7 Steps to Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform

There are seven (7) steps to picking the right marketing automation platform for your business. By following these seven steps you will develop a clear checklist of capabilities you require when comparing different marketing automation software options.

1. Have a Documented Digital Marketing Strategy

In a previous post, we talked about creating your digital marketing strategy which ideally is a subset of your overall digital strategy. Without an overall digital strategy however you can proceed to create a digital marketing strategy. This will provide a clear picture of who your Ideal Customers and prospects are. Where they hang out and what problems they are looking for solutions to. Then you can decide how you will reach and interact with these prospects and clients digitally. This is the first step you should take before buying any form of marketing automation software.

2. Implement a Consistent Content Strategy.

It’s fine to have an idea of how you acquire customers, but content is really going to be key. Before you ever buy a marketing automation platform start producing the content that your prospects will need at each stage of their buying journey. Think in terms of what content and digital tools they need at each stage of their buying journey to advance a step closer to a decision or purchase. This might be blog posts, social media posts, infographics, ebooks, podcast episodes, videos. What about webinars? Once you begin producing this content you will have an idea on the types and quantity of content you will be working with. You will also have a key data point to use when looking at the capabilities of a marketing automation platform.

3. Decide On the Level of Automation

Think in terms of both initial roll out and then long term level of marketing automation that you want. Perhaps, you only want to use e-mail marketing out of the gate, and then beyond that, maybe you want to create more one-to-one type journeys and customer buying experiences on a mass scale. It really depends upon the platform you buy. It really depends upon what your strategy is in that area.

4. Know your Lead Numbers.

Know how many leads, you, as marketing, your marketing needs to generate and then, what the quality those leads are by source of lead. You really need to know your numbers. What types of sales targets does the company have? How many leads will be required to generate the right number of opportunities? How many contacts, opt ins and conversions will that equate to? Using content and manual digital marketing tests, you can benchmark and compare actuals to benchmarks to figure this out.

5. Decide on the Channels that you want to communicate via.

Are you just going to communicate using e-mail marketing? Are you going to use web marketing? Are you going to use some sort of paid marketing? Do you need social publishing, analytics or listening for your business? Are webinars important? Know the channels that where your ideal audience is and how you’re going to communicate to them. Then you will have a framework to compare against potential marketing automation applications.

6. Set a Budget.

What’s your overall marketing budget – what’s your monthly spend and know how you are roughly going to divide that up. Using your lead numbers- raw contacts, opt in, conversion and the number of leads and the average cost of each. Then figure out your run rate using this formula. From there know the value of a customer and an acceptable target cost of acquisition. Knowing this will then allow you to set an overall marketing budget. Once you have this number you can benchmark the percentage % of that budget to allocate to marketing automation software. A good figure is 10-30% of your monthly budget should be allocated to marketing automation software. You can read more about this here.

7. Compare Features

Now that we have a laundry list of needs- Number of contacts; types and volume of content we will produce; level of automation; number of contacts and leads we require; channels we need to communicate via and automate- we can use this as a checklist to compare the capabilities and features of each platform against all this information.

What are the features of platforms that you’re looking at? How does each compare to your list of requirements and to one another? In this case, we’re just going to compare Pardot and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. However, we could always see apply this to HubSpot, you could apply it to Marketo, or any other marketing automation platform that you’re taking a look at.

See a comparison of Salesforce Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud here.

Download a free template to create your own 7 step checklist here.

How do you choose between Salesforce Pardot and Marketing Cloud?

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