Marketing Automation Platform Buyer’s GO Guide

by Meg Fitzgerald

Chances are if you’ve landed on this blog, you are a leader at a high growth software company seeking out guidance on buying a marketing automation platform (MAP). Onsite’s Marketing Center of Excellence gets a lot of questions around which MAP to go with and why. And, well, like most things, the answer is not one size fits all. It depends.  

We looked far and wide for a go-to MAP buyer’s guide we felt confident enough in to hang our hat on and refer Insight portfolio companies to when making this important decision. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), we could not find one, so we decided to write our own.  

Insight partnered with Capstone Insights to write a comprehensive “Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide.” This GO Guide provides a map for buying a MAP (chuckle, chuckle), walking through the following key milestones in your decision-making process: 

  • MAP features: Learn about the primary product features to keep top of mind when researching the MAP landscape  
  • MAP value drivers: Understand how a MAP delivers efficiency, effectiveness, and insights to drive bottom line ROI for your business  
  • MAP lifecycle: Gain insight into knowing when it’s time to make a switch and how to continue to grow the functionality of your existent MAP through systems and processes   
  • MAP pricing: Read up on MAP pricing (and discounting) – there are some foundational guidelines, tips, and tricks here that will help you negotiate the best value and avoid costly mistakes in the buying process  
  • MAP selection criteria: Ensure you are thoughtful in your evaluation process and structuring your assessment criteria strategically the first time around  
  • MAP practical advice: No need to boil the ocean – learn practical tips from those who have been through a MAP implementation before and focus on what drives value versus attempting to do it all and getting lost at sea 

Which MAPs did we consider? 

There are several MAPs out there. But, the bottom line is the universe is narrowed down to a much smaller subset when you focus on best-in-class for B2B SaaS companies on Salesforce.com. We made the conscious decision that quality rules over quantity (at least in this specific use case), and therefore boiled down our MAP universe to 3 platforms:  

  1. HubSpot 
  2. Pardot 
  3. Marketo  

We felt strongly that expanding the scope beyond these 3 best-in-class solutions would have diluted the content and made the guide less valuable. Across each, we walk through reasons why/how each MAP is the right fit, where and when the platform might be less of a fit, advanced capability offered, pricing structure, summarized insights relevant to your specific use case, and more.     

Which key features and value drivers should I keep in mind in my MAP buying process?  

Features 

Marketing automation does exactly what you would think: automates (and personalizes) your businesses’ interactions with prospects and customers. The guide goes into much further detail – which is why I would recommend downloading it – but to give you a taste, here are some of the key foundational features a MAP offers: 

  • Tactic creation  
  • Nurture and outreach  
  • Lead scoring  
  • Data management  
  • Segmentation and personalization  
  • Reporting and analytics  
  • Integration (across your go-to-market tech stack)

In addition to going into each of the above features in more detail, we will also give an overview into some of the more advanced capabilities some MAPs offer, such as sales prospecting, predictive content, and website personalization (just to name a few).   

Value Drivers 

One of the largest value drivers is that marketing automation increases the efficiency and effectiveness of B2B demand generation while also enhancing insights into your marketing performance so that can continue to drive increased value.  

In the guide, we walk through how a MAP delivers value through the following 3 drivers: 

  1. Efficiency  
  2. Effectiveness 
  3. Insight  

How do I know it’s time to purchase for the first time or upgrade my existing MAP?   

Fast growing software companies are often at the point in their growth trajectory when investment in the right marketing technology becomes crucial to scale, not only for immediate business needs today, but also looking to ensure efficient and effective scaling into the future. We want to be sure you purchase a platform that meets both your current needs as well as the growing needs of your scaling organization.  

There are 3 warning signs that your organization may be constrained by limitations of your existing platform. At a high level, these 3 warning signs include: 

  1. Functionality is not aligned to your needs  
  2. Workarounds become necessary  
  3. Lack of customer support/service available for your specific needs  

Sometimes organizations "over-buy," meaning they purchase a MAP that is too advanced for their current team’s technical proficiency. In this case, you may see the following 2 symptoms indicating that your MAP is not the right fit:

  1. High error and defect rates: Quality assurance suffers (e.g., sending emails to the wrong contacts, non-functioning nurture programs/workflows, reporting that does not accurately communicate results).
  2. Time requirements: It takes too long to complete basic marketing tasks and your team's productivity suffers.  

Investing upfront in the right MAP lays the backbone for driving strong demand generation tactics that propel your marketing strategy to new levels and ultimately grow your bottom line. Read more in the guide and please let us know any questions or feedback.  

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Meg Fitzgerald

Meg Fitzgerald

Vice President, Marketing COE

Meg Fitzgerald joined Insight in 2017 as a Vice President. She partners closely with portfolio company executives to accelerate growth and capture value, specifically through marketing and channel sales strategies. Meg also supports go-to-market investment due diligence and leads Insight's…

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