7 steps to selecting a B2B marketing automation platform


By Chuck Leddy

As you climb the mountain to peak performance, you might occasionally gaze upon the mist-covered summit. You know where you want to go. You believe, as all climbers – and marketers – do, that you have the right tools, but you might actually need better tools to take you to the top.

We’ve detailed the massive benefits of marketing automation in several prior blog posts. Those benefits include: giving you visibility into your customer’s journey, allowing you to plan and monitor campaigns, enabling you to quickly change course based on real-time data, and much more. If you want to climb to peak performance and boost ROI for your marketing efforts, a marketing automation platform (MAP) may be the best tool available. Which begs the question, how should you go about choosing the right MAP for your “climbing” needs?

At Sojourn Solutions, we’re your sherpa, an experienced guide who knows the mountain well and is MAP-agnostic, meaning it doesn’t matter which MAP you choose as long as it gets you to peak performance. That said, here are some steps you can follow when selecting any MAP:

  1. Carefully assess your goals and progress. To state the obvious, you can’t succeed unless you know “what success looks like” for your marketing efforts. Most likely, you’ll see some distance between where you are now and where you want to be. You’re still climbing towards that peak performance.

    Be as clear as a mountain stream about what’s important to you. Are you seeking to generate more and better leads? Trying to convert more of those leads into revenues, i.e., are too many leads dropping out of your funnel? Do you need to improve attribution so you can connect marketing activities to ROI? Trying to create more collaboration and alignment between sales and marketing? All or some of the above? Re-examine your goals and evaluate the distance between where you are and where you’d like to go.
  1. Conduct audits and benchmarking. Raw data itself offers no actionable insights and thus, cannot be the basis for strategic decision-making. You need to analyze the data you’ve collected in step #1 above. So, for example, if you’re converting 26% of your leads into revenues, is that a good performance or a bad one? If other companies in your industry are converting 18% of their leads into revenues, you may be doing conversion well. But could you find ways to improve? Always.

    You may need outside help in conducting the kind of audits and benchmarking that will help you answer key performance questions, turning answers into actions that bring you closer to peak performance. Benchmarking provides you a scorecard that helps you see where you are in the bigger picture compared to competitors. If you want to reach the peak first, it helps to know that your peers are climbing one step above you, or maybe quickly catching up.

    Alas, some companies needing to select a MAP may not even be capable of getting the raw data needed to benchmark themselves. Their current systems and processes may be so disjointed or require so much manual effort that getting to a benchmark for a seemingly simple KPI (say, lead conversion rates) is just too difficult. In those circumstances, we can help.

  1. Build a new roadmap. Now that you’ve learned where you are with your own marketing goals and have benchmarked yourself against peers in your market/industry, it’s time to consider changes. You might keep the same goals, but find that you need to adjust course in how to get there. Benchmarking helps you look outward to recognize what tools and processes are working well for others. You might choose to implement these external best practices for solving some of your challenges.

    If, for example, automating email has helped another organization accelerate their revenue recognition and conversion rates, you may want to adopt automated email solutions too. Having gathered all the relevant information, you can identify and pluck your “low hanging fruit,” the big challenges you face that have available and optimized solutions.
  1. Create an RFP. Now that you’ve evaluated where you are, where you want to be, and have a detailed plan to close that distance/gap, you can confidently reach out for the help you need. Write an RFP. Carefully analyze how each MAP provider responds to your needs as detailed therein. It may help here to work with a MAP-agnostic partner who can guide you in finding the right marketing automation partner(s) and implement the solution(s) that works best for you. Again, we can help.
  1. Pilot micro-strategies and scale up small wins. Consider packing light in order to climb the mountain with agility. Start pilot initiatives as a way of proving value and helping your people understand how new technology and processes work. Then talk about and scale up these small wins across your operations, letting early adopters serve as coaches/mentors when the time for scaling comes.

    We have helped our clients do exactly that. For instance, S&P Global Platts had one of their marketing teams go live first before going live with everyone else a few months later. Another client, Sophos, started with a full discovery project designed to use the deliverables to build the project plan supporting its more advanced global MAP migration and implementation initiative. Low-cost mistakes will happen, you’ll learn lessons from them, and these lessons will support continuous improvement as you scale success across your organization.
  1. Manage the change triangle. Anyone who talks about “technological change” as driving success is missing the point about how change really works. The most critical component in any change initiative isn’t the technology, but the people impacted. You can have the most efficient tech and processes in the world, but if your people don’t adopt them, all you have is failure.

    As we’ve seen in prior blog posts, driving successful tech change means getting your people on board, trained, and conversant about the benefits of the solution. Change management requires the careful coordination of a triangle that includes people, processes, and technology. You need to consider all parts of that triangle, otherwise, the 3-legged stool of change collapses. Communication, especially around the change’s impacts on people, is key here for the entire organization.
  1. Continue learning and improving. This final step is as much about using your MAP as selecting it. Marketing automation is dynamic, especially as acquisitions and emerging technologies change the martech landscape. So, optimizing your performance means recognizing that the peak is a moving target, no matter what MAP you choose. You may reach optimization on Monday, but it’ll move beneath your feet by Friday.

    Keeping up with change requires agility, which means being constantly aware of evolving possibilities and dynamically deploying your tech (including whatever MAP you’ve selected), your people, and your processes. Is it hard to do this? Yep. If it were easy, everyone would be climbing Mount Everest. Peak performance is one of those mission-critical goals that is hard to do but definitely worth the effort.

Need help with any or all of these steps? Reach out to us today! We’d appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with you about how we’ve helped our clients select, implement, adopt and optimize marketing automation to drive business outcomes.

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