In the old frontier days of marketing automation software – say, around 2007-2010 – it was an exciting time as marketers learned they didn’t have to keep spreadsheet notes, calendar reminders, or manually push “send” each time they wanted to communicate with target prospects.
More than 70 different vendors eventually rose to fill this new demand, with wildly varied approaches to workflow processing, site architecture, CRM integration and user interfaces. There was not even a standard definition of what “marketing automation” meant. But as the technology evolved and smaller companies merged or got acquired by larger ones, a substantial amount of industry consolidation has taken place in the last several years.
As a result, many companies ended up adopting systems that were later migrated over to larger platforms that acquired them, or they are still using the same software they bought 5 or 10 years ago without realizing the world of new possibilities that has sprouted up in the intervening years.
Why your marketing automation software may not be serving you well any more.
Unfortunately, many businesses both large and small ended up making the wrong bet and wound up with a marketing automation solution that doesn’t quite do what they need it to any more.
Marketing ideas, philosophies and practices have evolved; your software needs to reflect that evolution in today’s world. It may be time to consider a better marketing automation platform that’s based more on today’s evolving trends of personalization, account-based marketing and inbound content marketing. With the widespread adoption of cloud-based applications, it’s not hard to make the switch.
If you suspect your marketing automation software may not be serving you so well, here are six signs to look for.
1. Its e-mail functions are rigid.
- Can it be personalized?
- Targeted to segments?
- Does it track responses along the buyer’s journey?
- Does it also automate follow-up emails?
2. It doesn’t easily integrate with related company applications.
- If it doesn’t fully integrate, ROI goes down.
- If you use a separate CRM system (such as Salesforce), does it integrate with your other MA tool?
- Do its features include CPQ (Configure Price Quotes), social media monitoring tools and live chat tools?
- Built-in integrations are best; a design that makes it easy to integrate with other applications is next best.
3. Its cost doesn’t justify the level of service.
- There’s a bewildering array of pricing structures in this particular niche.
- Some may include a lot of extra, semi-hidden costs.
- Whether it is the base platform, training, support, integration, bandwidth usage or contact record fees, these costs can add up.
4. It’s too complex for most of the sales and marketing team to use.
- Some platforms can be too complex for smaller marketing teams and too difficult to use.
- To get maximum ROI from marketing automation software, it has to be just smart enough to automate manual tasks, yet simple enough that anyone on your marketing team who’s willing to take a brief tutorial can start using it on their own.
5. It can’t automate scheduling for demos and sales calls.
- Most sales prospects today prefer a light-touch or even no-touch approach, even when they want more information.
- Allowing them to schedule their own time for a demo or sales call puts them in control, and in a friendlier disposition to hear your pitch when they’re ready.
- Your marketing automation software should offer these options as well as live chat.
6. It doesn’t allow you to segment markets or score leads.
- Today’s best automation tools allow you to segment and filter prospects using multiple criteria, charting each touch point they make with you.
- Does it let you add demographic and company-centric information to help score leads?
- Can it track customers post-purchase to make follow up sales, or gain referrals?
Don’t feel bad if you realize after reading this that your marketing automation software is from the Jurassic Age. If you think you’d benefit from a detailed, objective walk-through of the best automation tools we’ve discovered at Leadit Marketing, contact us for a free consult. We don’t sell or represent any of the marketing automation providers, but we are familiar with all of them, and are happy to give you a quick overview of your choices and approximate costs.
Shannon Prager is recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. She is responsible for the daily operations and management of Leadit Marketing as well as the long term vision for the company.
A marketing leader with over 19 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy. Shannon’s background includes demand generation, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, customer marketing, account based marketing and marketing operations. You can follow her on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonprager or Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LeaditMarketing
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