46209014_mMarketing Technology is a vast landscape, full of platforms, processes, and the vendors who want to sell them to you. (In the interest of transparency as an active participant in this marketplace: Hello, I am Alison, the Marketing Director of C5 Insight, a group of Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, and SharePoint experts that focus on people and process instead of the technology. We can help you create contagiously engaged employees that transform the customers experience!)

Phew! Now that the commercial is over, back to the marketing technology discussion.  We’ve already broken down the most popular technology solution categories here and discussed the need for businesses to invest in an enterprise marketing automation approach here. The purpose of this blog is to shed a little more light on Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs), and equip you with the questions you’ll want to ask potential partners/vendors before making any buying or upgrading decisions.


Modern MAPs started here, many still exist ONLY to accomplish this function, and it’s still a crucial component. Use messaging to reach your prospects and customers wherever they are. Is the process to create, test, and send targeted messages via email and text simple and complete?  Is it easy to re-purpose and import templates? A word to the first time buyers and solution jumpers: if the user interface of a solution you’re considering feels clunky and limited, keep searching. This category is a cornerstone, and I’d be hard-pressed to trust a vendor who can’t get it right.

Web Assets

Marketing isn’t only about spewing information about your products and services; it’s also about listening to the needs of your potential and existing buyers. Web Assets, namely Forms, Surveys, and Landing Pages are an important ingredient. How will you allow an audience to sign up for those great emails we just talked about? How will you gather feedback attached to an actual contact’s record so you can use that feedback for future opportunities? How will you quickly spin up pages with direct calls to action, without needing a web developer/graphic designer? Answer: your web assets. Any solution you consider should, at the very least, allow you to quickly stand up forms that feed directly into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. But more on that later…

Picture4Campaign/Project Management

Campaign Management demonstrates how sales/marketing acquired a lead, converted it to a customer, and nurtured the account to stay top of mind for future opportunities. By automating the process, team members are able to more easily stay on top of leads and provide value by understanding trends and behaviors.

As you demo various platforms, think about how your team members invest their time. Are campaigns simple, containing an email or two, some marketing lists, perhaps a live event and that’s it? Or are there budgets, approval processes, media planning/buying, and digital assets involved? This distinction is something to factor heavily in selection. Stay tuned to the C5 Blog, we’ll continue to provide specific platform comparisons with organization/department sizes in mind.

Analytics accounting-degree-tools

Following Campaign/Project Management for a reason – what is your marketing team doing to know (and continuously improve) results? Check your considerations for Analytics capabilities in 2 areas:

1. Web Page Analytics. Can you copy and paste a code snippet onto your website that tracks known users’ activities? This is helpful for lead scoring, and also to provide that relevant information based on the pages your public interacts with.

2. Campaign Analytics: How can you report on everything from individual emails sends and their open rates, click-through-rates, unsubscribe requests, and bounces over to how entire campaigns function so that you can easily replicate success?

24026339_sCRM Integration

As teased earlier, marketing’s efforts should directly feed the bigger picture of the customer experience. A good place to start any search is to narrow the field and consider only the options that are either built specifically for your CRM, or built to integrate tightly. In my distant past, I worked for a large (5,000+ employees) company with separate marketing and customer relationship platforms. This caused an avalanche of problems for employees and propects/customers alike that could be traced back to lack of alignment between marketing, sales, and customer service. Create one cohesive, continuous experience from first touch to ongoing needs for support.

At C5 Insight, we regularly provide webinars offering solution-specific comparisons in addition to best practices for Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and more. Click here to register for a webinar or drop us a quick line if you’d like to discuss a customized Executive Briefing for your organization.