Marketing automation can have many great benefits for both small and large businesses. However, there is also a lot that can go wrong if you don’t take the proper steps to make sure your transition to marketing automation is as smooth as possible. Below are some things you should make sure to do first before you implement marketing automation.
1. Define Requirements and Goals
Well before you implement marketing automation into your company, you should make sure to define the requirements you will need for the software package. You should also choose what goals you will be trying to achieve with this implementation.
For example, you may wish to use marketing automation software to replace certain tasks that paid employees have to perform on a regular basis such as sending out e-mail, managing social media operations and performing surveys with the public. In many cases, a company may use different software tools for each marketing task. A marketing automation software suite may be able to replace all of them and provide a convenient all-in-one marketing solution.
2. Create a Budget
Once you know what your requirements and goals are, you should try to create a budget before you seriously begin looking at software packages available from different vendors. Switching to an automated marketing solution should only be done if it’s cost effective to do so. If you don’t have a budget, the amount spent on the transition could easily put you into the red.
One thing you should consider is the fact that some packages only seem cheaper because the advertised cost doesn’t include expensive add-ons that are not part of the base package. You will also need to account for what it will cost to implement the new software into your company to replace current procedures and software and what it will cost you to train employees on how to properly use the new system.
3. Create a Shortlist of Vendors
Once you have your budget for the project worked out, you should begin examining the software packages available from different vendors. From the best options, create a shortlist. Things you will want to examine are the available features, integration options, pricing and the level of support provided by the vendor.
The features available, for example, should be ones that allow you to most easily meet the requirements and goals you outlined for the software. You will also need to be able to easily integrate the software into your existing platforms to make sure the transition is as easy as possible. Support may also be very important especially if you don’t have many IT employees on hand. Lastly, there is price. While some vendors may offer lower prices than others, they may not provide all the features and support services you require. While you don’t want to go over budget, the cheapest option may not be the most optimal one.
4. Create a Request for Information and/or Proposal
Whether you are obtaining an automated marketing solution for the first time or simply switching vendors, something you will likely need to create is a request for information or proposal. This is often referred to as an RFI/RFP for short. The RFx is what your business will use to request software that meets your needs from a vendor. It will insure that you will get the features you want and allow you to negotiate on pricing. Thankfully, there are many RFP templates available online that can help make this process easier. Simply add the information regarding what your company is looking for to one of these templates before you send it out to vendors on your shortlist.