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10 Top Tips for Selecting the Right Marketing Automation Vendor

One of my bosses early in my career used to publicly proclaim: “Stop complaining – all marketers are resource constrained – you just need to learn how to do more with less!” 

At the time, I took issue with this sweeping generalization. However, since the most recent recession, I have found a great deal of truth in that statement.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the field of Marketing Automation has become white-hot in the past five years.  Marketing Automation is a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so marketers can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.   

These days it seems that every major software company is staking their claim and proclaiming their leadership position in marketing automation.  Unfortunately for the marketers tasked with finding the right solution, there appears to be widespread confusion on which vendors lead the pack., even among industry analyst firms (e.g. Forrester, Gartner, etc.)

We’ll save you the time of reading through all of the analyst reports and just give you the highlights:


*Note, the Analysts at TrustRadius took a slightly different tack and identified leaders based on the size of your company. Act-On, HubSpot and Infusionsoft lead the way for small businesses (1-50 employees). For mid-sized business (51-500 employees), the leaders are Marketo and Pardot. For enterprises with more than 500 employees, TrustRadius selected Oracle/Eloqua as the standout leader.

Still confused? You should be. But like many things in business, success does not rest on technology alone. 

10 Critical Considerations for Selecting the Right MA

  1. Ensure you receive phone support – you will need it. Find out what other forms of support are available and the hours of operation.
  2. Find out if training on the software is included with your purchase. If not, how much does it cost?
  3. Be sure the software integrates with your current CRM solution and data can flow freely between the two platforms. See if it integrates with other platforms you use-a single view of all contact information is valuable.
  4. If you are changing MA vendors, make sure the vendor has successfully migrated data from your current platform to their software. Find out how difficult this is and what it entails. Is technical expertise needed?
  5. Find out how pricing scales, especially regarding database size. Are there add-on features available or do you have to upgrade for more features or additional contacts? You need to know the true cost of the platform before purchasing. Are there hidden fees? Limits of messages sent a month? Charges to add users?
  6. Find out if the software is designed for use by both sales and marketing. How it will better align sales and marketing teams? Ask for examples of how each team can use it.
  7. Does the platform manage full customer life cycles, or only leads and prospects? You want to be able to engage and nurture contacts throughout the entire life cycle. After all, the best customer you can get is the one you already have.
  8. Ask about email deliverability, specifically the vendor’s inbox and deliverability rate. This is an oft-overlooked but incredibly important aspect to a successful marketing automation platform.
  9. Metrics and reporting vary greatly between vendors. What metrics are available to track campaign performance? Also be sure to find out how the software measures/defines success. What metrics does the dashboard emphasize? Are reports customizable?
  10. Ensure the software offers mobile optimized landing pages and forms, as well as responsive email templates. Do you have additional mobile technology needs? It is essential that the software can meet your mobile requirements.

What we have found over the past 10 years at TopRight is that in order to be successful with marketing automation (and long before you select a vendor tool), you have to create your demand generation strategy and empower the people who will actually own the success of not just the marketing automation tool, but also the entire demand generation process.  Someone must be accountable to deliver on the metrics (MQLs, leads, etc.), as well as someone who will own the process and enabling technology.  In many small companies, it’s the same person. In larger companies, it’s not. 

As Michael Hammer so wisely said in his now famous HBR Article (“Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate”, HBR, July-August 1990):

“It is time to stop paving the cow paths. Instead of embedding outdated processes in silicon and software, we should obliterate them and start over. We should ‘reengineer’ our businesses: use the power of modern information technology to radically redesign our business processes in order to achieve dramatic improvements in their performance.”

So, if you’re a marketer struggling to do more with less and you want to #MoveTopRight with your demand creation initiatives, contact us today to learn how to make the best choice for you and your organization.


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