Having evaluated and implemented a number of marketing technologies over the course of my career, I've compiled a list of questions based on an article in Marketing News on the questions you should ask vendors before and after buying any sort of marketing technology.
Hopefully you'll find some of these questions useful as you are evaluating an implementing different martech solutions.
Before you buy:
- What’s the integration level required? What integrations are required? Do you integrate with other marketing and sales tools?
- Who’s responsible for customer success? Who will my contact be?
- Are our mutual long-term goals in alignment?
- Is your solution a point solution or a platform suite?
- Does your staff understand marketing (or community or knowledge management)?
- How long have you been providing this solution and for whom?
- What are the top three significant advantages you offer versus the competition?
- How will you help our business meet our objectives?
- If I were to randomly call three of your client, what would I expect to hear?
- Can you help me translate my data into customized and actionable content?
- How vast is your platform and are you nimble?
- Do you support omnichannel campaign management and execution?
- Can I test site functionality like new releases and search algorithms?
- Do you provide strategic advice for optimizing our digital business?
- How much of my testing program can I automate?
- Do you provide a scalable, flexible marketing database that my team can control?
- Do you provide an automation or orchestration engine to drive behavior-based individual interactions?
- How strong are your multichannel marketing capabilities?
- Does this technology help me achieve a comprehensive view of my customer beyond digital marketing?
- Is the technology scalable? Can you scale and adapt to my business needs?
- What is the track record for innovation?
- What are our core marketing objectives and KPIs?
- Will your marketing cloud give us a clear view of our customers?
- How flexible and agile is the marketing cloud?
- What percentage of your clients are using your technology or services for more than two channels?
- Can you help me augment my data to create a deeper customer profile?
- How can your offering take what we’re doing today to the next level?
- How much control will I have over changing search results?
- What kinds of analytics and actionable insights does your site search platform deliver?
- What types of content can I include in a search experience?
- Do you understand my business?
- Can I rely on you for data expertise?
- Is your system flexible?
- How clearly does your solution correlate to revenue or other KPIs? How will your platform help me prove ROI?
- Are your analytics predictive, prescriptive or explanatory?
- Where does your methodology tap into human curiosity and intuition?
- Are your services answering the right questions and solving the right problems?
- What are the actual outputs from the analytics and are they clearly actionable?
- What should a marketer consider in a virtual commerce platform?
- What’s your product roadmap?
- Do you offer solutions that provide full call attribution, as well as ways to proactively convert callers into revenue?
- Do you offer a full platform to all aspects of the call?
After you buy and implement you might have these questions:Is 24-hour support available?
- What are your training options? Can I get more training?
- Who will be our account manager?
- Do I have the right functionality?
- Can my team fully use the power of the technology or do I need to access outside support?
- How can we further leverage this technology?
- What should I be using that I’m not? What’s the best feature that nobody uses?
- Who is my primary support contact?
- When is your next webinar?
- What’s your ability to provide cost, operational and campaign efficiencies?
- How comprehensive is your campaign reporting, measurement and attribution solutions?
- How do you keep pace with updates to digital print technologies and data-driven marketing?
- How many metrics am I keeping track of per test?
- How much site latency is my test adding to the customer experience?
- What parts of the customer experience am I not testing? Why?
- What are you going to do to ensure that I’m successful with your platform?
- What programs do you have to get me started?
- What ongoing programs do you have to keep me current on new product capabilities and industry trends?
- Am I putting the customer at the center of everything I do? Are we putting the customer first?
- How can I integrate data-informed actions and decisions into every step of the marketing process?
- How can I work to ensure that agile marketing practices are part of my company’s DNA?
- Are we measuring success across the entire consumer journey, both offline and online?
- Is our marketing department accepting of a data-driven culture?
- Are we achieving test results and extending insights to other teams?
- Can I store data from multiple channel in a single source?
- How does your technology integrate with other tools that inform omnichannel strategies?
- Do you offer strategic consulting, support and services that help to make the most out of my investment in your technology?
- How much revenue am I getting out of my search box?
- What are my colleague’s best practices?
- Is my algorithm effective?
- Are we able to deliver relevant content at the right time?Are we failing enough?
- What are my blind spots and how does data illuminate them?
- How will I make sure I focused on the right questions?
- What barriers to action do I face internally?
- How do you continually improve analytics results?
- Are we prioritizing data-driven insights when executing marketing campaigns?
- Are we using analytics in every way we can?
