Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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

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.

GoalsRelated Requirements
Generate more leadsManage 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 nurturingCapture 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 integrationSynchronize 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 operationsStore 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 TypeKey System Features
Micro-businessOutbound 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 businessOutbound 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 businessOutbound 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.

Outbound email campaignImport 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 campaignSet 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 reportingDefine 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.

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