Marketing automation saves your business time and resources when attracting and nurturing leads and making sure your happy customers stay that way. Salesforce reports 67 percent of marketing leaders use a marketing automation platform. Is your business one of them?

Put simply, marketing automation is making marketing efforts like email, social media, content marketing publishing, online contests and analytics automatic based on actions your leads and customers take. Eliminating the need for manual processes ensures the right people get the right messages at the right time. You can continuously provide engaging content without having to be constantly present at a desk.

If your business is new to marketing automation, here are some steps to take to choose the best solutions for your budget.

How to Choose Marketing Automation Platforms for Your BusinessDetermine Your Goals

Before taking the time to investigate marketing automation choices, your marketing department should consider what tasks you have that could benefit from marketing automation and which automated tasks can provide you the most return on investment. Identify which in each of the following categories matters the most:

  • Leads
  • Data
  • Channels

Create short-term, long-term, high-level and low-level goals for each category, so you can hone in on the types of marketing automation software you want to research.

You also want to think about how you want your marketing automation software to help other departments, like customer service, and especially sales. By knowing what your needs and objectives are, you can focus on a few choices to move forward with in your decision process.

How to Choose Marketing Automation Platforms for Your BusinessTry a Free Trial

The great news about the vast majority of marketing automation platforms is that there is usually a free trial available. Take advantage of trying out several platforms through these free trials. This gives your team the opportunity to see what works best for them and give input on what would maximize value.

You’ll want to test the marketing platform in situations that are true to what your day-to-day marketing operations are. Consider:

  • How comprehensive the marketing automation platform is: Some platforms are channel-specific, like a platform designed specifically for email marketing (like Constant Contact) or a platform specifically for social media publishing (Hootsuite). Others, like HubSpot, integrate email, social, analytics and more all in one place. Identify your most pressing marketing needs to help you narrow down your list of marketing automation candidates.
  • Customization: Some platforms enable customization, and others will require your team to adapt. Your business may have already-built applications. If you want them to work with your marketing automation software, you’ll want API access so developers can put existing systems to work with the software.
  • Training and customer support: While many marketing automation platforms are scalable as your business grows, you’ll want to identify the level of training and support your team will need. Newbies to marketing automation may need video training, an online academy or reliable customer support for a successful transition.

Before the free trial, you can also have marketing leaders participate in a free trial demonstration, so you can see the platform and all its uses in action.

Estimate Return on Investment

As your team goes through the free trials, empower marketing members to take detailed notes about what they liked and didn’t like about each platform, as well as which features they found essential and useless to what you’re trying to achieve. Some platforms charge per feature used, so a trial run can help you see which features you want to use for marketing automation, and if there is a platform that offers a more well-rounded featureset for what you want to pay.

Some marketing automation platforms will be willing to work with you and negotiate prices based on the features you desire. If there are a couple of platforms going head-to-head for your business, talk with the platforms’ consultants about what options you have available to you.

You also want to investigate data ownership and what happens should you leave the platform. It would be detrimental to partner with a platform that makes it difficult to leave because of how they’ve tied up your data or restricted your rights.

Sign Up for a Platform

Once your marketing department has signed off on a solution that has also gotten buy-in from your company executives, you can sign up for some software. To make sure you’re earning off your investment, create marketing goals the platform will help you meet, as well as how much those goals are worth. This will help you to continue to evaluate the worth of a platform and justify expanding featureset purchases.

If all of the above seems too time-consuming or like too much for your staff to deal with at this moment, you can also look into working with a digital marketing agency like AlphaMind Studios, whose services are powered by marketing automation software like Infusionsoft. When you work with a marketing agency that uses marketing automation software, you get access to the same effective automation tools, and your marketing agency can deliver more powerful results because more time is freed up.

Have questions about marketing automation software or which types would work best for your business? Contact us.