Marketing Automation – What Platform Makes the Most Sense

Marketing Automation has become one of the hottest topics in the industry over the past few years and because of this, there has been a surge in platforms that have some form of automation available. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which makes the most sense for your business. The following post will provide a high level break down of marketing automation platforms and outline the process a company should take when deciding which type to move forward with.
First and foremost – there are really two levels of automation platforms available.

1. “Automation-lite”: These are existing email service platforms that have added automation extensions to remain current with the times, but have not perfected all capabilities. Some examples are MailChimp, emma, and iContact.

2. “Automation-heavy”: These are platforms that were made specifically for automation and this is their bread and butter. Examples consist of, Marketo, Act-On, Salesforce Pardot, HubSpot, and Eloqua.

How do I determine which level is appropriate for my company? Look at the below descriptors and select which best describe your company:

1. Customer base:
a. Fairly homogenous target market = automation-lite
b. More complex / less uniform customer base = automation-heavy

2. Content:
a. You have a need for more generic newsletters and batch and blast emails = automation-lite
b. You want to produce tailored, targeted content = automation-heavy

3. Results:
a. You want to know your bounce, open, CTR, and unsubscribes from an email = automation-lite
b. You want to measure the results of marketing across multiple channels and tie it to revenue = automation-heavy

4. Lead Nurturing:
a. You already have a steady stream of leads that convert and the customer journey is short = automation-lite
b. You want to nurture leads through a buyer funnel and your customer journey is long = automation heavy

Now that I’ve determined if I need lite or heavy automation, how do I choose the specific platform?

1. Take a closer look at the available feature sets: Platforms of similar level of automation will possess many of the same features, but there will be some that specialize in some features over others. Determine what is the most important to your business and see if one stands out among the rest.

2. Price can be a deal breaker: Most platforms charge by the number of marketable contacts so this is something to keep in mind when assessing price. The price can vary quite a bit, if you are between two platforms with similar features it may simply come down to the lower price tag. Keep an eye out for year-over-year price increases in the proposed contracts because something that may look cheaper today, can end up being more expensive down the road.