It is undeniable that any B2B company stands to benefit from a Marketing Automation system and many companies already have. This fact is well illustrated by the literal arms race that has erupted in the space driving down prices and increasing provider options. In this post I will bring up some points to consider as you start thinking about whether you are ready to make the leap and acquire a system.
1) Vision. Without it, you will end up with another expensive system that is not used enough or is misused. I’ve seen so many companies acquire a Marketing Automation system and use it to just batch-and-blast emails. Or, some parts of the process are automated and others are not. Or, automation is setup once and never revisited – over time causing great damage to the business. Have a clear vision what you are trying to accomplish and make sure you can execute it against other items on this list. It’s OK to start small, but know where you’re going.
2) Time. Any automation system is a multiplier of efforts – you generally invest the time up front to configure the system so it can then perform the same action a dozen or hundred or hundred thousand times. Make no mistake about it – you will need to invest the time to configure the system each time you want the system to do something. This time investment will generally be greater than the cost to perform that thing once or twice the way you’re currently doing it.
3) Budget. Remember, when you purchase an automation system you are not just paying for the system itself. You are paying for the configuration of the system, integration with your other systems, as well as ongoing operation. These systems can and do pay for themselves many times over, but you do need to make that initial as well as ongoing investment.
4) Systems. Your Marketing Automation system will become your marketing database and a powerful tool in executing your strategy effectively. It is important to remember that it does not exist on its own. Generally, you will want to integrate it with your CRM system, as well as other systems potentially. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself and start thinking about your strategy for dealing with them. How clean is my current CRM/marketing data? Who will own this system?Who will maintain it? What systems will I need to integrate? Which system will be the data master? How will the data flow between multiple systems?
These are just some of the things to consider prior to acquiring a Marketing Automation system (or any automation system for that matter). Mind you, in my experience 75% of companies who acquire these systems fail in at least one (if not all four) categories. They end up paying for a Ferrari and driving it like a Fiat. An alternative is to start thinking about your strategy for rolling out a system like this and be one of the 25% that will drive the Ferrari effectively and win with it.