My Marketing Automation Software Evaluation
I recently conducted an evaluation to compare Marketo and Eloqua, the market leaders in B2B marketing automation software. When conducting any kind of product evaluation it is important to have a planned approach or methodology.
With the overwhelming amount of content and resources available from each of these companies it is easy to get distracted and wind up wasting time learning about features and functions that aren’t really important to you and your users. Even worse, you can easily overlook a feature that may be of particular importance to you and your users, and not realize it until after your buying decision has been made. Going into an evaluation of marketing automation software with a planned approach can help keep you on schedule and focused on the features that matter most to your decision.
I used the following methodology in my evaluation:
- Internal Discovery: Conduct internal discovery to gather requirements from the key stakeholders internally regarding process, goals, budget, timeframe, technical requirements, marketing channels, and expectations of a new solution.
- External Discovery: Conduct research through available online content from 3rd party resources such as blogs and forums, as well as from the vendors’ websites, both of which are loaded with content. The goal at this stage is to identify additional features/requirements that may not have been identified during the internal discovery. I also reach out to a couple of marketing automation consultants — current customers of each solution from my network — and began gathering data points for my evaluation.
- Internal Alignment: Once I complete both internal and external discovery I put together a list of key factors that each of the solutions will be rated on, and share it with the team internally to get buy-in on the assessment (see Key Factors below).
- Evaluate: set up calls with sales people at each company and begin the evaluation. During the evaluation the goal was to understand how exactly we would execute our requirements using the solution, and what the capabilities were as related to each requirement. In most cases if you are clear on what you are looking for and they are good sales people they will help you get the information you are looking. I had conducted a series of calls with internal stakeholders on my end, and people at each company who were knowledgeable about different aspects of the solution that were important to my team and I. We did not conduct a trial for this evaluation because they require serious resources commitments, and are not completely free from either vendor.
- Negotiate: Of course, price should be a factor in any product evaluation. At the time this post was being written, we have not yet reached this stage, but general pricing has been provide by the sales reps that I am working with.
Key Evaluation Factors:
- Ease of Use/Ongoing Administration: the majority of our portfolio companies have between 1 and 5 people on their marketing teams, not to mention limited budgets.
- Integration: Most of our portfolio companies use Salesforce.com.
- Social: Social continues to emerge as an increasingly important area for marketers.
- Lead Nurturing Campaign Management: Ability to automate a series of touch points for a specific audience is critical to building a relationship marketing program.
- Newsletter: An important component in most content marketing strategies, including ours.
- Dynamic Content: Delivering the right content to the right people is critical to building a relationship marketing program.
- Segmentation: The ability to segment your audience across an array of social, demographic, firmographic, and behavioral parameters is critical to building a relationship marketing program.
- Onboarding Resources: The sooner you can get up and running, the faster you will get a return on your investment.
This post outlines a pretty simple methodology for conducting a marketing automation software evaluation, but there are a lot of other great resources out there. Many marketing automation consultants will publish their own blogs with thoughts on this topic. One that I enjoyed reading was “Marketo vs. Eloqua,” a post by Sam Boush, the owner at Lead Lizard.
David Raab at the Raab Associates also offers a regularly updated Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool called VEST for a fee.