The time has come, you and your business have decided that you are ready to take the next step in your B2B marketing journey. Your business goals have been aligned to providing a great customer experience, growing revenue by generating and nurturing leads, and improving the efficiency of your processes to streamline your marketing efforts. While it may seem clear that marketing automation technology is the answer, which platform is the best fit for you?
As advisors to our clients, we are often asked: “What is the best B2B marketing automation tool for my business?”
The answer to this question is that no one size fits all. Like any large-scale decision, there is a range of factors unique to each business that must be considered before making any recommendation. In this sense, it is important as advisors that we remain ‘platform agnostic’ and carry out our due diligence when making this decision.
The assessment process involves creating a comparison matrix that looks at:
Ease of Use
With so many different factors weighing important on the decision, it can be easier to carry out the evaluation process in a quantitative fashion. Creating an evaluation scoring criteria and applying weighted scoring according to the requirements of your business can be an effective, methodical way to build a business case for your decision.
The evaluation criteria might look different depending on the unique case for a business, but these four key areas could be used as a starting point.
This category focuses on the ability of the automation technology to be learned by the marketing users. This variable is determined by two things: the skillset of the users and the range of features and flexibility of the platform. Ask yourself, could a new employee take the reins and feel comfortable after a week, a month, longer? Do you have people inside your business that will act as technical champions of the platform, or will you need to outsource an expert that could guide the team on a more advanced system? In either case, assessing the level of customer support provided by the platform provider should also be considered in this section.
This is a broad category that delves into the basic, advanced and nice-to-have features that B2B marketing automation technologies have to offer. Marking criteria can be broken down further into subcategories that compare features across platforms.
Common attributes that one would look for in their evaluation would include:
A CRM integration involves the two-way communication of information between an automation platform and a CRM. The systems interact in a way where any change that occurs to a lead in one platform will be reflected in the other platform in real time, creating a single source of truth between the two systems. There are significant benefits created by having this real-time shared view of the database and considerable drawbacks when this scenario does not exist.
Often one of the driving forces in the decision-making process for choosing a B2B Marketing Automation technology is whether there is an off-the-shelf integration with the pre-existing CRM system being used by the organisation. Moving to a new CRM system is a scary thought for many businesses, which a lot of the time means that there is no room for change in this area. While custom integrations are often possible, they present both set-up challenges and functionality limitations. Therefore, this section of the analysis is often a
The most obvious and commonly the deciding factor is the price. As the product’s features and functionality expands, so does the price tag. Factors such as the number of users, database sizes and feature add-ons can affect license costs, but the base license fee should give a good understanding of expected costs.
When evaluating price, it is worth considering the additional costs created by the shortcomings of cheaper technologies. For instance, the lack of a CRM integration might mean a cheaper license fee, but this will be taxed in man-hours for the manual data importing process.
After completing your evaluation, you should end up with a comparison matrix between your shortlisted platforms showing a raw and weight-adjusted score for each category, as well as a total weight adjusted score for each platform. Will the highest-scoring platform be your choice? Not necessarily, but this process will illuminate how the technologies stack up against each other, which are frontrunners, and which can be culled from your decision pool.
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