So You’re Looking to Get a Marketing Automation Tool, Eh?

For years, friends and colleagues have asked me about my experience and thoughts on marketing automation software.

I’m so glad that every year, more and more companies are starting to “get it.” Especially if you’re a mid to large-sized B2B or B2C company, you need some sort of marketing automation tool to supercharge your marketing efforts and get a better understanding of its overall impact on the sales cycle.

Now these tools are not just overblown emailing software. If that’s all you need, go to a more basic emailing program like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. And despite their slogan and commercial, merely getting Constant Contact does NOT, all of a sudden, make you a “Marketer.” But anyway, if what you need is a robust software that tracks, governs and automates your entire marketing and sales cycle, you NEED a marketing automation tool. Now you’re playing with the big boys, but these things are not cheap.

Before you take the dive, you have to take inventory of what you really need, what you’re willing to spend, the amount and technical aptitude of human capital at your disposal and a realistic expectation of its impact. From my experience, many companies don’t really understand its implications, which ultimately results in choosing the wrong one…a very expensive mistake.


In decision-making, too many companies jump right into the features and product comparisons before they really assess if they actually need those functionalities


I worked for a company before that was so big that along with the procurement, IT, marketing and sales department, they had a separate department for just CRM and Marketing Automation. The CRM department started a half-a-million dollar development project on their CRM, independent of the marketing automation team. While on the other side, the marketing automation team built out an instance independent of the CRM team. Then came integration, disaster. That’s the equivalent of 2 construction teams building a bridge from each side, then by the time they got to the middle, they realized that they were 5 miles apart from each other. They never talked.

In decision-making, too many companies jump right into the features and product comparisons before they really assess if they actually need those functionalities. Or they have a need in mind, but they are influenced by sales fancy-talk. Have a list and prioritize your needs. Don’t be that person who doesn’t have a list at Costco and end up walking out with a year’s supply of mayonaise and other crap you don’t need. Also, you have to let go of the mindset of “biggest bang for your buck,” because it will cloud your judgement on what the company really needs.

Many large companies rely on their procurement departments to make these decisions, and may not align with the departments that will actually be utilizing these tools daily, or they bring them into the process way too late. For one thing, do they even know which departments this tool will affect? So if not them, who makes the decision, the IT department? Ultimately, I’ve seen that the best decisions made by a task force of members from each of the marketing, database, sales, procurement and IT departments.


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