Selection of a Marketing Automation Vendor – Narrowing the Field (Part 1 of 3)

by Maria Pergolino on February 2, 2009

I receive so many questions about Marketing Automation vendor selection that I have decided to publish my selection process and results.  Recently, I went through an exhaustive process to find the best marketing automation provider for my employer.  I recommend going through a similar process, but adjusting my process for the needs of your organization.  Start by looking at your own organization and take time to understand the problems you are trying to solve.  This ultimately will be the key to the best selection.  Many times I have found that people looking at Marketing Automation vendors would be better suited to use a more robust email marketing tool or can simply make better use of their CRM. 

After identifying the problems I was trying to solve, I did a high level review of the entire marketing automation space including outliers like those companies specializing in email marketing and some sales and CRM systems.  This industry is changing constantly, with companies entering and exiting at a rapid pace.  This being the case, I had to limit my selection.  I knew I had three main objectives in my search: 1. tight integration with Salesforce.com, 2. robust reporting capabilities, and 3. finding a full marketing automation product.  To me, a full marketing automation product included the ability to create landing pages, lead scoring, closed-loop and trigger campaigns, and event-based automated emails and would allow transparancy of these efforts to sales. 

I started with a list of approximately 30 products, but have illustrated how I began my decision in the chart below.  I ranked various vendors on the three criteria I specified. 

Marketing Automation Decision Chart

Marketing Automation Decision Chart

Those that fell in the center of the triangle were best fits for my organization, because they met all the key criteria.  I also grouped these vendors by price and communicated this in the chart by circle size.  Vendors with the largest circles are highest priced, those with medium sized circles were mid-priced, and those with small circles were the least expensive.  I think it is important to note that this was my perception of these vendors based on preliminary discussions with their sales teams and from content on their website.  I haven’t worked with the majority of these products and was doing my best to understand their functionality and points of differentiation. 

By doing this, I was able to narrow my search and only look at those vendors that would best meet my needs.  In retrospect, I would probably move Pardot closer to the center and give them a closer look.  I also think that this chart is constantly changing as each of these organizations have new releases and change their product. 

In the next day or so, I will continue to share my next steps, which include how I evaluated the finalists and negotiated pricing.

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