Marketing Automation is of particular value when pursuing a higher volume lead generation or demand generation model.

In a recent Quora post, we answered a question about the value of marketing automation. If you generate – or seek to generate – a high volume of leads (100+s) from the web from self-directed buyers, then yes, you will value having a Marketing Automation platform.

Consider Marketing Automation as part of a broader “technology stack” – there is the “Martech Stack” and the “SalesTech Stack” – we look at these together as the “RevTech Stack”

Their are a number of leading players in marketing automation – Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua, Pardot, SharpSpring, Act-On, Infusionsoft, Mautic and others.

Prices range from a few 100 per month to many $1,000s – a lot is based on volumes (size of lists etc), but there are also a wide range of feature sets.

It is difficult to recommend any one system. We use SharpSpring, Pardot, HubSpot and Marketo. All of these are solid systems. Consider the integration and platform ecosystem (e.g. Pardot is part of the Salesforce Cloud).

An objective assessment can help you decide. Consider the features outlined below (and there are others and these change a lot):

  • Channel customer lifecycle support?
    • From lead generation, ‐ nurturing, onboarding, to up-sell/cross-sell…
    • Manage locations, advertisements, blog, chat, email, forums, inbound calls, social media, newsletters, sales, seminars, sem/ppc, software download, telemarketing, tradeshows, paid, listings, etc.
  • Advanced segmentation for targeting?
    • Segment around prospects, customers, partners, analysts and influencers.
    • Create and refine lists from the customer database, design campaign elements, and test offers.
    • Segmentation on external data source, or custom data object
  • Support campaign workflow?
    • Campaign content management / asset library to manage marketing and sales assets — such as marketing content, collateral, copy, templates, video, images, and logos.
    • Collaborative development, version control, localization, approvals, and providing controlled access.
    • Sandbox testing environment
    • Cross-browser testing of emails and landing pages. Test emails in various browsers and clients.
  • Manage eMail campaigns?
    • Email authoring tools and features.
    • Ability to personalize and customize emails based on contact profile or other variable data
    • Custom multi-city/multi-session events, standalone events or webinars
    • Social sharing features and integration in emails and forms.
  • Manage landing pages?
    • Ability to build and deploy landing pages and form integrations to capture responses.
    • Connect downloads to forms, autoresponders.
    • Standardize fields and options for original lead source and most recent campaign.
  • Track campaign performance?
    • Pass information (usually hidden fields like campaign code or lead source) through a URL onto a web form on a landing page to capture referring sources.
    • Ability to track and manage online and offline advertising campaigns?
    • Measuring cost per lead and cost per acquisition. CPA / CPL
    • Attribute leads/inquiries to different campaigns where applicable.
    • Ability to abstract the channel from the campaign, allowing marketers to create multichannel campaigns while providing an integrated view of buyer behavior.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization?
    • Understanding of conversion effectiveness to measure revenue impact.
    • Ability to establish revenue goals, plan interim lead-stage goals to meet revenue targets, segment and track leads throughout the entire lead pipeline and sales process, and measure campaign effectiveness and impact on revenue.
    • A/B Testing tools for multi-variant testing. This should be included in planning/ process.
  • Progressive Profiling?
    • Ability to manage progressive profiling to complete a rich picture of customer and prospect information.
  • Query string parameters and query string structures to capture visitor profile sources?
    • Fuel Marketing Channel reports as well as can be mapped to contact records in the MA solution and then included in CRM integration mapping to track all of the way through.
    • Query string parameters for Partner Links, Press Releases, Paid Listing Links, Media Downloads, etc.
  • Map most recent search query field?
    • Most Recent Search Engine visitor profiles fields to the contact record. Include these fields in CRM integration mapping to track all the way through to closed deal.
    • Manage leads effectively?
    • Manage the lead between marketing and sales. (Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)).
  • Lead scoring?
    • to rank leads (e.g. using points, grades, or the terms “hot,” “warm,” and “cold”). Lead scores according to explicit data such as demographic and BANT or FACT criteria”
  • Real-time Web visitor notifications?
    • Capture Web site activities of visitors. Use IP address to identify the company of Web site visitors. Use browser profile or cookie for tracking. View a lead lifecycle / history with lead scoring
    • For named accounts as well as accounts in pipeline
  • CRM Integration?
    • Built-in sales and service features (If not integrating to CRM)
  • Master Data Management
    • Depth and flexibility of rules based smart lists / dynamic lists
    • Auto import data from various platforms
    • Upload leads from external sources. Two-way sync? What is the master source of data?
    • Company and contact data integrated with existing customer data sources to build highly targeted lists and gain actionable insights on people and companies.
    • Contact, account, opportunity, purchase history & activity based segmentation.
    • Data-cleansing, de-duplication and normalization. consistency of the data for de-duplication and data standardization.
  • Tracking/auditing user rights and authority changes?
    • Maintain and audit log. MA State/Fed Compliance Methodology. SW certification with Fed/State. Email deletion.
  • Marketing Resource Planning (MRP)?
    • Enable marketing planning, financial management, and vendor/agency management.
  • SEO Optimization tools?
    • help evaluate SEO impact of website pages and evaluate competitive capabilities
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