What to consider when selecting a marketing automation tool
Marketing has become more customer data and technology-driven and the next possibilities and challenges await around the corner. While customers expect personalization and seamless experiences, changing data regulations, privacy laws, and removal of 3rd party tracking (cookies and email pixels) will limit marketers’ ability to measure and target customers. 1st party data becomes even more valuable when reaching and serving customers.
If you don’t have a marketing automation tool in use, this might feel like the moment to get one – and fast. But a tool is just a tool and might even start feeling the wrong one if not used correctly or if the expectations for what and how it is delivered are not realistic. So before rushing to sign a contract, it is good to do some background work first:
Exploration. Before drafting the strategy, it might be good to get an understanding of the state of the customer data available in your company. This will set a realistic starting point for what can and cannot be done at the beginning and it also helps to spot possible additional projects needed e.g., for improving data quality. Most likely the first ideas for use cases will also get clearer and the work starts to feel more tangible and concrete. The questions to ask: What is the data available in CRM and in other systems? How does the ecommerce data look like? What is available in data hubs? How about the condition of the data? How often it is updated? What data is missing? What is currently too scattered or unavailable?
Drafting the ambition level. After having a clear current state picture of the data available, it is easier to move on. How could marketing automation help your company to reach its business goals and growth targets? It is time to revisit the company strategy as well as marketing targets. At the same time check what are the main customer complaints you could help to solve with marketing automation. Review the customer journey and mark what are the touch points where customer data is collectable now and in addition where you would like to collect the data in the future. You might feel like it is a time to start googling marketing automation tools or perhaps arranging a few demos to get more insights. That is a good idea since it is time to start drafting the first use cases and seeing what the automation tools can do.
Strategy, desired state and first thoughts for the roadmap. It is good to keep in mind data regulations, privacy and GDPR in general without forgetting why your own business exists. Even though it would be nice to be able to jump into a segment of one and try to really know every single customer personally, it is practically impossible for most of the businesses in this world. But there is plenty that can still be done to make the relationship more personal. It is all about finding out what “that” is in your business and then adjusting the personalization level to the development phase of your data, technology and current resources. Now gather your findings from exploration and ambition drafting and start forming the strategy and roadmap. Set the vision, the goal and start planning the tactics keeping in mind the enablers: processes, tools data and yes, the team. Let’s focus on this a bit.
Skills, team and processes. It is good to understand that automation does not require less resources, it most likely requires hiring some new people to plan and manage the new processes, produce content and to make the most out of the technology and data. Entering a new area requires a bit of an explorer mindset, but luckily external help and expertise is also available to support the journey from a technology and business perspective. However, with a curious mindset you get going and the team can be built step by step over the time, and it can consist of both internal and external resources.
Reality check for the plans. At this point it is a good time to revisit the budget and other resources. If the plan starts to feel overwhelming, perhaps scaling down a bit or focusing on fever things at the beginning. When ambition level is set right expectation management will be easier, there will be less conflicts and the quality of the work will be for sure better. The best results are reached when the working method is agile: setting the direction and then clarifying the goals along the way while learning guarantees better results than trying to predict unknown territory too far ahead. It is perfectly fine, even required, to modify the plans later. If not otherwise, at least because martech area itself keeps on developing constantly from regulation, technical and expectation perspective.
Better understanding of technology should constantly shape the business plans. And then it is time to continue finding the suitable marketing automation tool(s) and partner(s). However, do not forget your plans. It is still ok to adjust them while proceeding, especially downshifting the targets for the beginning. The best results will be delivered when the mind is open for the new and you do not try to do everything at once.
See here how Marketing Clinic helped 020202 to find the right martech tool for first-class CRM marketing.
Do you want to know more? Ask Marketing Clinic support for marketing automation tool evaluation or how to get most out of existing systems.