Advice on looking beyond system features to find a product that will meet your needs today and tomorrow

Marketing automation systems are a great way to improve marketing capabilities and productivity. Your success with this technology depends heavily on your ability to choose a solution that will adequately fulfill your firm’s needs. With the wide variety of marketing automation systems available, this can be a daunting task.

It’s an easy mistake to select the system that is simply the most popular in the market or has the flashiest features. Just because the product is popular does not mean it will work well for you, and fancy features might look attractive, but unless they are useful to you extra features add unnecessary cost and complexity. Any system that you consider must at least be capable of tracking website traffic, sending mass e-mails, and reporting data; anything less is not worth considering, and an abundance of extra features should be carefully evaluated for necessity.

Your best bet is to look beyond popularity and determine what your firm needs most from the system. Define how you plan to use the system, what advantages you hope to gain, and what financial value you would like these advantages to bring. Once you set clear, prioritized goals of what your firm is hoping to achieve through implementing a marketing automation system, you will be able to narrow down the specific details and features the right system will need to provide, thereby greatly narrowing your search.

The next step after finding a system that seems to fit your firm’s particular needs is to carry out a test. Design a specific scenario based on how you plan to use the system and have the vendor demonstrate its execution. This will allow you to see the features that you will need to use in action without getting distracted by the features that you will not use, and will overall give you a better understanding of how the system will work for your firm.

Another important factor to take into consideration is the system’s references. At the very least, exploring a vendor’s references will give you an idea of the kinds of companies that have found success in using the system. You might also be able to glean some insight into the implementation process. Furthermore, you should take into account the usability of the system and what user support is available.

Once you determine through these factors which marketing automation system is a good fit, you will be able to maximize the value of your system and will be well on your way towards improving your firm’s marketing strategies.

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