Do you ever just sit back and think, “How did I get to this point in my professional journey?” I think in all facets of life, including personal and professional, reflection is needed, especially in areas that are evolving as quickly as the field of marketing automation.
I sat down recently and really examined my journey in the field, which I believe reflects how the industry has grown and highlights the reality that marketing automation tools aren’t one-size-fits-all. If you want to understand how you can align where you are in your marketing automation maturity with the right marketing automation platform (MAP), keep reading. If not, indulge me anyway, as I take you on a journey of growth in marketing automation.
I grew up in the dot-com age, when I began coding websites in text editors. I was fascinated with all of the new possibilities at the intersection of business and technology and watched as MAPs launched, matured, and went away. As marketers began to adopt this technology, they would often ask, “Which system is the best?” From my experience the better question to ask is, “What is the best platform for my organization?”
Small Organizations: Small Databases, Small Budgets.
My career started at a small multinational organization. We had a very small but well-defined target market and a new product category to introduce. Being so small and having a narrow target market meant that we went without a MAP and utilized a CRM platform to track our named targets.
Solution: If you have a high value product, with a tightly selected target market, ABM may be the solution you should be looking towards. In the infancy of marketing automation, we didn’t have terms like Account Based Marketing (ABM) or platforms like Engagio to power our campaigns. A platform like this would have worked perfectly for our needs without the need for a separate MAP.
As my career progressed, I found myself in charge of marketing for a small, rural, highly localized telecommunications company. Our mandate was to launch a product in a new geographical region that we had not previously serviced in our 100-year history. This project required us to install cables in the ground on homeowners’ properties, whether they ultimately chose to use our services or not.
As you can imagine, this multi-year project required a lot of legal paperwork to get sign-offs to dig on private properties, while at the same time also convincing people to adopt the services we would be offering.
Solution: For this project, we selected Infusionsoft which was, at the time, a hybrid CRM/marketing automation platform, because it met the needs of our small business to keep things organized and push out the correct information to our target market.
The simple-to-use interface, start-up training, and low cost were all key reasons behind our decision to select this tool. It didn’t have some of the fancy features that Pardot, Eloqua, or Marketo had, but covered the basics and met our needs. We also knew it would continue to meet our needs in the future—another key consideration when choosing your system. Our company was never going to scale like a SaaS organization. We required high capital intensive projects to grow. There wasn’t risk of quickly outgrowing the platform and we’d be able to continue to build out new and exciting campaigns.
Enterprise Companies: Diverse Industries, Diverse Needs.
For the last several years, I have been in the marketing automation consulting space. I get to talk to a wide range of enterprise organizations and examine what they are doing with platforms like Marketo, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Eloqua to name a few. In one instance, we were asked to determine which platform made sense for a global commercial real estate organization —Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Marketo.
Going into the project, I had full belief that Marketo would have been the solution for the client. I had extensive experience working with Marketo and knew it would be a great option for any client. However, after we spent a week onsite with the client, diving into the needs of the organization, we realized that they didn’t need all of the features that Marketo offers and that Marketing Cloud had a couple of useful features that would work really well for the scenario.
This is really when I began to understand that best MAP and the best MAP for my situation are not always the same. You need to go into every procurement with fresh eyes and a clear understanding of what your needs are.
So remember, when looking at marketing automation platforms, first examine your internal processes and what you want them to look like. Then you will be able to examine your marketing automation options and determine the system that matches where you are, and where you want to go.
If your company is struggling to understand the value of your customer communications; if you are in need of true reporting on things like ROI or life-time value (LTV) among a variety of communication channels; it is quite likely you are growing out of your existing systems. Our team is always happy to discuss solutions for your needs, from suggesting better platforms or providing ideas and processes that will help you get more out of your existing system.
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