Marketing Automation: Making the Decision from A to Z

Published by Katie C on

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Okay, smarty pants…if you are serious about your email strategy, then you know that email automation is what you need. Email automation has been around for a while, but new providers are coming on the market every year. In fact, many email service providers have expanded to full marketing automation platforms (MAPs).

Marketing automation platforms (MAP) go beyond email marketing. True MAPs include social media and sales CRM automation features that create a cohesive connection across all digital touch points of your customer’s journey.

With the landscape of marketing automation rapidly changing, you’ve got to keep up with the changing trends, the latest offerings, and the newest features.  There are literally HUNDREDS of automation solutions. From more simplified email solutions, like MailChimp, to complex and robust sales CRMs that offer marketing tools, like SalesForce w/ Pardot.

Marketing Automation Fast Facts

On average 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation, according to EmailMonday “The Ultimate Marketing Automation stats”.

…and “Almost 40 % of those not yet using marketing automation are going to invest in it in the next 12 months.” (“The Benefits and Challenges of Marketing Automation”)

So…what marketing automation platform is the right fit for your business?

Choosing the right marketing automation for your business should not come lightly. Spend time evaluating what you need and the goals you have for your email automation strategy. Here are a few top-level recommendations to get you started thinking about your marketing automation decision.

Current Database

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Most platforms are going to charge you based on the number of contacts currently in your database. You need to make sure you have a solution that can accommodate your current list size and segments. If you’ve been in business for a while and have a large list of old contact or unqualified contacts, perhaps a quick scrub of your database before migrating to a new solution would be beneficial.

REMEMBER: The data in your database is 100% reliant on the philosophy of “good data in = good data out”. Take this opportunity to make sure your current contact database has good, reliable data. Clear out any old or unreliable data.

Current Marketing Strategy

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If you are running a wide variety of marketing strategies, you will want to select a marketing automation platform that can help you track and report of all sources of traffic that come to your website. If your strategy relies heavily on email marketing, then the volume of emails you send each month may impact the cost and final decision on choosing a new automation platform.

Your current marketing strategy will drive the immediate needs of any solution you choose.

Current Systems

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Your website, social media, CRM, and other business systems may be able to seamlessly sync into your marketing platform. Knowing which systems need to integrate will be important as you begin implementing another system in your MarTech stack. The term ‘martech’ refers to marketing technology. Your ‘martech stack’ is the combination of all the marketing technology solutions used in your business.

Knowing whether your systems have an open API or existing integrations with your marketing automation platform will ease the overall transition.

Wish List Items

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You might as well think beyond your current systems and strategies. New bells and whistles are being added to automation systems every day. New technologies and artificial intelligence are evolving at a rapid pace. What are some cool ideas that you’d love to have, but maybe aren’t required.

Call tracking integration gives you further insight into those who call you. Chatbots are wildly popular. Invoice tracking. Event RSVPs and management. Calendar and appointment scheduling.  Connecting contacts with their social media profiles. Lead prospecting on LinkedIn. And the list goes on…

These are all additional features that take your marketing automation beyond email, forms, and landing pages. Be on the lookout for which solutions can give you the edge with these added services.

Budget & Affordability

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Probably the most obvious, but definitely worth highlighting…how much can you afford to pay or what is it going to cost you to get the marketing system you need for your business? You may want the largest most visible platform on the market, but does your business need that robust of a solution and can you afford it?

Pricing for marketing automation varies from solution to solution. Knowing what you need and what you want will impact your costs…but don’t price yourself out of implementing the right solution. There are great solutions at every price point.

What Marketing Automation Platforms should you choose?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are HUNDREDS of solutions on the market. Now that you have a better idea of what your business needs, it is time to choose the right platform.

We’ve assembled a quick reference guide of some of the top marketing automation platforms A to Z for SMBs.

marketing-automation-guide-download

*This guide is a quick comparison table designed to help you narrow down options. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive list of all solutions. We make no guarantee and are not endorsing one solution over another.

If you want to work with Smart Girl Digital on your marketing strategies, we will be happy to make a specific recommendation for your needs.

Smart Automation Partners for your Business

One last set of marketing automation fast facts are from Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Trends Survey”

  • 63% of companies outsource all or part of marketing automation strategy planning
  • 51% uses a combination of outsourced and in-house resources
  • 12% outsourced all to a specialist
  • 37% uses in-house resources only

If you want to get started with a smart marketing automation strategy or just need help with your email marketing efforts – contact Smart Girl Digital. Our email automation solutions can help you find more sales in your existing database.

PLUS: remember to ask about our smart lead generation campaigns that find, attract, and convert your ideal customers quickly and efficiently.

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