If you're in the market for a marketing automation platform and you've done any initial research, you're probably feeling overwhelmed. Businesses these days are spoiled when it comes to choosing products that can help take their marketing efforts to the next level.

Ultimately, deciding what internet marketing tools will work best for your organization comes down to the same kind of considerations you'd make for any kind of software purchase. It requires a comprehensive assessment of your business needs, capabilities and financial constraints.

Here are 10 questions to consider that can help you narrow down the options and best determine what internet marketing tools will best fulfill your marketing needs.

1. What is your current marketing system lacking?

Automating marketing efforts can be a great solution for a lot of companies, particularly those who are growing rapidly. A recent report,"B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer's Guide" by Internet Marketing Depot (free download available here) suggests automation software can be helpful if you need to scale your efforts quickly, or if you have multiple databases that cannot be consolidated. Likewise, automation can help if your email system can't deliver the behavioral targeting you need. If that's not your case, you may want to consider establishing criteria for exactly when you'll need to consider a new system.

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2. What are your marketing goals?

The bottom line is, if you don't know what you want to achieve, you won't know what capabilities you'll need. Do you need real-time access to market data? Is your social media presence up to snuff? Assess your goals so that you can determine ...

3. What capabilities can help you achieve those marketing goals?

A lot of marketing automation software have similar core capabilities, but some are better geared toward specific needs. Review the capabilities of a wide array of products and test as many of them as you can that meet your core criteria.

4. What capabilities would be nice to have?

Having some bells and whistles can not only make your new tools more enjoyable or easier to use, but they can often help set you apart from the competition. So if the cost isn't wildly different, it can be smart to go for the most bang for your buck.

5. Which types of Internet marketing software will integrate with your current systems?

Being able to use some of the structures you already have in place is a great way to save time and money, not only on implementation but training of key staff as well. If you're in the market for a CRM, for example, it can be easier on everyone if it can be integrated right into your current platforms.

6. What is your budget?

Now that you've figured out your critical needs, what can you afford? Are there systems that are significantly less expensive that do essentially the same thing as more expensive products? Now's the time to winnow the field of contenders.

7. What kind of support do you need?

Not all support is created equal. Many platforms offer tiered services, and that includes tech support. Is your team tech savvy? Do you have in-house IT support that can assist with some of the simpler, day-to-day issues that may arise? Depending on your answers to these questions, you may need to go back and reconsider your budget to include more or less support services than you may have initially thought necessary.

8. Will you need additional staff?

The whole point of automation is to increase your current abilities, but if your staff doesn't have the necessary skill set to perform new tasks, you may need to consider additional or different staffing.

9. Does this purchase have support from management?

If you aren't the owner or haven't been tasked by management to come up with some new marketing solutions, now's the time to take all you've learned, compile it into a robust pitch and get the buy-in you need.

10. How will you measure the success of the new system?

Most marketing automation platforms today come with some kind of analytics that can help you track key performance indicators, but making sure they're the right ones for your business needs is crucial as you make your final determination on which system to buy.
 

 

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