3 Tips to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Marketing Automation Solution

If you’re about to choose a marketing automation solution, congratulations! Your business has a great opportunity to advance its marketing by leaps and bounds. However, to ensure success, it’s wise to keep a few best practices in mind as you are evaluating the various systems before you. Here are three tips to remember when choosing a marketing automation solution.

1. Take a Fresh Look at Your Marketing Processes

There’s one common pitfall businesses everywhere tend to encounter when they’re about to implement a new piece of technology: They focus exclusively on the technology, overlooking underlying business processes that may be in need of some fine-tuning. Particularly if your business has experienced significant growth in recent years, you should intentionally review and document your marketing processes. Doing so helps you ensure that they still make sense from a business perspective and that everyone is on the same page about how the work gets done.

You may find that some business priorities and goals have changed—or that some of them ought to. If so, you’ll want to update your marketing processes to reflect that new reality before layering a shiny new piece of technology on top. Any marketing automation vendor you work with will greatly appreciate the fact that you went to the trouble to clarify your processes before implementing its software; it will help them do a better job with the implementation, as well.

2. Define Your Requirements

If you’ve taken a moment to review your marketing processes work, then you’re already in a great position for the next step: defining your requirements. Many fantastic features are available in the latest crop of marketing automation systems, from mobile marketing to location-based marketing and beyond. But, the first and primary question should always be, What does your business need? What are the most important marketing tasks you need to get done, and how well do the marketing automation tools you’re considering enable your team to complete those tasks? Ideally, write down a list of requirements, ranked in order of business priority, in a request for proposal.

When sourcing this list, proactively seek input from your line-of-business staff on the marketing team. They are the ones whose working lives your choices affect the most, so it’s important to solicit their professional opinions not just to get an accurate picture of what you need but to ensure their buy-in to the project. With these business requirements in hand, you can make a better and more informed decision when selecting a marketing automation platform.

3. Get the Fine Print on Integration

In most cases, you can integrate your marketing automation solution with your customer relationship management solution. Be sure to find out in as much detail as possible on how well these two pieces of software play with one another—or don’t. Your prospective marketing automation vendor should be able to give you considerable insight into how the integration works, but don’t just take the vendor’s word for it. Ask for references, ideally from those whose business scenarios are similar to yours, so that you can get direct feedback from the people who have to rely on this software every day. If you can, seek feedback about your marketing automation system separately from contacts you may already have or marketing technology groups you may already be a member of. Unbiased, unvarnished input is the best because it will give you the clearest picture possible of what to expect.

With advanced planning and extra attention to detail at the outset, your business will be able to pick the right marketing automation system and enjoy a successful implementation. In doing so, you will create a solid infrastructure on which to build future marketing initiatives that power the business forward. All the more reason to put a little extra legwork in at the beginning.

This article was originally published at It.toolbox.com, by author Rose de Fremery.

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