Buyer's Checklist for Marketing Automation

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					Buyer’s Checklist for
Marketing Automation
Does your organization need
Marketing Automation?

As the marketing environment has become more
fragmented and complicated, marketing automation            Contents
has emerged as a class of technology to manage the
complexity. A good marketing automation platform also       System integration, etc          2
helps marketing and sales become more effective. Key
                                                            Dynamic database capabilities    3
benefits can include increasing efficiency, intelligence,
and reach; aligning marketing and sales; and enabling       Content capabilities             3
targeted real-time action.                                  Lead generation and management   4
The key drivers of an organization’s decision to
                                                            Automated programs               4
investigate marketing automation generally involve
one or more factors:                                        Lead scoring                     4

 •	The need for sales and marketing reports that            Email                            5
   provide data for analysis, planning, and determination   Website                          5
   of return on investment.
                                                            Webinars                         6
 •	The need to simplify the management and
   coordination of activities, such as marketing            Social media                     6
   campaigns, channel management, reporting, and            Reporting and analytics          6
                                                            Ease of use and usability        7
 •	The need to manage and coordinate multiple point
   tools such as email and webinar management               Speed                            7
   applications, and/or the need to integrate such
                                                            Implementation and integration   7
   tools with contact management and CRM platforms
   and programs.                                            Training and support             7
 •	The need to manage lead generation, lead nurturing,      Cost                             8
   and the transfer of leads to sales in an organized,
   time-sensitive manner that enhances conversion and
   closing rates.
 •	The need to use time strategically: e.g., reduce the
   time needed to create and deploy campaigns, or
   respond to sales-ready leads in real time.
                                                                            Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

When you’re ready to research marketing automation...
Before you begin evaluating vendors, evaluate your organization and your existing process. Identify the goals and
objectives of your marketing automation initiative. Determine your resources and budget, including the staff you’ll
need to oversee the effort in various stages.
Evaluate what you already do that can be automated and which point tools you already use that could be bundled
into an automated solution. Consider which capabilities you’d like to acquire, and forecast gains (e.g. leads, revenue,
speed, intelligence, efficiency) that could realistically be achieved by applying specific automation. Consider your
organization’s culture as well; marketing automation is software that provides a structure and vocabulary for shaping
strategy, culture, and brand, and supporting an enhanced relationship between sales and marketing. The right fit is
critical to your success.
When you’ve determined your organization’s objectives, requirements, and opportunities, you’re ready to evaluate
solutions and vendors.

A checklist for evaluating marketing automation solutions
Act-On has compiled a checklist to assist you in comparing features and evaluating vendors. We hope it assists you to
make the best decision for your organization.

      System integration, tool management,
 1    automation, and deployment.
                                                                  Sample organizational objectives
Being able to manage multiple tools from one dashboard
is a key timesaving feature for most organizations.                 •	Analyze sales and marketing campaigns;
Considerations:                                                       understand which lead to revenue short- and
      Does the system provide one platform to launch
                                                                    •	Shorten the time to create and execute
      and manage email campaigns and other key
      channels of communication?
                                                                    •	Ensure consistent branding and messaging
      Does the platform manage and coordinate your                    across channels, campaigns, and platforms
      most important point marketing tools?                         •	Target specific groups with tailored content
      Does the platform integrate with other programs               •	Cultivate prospects not ready to buy yet
      already in use (e.g., CRM, webinar, social                    •	Deploy online forms to capture relevant data
      media)?                                                         and furnish quality leads
      Does the platform automate common                             •	Score prospects according to factors that lead
      functions?                                                      to sales
                                                                    •	Know who visits the website, see their specific
      Can the platform schedule outgoing campaigns                    actions
      and automate deployment? Can it accommodate
                                                                    •	Provide reports; calculate ROI
      multiple schedules for multiple users?
                                                                    •	Save time and resources
      Can the platform track behavior, incorporate
      activities, and interact with campaigns and
      content in real time?

      Can the platform respond automatically to prospect
      behavior (e.g. pages visited, scores attained) with
      targeted messages?

