Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marketers Do a Bad Job Selecting Marketing Automation Systems

I presented my Seven Deadly Sins of Marketing Automation Software Selection during last week’s Webinar with Neolane. (To replay the Webinar, click here.)  If you’re wondering how many companies actually commit those sins, the sad answer is: a lot. Here are some statistics.

  • About half of buyers consider only one system, I’m told by various vendors. Some may have known exactly what they needed in advance, but most are just buying the first system that seems to do what they need. And it’s a safe bet they haven’t analyzed their requirements well enough to understand those needs correctly.
  • 66% of buyers base their selection process on meetings within marketing. This isn’t bad in itself, but many don’t talk to anyone else. You do also have to wonder how other 34% make a decision if they’re NOT talking to anyone in marketing. (This and the following figures come from the CMO Council study “Driving Revenue Through Customer Relevance”, which I analyzed in detail last year).
  • 42% of buyers rely on online research. Again, not a bad source in itself, but far from sufficient. The real problem is comparing this figure and the previous 66% to…
  • 25% of buyers consult with in-house IT. Think about that: 75% of CMOs are making a major system investment WITHOUT consulting their IT group. This would be fine if most marketers were experts at technology acquisition. But they’re not. Software-as-a-Service  makes it possible for marketers to purchase and deploy a marketing automation system without help from IT, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
  • 19% of buyers do a formal needs assessment and Request for Proposal (RFP). Again, this means the other 81% are buying a system without a formal buying process. Maybe some are just skipping the RFP, which isn't always needed. But I know from my own experience that plenty of marketers don’t do a needs assessment either. That's a big problem: you can't make a sound choice without one. Remember: when you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
  • 25% do a pilot deployment. A pilot isn’t essential if you’ve run a good selection process. But for the vast majority of marketers who haven't run a good process, a pilot is their last line of defense before buying the wrong system. That so few run one means the most are buying blindfolded and hoping for the best. Let’s just say that this is not a good idea. 


JDH said...


I agree that most aren't doing a full RFP.

It's amazing what you can find out about a firm by seeing their RFP response times and comments. I did this and was easily able to narrow it down to two firms before I even reviewed their proposal.

In terms of Online Research, what else do you suggest? Do you mean better reference checking?

David Raab said...

Online research can include information on vendor web sites, independent resources like blogs, and social media discussions. All can be good sources but they are limited to what the author chooses to present. This means items that matter to a specific buyer may not be covered.

Social discussions are especially problematic because people's comments are necessarily based on their own situation, which may not be similar to the buyer's. And, let's face it, people who comment extensively in social media typically have their own reasons for spending the time, so they're not exactly a random sample of end-users.