You don't need to Start Large to Start Marketing Automation
You'll need to get involved in marketing automation. Let's get over this as quickly as we can.
Your prospects are doing their "short list" cull on the internet and your sales people can't get in early enough or at the C-suite levels like they used to. Add in that no one makes a decision alone, that the influencers look to the internet for their research and the game gets complex quickly.
Even if you are in a B2C market, your prospects are looking for peer reviews and you need to start the conversation with them early or risk never even getting a chance at a sale.A marketing automation program promoting solid, insightful content helps to not only create awareness for your organization, but to show you as a thought leader worthy of consideration.
1. Be Realistic about your size – Marketo¹ and Eloqua are enterprise-wide solutions built for sophisticated needs, multiple users/distribution, many divisions/SBU's and robust marketing/advertising efforts. If you are a small to medium business (go here http://www.census.gov/econ/smallbus.html to see where you fall) chances are that an enterprisewide solution isn't the best for you and you'll pay for capabilities you won't need.
2. Learn Cheap – There is a plethora of mid-level Marketing Automation applications (ActOn, Pardot, Infusionsoft, HubSpot etc.) that can provide you with an economical way to understand the "bones" of marketing automation and actually execute programs that can add value and build sales while you learn. In many cases, these solutions can be a permanent solution and provide more than enough fire power for everything you need (indeed, Infusionsoft even includes a bare-bones CRM that may be more than enough for many businesses).
Even if you think these applications don't have enough "fire power" for your long term needs, your investment is minimal, in most cases they don't have long term contracts and you have had enough time to learn more accurately about what your needs are to better assemble an RFP.
3. What do you Really need – An accountant friend of mine confided that he only uses about 10% of Excel's capabilities. When we implement Salesforce.com CRM's, most clients utilize the same 6-8 reports. List out what you need to execute/know from marketing automation software and my bet is that most of those mid-level applications will be suffice.
Most of what you see below is standard on ALL Marketing automation software today and their updates promise to increase the value of their applications:
- Individual Campaign effectiveness
- Campaign Effectiveness Comparisons
- Landing pages analytics (how many came, how many provided their contact information, what did they download, etc.)
There's a lot more data and "slicing and dicing" that can be isolated by these mid-level programs and some that is only available from enterprise-wide solutions, but how much is really needed at your level or your stage of growth? Understand that you may pay as much as two to three times for an additional 10-15% of capabilities.
4. Don't forget to budget in Integration - Most MA programs do not realize their value unless they are coordinated with a CRM program. This makes sense as, "what value is a qualified lead from MA if it can't be transferred into a sales process cycle and tracked for effectiveness and sales conversion?"
Frankly, Marketo and Eloqua implementations and CRM integrations are difficult and expensive. When choosing a Marketing Automation software program explore these costs diligently as years of ROI could easily be erased by the costs to integrate.
5. Talk to Implementation Experts - From developing campaigns/reports to integrating with CRM (or existing databases) find out from those who have been there what challenges you might encounter and tips that can help you. No one but those who "roll up their sleeves" can accurately help you understand what you might encounter in this necessary journey.
¹ Even with a stripped down version of Marketo, Marketo "Spark" doesn't do the small to medium business (SMB) sector justice as opposed to MA software programs that have been developed specifically with SMB needs as a target.
Five Guidelines for choosing a Marketing Automation Program
More than likely, you don't need expensive solutions like Marketo or Eloqua (at least not immediately) and that's a good thing. There's a lot of learning and self-realization that can come from starting small that can provide immediate value and pointers toward what your long term solution should be.
Like what you've read? Take a look at some of our past newsletters on subjects like:
Ready to take the first step (or at least have a conversation)?