Marketing automation is all about the software.
Before you get into selecting the right marketing automation software for your business, you should gain a good understanding of what marketing automation is so you can figure out what is required for your business. If you haven’t done so already, check out our article on What is Marketing Automation?
The core of any marketing automation software is to help you drive in more leads, build your email list and automate your marketing process. And did I mention that this should all be done in a simple, intelligent and easy-to-use application? That’s the challenge – finding an application robust enough to meet the needs of your business but not being “too robust” and complicated that you will need a manual just to login.
There are many softwares in the market, all with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out which marketing automation software is right for your business is what I am hoping to help you with in this article.
There are many factors to consider when researching marketing automation applications. The first would be to determine or prioritize what it is your business needs to increase efficiency and sales. The software you select is meant to alleviate stress and give you more time to focus on your core day-to-day business duties.
Lets start with making a priority list of what it is you want/need help with. Here is a list of some sample questions that you may want to ask yourself to help you organize your priority list.
- Driving in more leads from various sources.
- Managing new leads.
- Managing past customers and current contacts.
- Nurturing leads to ensure proper follow-up process is being done.
- Customer retention – a proper follow-up process is being done with past customers to stay top of mind.
- Inventory Management.
- Improving the sales process – ability to create invoices and estimates.
- Account Management.
- Reports and analytics.
If you can assign a number for the above list in terms of importance, this will help you in selecting an application that can fit all of your requirements or at least most. If you find a software that is offering way more than your requirements, then you need to ask yourself if it is worth it to get a software with features that will not be useful for your business. I believe that it is more important to use a simple platform to its full potential than using one or two modules in a more complicated system.
Marketing automation software can vary based on its complexity. A good rule of thumb is that the more advanced the functionality, the increased complexity. So before you start jumping without a parachute, make sure you figure out what type of functionality is needed for your business and what would be useful. Remember that you always have the option to upgrade to a more advanced application as your business grows or develops. Many companies choose this approach of starting out with a less robust, more easy-to-use application and then upgrade to a more complex solution as their business needs advance down the road.
In my opinion, the core module of any marketing automation software is its CRM. Its one thing to have the most advanced email marketing module or social media management to help drive in leads, but its another if you do not have a place to store, track and nurture those leads.
Most applications will be able to integrate with other CRMs which is important if you are looking to shift over from another application. This feature would be something like importing or exporting customer data. This feature is very important if you fall in this category so make sure both the application you currently have has an export feature and the software you are looking to upgrade to has some type of import feature.
Price is a tricky factor. Although it is important for any small business, it should not be given the most weight. THe reason is, if you select a marketing automation software that is right for your business, the money you will be spending will be returned to you through the use of the full potential of the software.
When selecting a package, make sure you are aware of any extra fees such as setup fees, mandatory training and integration fees. These hidden fees could mean paying more per month so make sure you get these sorted out up front.
TRIAL AND ERROR
A lot of these applications offer some type of free-trial. This is the best way to test out different applications on a free trial to see which works best for your business. A lot of companies don’t always advertise the free trial so make sure you ask a sales rep if they can sign you up for a free account to try out.
Different marketing automation applications are designed for different types of businesses. The right marketing automation software should also integrate with your existing solutions and be manageable by yourself and/or your team.
Marketing automation software can take your businesses marketing to a whole new level. It can also help increase your sales, close more deals quicker and streamline your overall business and marketing processes.
The goal is to find a marketing automation software that meets all of your business needs in one easy-to-use and robust platform.