Oct 26, 2017 12:00

Finding the right tool for marketing automation

By Martin Zellman

There was a time when it was easy to obtain quick information about the happenings on the market, who’s running the show at the moment, and what differentiates the different systems. After almost seven years in sales of tools within email marketing, I went over to the buyer side of things to help Avensia’s clients choose systems. The contrast couldn’t have been greater.


I’ve more or less been around since the birth of marketing automation and am still surprised by the fact that more people aren’t making use of it.

I don’t understand why I keep getting irrelevant emails about things like womenswear and strollers, week after week. Why aren’t businesses sending out thoughtful reminders about forgotten shopping carts, or birthday greetings, or welcome emails for when we make an effort to become consumer club members? All these things tell me that there’s still much work to do here.

Especially when there is no doubt that the consumer all the more often expects businesses to know the consumer's needs.

After looking at 40 different tools for email marketing and marketing automation, I realize how difficult it must be to be lone buyer in this jungle. All suppliers claim they know everything and that they know it better than the competitor, and have the references to show for it. How am I then supposed to know what system is right for my business?

This is how you find your marketing automation solution

Make demands

Making demands is a very important first step, and it’s important to get the whole organization on board. How do we get the marketing department? Can we make it easier for the sales department? What are the most common questions submitted to customer support? Can we automatize?

• In the best of worlds, what problems would a system solve?

• What is our budget?

• What does the organization look like? Who should be responsible for the system?

• Make use of an external partner to bounce ideas off if the experience is unavailable within the company.

Evaluate suppliers

Don’t base everything on what suppliers show in their PowerPoint presentations, but rather get a complete overview of several and later choose a few to investigate further.

• What is important in a system? Complexity or simplicity?

• Most suppliers have niches. What supplier suits your niche?

• How does the support and training process look?

• Is it a system you can grow in?

• Ask for relevant references and get in touch with them.

• Make use of an external partner to bounce ideas off if the experience is unavailable within the company.

Conduct a pre-study

When a tool has been chosen, it is time to conduct a pre-study. This is quite common in larger IT projects but generally isn’t a part of the startup of tools for marketing automation. There are bigger and smaller studies of this kind, but one should at least set up system dependencies and a time plan.

• What integrations are needed?

• What dependencies are there between departments?

• Time plan?

• Who does what?

For buyers

• Ask for help in making your demands and choosing a supplier. Investing time in this pays off, as choosing the wrong tool makes things more difficult and expensive.

• Ask follow-up questions and ask for references that you can get in touch with.

• Google the suppliers under consideration and read what previous/current customers say.

For suppliers

• The time when clients didn’t compare suppliers is long gone. Be honest and make it easy for the client to compare you to others.

• Push what really differentiates you from your competitors without badmouthing them.

• Don’t be afraid to let on that there is often a need for an extensive preparatory study. The worst thing you could do is to say that it is easy to get started when it isn’t.

If you need more support, we at Avensia are glad to help during this process. 

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