During the course of my research for our Marketing Automation Industry Report, I identified more than 100 marketing automation vendors, and new players are surfacing on a regular basis. Many have come into existence within the past few years.
With a large and growing assembly of vendors to choose from, features that are rapidly evolving, and no outright market leaders, selecting a marketing automation vendor can be overwhelming. Marketers who are new to marketing automation have some extra challenges, since they must first familiarize themselves with the capabilities of these platforms.
Here are ten considerations to keep in mind before moving forward with your marketing automation investment.
- Do your preliminary research and view some online product demos to gain a greater understanding of the generic capabilities of marketing automation systems.
- Carefully assess your marketing needs early on, before spending much time trialing any platforms. Make a list of must have versus nice to have features
- Identify your available resources—both the dollars and the people that can be resourced to your marketing automation implementation. If you think you may need an outside resource, now is the time to make this assessment.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of ease of use. Product demos often give an impression that the product is simpler to use than it is. Trials are much better than demos for assessing ease of use. Don’t be shy about doing several trials.
- When pricing vendors, make certain you fully understand what features are included in each edition and which are extra. Also clarify if implementation is included and what vendor resources are dedicated to this.
- Planning for marketing automation should include not only the technical implementation, but also the time and resources needed to develop content, and to consolidate and cleanse your marketing data records.
- Make sure you fully understand the customer support provided and assess whether it’s adequate to meet your needs. Assume that you will require support in implementing some of the features of marketing automation.
- Assess what level of training is necessary for implementing a given platform. More powerful platforms with more bells and whistles generally require significantly more training.
- Assess the vendor’s financial and business viability. Ask about the number and growth in both employees and customers. Be concerned if a vendor’s growth is flat as the overall market expands.
- Use crowdsourcing sites like TrustRadius to get user reviews and customer feedback about vendors you are considering.
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