How to choose your marketing automation software?
If you haven’t implemented any marketing automation software yet, you are likely facing a real dilemma. It’s about making a choice that will be (in the medium term) almost irreversible. To help you make an informed decision, we have compiled a list of relevant criteria for choosing your marketing automation software. The order in which the criteria are listed is not important. Each company must make its choice based on its own expectations and internal resources.
Integration and synergies with existing software
If you already have a CRM software such as Salesforce, Hubspot, SAP, or even Pipedrive, you already have a logical option available. For example, Salesforce allows for easy integration of Marketing Cloud with its CRM tool in a few clicks. However, your MarTech environment must synchronize a variety of applications, software, and platforms. A short feasibility study is necessary. Some software, like Customer.io, already offers a wide range of pre-programmed integrations available in a few steps.
Our recommendation: Make a list of the applications, software, and platforms currently used in your MarTech environment. Then, identify the essential integrations for the smooth operation of your infrastructure. If your preferred marketing automation software does not offer native integrations, you will need to consider custom development for your company.
User interface quality
All users instinctively look for software that offers a quality user interface. In summary, they want to work daily with a platform that is simple and leaves no room for ambiguity. Teams also want the basic features of the software to be easy to use. These include:
- Creating campaigns and customer journeys
- Creating marketing content (e.g., email templates)
- Segmenting the database into target groups
- Tracking campaigns and generating reports
Our recommendation: Feel free to organize demonstrations for each software on your shortlist, with your marketing, sales, and IT teams present. Their opinions will be valuable, and their support will be essential.
Skills required for software implementation and configuration
Our recommendation: If your teams do not have the required skills to set up the software of your choice, consider hiring a digital agency and entrust them with the professional configuration of the software. This agency can then train your teams so that they can perform any additional configuration themselves.
Total budget in the medium term (24 months)
The choice of your marketing automation software also relies on a medium-term balance between investment and performance.
On one hand, you can calculate:
- The costs of implementation and configuration (e.g., fees for a digital agency)
- The software licensing costs, i.e., the initial acquisition cost
- The maintenance costs of the tool, including internal resources required (in terms of working hours)
- The costs associated with using the software, which vary depending on the number of contacts used
On the other hand, you will find:
- The performance gains associated with campaign automation
- The revenue generated by new marketing automation campaigns (e.g., abandoned carts)
- The personnel savings resulting from the introduction of automation and increased productivity
Our recommendation: Estimate the medium-term impact (over a 24-month period) by taking into account the elements mentioned above. Then, perform monthly tracking of the most relevant and easily collectible indicators.
Quality of Customer Support
The quality of customer support primarily depends on your budget. When choosing a “standard” version of the software, email support is usually available. You will receive a “standard” quality response within 24 hours. In other words, you may be referred to a pre-prepared article or FAQ section without a specific diagnosis of your situation.
Other companies, whose products are more expensive (starting from 20,000 CHF per year), more readily provide support via chat with experienced specialists. You may also have access to a Success Manager who will take the time to understand your problem and guide you to a resolution.
Our recommendation: Evaluate your teams’ ability to handle complex situations. If your employees are unable to solve complex issues on their own within a few hours, it is advisable to opt for more efficient customer support, which implies a more expensive software.
Volume and Content of Blog Articles on Stack Overflow
The site Stack Overflow is a platform that brings together an incredible number of conversations among developers. They share their experiences and ask questions about various software. Naturally, the most popular software is the one that generates the most articles. The number of articles is not a negative indicator. It indicates that these developers are looking to use the tool and understand its functioning. Stack Overflow articles often serve as the best source of documentation because they cover practical cases and specific solutions. If your developers cannot find documentation on Stack Overflow, they will be less effective.
Our recommendation: Take the time to examine the number and content of articles on Stack Overflow. This will help you understand the direction developers want to go and the issues they are seeking to address. Also, take a look at YouTube, as it will provide a better understanding of each software’s positioning and primary use.
References and Business Cases
If you are considering adopting a new marketing automation software, it is highly likely that you already have a list of use cases in mind. Implementing these specific use cases requires well-defined functionalities. For example, the ability to create target segments using information from your website, CRM, etc., is crucial.
Do not hesitate to reach out to the software provider and/or your digital agency. They can provide you with some references, meaning similar campaigns to the ones you have in mind.
Our recommendation: Outline your five most important campaigns and verify with a specialized technician if these campaigns can be carried out without encountering obstacles.
Onboarding and Training
You will be using your marketing automation software for several years, and many employees will interact with this tool (as users, project managers, contributors, etc.). It is essential that these individuals understand the software and are capable of using it within the scope of their responsibilities. For simpler software, half a day of training may be sufficient. However, for more advanced solutions such as Marketing Cloud or Hubspot, multiple half-day training sessions spread over several weeks (training, production, follow-up) should be planned.
Our recommendation: Identify trainers within your company and assess the training costs (in terms of hours). It is also important to determine if your employees have the ability and desire to be trained on the software. This requires teamwork!
Testing and Production
Like most companies, your goal is to develop campaigns in a test environment and test them in a separate environment. Unfortunately, only a small number of marketing automation software offer ideal conditions for conducting these tests. There are very few software options that provide “versioning” capabilities. Generally, your teams will have to work in a real environment and establish similar processes to conduct the tests. Creating a completely independent test environment can double or triple the time required to execute the same campaign.
Our recommendation: Identify the features of the software you choose and estimate the resources required to test your campaigns under the best conditions. Remember that your marketing automation software can also help you automate your own testing and validation systems.