Marketing automation is a technology that is swiftly and overwhelmingly gaining traction and, as such, there are more and more offerings on the market that claim to be the solution that best suits your needs. With so many options with differing functionalities and intended uses for a variety of different audiences, how do you even know where to start when picking the right solution for your business?
What do you need out of a communication platform?
Let's start with the simplest question you can ask: why are you interested in using a marketing automation platform? Are you interested in a way to gather information about your target audience or do you need a way to cut down on the amount of time you spend on the phone making calls to suppliers? Are you simply content to spread your message to as many people as possible that opt into your communications?
If you need a platform to only nurture leads, most any marketing automation software can help you, but there is a large time commitment involved in deciding which one is the best one for your unique circumstances. However, if you don't have a lot of leads, such a platform doesn't have much use because you won't be able to judge its overall efficiency based on the limited data set that you funnel through it.
Conceptually, marketing automation could be considered a subdivision of inbound marketing, although it certainly can also be applied to outbound marketing principles. Inbound marketing is a process wherein people become interested in your business through the content you create, whereas outbound marketing revolves around sending external communications to those that may be interested.
How is this relevant to marketing automation platforms?
When customers are looking for information, they're open to any associated products or services you may be offering and many marketing automation platforms operate using an inbound methodology. However, that's where it comes to brass tacks: without a regularly-maintained content stream, no inbound marketing automation platform will be of much use to you. While the content creation process can take a lot of time and effort, it's generally considered that the rewards are greater. Even the phrase "marketing automation" can be confusing in and of itself as some platforms limit their efforts to only one of the two potential methodologies; there is no consistency in how the phrase is presented.
Especially in the case of small businesses, the biggest problem with marketing automation is that those who use it don't understand how to best utilize it and maximize what they can get out of it for their particular needs. Despite many people enjoying success with a marketing automation platform, they rarely use it to its full potential or use every particular aspect of a given platform. This leads to the idea that it doesn't justify the investment, especially for some of the more expensive platforms. There is no such thing as a single platform that can be applied to every use anyone could ever have for it, at least at present.
What factors influence your strategy?
With this in mind, it's important to understand that there are many factors that influence how efficient marketing automation may be for your business. A platform may be extremely effective for a large company or retail chain, but it may be minimally effective for a small company or business or start-up. This could be due to any number of reasons: maybe they require a certain type of skill or a dedicated team to ensure peak efficiency.
In choosing a marketing automation platform, you should also consider which, if any, external platforms are supported. Some platforms will allow you to create content on a platform like WordPress while others confine you to creating content through their system. Ultimately, even though it may take careful consideration, you should pick the platform that is the best for your particular situation or matches what you are looking to get out of adding marketing automation to your business strategy. If you're not technically inclined, you may want to look at options with easy-to-use graphical interfaces. If the inverse is true, you may be drawn to a platform because of its robust analytics system or how scalable it is in the types and amount of communications it can send. When you make the jump into the platform of your choice, it's best to remember that the world will not change in a single day and that time is required to ensure marketing automation's best payoff.
Want to see for yourself?
SimplyCast offers a robust platform, SimplyCast 360, which is made up of over 15 communication channels and tools that can be manipulated and modified through a simple drag-and-drop graphical interface. SimplyCast's solutions offer functionality on par or better than competitors at a fraction of the cost. No matter what marketing methodology you subscribe to, SimplyCast is suited to both. Explore the SimplyCast platform by signing up for a free 14-day trial.