There are a lot of questions that go into purchasing a marketing automation solution: does it have all the features I need? Will I see enough returns on my investment? Will I have the resources I need to use it effectively? As we’ve noted before, evaluating marketing automation solutions is largely about understanding your own needs and goals to pick the solution that will best align with them.
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 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 three questions below:
1. Will the solution grow and scale with me?
Sure, the solution fits your core needs right now, but the entire point of marketing automation is helping 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.
2. Does the vendor work with other businesses similar to mine?
It’s a slightly less obvious question than the last, but it’s plain old common sense if you think about it.
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.
3. What is the vendor’s vision, and how does it align with mine?
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 maintain a focus on keeping you 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.
Looking for more important questions as you evaluate marketing automation vendors? Grab a copy of our free Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide for conversation starters and worksheets that can help you find a solution that best meets your needs.