This is part 3 in our 4 part series by account manager Brian Hansford that maps the stages of a successful marketing automation initiative. Part 1 details building a successful process. The second part presents the importance of people. Now let’s look at the marketing automation vendor selection criteria.

Here are general ideas to consider when selecting a marketing automation platform partner. I highly recommend that any CMO, CFO, and CEO identify the right platform vendor that suits the needs of an organization in these areas:

The Right Capabilities
Marketing automation solutions are available in a wide range of manageability, capabilities and costs. Here is a good list to work from when evaluating the capabilities of marketing automation solutions.

  1. Supporting unique business processes based on best practices.
  2. System administration doesn’t create a burden the organization can’t support
  3. Bi-directional synchronization with the CRM platform
  4. Flexibility to have hosted forms on corporate domains and the vendor’s own platform
  5. Full nurturing support from early awareness, consideration through post-sale customer loyalty
  6. Data management and integrity capabilities
  7. Engaging customers across multiple platforms including mobile, social, web, and events
  8. Global and regional capabilities
  9. Troubleshooting, technical support, uptime – how will the platform support your organization when things go wrong?
  10. Analytics – consider the platform that offers reporting capabilities needed to measure marketing effectiveness

The Right Training and Support Resources
In part 2 of this series I presented the importance of people in a successful marketing automation initiative. Building capability requires the vendors to provide resources that support enablement. Instructor-led and self-paced online training, online knowledge base resources, well-written and current product documentation, and customer communities are examples of important enablement resources and services.

Marketing automation vendors should support customers with excellent product support when things go wrong. Some subscription contracts may include product support and educational training services. Vendors may have different guarantees on trouble response times and operational uptime. Understand your requirements and ensure the vendor and platform meet those requirements. A well-trained and supported customer is a successful customer.

The Right Size
Executives should feel very comfortable going with a solution with the right level of capabilities and the right cost. That means finding the platform with the right level of power that can be implemented as quickly as possible. Sometimes a lower cost solution is the best fit that has the focused capability needed where an enterprise solution may be overpowered. Going too small, too big, too cheap or too expensive without aligning to the objectives and requirements are clear paths to failure.

The Right Service Partners
Many marketing automation vendors have a network of trained expert partners that can work with you in your region. These service providers are critical in helping users succeed because they often have extensive industry experience and knowledge of best practices. Additionally local service providers and agencies can provide outsourced capability for platform administration, campaign development and implementation, and content marketing. Find the right local partner that will support your efforts in a successful marketing automation initiative.

One size does not fit every organization looking for a marketing automation solution. To help you succeed, make sure the vendor has the right product capabilities, resources for enablement, product support, and services partners.