8 Things to Consider When Investing in Marketing Automation Software

By Peter Mollins, Vice President of Marketing, KnowledgeTree

Successful marketing increasingly depends on well-timed, relevant and proven content being delivered to prospects. The trend of buyers researching products well before they engage with a representative is only going to increase. This, combined with the sheer volume of marketing communications and vehicles, has led to an ever-growing need for marketing automation and lifecycle tools.

When chosen and employed correctly, these tools boost effectiveness by:

  • Delivering the right message to the right prospect at the right time.
  • Discovering which campaigns work, which don’t and reinvesting accordingly.
  • Determining the content that is most effective, discovering gaps and better targeting it.

A new generation of enterprise-class marketing tools has emerged to fill this void. Tools like Eloqua, Hubspot, KissMetrics, Marketo and Pardot are among the vanguard of this trend. Enterprises that use these tools gain from the move to the cloud, mobile and other macro-trends in the market. But are older tools that automate marketing up to the challenge? What attributes should you look for when researching tools to automate your marketing lifecycle?

Here are eight important considerations that any marketing department should think about before committing to automation tools. You don’t want to be stuck with a complicated piece of software that everyone hates. Marketing lifecycle tools must:

  1. Focus on what drives marketing. Customer-facing teams buy marketing automation tools to address specific pains — like supporting campaigns, delivering messages in a timely way or tracking opportunities. Ask yourself, “what is the exact problem we are trying to address?” Select the right tool or suite that addresses that need. Today’s subscription-based models let you avoid over-buying.
  2. Let users try it first. Marketing teams are experimenters by nature. They want to see a tool in action before they sign an order. Enterprise software must offer a free trial — better yet, one that gives value and not only a test drive.
  3. Give fast time to value. There is no shortage of horror stories of teams that struggled for years to implement a heavyweight marketing content management tool. Marketing teams need to solve challenges quickly, so a positive ROI, fast, is essential.
  4. Support business anywhere. Marketing teams in particular are always on the go. So, they need tools that can be accessed anywhere. That doesn’t mean complex VPNs, and it doesn’t mean tacked-on mobile tools. It means marketing software must have mobile as a first-class component.
  5. Deliver insight. Data is everywhere and customer-facing teams are driven by analytics. But conversion rates, ROI and other data become a tidal wave of input that can overwhelm. Enterprise software must focus on actionable insight — intelligence that lets marketing teams make better decisions about what is working. Tools like KissMetrics don’t just offer analytics, they offer recommendations.
  6. Be socially aware. Surfacing content and messages that resonate depends on community building. This could be internal to an organization, for instance using social channels to promote winning content, or external as marketing content is pushed through peer networks. Regardless, marketing tools need to support not just delivering social messages, they must also offer insights that support a social strategy.
  7. Support customization. Your marketing strategy is unique. That means that enterprise software must be readily customized to suit the needs of the organization. Specialized workflows, custom taxonomies for organizing information and other ways of tailoring enterprise software are important.
  8. Connect to the enterprise. Did a marketing document lead to a sale? Did a prospect blanch at the site of a presentation? Did a sales proposal deliver ROI? These kinds of questions can’t be answered when data is siloed. New enterprise software lets you connect your purpose-built tools together to give a holistic view.

Peter Mollins is Vice President of Marketing for KnowledgeTree, a provider of cloud-based solutions that help companies go beyond document management and get real insight out of their business content. He has more than 15 years of experience in the technology sector.