While there’s a bit of overlap between what B2C marketers do and what B2B marketers do, there are a lot of activities which are done quite a bit differently. For instance, the buying cycle is generally much longer in B2B marketing. Customers typically have to jump through many more hoops to get approval to buy, and you can lose a customer for factors completely outside your control — such as when a new person takes over procurement and already has an established relationship with one of your competitors.
So, it’s a good idea to look for products and services that are particular to B2B marketing. Marketing automation software is one of those instances. B2B marketing today means taking in and analyzing data from numerous digital marketing channels and devices. B2B marketers need the ability to oversee complicated, multi-touch customer ecosystems, and your marketing automation solution ought to support those efforts.
What You Should Expect from All Marketing Automation Software
Any B2B marketing automation tool should provide you with:
• A means to improve the efficiency of your marketing team
• The ability to generate more qualified leads
• A way to view lead behavior across channels
• Greater alignment between marketing and the sales team
• Better lead conversion
• A greater ROI
The Potential Problems with Marketing Automation Software
As with any software selection process, B2B marketing automation is not without its drawbacks:
• Some systems are too complex and time-consuming, particularly in terms of implementing the software and on-boarding users.
• When the software doesn’t meet the teams’ needs or users aren’t properly trained, low adoption rates and under-utilization of the features you’ve paid for can result. Some expensive, fully-featured systems become little more than grossly overpriced email marketing tools.
• If sales and marketing aren’t on the same page, it can prohibit ready adoption and significantly lessen the efficiency the marketing automation platform is supposed to provide.
Specific Questions to Determine What Software is Right for Your Organization
Now that you understand the benefits and potential pitfalls, you’re ready to choose the right software for your enterprise. It’s time to get specific about which solutions are right for your business. Consider the following questions:
• What specific functionality and features do you need?
• What are your goals for the software?
• Are all stakeholders on board with the selection process?
• Do you need an executive sponsor to garner more support for the software?
• Do you have the staff you need for proper implementation, training, and adoption?
• How will you determine whether or not the selection and implementation processes have been successful?
• Have you established a realistic budget? (Some platforms are all-inclusive, but others offer a simple, basic framework with lots of add-ons and services for additional costs.)
Now, select the vendors that meet your requirements. Research each vendor, and be sure to utilize plenty of sources apart from their websites. Naturally, they’ll include only the best features and testimonials on their own site. Look for outside customer reviews and product reviews to determine which vendors or products make the cut.
Evaluating the Respective Vendors and Their Products
Finally, set up demos with the vendors you’ve narrowed your search down to. This should be a short list, because it’s difficult to evaluate and make comparisons between more than about three to five demonstrations. Make great notes during the demos, so that later, you can do a careful and thorough comparison. Consider:
• How easy each marketing automation software system is to use
• How well the vendor understands your particular industry and/or business
• If they offer the essential features you need and whether these features are standard or extra
• How easy it will be to integrate the platform with other back-end systems in use
• What the process for on-boarding users is
• How long the implementation process takes
• How much product support and training comes with the purchase
• How this technology fits within your overall marketing strategy
• If there is a trial period offered
Now all that’s left to do is choose a vendor and negotiate a contract that works for you! Of course, you’ll begin each contract negotiation at their advertised price, so it’s important to know what that is for each vendor you’re considering. Get a software pricing comparison now.