Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting the Right Marketing Automation System – Part 1


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Choosing a marketing automation system is a major decision. A disciplined selection process is essential to make a sound selection. This series of posts presents the seven-step methodology we use at Raab Associates, along with related worksheets. The first three are below.

For a complete list of the steps, worksheets, and background materials, visit the Raab Guide Website and download the Vendor Selection Workbook from the Resource Library (registration required).

1. Define Requirements

Create a list of your goals in buying the system. Relate these to financial values when possible. Then define how you’ll use the system to meet these goals, being as specific as you can about the actual processes involved. Be sure to include processes beyond what you do already: one of the reasons you’re looking at marketing automation is to expand what your department can accomplish. Your requirements are based on the tasks you must perform to meet your goals.

Goals Related Requirements
Generate more leads Manage online and offline advertising campaigns
Import email address lists and send personalized emails
Monitor and publish to social media
Build and deploy landing pages to capture responses
Use IP address to identify the company of Web site visitors
More effective nurturing Capture the source and Web site activities of each visitor
Create Web forms to gather information about visitors
Score visitors based on form responses and Web behaviors
Execute multi-step campaigns tailored to different groups
Use visitor behavior to trigger campaigns and other actions
Better sales integration Synchronize data between sales and marketing systems
Send leads to sales based on lead score and actions
Send alerts to sales based on Web site behaviors
Report on revenue generated by leads from marketing
More efficient marketing operations Store marketing materials and share across programs
Track planned and actual costs of marketing programs
Manage tasks and approvals during program development

Research Your Options

Raab Associates’ B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST) provides a good starting point for matching possible vendors to your requirements. In particular, match the scale and sophistication of your marketing operations to the different buyer segments used in the report. Bear in mind that company size alone doesn’t necessary predict the depth of your requirements: small businesses can run complex marketing programs, and large business programs may be simple.

Company Type Key System Features
Micro-business Outbound email and multi-step nurture campaigns
Landing pages and forms
Built-in sales and service features
Built-in or integrate with third party ecommerce and shopping cart
Small to mid-size business Outbound email and multi-step nurture campaigns
Landing pages and forms
Web site visitor tracking
Lead scoring (one score per lead)
Integrate with external sales automation system
Large business Outbound email and multi-step nurture campaigns
Landing pages and forms
Web site visitor tracking
Lead scoring (multiple scores per lead)
Integrate with external sales automation system
Manage marketing budgets, program tasks and approvals
Add custom tables with data from many sources
Limit different users to different tasks and programs

Test Vendors Against Scenarios

Develop scenarios that describe actual marketing projects you expect to run through the system, and have the most promising vendors demonstrate how they would execute them. Scenarios based on your own needs are critical for understanding how well each system would function in your own environment. Be sure that some scenarios describe your more complicated processes, since these are most likely to highlight differences among systems. If vendor staff executes the scenarios for you, be sure to understand how much the vendor built in advance. This ensures that you get an accurate sense of the total work effort involved.

Scenario Steps
Outbound email campaign Import list from CSV file, from Excel
Compose personalized emails with embedded graphics
Create landing page with data entry form
Set automated email response to form submissions
Set rules to score leads and send qualified leads to sales
Report on results: sent, opened, clicked, completed form
Nurture campaign Set start and end date for campaign
Set rules to select leads, based on attributes and behaviors
Set priority of campaign vs. other campaigns
Define multi-step flow with wait periods between steps
Set rules for different treatments for segments within steps
Set rules to score leads and send qualified leads to sales
Create emails, landing pages, and forms
Report on results including leads to sales and revenue
Revenue reporting Define stages in lead lifecycle
Define rules to assign leads to lifecycle stages
Report on movement of leads through lifecycle stages
Set up process to import revenue from sales system
Define rules to link revenue to campaigns
Define rules to estimate incremental revenue per campaign
Report on revenue generated per campaign
Capture campaign costs
Report on campaign revenue vs. campaign cost

The next post in this series will present additional steps in our process.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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