How to Choose The Best Marketing Automation System For You (In 3 Easy Steps)

Producing premium content is one thing, but maximizing its performance potential is whole other ball game.

After carefully planning out the content marketing strategy for your company, you’ve likely got your content management system (CMS) up and running. While your CMS has been effective for your business thus far, it could yield even greater benefits when it is integrated with the right Marketing Automation System (MAS).

A marketing automation system is a software designed to streamline, automate, and track your marketing efforts. By more efficiently handling once manual tasks such as contact management, performance measurement, and A/B testing, you can take a more performance-driven approach and maximize the return on your marketing efforts.

Of course, not all marketing automation systems are created equal, and not every MAS will be the perfect fit for your business.

This guide will help you find the best one for your needs in just three easy steps.

Step 1: Identify Your Needs

Every business expects something different from their marketing efforts, and as a result, there is no true one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why, before you even think about shopping for an MAS, you should first sit down and decide what you want yours to do.

Are you mainly looking for a way to improve your email marketing, or looking for new ways to simplify lead management and get better leads? Do you need something that easily integrates with your CMS to get your content into the right hands?

Are you looking for new and improved ways to track and measure the performance of your marketing efforts? How important is the level of support and training provided?

By answering questions such as those, you’ll get a better idea as to what MAS features are most important to the marketing efforts of your business. It’s important to have a realistic idea of what you need your MAS to do. While it’s easy to look at everything they can do and say, “Yes, I want all of that,” it’s important to realize that you’ll have to pay for it too – so make sure you’ll really get full value from your potential MAS before you actually commit to it.

Step 2: Figure Out What Your CMS Can Already Do

Once you know what you want and need to supercharge your marketing efforts, you should see if you can already get it from your content management system. After all, while a good MAS is usually more refined and versatile than a CMS, you might not need that versatility enough to justify paying extra for it.

There are many capabilities your CMS might have built-in, such as certain types of analytics or basic lead management. Other features can be replicated with plugins or extensions. Many of these are either free or low one-time costs, making them a far cheaper option than an MAS.

However, just because they can replicate some of the features of an MAS doesn’t mean that they can replace them. Depending on the marketing needs of your business, you might get much more bang for your buck by integrating the right MAS, as it allows you to do more (and do it more easily) than your CMS.

For example, there are a lot of lead generation plugins that can allow you to build a squeeze page and capture basic information. However, an MAS can boost your conversion rate by giving you more freedom to nurture those leads. Instead of pushing the same message to every visitor, you can score them based on their demographic information and sort the hot leads from the lukewarm ones – and tailor your message accordingly.

Do you need the added versatility and more advanced functionality of an MAS? Does your current CMS already do enough to meet your identified business needs? It’s up to you to decide whether or not you need an MAS, and if you do need one, then you have to figure out how much you’re willing to pay for it.

Step 3: Look At The Cost

The amount that you’ll pay for marketing automation system largely depends on the size of your business. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) simply have different needs than an enterprise-level company, and as a result, different MAS’s exist to cater to different niches.

The primary differences between the more affordable marketing automation systems and the more-expensive, enterprise-level marketing automation systems can be seen in the features they each offer, and the number of people they’ll let you service.

For example, Infusionsoft is one of the bigger MAS providers, and, as such, they have a range of services. The lowest tier is $199 a month, but that only gives you 2500 contacts, 12,500 emails per month, and access to half of their features. Their highest tier, on the other hand, is $599 a month, but that includes full access to their features and almost ten times the contacts and emails.

This difference in service levels isn’t unusual. Brands like Marketo, Pardot, and Oracle have varying levels of sophisticated automated marketing solutions that offer premium features to their enterprise clients. These solutions often go for thousands of dollars a month. That being said, there are plenty of more affordable marketing automation systems available that offer similar, albeit less sophisticated, functionality for far less money.

Picking the Right MAS For You

If you’re looking to maximize your performance potential and get the most out of your marketing efforts, then its time you considered choosing an MAS and integrating it with your existing CMS. While it’s not right for every business, a good MAS can help refine your marketing strategy and increase your bottom line.

It’s worth your while to sit down and analyze the state of your marketing efforts. Use the three aforementioned steps to evaluate whether or not you should sign up for an MAS, and if so, which one is right for your business. Every business will have different answers, but it’s important that you have an answer for yourself.

After all, if you don’t know where your company stands, how will your customers?

Do you have a preferred marketing automation system? Tell us about it in the comments, or talk to us over at the CMS Forums.