Guest blogger Vinh Nguyen shares the journey from first date to true love in the search for the perfect marketing automation tool.
As a marketer, you always want to have the best tool to make your job easier, more fun and effective. When it comes to marketing automation software that helps you automate your marketing activities, this is certainly the case. But with hundreds of marketing automation options available, it is daunting and difficult to choose which one to go with. It’s just like choosing a mate—there are plenty of fish in the sea but deciding which one is yours is hard. You have to date a few, invest your time and energy on… well, hopefully not the bad ones. You have to commit to a certain extent. And you want to make the right decision!
The good news is that as a marketer at SilverStripe, I have just gone through the process of finding the right marketing automation tool for us, and I am happy to report that my team and I are happy with our decision. Hopefully, you can learn a thing or two from our process of choosing which tool to use.
How it all began
At SilverStripe, previously we engaged with our users via various channels (email, social media, website and others) without knowing for sure which channel worked best and how our users preferred to interact with us. Many of the tasks that we do to engage with our users had to be done manually: setting up an email campaign to our online subscribers, assigning a lead to the right person, or segmenting our users appropriately to send the right content that interests them.
So we figured a marketing automation tool would help us and free up some of the time we had spent on low value activities, whilst in the process, understanding our users better and creating a better product that meets their needs.
The quest: going on different dates
We did the initial research on which marketing automation tools were available and narrowed our list down to three software tools. After lots of demos and lots of discussion (just like you might with different dates on your quest of finding your mate), here’s a quick summary of our final three:
- Marketo: definitely the most mature tool with lots of features that are more than just marketing automation. However, we felt we wouldn’t be using half of the features available and needed a much simpler piece of software that our team could set up and run in a matter of days.
- Pardot: we were impressed with simplicity of the interface, in the particular the “Engagement Studio” that gives you a great overview of the success rate of your email campaigns in the lead nurturing process. Pardot seems to strive for the marketing automation only, which we liked—we didn’t need a piece of software that would be expanded into something else.
- HubSpot: beautiful and simple interface. It gives you a good tracking system of sources (“where your users come from”), which is very important to measure the effectiveness of a campaign when you are tracking which channels perform the best in terms of acquiring new users. However, our feeling was that HubSpot tried to be more than just marketing automation and there are a few features that are not relevant to us.
Committment: The final decision
It was not an easy decision as each tool had pros and cons. Some features in one tool are greater than others and vice versa.
Firstly, we decided to rule out Marketo because, given the impressive list of features in the software, it might not be the most suitable for a company and team of our size. When it came to choose between Pardot and HubSpot, it was tough. I personally liked both tools because of their simplicity and ability to report the results of campaigns instantly.
I felt like the decision could be compared to choosing whom you would marry between the two best dating candidates: both are good looking but the law doesn’t allow you to marry two at once (at least not in most countries).
In the end, I messaged my team and said:
“I am happy with both. Both have excellent tools to track, report and run campaigns. But if somebody held a gun to my head and asked me to make a decision now, I would choose Pardot. Pardot will always work better with SalesForce because SalesForce owns Pardot (At that time, we were considering using SalesForce as well). We also have a SilverStripe-Pardot module already (which means Pardot would integrate well with our SilverStripe CMS)”.
So the winner is Pardot. (Interesting fact: Pardot is pronounced as “Par-Dot, with the silent T—not”Par-Dough”. In Latvian, it means “’to market or sell’”).
Pardot works best for us but I have to say that it may not be the best tool for you and your company because choosing which tool to use depends on what you want to get out the software and whether your budget and level of expertise would allow you to make the most out of it. Think about it as the one you would choose to marry would possibly be the one I would choose to divorce 🙂
Here are some takeaways for you in deciding what marketing automatic tool to adopt:
- Decide on what you want to achieve with an marketing automation tool
- Decide on your budget
- Do your research on what tools are available
- Narrow down your options to 3 or 4 options
- Arrange a demonstration (or two or three) with the reps and take these demo opportunities to ask questions that are relevant to you and make sure the tool delivers what you want to achieve
- Talk to your team members who will be using the software and analyse the pros and cons of those tools
- Make a decision and learn the crap out of it 🙂
Good luck! May your marketing automation tool be your best mate!