- What do my customers care about?
- Do we offer easy distribution points to non-social channels?
- How can we pull in all of the images that depict our products, as opposed to just consumer images?
- Are we tracking call extensions?
- Are we optimizing multi-location technology?
What am I missing? What other questions should we add to this list to help others?
Over the past few years I've helped several manufacturing companies implement marketing automation solutions to improve their business and their marketing.
To date, 20% of larger companies (500+ employees) are using marketing automation, while firms with 20+ employees have a 4% adoption rate.
Following are 10 benefits manufacturing companies can realize by using marketing automation:
- Save time. You can create marketing campaigns and posts for different products and target audiences ahead of time and schedule to run once the customer or prospect takes an action in the future.
For example, if you're attending a tradeshow and having people visit your booth, you can have an automated message go out each evening when the show closes thanking them for coming by the booth and inviting them to reconnect if they need more information on a particular product.
- Ability to provide personalized, targeted relevant information to clients and prospects when and where they need it.
If a channel partner needed a case study for an end-user customer, you are able to provide it instanteously.
- Marketing staffs are able to get more done in less time. One employee can execute complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers and prospects than is possible to do manually.
Marketing automation is very scalable and allows you to grow your business without the commensurate growth in your marketing department.
- Ensures consistent messaging across time and channels. You're able to ensure that all of your graphic standards are met as well as delivering consistent, relevant messages to the right target audience. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.
This capability is particuarly important if the company is going through a brand identity change as one company I worked with was doing.
- You receive detailed reports on the performance of each campaign by channel so you know what's working and where improvements can be made.
- You are able to A/B test different elements of a campaign like who an email is coming from, the subject line, the offer, the layout, the call-to-action, the landing page and the images.
One marketing automation platform even enables you do do A/B/C/D testing.
- A tremendous benefit for manufacturing firms with sales forces or channel partners is the ability to score leads.
Marketing and sales must sit down and agree upon what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQLs) versus a sales qualified lead (SQLs) and how the MQL is best nurtured into an SQL.
This must be constantly monitored so the scoring and nuturing process can be refined over time.
- You are able to learn more about your customers and profiles through progressive profiling.
By integrating your CRM and your marketing automation software, you are able to prepopulate forms for website visitors. This lets visitors know you know them and keep track of their valuable information. It also enables you to ask more relevant questions so you can better qualify them over time.
- You build a repository of marketing elements, supported by data, so your marketing team is not "reinventing the wheel" every time a campaign is needed.
You also know what has worked in the past when a new campaign is needed.
- According to Aberdeen, firms that use marketing automation improve lead conversion 107%, have a greater average deal size of 40%, have a 20% higher attainment of quota and 17% beter forecast accuracy.
Is your manufacturing firm using marketing automation to increase productivity and sales?
If not, let me know if I can help you identify the right marketing automation platform for your firm.
I've been using marketing automation since 2009 when I went through HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University and became convinced of the benefits of inbound, content, marketing in conjunction with outbound marketing.
Here are the 10 benefits I've found using marketing automation:
- Save time by creating campaigns and posts ahead of time and schedule them for a time, event and target persona in the future. This ensures the right message is being delivered to the right person at the right time.
- Provide personalized, targeted relevant information of value. If I know what you are looking for and am able to provide the answer to your question or a case study that addresses your situation, I'm simplifying your buying process and your life.
- Improve marketing staff efficiency. One employee can create complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers of prospects than is possible to do manually.
- Improve marketing operations efficiency as you define and document processes, technology, best practices and measurements so that you are constantly refining and improving rather than "reinventing the wheel."
- Ensure consistent messaging across all channels (traditional, digital and social) with regards to content, time and branding. This is critical since consistent messaging builds trust, while inconsistent messaging breeds confusion and distrust among customers and prospects.
- Access detailed reports on the performance of each campaign across each channel so you know what's working and where improvements are needed.
- Field A/B tests on different elements of your marketing campaign including -- subject lines, from addresses, primary messages, images, offers and calls-to-action. One marketing automation platform even enables you to execute A/B/C/D tests.
- Score and nurture leads so you can differentiate between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). This enables you to continue a lead nurturing campaign with MQLs while the sales team pursues SQLs.
- Learn more about your customers and prospects via progressive profiling whereby you ask them to provide additional, relevant, information based on the information you have already collected in your CRM. This is also a great way to ask customers and prospects to verify the information in your CRM which atrophies at the rate of 33% per year.
