If you’ve made the smart leap to augment your marketing technology with a marketing automation platform (MAP), then you’re probably trying to determine which solution is right for your business. There is no doubt that MAPs can be challenging and for small businesses it might feel like undertaking this task will add even more complexity and expense than you can afford. However, automating your systems is the best way to focus your time and resources in the right places so you can expand your business and provide better customer experiences.
To help you get started, here are a few questions to consider when selecting a marketing automation platform for your SMB.
- Does the tool help you capture, profile and score leads? Effective marketing will lead to increased traffic, but unfortunately some of that traffic won’t buy any of your products or services. Therefore, you need to be able to separate the non-buyers from the potential ones before you waste valuable time in pursuit of a lead. MAPs allow you to go beyond simple lead capture via a form and instead, enables you to incorporate filters to help identify the most promising leads. By asking certain questions at the point of entry you can create categories of potential customers, rate their activity and communicate with them on a more personalized level until they reach a point where they are ready to buy, and warrant your undivided attention.
- Does the tool have email nurturing capabilities? Leads generally fall in two categories: Inquiry or Marketing Qualified Lead. Marketing Qualified Leads represent your ideal customer who has a need, a budget and is ready to buy. Inquiries are people who responded to your offer. They may be your ideal customer or one who has potential meeting some or all of the criteria but in either case, they are not yet ready to buy. You’ll need to keep in touch with inquiries until they take certain actions that will prompt you to reach out. Email nurturing helps you achieve that goal by automatically sending triggered emails until which time they raise their hand to talk to you.
- Does the tool have robust reporting that links marketing activity to sales? The key to proving marketing effectiveness is proving the return on marketing investment. That means you need to link marketing activity to closed deals. A good marketing automation platform can integrate with a CRM like salesforce.com and provide with a clear view of the funnel.
The trick to any tool is to remember that it’s just that – it’s a tool. It won’t work miracles on its own. You are the driver of the information and therefore, it’s up to you to make sure that certain elements are in place around metrics and sales goals so you can accurately measure and analyze the data you need to make smarter decisions about your business.