Years ago we wrote a blog post titled “How to select a Marketing Automation System” which highlighted five things to consider when selecting a marketing automation system including support, the ability to create a simple email, visual campaigns, AB testing, and database campaign integration. Both systems and marketers evolved since then and while the above mentioned features are still important they are no longer as different as they used to be.
The most popular systems such as Elqoua, Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, and Hubspot are all offering comparable features when it comes to creating simple email campaigns. These system providers realized that most marketers spend a lot of time creating emails and drip campaigns hence most of these vendors perfected the features that are necessary for this purpose. While there are some differences on how they achieve the end result, marketers would be able to manage these activities with either one. So what are the differences between these systems?
Just to mention a few:
Most marketers think that after the initial synchronization they would not have to think about synchronization. But more often than not business needs, goals, and processes will change and mapping and synchronization will need to be adjusted. All systems synchronize with a database, however not all are easily manageable after the initial synchronization. Some synchronization and mappings are not manageable in one place on the marketing automation side. To give one example some systems do not have the option for the administrator to de-map fields between the marketing automation system and the database. The marketer would have to go to an individual field and block the updates on the marketing automation side and go to the database and hide the field from the marketing automation database user profile on the database side. Adding new fields, de-mapping fields, deleting fields, managing updates to fields–all should be in one place and controlled by the admin on the marketing automation side.
Two things that can be different about scoring are the number of scoring fields available and how the scores are added up. Some systems only have one scoring field. What should marketers do who, for example, had to score things differently for each division and needed different scoring fields to house those scores? As for the differences in adding up scores, some systems add scores to the existing score when a new scorable value becomes available or there is a new scorable activity. The problem with this concept is that the existing score could have accumulated during the years so it is not really reflective of the current value of the lead’s activities. Yes, we can always deduct points for “inactivity” but based on what–will we balance the accumulated versus inactivity amounts? Some systems do not just add scores but the lead is entered into the scoring program every time they do something or a new scorable field is available, and based on their current activities and attributes a new total score is calculated reflecting the current value of the lead.
When marketing automation vendors give a demo they focus on a quick overview of how a marketer would create an email, a form, a landing page, a list and how all those elements can be connected to create a campaign. Even if the marketer asks about filters the answer would be that the system has that feature. However, anyone who ever worked with a marketing automation system will tell you that creating lists are becoming very complex which requires a complex filtering capability. Filters that are only able to deliver results for A and/or B filtering are no longer enough. Current marketing activities require more advanced filtering capabilities.
4. Progressive Profiling
Some systems claim to have a progressive profiling form but many marketers would not consider a sequence of individual forms a progressive profiling form. If we are trying to collect answers to 30 questions and we do not want to show more than 5 fields each time then some systems would suggest having 6 forms served up in a sequence to gather that information. That means that on the first visit we would show form 1, on the second visit form 2 and so on. But what if we already have some of the values in the database from form 1? Why would we need to show those questions on form 1? A true progressive profiling form is based on a sequence of field values, which means that we can have the 30 different questions on a form and tell the system to show only 5 of those fields we have no values for in our database during each visit.
6. Renaming Elements and editing templates
This may seem like an easy thing to do but to our surprise renaming fields, lists, emails, landing pages, forms, campaigns and folders are not always possible or easy to do as it should be. Most marketers who start out with marketing automation or start a new position inheriting a marketing automation system managed by others previously will want to revamp their organization including naming conventions. Not being able to do so will pose considerable problems. As for templates, most of us are using them not only because it makes our day to day activities easier but also because if we needed to change something we would have the ability to make that change in one place updating all of the other emails that were based on that template. However, we often find that some systems do not update emails retroactively that were based on the edited templates and some, while the template is updated, require manual approval of each email that was based on the updated template.
If you are evaluating marketing automation systems and need help with your selection then contact us. We can help you make a decision that is right for your organization based on your business needs.