(3) Marketing automation – not all platforms are created alike

It’s tempting to think that all marketing automation platforms are the same as each other and to just select the first one that comes along. Such temptation should be avoided though, and with it the potentially costly mistake of choosing the wrong solution for your needs. A glance at the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic put together by Scott Brinker (aka @chiefmartec) makes clear how many different platforms there are, each of which has its individual strengths and weaknesses, including unique functionality that represents a better match with your circumstances and environment.

When contemplating the adoption (or replacement) of a marketing automation system, invest the time in establishing your requirements and evaluating the ability of each solution to meet your specific needs. Relevant requirements usually include functionality, processes, governance, business rules, training and change implications. Work with the relevant individuals across your Sales and Marketing functions to identify and document these requirements before comparing them to a short-list of potential solution providers. Take care also to avoid the more persuasive tactics of some of the vendors and ensure you make a considered decision.

Particular areas to which close attention should be paid are integration, campaign build and reporting. All mainstream solutions will support these functions (and shouldn’t require special skills to operate), but the specifics of what is possible and how they work will vary. This will have a bearing on the decision you make based on your business processes, staff competencies and growth plans. Going through a rigorous process to establish requirements puts you in the best position to be able to make this assessment and choose the right solution.

Check points:

- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking any marketing automation solution will meet your needs. Each system on the market has unique strengths, so spend the time determining your requirements and comparing to the solutions you’re considering.

- When determining requirements, don’t forget to involve all affected stakeholders and consider process, data and change impacts. And avoid being sold to!

- Pay particular attention to integration, campaign build and reporting functionality, as these are key areas of the system you choose that you will live with every day. 


Written by: Simon Daniels, Head of Marketing Operations, Hanson Wade


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