How to choose the best marketing automation software?

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A marketing automation solution can help your business in many ways. From advanced email campaigns allowing you to nurture leads based on your prospects’ behaviour, to lead scoring to help your sales team prioritise follow-ups, marketing automation software offers a range of features that translate into smarter marketing activities, better sales and marketing alignment, and increased lead to sales conversions. However, with hundreds of marketing automation solutions available in the market, it can often become overwhelming for a person to choose the perfect solution for their company. Some marketing automation platforms are easy to use while some have a rich set of features; some are available on very good deals while some have been proven to be dependable and more stable compared to others. In such a competitive, crowded market, how should a person find a tool that’s just right for their needs? In this article, we intend to make the decision easier by listing down some of the factors that should be considered prior to making the investment:

Cost

The first and foremost factor that you need to consider is the cost of the platform you are buying. There are some vendors that offer deals that apparently look unbelievable but when it actually comes down to the first payment, you realise that there were a bunch of hidden fees that you weren’t explicitly told about. The said fees can be for additional features or customer support. Some tools also charge per number of contacts and/or per the amount of emails you send.  In addition to this, some companies also tend to offer enticing prices in the first few months and then offer revised rates for the rest of the subscription, so make sure that you go through the specifics of your contract/subscription beforehand. An ideal solution doesn’t have any hidden costs and lets you know if you will be charged anything extra for any supplementary/add-on features.

Company size and scalability

Most of the marketing automation service providers offer different pricing plans depending on the size of the company. If you are operating on a small scale and don’t expect to handle more than a thousand leads a month, then there is no need to purchase a gigantic subscription that allows you to manage a million leads per month. Even if the company that you like doesn’t offer a subscription that’s sized perfectly for your business, it’s always an option to negotiate with the company over a customised software version for your company.

Another aspect to consider while purchasing modern marketing automation tools is scalability. Every business dreams to grow (and not stop growing) and your marketing software should be capable of growing with you. A vast majority of service providers offer solutions based on the software as a service (SAAS) model which entails that you pay for online access to the system and the number of users that got added or processed via it. These sophisticated solutions don’t require you to download any software or set up any new hardware to handle more users and that’s what makes them ideal for scalability purposes. Agree on a deal with your service provider that doesn’t inhibit your ability to scale indefinitely.EN_Marketing-Automation-Stats_101118

Feature set

Marketing automation can help you increase your sales productivity by 14.5%, as reported by a research done by Nuclear Research. This is why you need to be as picky as possible when it comes to choosing a solution that has the richest set of features. Here are some of the features that you just can’t do without:

  • Vast email marketing support.
  • Rich contact management features and/or integration with your enterprise CRM.
  • Social media automation.
  • Customer journey articulation and workflow creation.
  • Landing page generation.
  • A central, customisable and all-containing dashboard.
  • A/B testing.
  • Analytics.

CRM Integration

Having the ability to integrate your marketing automation tool with your CRM should be a key determining factor during your search. Make sure that the tool you go with has an out-of-the-box integration with your CRM. This is particularly important because connecting a Marketing Automation tool with a CRM (e.g. Act! CRM) can reap endless, tangible benefits.

API access

Even though most service providers allow many third-party integrations by default, it’s an added benefit if they expose the platform’s API for you. This will allow your developers to even add integrations with software that the platform doesn’t have built-in integration support for.Social Media Strategy

Customer Support

Another must-consider factor is the service provider’s customer support. Even though some of the leading marketing automation platforms are really easy to use and considerably stable, there can be some complications or discrepancies or inconsistencies that arise from time to time. This is why it’s imperative that the company you are going with offers instant and high-quality customer support. Make sure that their working hours don’t conflict with yours and that they offer support via multiple conduits e.g. landline, email, support tickets etc.

Customer Feedback

While researching for the best marketing automation software, make sure that you go through the testimonials and customer reviews present on the service provider’s website. Nobody will paint a more vivid picture of the tool than its actual users who paid to get their hands on a subscription. It’s also a recommended practice to talk to partners or other people in the same industry to learn more about their experience with the tool.

Training

Regardless of how high the usability standards of a marketing tool might be, your team will require at least some training to get acquainted with the software. Find out whether corporate training is included in your subscription and if not, inquire whether it can be added. This is very important because in order to maximise the true potential of a Marketing Automation tool, you will have to ensure that all of your team members feel at home with it.