Whether it’s B2B or B2C, the cat’s out of the bag – Marketing is HOT RIGHT NOW. We watched IBM swoop up Unica and Teradata counter the move with an acquisition of Aprimo. Oracle upped the ante and snapped up Eloqua. And of course, we can’t leave out the latest in the series of calculated chess moves – Salesforce.com’s purchase of Exact Target for an unprecedented 2.5 billion. Next thing you know, Jim Cramer will be praising Marketing Automation on Mad Money… oh wait, HE JUST DID! Marketo – one of the hottest IPOs of the year – continued to steal the spotlight after their public splash with a little one on one time with Jim Cramer himself. If this isn’t validation that Marketers are taking over the world, I don’t know what is.
So, what does it all mean? It means that the Marketing Revolution is well underway. Sales has CRM, Marketers want Marketing Automation- it’s only fair, and clearly, Wall Street, Salesforce, and Oracle agree. Whether these marketing automation companies have just had wildly successful IPOs or been purchased by massive players in the game, they’re all being infused with lots and lots of money. And lots of money means lots of innovation. And lots of innovation means lots of awesome features that marketers have yet to even dream of. Which means, Marketers win.
Do you have to join the revolution?
Frankly, if you don’t have a ticket on the marketing automation train, you may be getting left behind at the station–and your competitors are on that train. Email marketing isn’t enough. Webinars are not enough. Even Social Media is not enough. None of these tactics are enough if you don’t have a tool to help you develop, execute, and measure these tactics in one comprehensive environment. ROI is king and with a marketing automation tool, you can prove that your marketing dollars are not spent in vain. Not only that, you can automate a nurturing campaign which promotes a webinar, advertises it on Facebook, captures all of the registrants (and even the browsers who didn’t register, uh huh) and then you could execute the webinar, thank everyone for coming, score those leads, tell sales which leads are hot, and track those leads straight. to. the. bank. All of that between your morning coffee and lunch time break (aka sandwich at your desk). I’m tired just thinking about it, but with marketing automation, it’s just a day in the life. Marketers win.
But in this Marketing Revolution that is unfolding before our eyes, not all marketing automation tools are created equal. With these recent acquisitions, a lot of folks are sitting back waiting to see which tool rises above the rest. Is it the tool with the biggest player behind it or the tool that remains autonomous boasting “best of breed?” Where’s that darn crystal ball when you need it? What I can tell you is some of the tools are email blast systems in marketing automation’s clothing. Others are really difficult systems pretending to be lightweight SaaS. But amongst the group, there are some very powerful Marketing Automation platforms and they are getting fiercely competitive with one another- which means, you guessed it, Marketers win.
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant does a very diplomatic assessment. But make sure you do your own assessment, better yet, find experts to help you in that evaluation. Understand your business needs, your pain points, the state of your CRM, and make sure the tool that you’re evaluating can address all of those–and if they can’t–I guarantee you there is another in the bunch who can.
Where should I begin with my evaluation?
Here are 10 key questions to consider when looking at Marketing Automation platforms:
- How is the tool different than an email blast tool?
- How easy is it to build a campaign? an email? a landing page?
- What sort of resources do your customers use to run the tool? Do I need a dedicated person or a person with a specific skill set?
- How do you define “nurturing” and how do I build it in your tool?
- What does the integration with my CRM look like? What are the things it can do that my CRM can’t do or that will help me better manage my CRM processes?
- How will the tool help me to align with my sales team? What can I automate for them?
- What are my reporting capabilities to prove ROI?
- Can I integrate with my other marketing channels like webinar providers and social?
- What are the data management capabilities? Normalization? Cleansing? Updating?
- Do you have a customer community and on-going education resources?
Is Marketing Automation the silver bullet? Definitely not. You can throw everything from your fridge into your Kitchen Aid and Martha Stewart you are not. There’s a recipe involved and you should seek help from the experts. Process is key to the success of any marketing automation tool–or any tool for that matter. With the right measurements of business process design, marketing & sales best practices, and the right expert team leading you, well–that’s a winning combination. So get out there, join the revolution, jump on the train, and whatever other euphemism I may have forgotten–and remember, Marketers win!