Marketing Automation: How to Choose the Right Software for Your Firm

If you missed our previous article, Marketing Automation: What it is and How to Know if Your Firm Needs it, it may be helpful to read it before tackling this one.

With so many marketing automation software solutions available, all with different capabilities and price points, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is best for your firm.

But by preparing for your search, knowing what capabilities to look for, and asking the right questions during your evaluations, you’ll be able to find the right match. Let’s get started.

Preparing for Research and Evaluation

1. Determine if your firm’s current marketing strategy is working.

If you’re meeting your current marketing goals and want to expand, or have a new strategy you want to implement and test, marketing automation can help.

However, if your current strategy isn’t effective, marketing automation will not resolve that.  Rather, it will only magnify your problems.

2. Ensure your marketing plan includes quantitative goals and objectives.

Increase lead generation by 30% in six months” is an example of a goal with metrics that can be tracked and measured with marketing automation to ensure you are meeting them.

3. Map out marketing programs, campaigns, and tactics from start to finish.

This enables you to know what your specific needs are that marketing automation must support.

For example, you can calculate how many total emails per month you expect to send, including newsletters and lead nurturing. Some marketing automation software has pricing options based on the number of emails you send per month, so knowing this will help you to accurately determine costs.

4. Make a list of all marketing capabilities.

Note what capabilities you currently have, those that you would like to have, and those that you can’t live without.

Be sure to include all of the technology solutions that marketing automation software will need to integrate with, such as your website CMS, CRM system, social media profiles, and webinar tools.

5. Clean and organize your contact list.

Ensure your firm’s list of clients, prospects, partners, and other contacts is up-to-date and accurate. Pay particular attention to spelling of names and email addresses. Remove old contacts and ensure any individuals that have unsubscribed from receiving your emails are not on the list.

Not only is it critical to have correct information for each contact to communicate with them appropriately, but some marketing automation solutions also have pricing options based on the total number of contacts you have. If you have contacts on your list that are outdated or inaccurate, you may end up paying for contacts you’re not able to use.

6. Determine who will implement the software.

Will someone within your firm set up the marketing automation software and integrate it with your other marketing technology solutions? Will you be engaging the software provider or other external resource?

Training fees for internal personnel to learn how to set up the system, and implementation fees for software providers and other resources, are important to keep in mind while evaluating software providers.

7. Determine who will use the software on a regular basis.

Make a list of the individuals from your firm that will be using the software often and will require an individual login to access it.

Some marketing automation solutions have pricing options based on the number of individual “seats” you need, so knowing how many people will need regular access will help to accurately determine costs.

Considerations During Evaluation of Marketing Automation Software

Once you’ve researched potential software providers and selected a few for in-depth evaluation, you should schedule demonstrations of the software with the providers.

Some questions to ask yourself during your evaluations:

  • How easy is the software to use?
  • Does the vendor understand our firm and its marketing needs?
  • Are they showing us our “must-have” features, or showing us all capabilities regardless of whether we need them?
  • How easy is it to integrate this software into our firm?
  • What is the on-boarding process?
  • How long does implementation take?
  • What kind of support and training are available?
  • Are there additional fees for support and/or training?
  • Are there additional fees for custom design and/or engineering services?

Before making a final decision, you should participate in a free trial of the software if the provider offers it.

Have questions about selecting marketing automation software? Write a comment and I’m happy to answer them.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles on marketing automation, including lead nurturing, software capabilities, lead scoring and how to do it properly, and more. 

On Twitter or LinkedIn? Follow us @hingemarketing and join us on LinkedIn.

For more insights on online marketing, download our free book Online Marketing for Professional Services.

Kim Cornwall Malseed Kim is an award-winning marketing communications pro with 14 years of success developing and executing online marketing programs for B2B firms in the technology, non-profit, and executive recruiting industries.

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