- Improve business results per the Aberdeen Group: lead conversion up 107%, average deal size up 40%, team attainment of quota up 20% and forecast accuracy up 17%.
Over the course of my career, I've worked with hospitals, insurance companies, physicians, dentists and centers for living.
Healthcare companies are notorious for failing to treat patients like customers.
As patients become more responsible for their own healthcare, healthcare companies need to be more conscientious about treating prospective, and current patients, as customers.
Marketing automation offers healthcare companies many benefits for engaging with prospective and current patients:
- Save time by creating campaigns, posts, email responses in advance of a particular time or a particular situation. For example, sending email reminders to schedule flu shots, the annual physical or follow-up visits.
- Provide personalized, targeted, relevant, pre-approved information of value that answers patients', and prospects', questions in advance of being asked, in response to recent news or in response to questions.
- Make your marketing staff more efficient whereby a single employee can execute several complex and ongoing campaigns that enable them to connect with many more patients and prospects than is possible through manual communications.
- Enable consistent messaging across channels with regard to time and content. It's important to be where your patients expect you to be, when they expect you to be there. Likewise, it's important to deliver a consistent message since consistency builds trust while inconsistency breeds distrust.
- Provide detailed reports on the performance of each campaign regardless of channel.
- Enable A/B tests of different elements (i.e., subject lines, content, images, offers and calls-to-action) of emails, posts and landing pages.
- Enable the scoring and nurturing of leads from marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) so you, and your sales team, know who you should be targeting at any given time.
- Learn more about patients and prospects via progressive profiling. This requires a seamless integration with your CRM database.
- Improve performance. According to Aberdeen, companies that use marketing automation have 107% greater lead conversion, 40% greater average deal size, 20% greater attainment of team quota and 17% better forecast accuracy.
- Lets patients, and prospects, know you care about them as individuals and are conscientious about providing a better customer/patient experience.
Are you a healthcare company that is using marketing automation to improve the patient/customer experience?
What are the greatest benefits you and your team have found?
I've evaluated marketing automation platforms for a number of different companies.
While the right marketing automation platform depends on a company's vision, mission, values and go-to-market plan, there are a few steps every company can take to ensure they get the most out of their marketing automation investment.
- Map lead flow so you can create a process map/workflow for each product/service you are selling. Identify what’s the most effective way to promote/nurture/sell/follow-up a download, a webinar or a sale.
- Deliver targeted, relevant information of value in a timely manner. Don’t sell, inform, help, solve problems, simplify your prospects' and customers’ lives – you’ll add value to their puchase and the time they spent with you.
- Know your prospects’ buying process/cycles so you can deliver information of value when they need it. How does the buying process/cycle vary for a product you are selling versus a service you are providing?
- Create buyer personas (two or three for each product). Think of your target audience as real people.
- Tell stories. They’re more memorable that features, benefits, facts and figures. Even better, get your members to tell stories about how a particular product or event helped them accomplish a goal.
- Understand your email’s reputation and deliverability. Provide subscription management options. Invite customers and prospects to tell you what information they value most, how and when they want to receive it. Be open to engaging in the customer’s channel of choice (i.e., social media, telephone, snail mail, SMS).
- Keep your database clean. Use only opt-in, de-duped, non-spam-trap emails. Encourage customers to update their profiles annually or every time they engage with you by prepopulating forms.
- Develop naming conventions for all of the digital marketing assets in your marketing automation platform (i.e., email templates, invitations, thank you’s, confirmations, calls-to-action, landing pages, forms) to make them easy to find and to reduce the need to recreate something that already exists.
- Make your forms short. Don’t ask for more information than you need. Prepopulate fields based on the knowledge you have of the member and give them the opportunity to self-correct. This lets your customer know you care about them and you’re trying to simplify things for them.
- Identify the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) and sales qualified leads (SQL’s) with lead scoring. Use the knowledge of your customers and prospects, and their searching and buying trends, to make the sales process more efficient. Nurture MQL’s with information of value until they become SQL’s.
- Talk with your customers to understand what’s working and what’s not. Data is valuable, but it doesn’t tell you everything – like why a customer ultimately made the decision they did.
- Think holistically about the information you are providing a customer/prospect and use the opportunity to make them aware of other products that may be relevant to their needs and areas of interest.
Marketing automation is a powerful tool; however, you must plan how you are going to use it to enhance the customer experience and make your marketing more efficient and effective.