Search “must-haves for marketing automation” on the web, and you’ll receive a laundry list of answers. Email distribution. Lead management and scoring. Multi-channel integration. Automated alerts. Content marketing and management. Social media management. Analytics. Integration with CRM software … The list goes on and on.
But those are specific marketing automation features. And no single feature ‒ nor all of them combined ‒ will help you predict how successful the marketing automation platform you choose will be. In fact, the most feature-rich platform available will fail for you if your users find it unfriendly and complex, or requiring the help of expensive consultants to complete seemingly basic requirements.
I’ve dealt with this firsthand as a marketing automation customer. It’s incredibly frustrating. And it can become exceedingly expensive. With marketing budgets as tight as they are, the last thing you want to worry about is how much budget you need to set aside to pay costly marketing automation consultants to complete basic tasks you were told your team could do on their own.
It’s a horrible position to be in: trapped by the very technology that was supposed to free your marketing team to do the best work of their careers.
So why do so many vendors focus on features and functions when discussing marketing automation must-haves? And what are the true essentials that will help you confidently predict success for your marketing automation investment?
Frankly, most vendors focus on features when discussing must-haves because they’re betting the “wow factor” will win you over. Who wouldn’t want to say they’re using the most-talked-about new components? Who wouldn’t want to have all those great bells and whistles at their disposal? But what those vendors may not tell you is the effort ‒ and potential consultant fees ‒ needed to set up and actually use those great features.
And, let’s face it: When you first start out with marketing automation, you approach it in an incremental way anyway. It’s a phased deployment, where you triage your highest-priority business requirements to be completed first, with everything else to follow. You want to show success fast, and that’s typically not done by going wide with a bunch of different features/functions and trying to use them all at once. Instead, what you do is relentlessly focus your MA deployment on supporting your biggest marketing requirement (which is usually tied to some sort of corporate goal such as growing revenue, driving marketing-sourced pipeline, etc.).
So if features and functions can’t predict future success when you’re evaluating marketing automation, what can?
Time and again in industry reports and customer case studies, two key benefits surface in discussions of successful marketing automation deployments. Instead of focusing on the shiny trappings in a program, evaluate the two key measures during your selection process to help ensure future marketing automation success. They are:
- ease of use, and
- time to value (TTV).
In a new eBook, we define these criteria and illustrate how top marketing automation vendors score against each other.
Find out how these two crucial attributes are essential to the success of your marketing automation program.