Choosing an Enterprise Marketing Automation Software Solution For Your Organization

Marketers are coming under increasing pressure to improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns and to do a better job of measuring the results of those campaigns. Senior management requires that marketing resources be optimized, and holds marketing management accountable for resources and expenses.

Enterprise software is increasingly sought as a tool that can improve the effectiveness and accountability of marketing programs and campaigns. However, many marketing executives are reluctant to stake their careers on this technology because it can be expensive, hard to implement, and doesn’t always squarely address their initial requirements. In addition, enterprise marketing automation solutions can be difficult to blend with existing processes and tools.

Larger companies are finding it increasingly important to hold their marketing departments accountable to measurable performance indicators. This requires establishing a set of defined results leading to a determined return on investment. Improved campaign effectiveness is often determined by the ability to provide the right message to a target audience, through the proper channels. This will result in converting more leads into prospects which then increases sales. The ability to track, measure and analyze campaigns accurately is essential to improving sales, but extremely difficult and time-intensive to perform manually.

Useful communication with potential clients is essential to the success of a business. Customer relationship management, or CRM, needs to contain the information necessary to provide marketers with the tools they need to conduct highly targeted, relevant communications with prospects and customers. Precision marketing such as this is efficient and effective.

Once the need for an enterprise marketing automation solution has been identified, a careful examination of the marketing processes needs to be made, and areas of desired improvement noted. The software solution chosen must be able to address specific objectives that improve the marketing process such as improving contact response rates, lowering the sales cycle timeframe or reducing operational costs.

The next step is to take the list of objectives and expand it into a list of functional requirements. It is important to consider not only current requirements, but likely future needs as well. This will ensure that the selected solution will be able to adapt and grow as your marketing process grows increasingly comprehensive. It is also important to consider capacity parameters, such as the total number of leads, prospects, and customers that may ultimately be managed in such a system. You want a system that can comfortably handle the size, scope and segmentation of your data, as well as your functional requirements, but at the same time, you don’t want to pay for capacity that you will never need, either in terms of features or the size of the data set.

When potential software solution candidates have been identified, it is important for each department within the company having a stake in the implementation to assist in the decision making process. They must also be committed to the configuration, training and use of the product. Typically the sales and marketing departments, as well as the IT and Customer Service organizations will be involved.

Enterprise marketing automation software can be deployed under several scenarios. An on-premise solution requires the highest level of up-front investment, including hardware and software implementation. This solution also offers the greatest degree of security, because all data is maintained within the enterprise. Another popular deployment option is software as a service, or SaaS. Under this model, software and data are hosted and maintained by the vendor. One of the benefits of this approach is a lower initial investment than an on premise solution. However, the longer-term cost advantages are less clear. A third deployment model is called mid-source. This model allows organizations to maintain their customer and prospect data in-house, while outsourcing computational and technical services.

Finally, it is important to identify an internal owner or champion, who is responsible for day-to-day implementation, operations, and relationship with the vendor. This person can bring commitment to the process and make sure that all of the stakeholders are properly engaged.

A properly thought-out enterprise marketing automation solution that includes enthusiastic participation by all of the major stakeholders can greatly improve the operational efficiency of the marketing organization, helping to convert more leads into customers, and improving the organization’s bottom line.