5 Tips To Choosing Your Marketing Automation Provider

Marketing automation is all about making your life easier. Nurturing leads used to be one-part science and one-part creativity, but whichever part you focused on, nurturing your leads to become sales-ready was never easy.

Scrolling through a list of endless leads, reaching out to them and then trying to customize and craft a suitable follow-up are all tricky tasks. Fortunately, computer software has stepped in to save the day.

Although marketing automation has been around since the eighties, the days of sending out mass emails with a single click are gone. Today, marketing automation pools a variety of tasks into a single platform. From email, website tracking, lead scoring, social media and campaign tracking, the top marketing automation packages will do everything for you.

We’ve partnered with Incapsula to bring you some tips on how to best choose a marketing automation solution.

Finding the Right Marketing Automation Provider

Naturally, with so much choice out there, choosing the right provider requires a little knowledge and a little research. In this article, we’re going to address some issues to consider as you do your own research and find the solution that works best for you.

Budget

Although some would say that price should be lower down on the list, we think it’s important to get the most bang for your buck.

Yes, having a system that has all the bells and whistles you could ever wish for is great, but if you can’t afford it then it’s not worth blowing your budget.

Each provider will offer their own unique features and, depending on how sophisticated they are, they will have a different price tag. When you’re assessing a provider’s package, consider how essential some features are to your business and whether they’re worth the cost.

Features

Every marketing automation package, whether it’s hosted or web-based, will offer something different. However, if you really want to make a sound choice then you need to make sure it covers the following basics:

  • Email Marketing – the software should handle all your email needs.
  • Web Visitor Tracking – without getting an insight into your traffic, a package is useless.
  • Campaign Management – make sure the software allows you to control multiple campaigns.
  • Lead Management & Scoring – ranking leads and customized content based on scores is essential.
  • Social Integration – beyond emails, make sure the software gives you marketing insights across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Security

When you’re dealing with a third-party software supplier in any sphere, it’s critical that you assess their security credentials.

This is especially important in marketing automation because you’re essentially giving up your business contacts and marketing capabilities to the provider you choose, and allowing them to email your database. Before you hit the buy button, make sure the provider has tested its code for vulnerabilities. According to Security Week , 121 million records were hacked in the US in 2015.

When it comes to staying safe and web application security, Incapsula suggests using a web application firewall to filter incoming code to protect against SQL injections, cross-site scripting and other potential attacks. If a provider doesn’t review its code and utilize this sort of technology, then you should avoid the provider or do it yourself.

Specificity

What is your business and how does this define your marketing strategy? Let’s assume you’re a digital marketing agency providing content to tech companies. In this instance, you’ll want a provider that offers high levels of website tracking data as well as social media integration so you can keep track of each new article’s performance.

Conversely, if you’re a health supplement supplier, then promotional emails and lead nurturing will be of more importance. Before you choose which provider you’re going to go with, make sure you understand your own needs. Once you’ve done this you can then start to select the companies that offer the best solution for these needs.

Ease of Use

Finally, after you’ve chosen a package that’s secure, has all the features you need and comes in on budget, you need to make sure it’s easy to use. Having a myriad of powerful tools at your disposal is great, but if you can’t navigate from one to the other without having to refer to the user manual then it’s not worth having.

When all is said and done, marketing automation is all about ease, efficiency and ergonomics. Each move you make should be intuitive and, more importantly, have a purpose. Therefore, if a provider doesn’t make it easy and intuitive to improve your marketing and generate more sales, it’s not one you should waste your time or budget on.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook