automation should be a core technology used as part of your overall marketing strategy. All together, utilizing this list of marketing automation features gives a business a new path to business growth. Make sure that the marketing automation platforms you are choosing have the features listed above that you’ve identified as required for your organization’s specific needs.