Live from HITMC: Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation: Picking the Software that is Right For You, by Jennifer Michelle

Marketing automation can be expensive – or an expensive mistake.

  • Your decision can cost the company tens of thousands of dollats
  • You have to be able to justify your choice to the executives and the board

You need to know the right questions to ask.

Step 1: How do you know what you need?

  • Plot out your lead funnels
    • What channels are you using?
    • What triggers the movement through stages of the funnel?
    • What changes someone into a qualified lead?
  • Decide on sales notifications
    • When and how do you want the sales team to be notified and get involved?

Step 2: Based on that, what features are most important?

Here are a few options:

  • Email automation
  • Lead scoring
  • Marketing cost & revenue tracking
  • Reports (by channel? by funnel stage?)
  • CRM (or integration with a CRM)
  • Landing pages, web pages, blog posts
  • Ranking

Step 3: Then get some demos

  • Keep in mind there are a lot more newcomers
    • Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot (well known)
    • Drip, Active Campaign, SharpSpring (newbies)
  • Include IT and sales at the demos
  • In the demo, make sure they show you the things they say they can do
  • Look up online reviews, and ask for customer references

You want someone who will be there when you need them

Is there…

  • a user community
  • an online knowledgebase
  • Phone, email, or chat support


  • What’s the average turnaround time on support tickets?
  • Do you get a dedicated account manager?
  • What kind of support do they provide if you are flagged for spam or blacklisted?
  • What do their support packages cost?

What’s the deal with implementation?

  • Do you get built in templates?
    • Email?
    • Forms?
    • Landing pages?
    • Workflows?
  • What’s the branding situation? Can you brand it – easily?
  • Will they work with you 1-on-1 while you learn?
  • Do they offer group calls?
  • What are the implementation package costs?

Technical questions:

  • What is their system uptime rate?
  • What are their email deliverability rates?
  • What technical requirements are needed to run their software and integrate it with your website?

Step 4: Get a good price

Look for:

  • A free trial
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Number of users (and the cost of adding more)
  • Training cost
  • Implementation, launch, or kickstarter fees
  • Support cost
    • Are technical questions billed differently from questions about best practices?
  • Consider mixing-and-matching with less expensive apps/vendors
  • Time the contract decision for end of the quarter
  • Tell them if you are switching from a competing vendor
  • Add a clause to the contract to protect you from a big price increase when the first contract expires

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, where she helps healthcare, finance, and educational organizations communicate with their audiences. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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