10 point check list for CMOs: What to consider when acquiring a marketing automation system?

When considering to go for programmatic marketing and acquiring a marketing automation system, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your starting point and what you plan to achieve with automated communications. You must also be prepared to make quite some compromises. Although technology is advancing, there are still limits to what is possible. In addition, the world around us, legislation and operators like Google, for example, lay their own limitations.

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A checklist for those considering an automated system

  1. Business requirements, both monetary and perception based
    • what is your starting point and your goals for customer experience?
    • What is your starting point and your goal for brand loyalty improvement?
    • what is your starting point and goal in terms of commercial indicators?
  2. Required resources in different phases: time and money both at the build-up project stage and for on-going operations
    • the expertise required in your own organisation for the RFP process
    • is there a need for an external consultant in finding the right solution, or do you have adequate skills inside your company to complete the RFP and evaluate, analyze and rate the responses
    • contact and invite your legal department to join in the early phase of tendering
    • ongoing operations resources: solution owner, project manager, reporting and analysis, campaign management
  3. Own solution vs. system as service
    • Consider carefully whether it’s cost-effective to run the system yourself and acquire the necessary licences, or whether it makes more sense to buy it as service. You can consider to include both alternatives in the request for proposal.
  4. What is the quantity of current data to be integrated into the system and how do you expect it to grow?
  5. Are offered reporting and analytics tools fully integrated into the marketing automation system and do they cover campaign management, customer, product and transaction data?
  6. Does the offered system integrate with other systems you have or will need in the close future?
  7. Who will be responsible for the automated communication concept and content in practise? Remember to consider both.
  8. For your shortlist choose only service providers who are experienced in marketing automation system offered and your type of industry
  9. Available information for decision making
    • there are various software solutions available specifically for companies on consumer or B2B market and, for example, Gartner and SiriusDecision have comparative research data on these. Just be careful when analysing the studies, the expertise may be located only on one market area, eg. US only, not on yours.
  10. Ask for references.

My experience on marketing automation is based on acquiring, implementing and running business on two different systems. The ideal solution is to buy the marketing automation system as service and not to invest any money into any software licence or hardware, no matter whether you operate in B2B or B2C environment. What this means in practise is that one service provider takes care of the system planning, integration, operation, development and maintenance for you. Unfortunately know-how and supply in this field is still very scant.

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