                                                                         Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

 2    Dynamic database capabilities.                         3    Content capabilities.

A marketing automation platform should be able to           Automating content management makes content easier
create and maintain lists dynamically. Other factors to     to use, reuse, revise, and share; it also keeps it updated
consider:                                                   and in sync. Factors to consider include:
      Can the database manage multiple lists? Can it              The capability to quickly and easily create, reuse or
      create list segments based on behavioral or other           repurpose attractive, consistent, brand-compliant
      attributes?                                                 email, web forms and landing page templates,
                                                                  using only basic skills
      Does the platform consolidate all information
      (characteristics, behaviors, actions, etc.) about a         The ability to extend branding throughout
      unique prospect into one dynamic profile? Can               campaigns in email content, sending addresses,
      sales and marketing share this information?                 autoresponders, landing pages, social media, and
      In real time?                                               other touchpoints

      Can the database integrate with your CRM                    The ability to populate emails with dynamic content
      system, sharing data back and forth seamlessly              beyond the Greeting field
      and dynamically in real time? Does it share
                                                                  A library for templates, documents, forms,
      critical time-sensitive information with sales
                                                                  graphics, landing pages, branding guidelines, etc.
      representatives via some kind of notification?
                                                                  The ability to attach gated forms (e.g., requiring
      Does sales have the capability to enter and exit
                                                                  that a form be filled out before a download) to
                                                                  specific or all assets
      Do your current processes need to be recreated,
                                                                  A way to control access to any piece of content in
      or can you adapt them as you move forward?
                                                                  any library

                                                                  The ability to share content with partners, in or out
                                                                  of the platform

                                                                   •	If yes, can you easily track submissions?

                                                                  Support for automated content deployment in
                                                                  response to actions

                                                                 Want to see more?
                                                                 Watch a short video about implementing
                                                                 marketing automation step-by-step.

                                                                           Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

 4    Lead generation and management.                          5    Automated programs.

Marketing automation’s ability to streamline and enhance      One of marketing automation’s greatest virtues is
lead generation, management, and distribution is a key        automating programs that would be difficult or onerous
benefit. Factors to consider include:                         to do by hand. Look for these capabilities:
      Ability to continuously build individual prospect             Drip marketing, in which you send a pre-written
      profiles based on historical behavior and                     set of messages in a series applicable to a specific
      characteristics                                               behavior or status of the recipient. Nurture
                                                                    marketing is a form of drip marketing. You should
      Ability to receive inbound leads and incorporate              be able to create messages and schedule them
      them into the correct lists, or dynamically update            for sending, create exit conditions, and enter new
      already existing profile data                                 leads as a program is running.
      Ability to autorespond to website and other                   Trigger marketing, in which some action by a lead
      inbound inquiries                                             (e.g. visiting a pricing page or downloading a
      Lead scoring that assigns value to general and                document) triggers a response email.
      specific behaviors and characteristics, both online
      and offline

      List segmentation for campaign personalization           6    Lead scoring.
      and customization
                                                              Use lead scoring to set numerical scores for
      Support for longer-term lead nurturing, through         characteristics and behaviors that indicate sales-
      drip/dialogue outreach campaigns                        readiness. Scoring automatically analyzes which
      Ability to set SMS and email alerts for types of        prospects are most desirable according to criteria you
      contact from specific individuals and companies         determine. What to look for:
                                                                    Can the platform score prospects based on both
      Ability to send qualified leads to sales in real time
                                                                    explicit (e.g., title, location, etc.) and implicit
      based on triggers
                                                                    (behavioral attributes and actions) data?
      A “hot prospect” list of sales-ready leads created
                                                                    Can you adjust existing metrics and create
      by marketing that sales reps can view within their
                                                                    new ones?
      CRM program
                                                                    Can you apply a negative score to undesirable
      A way for sales to return leads to marketing for
                                                                    Can you apply a time frame?
      Support for customer community outreach
      (e.g. blogs, discussion groups, social networks)              Are scores shared with the CRM database during
                                                                    dynamic sharing?

