Some automation platforms span across the customer journey, from the first point of contact through customer service and retention. We will focus on selecting a platform that will support the Marketing, Business Development, and Sales departments.
No time to read? Here are the 6 steps to choose the right automation marketing software.
- Select the members on your decision committee
- Map your business processes
- Build a list of desired options
- Identify the type of reports that the platform should provide
- Extrapolate on use cases
- Sign up for demos and trial versions
1. Select the members on your decision committee
As you read in the previous publication (Marketing Automation 2/10: identify your platform superhero), it is essential to choose a team that has the experience or a strong desire to learn the methodologies related to marketing automation. It is not uncommon to see the following actors around the decision-making table:
- Marketing Leader
- Qualities sought: Holistic analysis of the operations related to a marketing automation practice.
- Business Development Leader
- Qualities sought: Understanding of new methods to connect with the customer in his purchasing cycle.
- IT Leader
- Qualities sought: A brief understanding of Sales and Marketing issues and technical analysis skills to optimize the interconnectivity of digital platforms.
- Sales Leader
You will select your team according to your needs analysis and the impact of a marketing automation software integration on your business processes. Chances are, you will not implement across the whole organization in the first year and it is, therefore, important to prioritize the projects.
You will need to map your processes and the relationships between your departments to get a clear picture.
2. Map your processes between departments and sales.
One of the challenges to overcome in the first year of implementation will be the interaction of your existing systems with the one to be installed. A marketing automation software must meet the need to automate recurring tasks, such as:
- Stream service requests to a single resource and notifies sales of a new opportunity
- Collect essential information to qualify an opportunity
- Inform internal sales about “commercial” behavior on the part of a visitor
- Orchestrate the data and make it available in one place
- Make visitor information available to more than one department for more effective follow-up
- Determine the return on investment of a campaign by linking the closing of one or more sales to it
- Create segmented lists according to the most important criteria, thus communicating more effectively by email or other channels
You will have to review some of your internal processes to better define which ones may be in a grey area. In this case, it is important to keep employees at the center of decisions and to tailor your tool to their needs. In most cases, there is a way to adapt the tool to your needs, but make sure you know the related costs, the time required and expected results. It is not necessary to automate everything, let alone the first year.
Depending on the size of your company, a resource may wear more than one hat. Nevertheless, processes must be assigned to a function and not an individual. This will make it easier for you to share and analyze the processes to be implemented for a better flow of information. Finally, you will only have to redistribute the tasks assigned to the representatives of these functions in your company.
3. Build a list of desired options
At the time of writing this article, there are no less than 200 marketing automation platforms. If you have no idea of the automation potential of these platforms, I suggest you visit the G2Crowd or Capterra sites to get an idea and navigate across other comparison sites. Then comes the time to build a list of expected features.
Ask your teammates to enlighten your needs with a simple brainstorming session. Some questions from this brainstorming should look like this:
Business Development needs:
- How to build a valuable relationship with our prospects?
- How to improve the quality and relevance of our prospecting follow-ups?
- Can we build a larger prospect pool per business developer and not forget some?
- How could a digital tool be used to help us take full advantage of trade shows?
- Could we learn more about a visitor’s purchase signals?
- Could we accelerate the implementation of marketing campaigns?
- Can we allocate an invested dollar to a sale?
- Is it possible to increase the number of communication channels with our targets?
It team needs:
- Should we stream the data from our marketing stack to one place?
- What are the integration options for better interoperability of our software?
- How can we improve data security and automate updates?
- How to gather information before a meeting for better sales performance?
- How could we start selling earlier in the buying cycle?
- What are the most interesting sources of opportunities for our organization?
- How could we accumulate upstream information to help our client succeed with our service/product offering?
4. Identify the type of reports the platform should provide.
You may want to know how effective your marketing campaigns are in generating Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). It is also likely that your business development team will want to have a view of the site’s users to feed on potential targets.
Here are some suggested reports:
Traffic analysis allows you to identify the most successful traffic sources by volume. You can also combine these sources with other important metrics such as new sessions. With this view, you avoid round trips to Google Analytics.
Real-time status of your sales pipeline
This view is especially important to you to monitor your effectiveness at moving leads towards an opportunity. You will measure the ratio between the two stages. For example, with the report above, it is true to say that the company has a ratio of 15 opportunities won for 368 Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) as of the date the report was taken.
Return on investment
This report allows you to analyze the main causes of the most and least successful campaigns by identifying them at first sight. Afterward, you can deepen your research to find ways to improve and make better decisions.
Opportunity reports will help clarify the role that marketing played in achieving new sales. This report provides a better view from the marketing perspective of all opportunities (closed or in progress) in order to analyze the situation with a better perspective.
5. Think of use cases.
In this step, you will have to think through the methods of using the software. You must prioritize your business processes and then be sure that the tool respects them and not the other way around.
Here are some processes that need to be further clarified:
- Managing a contact from a first meeting at a trade show.
- Sending a lead to Sales from Marketing
- Managing a contact associated with a lost opportunity
- Method for relaunching a SQL
- Data entry methods
- Management of marketing communication mailing lists
- Management of user access rights
6. Sign up for demos and trial versions.
Most of the software you want to assess provides demos or trial versions.
Share the processes you need to implement beforehand with the representative of the solution and ask for examples. Keep in mind that they won’t be able to develop the platform exactly as required before the meeting, so make sure you have a sufficiently technical person with you during the demo so they can assess the viability of your requirements with a minimum amount of information.
About free trials:
A few software programs offer trial versions such as Mautic’s trial version or Hubspot’s trial version. Trial versions are mainly intended to familiarize with the interface. However, it will be difficult to build a proof of concept considering the fact that each of these tools requires a basic technical configuration to work as you desire.