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How to Make a Forward-Looking Decision When Investing in Marketing Automation

Last week we talked about How to Make a Case for Investing in Marketing Automation; now let’s talk about what to consider when picking the right vendor for your needs.

As we’ve noted before, choosing a marketing automation solutions is largely about understanding your own goals to pick the solution that will best align with them, and there are a lot of questions that go into evaluating options:

But there’s one aspect of vendor evaluation that many companies fail to take into account: the future. No, not just next month, post-implementation, or even a year down the line, but how about three years from now? Five years?

It’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t just buying a marketing tool; you’re investing in a platform that will tie together all of your marketing and sales processes — and essentially change the way you do business.

So if you’re considering an investment in marketing automation, save yourself the headache of having to switch solutions two years down the road (hey, who wants to overhaul all of their marketing processes more than once and risk data loss?) and take into account the considerations below. Ask yourself these questions, ask the vendor, and make sure you’re securing a partner that will help you take your business where you want to go.

Question 1: Will the platform grow and scale with my business?

B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period. (SiriusDecisions)

Sure, the solution fits your core needs right now, but the entire point of marketing automation is that it helps you to grow and scale your marketing in order enable the growth of your business. How will your solution adjust if you succeed?

Other departments are an important consideration here; after all, it isn’t just your marketing department that’s growing, but your organization as a whole. If your sales team is using a CRM, a seamless integration between these two tools becomes increasingly important as your two teams grow and communication becomes more and more challenging.

Question 2: Will I be able to quickly train and ramp up other users?

Ease of use is a critical consideration when it comes to choosing a marketing automation platform that will scale with your business. After all, as your business and your marketing efforts grow, so will your team. If your marketing automation platform is so complex that it takes new users months — even years — to be fully functional in the platform, it’s going to slow you down.

Question 3: Does the vendor work with other businesses similar to mine?

If a vendor works predominantly with businesses like yours, their future focus is going to be on meeting the needs and pain points of (you guessed it) businesses like yours. Conversely, the more varied a vendor’s customer base, the more diluted their focus will be on the needs of businesses like yours, and the less research and development dollars will go towards advancing the product to meet your business’ specific needs.

Furthermore, choosing a vendor with a like-minded customer base creates potential for a user community — allowing you to discuss pain points with similar users, network with industry leaders, and compare best practices for your platform.

Question 4: What innovations does the vendor plan to focus on in the future?

There’s no question about it: the field of marketing technology has evolved rapidly in the past few years, and it will undoubtedly continue to do so. It’s important to feel confident that your solution will be at the forefront of this innovation and to maintain a focus on staying ahead of your competition. Don’t be afraid to ask vendors about the larger vision for their product and company, and make sure your dollars are going back into innovations that will help grow your business.

At the end of the day, marketing automation is about building a framework for the future success of your sales and marketing teams — so it’s important to be forward-thinking in your decision-making process. You’re choosing much more than a tool; you’re choosing a company that you’d like to work with as you shape the marketing and sales processes that will help your business succeed.

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