                                                                    Can they be provided as a “hot list” within the CRM

                                                                           Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

 7    Email.                                                   8    Website.

Email remains the cornerstone of outbound strategy for        Your marketing automation platform should support and
most companies. Your marketing automation platform’s          augment your website, and can provide real value in lead
email tool should include a robust set of capabilities, and   generation. Capabilities to look for:
integrate with other tools. Many companies begin with
                                                                    Ability to integrate with Google Analytics and other
email and add other aspects of automation as their
                                                                    analytics providers
comfort level grows. Look for:
                                                                    Web page tracking and multiple domain tracking
      Creative capabilities that facilitate fast campaign
      creation, professional appearance, and brand                  Form creation that extends branding and captures
      consistency                                                   useful information; look for the capability to autofill
                                                                    with information already provided by repeat visitors
      CAN-SPAM compliance (auto-add of unsubscribe
      footers, automated pre-test, etc.)                            Progressive profiling: the ability to offer a
                                                                    succession of forms dynamically, appropriate to a
      High deliverability rates, spam checking
                                                                    prospect’s evolving status, to increase information
      De-duplication of email target records                        gained

      Autoresponder handling of errors (undeliverables,             Landing page creation with brand extension and
      unsubscribes, etc.)                                           the ability to use multiple URLs

      Personalization of outbound messages and                      Captured visitor information automatically scored
      autoresponses                                                 and channeled into the correct database

      Personalization of “send to” and “reply to”                   Customized autoresponses that follow visitor
      addresses                                                     actions

      Ability to simplify user interaction                          Alerting capabilities, so that marketing and/or sales
      (e.g., auto-population of registration forms)                 can be aware when specific visitors or companies
                                                                    are on the site
      Can templates be shared with the CRM platform
      so that sales has access without having to leave              Website visitor tracking reports that provide
      the sales platform? Do changes made in the                    information on customers, and known and
      marketing template automatically update in the                unknown visitors, including pages looked at.
      sales template?                                               The ability to research an unknown visitor without
                                                                    leaving the program is a plus
      Can the system apply data dynamically, so that one
      email can carry differing messages for differing              Real-time compilation of traffic and referring sites’
      audiences?                                                    search terms, and the ability to monitor web page
                                                                    performance and peeks based on time periods

                                                                    Does the website tracking report integrate with the
                                                                    database in such a way that a sales rep can review
                                                                    a known user’s profile without leaving the report?

                                                                              Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

 9    Webinars.                                                  11    Reporting and analytics.

If you use webinars now or plan to in the future, look           Look for reporting capabilities that can meet the needs
for a marketing automation platform that offers a full           of your department, your internal and external partners,
integration with a webinar provider. Capabilities to             and the CXO suite. Reporting delivers numerical results.
consider:                                                        Analytics helps show you what’s working, and can help
                                                                 you determine where to focus or what needs adjustment.
      The ability to schedule and run a webinar from the
      marketing automation platform                                    Can the platform integrate data returned from
                                                                       disparate marketing tools (e.g. social media,
      Autoresponse to registration, and the ability to                 website visitor reports, forms) and consolidate it
      combine this with an offer                                       into a single, prospect profile, etc.?
      The ability to track responses and add them to the               If yes, what are the steps involved?
      database correctly
                                                                       Can the system deliver the reports you need?
      The ability to tie email campaigns to the webinar
                                                                       Possible metrics:
      to both generate attendance and to follow up in
      various ways to targeted groups                                   •	See individual, group, and aggregate behaviors
                                                                          through various lenses, such as contact
                                                                          information, actions taken, number of
10    Social media.                                                       interactions.

Some marketing automation platforms allow prospecting                   •	Calculation of effectiveness and ROI by
and coordinated messaging and campaigns across social                     account, list, campaign, etc.
platforms. What to look for:
                                                                        •	Known and unknown website visitor reports,
      Easy setup of multiple accounts and identities on                   with page views
      Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
                                                                       Can the platform track prospects and report
      The ability to post on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook,              behavior in real time? Can the system deliver
      etc. without leaving the marketing platform                      aggregate reports in real time? Can the system
                                                                       deliver reports in your preferred formats? Can the
      Integration with bitly or TinyURL                                data be accessed inside/outside of a CRM tool?
      The ability to monitor and track organization-wide
      social interactions in one location

      The ability to easily search for key words and
      conversations relative to your product or company

      Easy setup and management of canned tweets and
      predefined searches

      The ability to tag potential prospects for further/later

                                                                              Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

12    Ease of use and usability.                                 14   Implementation and integration.

If it’s too complex or hard to use, a marketing automation      A complex marketing automation system can take a
system won’t get used. Authentic usability is the result of     significant amount of time to implement and integrate,
building a platform from the ground up with ease of use         and may involve significant IT department resources.
as a key design principle; it reflects the vision and purpose   Factors to consider include.
of the vendor’s leadership. Things to look for:                       The complexity of infrastructure deployment and
      A clean, simple, intuitive dashboard                            administration

