July 8, 2019

5 questions for potential marketing automation vendors

minute read

Today’s business world is dominated by digital marketing and online sales. Whether you’re a retail company or an e-commerce professional, you need to optimize the online side of your business to be successful. That means leveraging digital marketing and data analysis to run streamlined, effective campaigns.

Most importantly, you need robust data collection. Good data collection and incisive analysis of that data will enable you to launch automated advertising campaigns, personalized to your prospects and customers.

And to do all that, you need marketing automation software, right? After all, collecting data, linking that data to customers, segmenting those customers, sending automatic emails based on user behavior, and linking all that information back to your ad campaigns – that’s a complex job. Buying a marketing automation platform to do the job for you seems like the natural solution.

But if you’re going to shell out money for software, you need to make sure you’re buying a solution that’s right for your business. That solution might not actually be full marketing automation software – a more streamlined customer data platform, combined with an email service provider, can often accomplish the same goals at a fraction of the cost.

We’ve compiled 5 essential questions to ask yourself before making a buying decision. These questions will help you discover common pitfalls of using marketing software, how to avoid them, and how to choose the right solution for your business.

It’s important to remember that digital marketing is built on a foundation of data. With today’s tools, there is an abundance of data waiting to be collected, and how that data is utilized and presented is the foundation of marketing automation software’s usefulness.

First, consider your company’s data. Have you used a few different systems for marketing and email automation in the past? If so, your data might be a convoluted mix of a few formats, or it might be siloed into different databases. You might not even have access to all of it.

Messy or partial data presents challenges for marketing automation software. In fact, setting up campaigns or trying to gain insight into your customers is nearly impossible if your data isn’t formatted correctly. It’s also expensive – many marketing software companies tack on costs to manage old data. Often, marketing automation companies will simply wipe all of your business’s historical data to start from a clean slate. These kinds of practices mean buying marketing software might not be cost-effective for your business.

Second, think about what you want to get out of your data. Do you already have an in-depth plan for what customer segments you need and what you want to get out of your data? Marketing automation software companies often make it difficult to change the way your program is structured. Hidden fees, maintenance requirements, and complicated programming can mean that making changes to your software is expensive and time-consuming. If you want flexibility in your marketing automation, traditional marketing software might not be the best choice.

It starts with data, but it doesn’t end there. To be successful in digital marketing, you need to go beyond the data and into the analysis – specifically, you need to gain meaningful insight into your customers. Why do they make decisions and purchases the way they do? Who are your customers, and what can you learn about them? How do you know if a prospect will become a valuable customer long-term?

To gain meaningful insight relevant to the needs of your business, you need software you can tailor to your company. Every company has unique questions and data needs. Running a successful marketing campaign requires a tool that can uncover the customer insights and patterns of buying behavior that are most significant for that business. If a marketing automation platform doesn’t allow you to self-serve how you collect, structure, and see your data, it will limit the potential of your customer insights and digital marketing.

Digital marketing requires the right data and the right analysis. Marketing automation software adds another requirement: you have to have the organizational and technical capacity to use the program properly.

Managing some marketing automation software requires significant resources. Any marketing software you purchase will have to be organized and adapted to your business. Ask yourself if you have the time to reconfigure such a sprawling system, and if you have the technical resources to do so. If not, the data you generate won’t be structured enough to be useful.

You should ensure that you understand the implementation process of the automation software before you buy. Also consider the level of support – or lack thereof – offered by the software vendor during the transition. In addition, integrating pre-fabricated marketing software might require you to make organizational changes, such as restructuring your teams to align with the software’s needs.

If your company doesn’t have the capacity or depth of resources necessary, marketing automation software may not be the right fit. In fact, companies who have purchased bulky software often revert to where they started before purchasing that tech, in part because they can’t manage or adapt to the system.

A marketing automation software isn’t very useful if it’s not powered by human capital. That means you need powerful analytics or a data science team, an IT team to support the system, and a marketing team to generate personalized, creative campaigns. You might even need an industry consultant to supplement your company’s understanding of the market.

If you deploy a marketing cloud without the right people, it’s hard to run it properly. That means hiring more employees or outsourcing technical work before you can benefit from the software you’ve purchased. Otherwise, you’ll end up using just 10% of the system’s capability, which results in wasted money and ineffective campaigns.

Managing a marketing automation platform can require substantial human capital. Not all businesses have the capability or technical expertise to take full advantage of the software. To avoid overspending on a system that will underperform, first consider whether your company has the necessary resources to run the system successfully.

Those experts can be difficult to come by and expensive to maintain. But without them, running a digital marketing campaign with automation software just isn’t worth it.

Using an automation program comes with more costs than the software’s purchase price.

If your company can’t take full advantage of the tool you’re purchasing for any reason, your money is being lost. This loss can come in many forms: ineffective data collection, surface-level analysis, an inability to tailor the program, restructuring costs, hiring fees and wages for people to run the software, or simply the fact that your company is paying for a larger, more complex system than it actually needs. As one expert analyst put it, “companies buy a Mercedes and they’re using it to drive to Coles two blocks away.”

Marketing automation software is expensive – and there are often hidden fees.

Before you buy a marketing automation platform, you should consider that you’ll likely pay more than you expect due to extra fees. If you decide to restructure your program, you’ll need to pay the software company an adaption fee to do so, and you’ll have to trust that their employees understand what you need. If any aspect of the software isn’t the right fit for your company – for instance, the email client – you won’t be able to change it, and would have to pay for a new host. You can also expect to face hidden license costs or be charged maintenance fees.

For automation software, the sticker price is only the tip of the iceberg.

Save Money and Drive Results with the Right Tool for the Job

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, a traditional marketing automation platform isn’t the right fit for you. You could be working toward all the right goals – sophisticated data analysis, effective digital marketing, personalized campaigns – but falling short because you’re doing it with the wrong tool.

You need a solution tailored to your company’s needs.

We have the answer: Lexer. We provide a customer data platform that’s powerful, flexible, intuitive, and backed by a team of experienced data analysts. When combined with an email client like MailChimp, Lexer provides marketing automation scaled to your business – at a fraction of the cost.

With Lexer, you can:

  • Integrate all your data, no matter the source, to create enriched customer profiles
  • Supplement your customer database through our exclusive partnership with Experian
  • Combine the marketing tools of your choice with our data capabilities
  • Control your own data analysis, or use the support of Lexer’s expert Customer Success team
  • Segment your audience and run campaigns on your own terms
  • Generate powerful customer insight without straining your resources or organization
  • Visualize your data and customer attributes on our easy-to-use dashboard
  • Eliminate overspending and boost your marketing return on investment

Book a demo today to explore all the benefits Lexer has to offer.

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Elizabeth Burnam
Content Marketing Specialist
Elizabeth Burnam is a content marketer and a poet at heart. She has a degree in Professional Writing and experience developing high-impact marketing assets for a broad range of industries.Outside of work, she enjoys reading, painting, people-watching, and exploring the natural wonders of Vermont.