Things to consider when choosing a B2B Marketing Automation platform
What do you look for when choosing a B2B marketing automation platform?
Choosing a B2B marketing automation platform is an important task for any B2B marketing manager. And with so many options available on the market today, we thought you might benefit from a few hints on what to look out for.
Marketing automation limitations of use and hidden fees
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for and marketing automation is no different, it is however, a little more complex. Unfortunately there is a tendency for some automation platform providers to hide their actual costs with the clever use of ‘premium features’, user limits and entry-level versions. Additional costs might be triggered by the number of users in your team, the number of contacts you have in your database or the number of emails you send in a month so it’s crucial to be aware of these restrictions before you buy.
So, begin with a thorough audit of your needs, plan for some expansion and be clear in the questions you ask any potential marketing automation vendor. Ideally you need a platform that provides transparent pricing and an ‘all you can eat’ model, if that’s not possible then make sure you're aware of any additional fees and exactly what might trigger them.
Ease of use – what’s the investment in training?
Usability has come a long way since the earliest days of marketing automation when simply creating an email required an engineering diploma. These days, automation platforms are very focused on the user and ‘ease of use’ is a differentiator.
Marketing automation is by nature a complex business and some marketing automation platforms hide their complexity better than others. Ideally you should be able to get up and running with about half a day’s training, which the provider should offer free of charge. If it’s any more laborious or costly than that then perhaps you should be looking elsewhere.
Will your B2B marketing automation platform play nicely with everything else?
At some point you’re probably going to need to integrate your new marketing automation platform with your existing systems. It’s important to minimise the disruption so make sure you have a clear idea of what you’ll need to integrate with and the limitations of any potential service.
Most of the leading solutions will offer out of the box integrations with commonly used CRMs such as Salesforce but there are broader capabilities to consider. If you run a lot of webinars, you’re likely to need a platform that offers integration with GoToWebinar for example. Ideally your new marketing automation platform will make an API available so that you can customise the platform and connect to bespoke 3rd party services as and when you like.
Whichever platform you decide to go with, you’ll inevitably run into the occasional technical issue so the availability and quality of the support provided is a very important consideration. Make sure you understand the marketing automation support packages that are offered by the solution vendor and be clear on the account management you’ll receive. You need to be able to deal with issues in near real-time so having local support in the right timezone is a huge bonus.
Selecting an automation platform for B2B marketing
Choosing a B2B marketing automation platform is a significant undertaking but the more effort you put in at the outset, the better off you’ll be in the long run so be sure to take your time and make full use of any free trials that are offered.
If you’d like more advice on marketing automation or need help and support, don’t hesitate to contact the team here – we’d be happy to help.