      The platform is designed in a logical manner                    Customary implementation times: Does it take the
                                                                      average customer hours, days, weeks, or months?
      The platform is relatively simple and pleasant to use           Does your unique environment fit a common
                                                                      implementation profile?
      The platform’s dialog and instructions are clear and
      without jargon. If cloud-based, the platform has no             Integration with other critical platforms; is it easy, or
      significant downtime                                            will you need to customize an interface? If so, will
                                                                      your vendor do it, or assist you?
      Capabilities you need right now, plus capabilities
      you can grow into — minus a lot of big features that            The need for IT involvement, in both
                                                                      implementation and maintenance
      you’ll probably never need

13    Speed.                                                    15    Training and support.

Time is money; the ability of marketing automation to           The more complicated a system is, the more likely that
accelerate campaigns from concept to deployment is a            you’ll need extensive training and ongoing support.
key win. In addition, the ability to analyze prospect           Factors to consider include:
response and prioritize hot leads to sales in real time
                                                                      Training required for users to gain facility and
will enhance closing sales. Factors to consider include:
                                                                      actually launch campaigns – weeks vs. days
      Automation of tasks that are now done manually;                 vs. hours
      how much time and labor will you save? Consider
                                                                      Is there ongoing training to promote usage and
      what more you might be able to achieve with no
                                                                      best practices? Is there an online customer forum
      increase in staff
                                                                      and knowledge base?
      The ability to create and deploy a campaign from
                                                                      Is vendor support paid or free? Is there a time limit?
      scratch in little time — without HTML skills
                                                                      How often are features upgraded or new features
      The ability to reuse campaign elements and
                                                                      added? Is there training available? Will it cost or is
      templates efficiently
                                                                      it free?
      The ability for email campaigns to support webinars
                                                                      Will your team have access to live vendor support?
      or other events eliminating duplicate actions, and
      track interactions around the event automatically               How quickly does vendor support respond?
      The ability of the database to update a profile with            What’s the vendor’s reputation? Talk to existing
      new information, reducing the lag time associated               customers to gauge third-party credibility, and ask
      with outdated data                                              questions about time to respond, quality of service,
                                                                      reliability, etc
      Automated lead scoring, to help sales prioritize time
      and activities

                                                                      Buyer’s Checklist for Marketing Automation

16    Cost.
                                                              About Act-On Software
The total cost of an automated marketing system can’t
                                                              Act-On’s integrated cloud-based platform lets
be accurately calculated until enough time has passed
                                                              marketers realize their creative expression to the
so that return on investment can be measured against
                                                              fullest. Act-On’s rapid implementation, intuitive
acquisition and maintenance costs. That said, there are
                                                              user interface, and complete tool set enable
issues involved in the total cost of acquisition that can
                                                              marketing and sales professionals to optimize
be calculated and weighed before purchase. Factors to
                                                              and execute campaigns, and calculate metrics
consider include:
                                                              to define success.
      Base-product pricing; purchase or subscription;
      controllable, predictable factors                       The Act-On platform features an integrated suite
                                                              of tools to create web forms, landing pages,
      Length of contract(s)
                                                              and emails. Act-On’sTwitter Prospector enables
      Availability and price of optional capabilities         marketers to use Twitter and other social media
                                                              properties as lead sources, and for reputation
      Administrative costs, including internal IT costs,      management. With a best-in-class email engine
      support contracts, or consultants                       and easy-to-use tools for website visitor tracking,
      Training costs                                          lead scoring and lead nurturing, plus easy
                                                              integration with leading web conferencing
      The potential effect on head count                      and CRM solutions, the Act-On platform is the
                                                              foundation for successful business growth
                                                              strategies for the Fortune 5,000,000.
                                                              +1 (877) 530 1555
There is no one-size-fits-all “best” marketing automation
platform. The 80–20 rule holds here: For most companies,
the gains made through marketing automation are the
result of basic programs executed very well. Adding
layers of complexity may cost more money than is
returned, and may well erect barriers to usage. The best
choice is usually the platform that fits comfortably inside
your organization’s culture, helps you fulfill your current
objectives while being scalable enough to meet your
organization’s needs as it grows, and is easy for your
team to use.
Sources for more information about marketing
automation: SiriusDecisions, Forrester Research, the
Marketing Automation Institute, and consultant
David Raab’s marketing blog.


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