When it’s time to take email marketing to the next level, most e-commerce marketers turn to marketing automation.
True, marketing automation can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, automating tasks that make it easy to create a real connection with your customers. However, with the sheer amount of marketing automation platforms that currently exist, how can you know you’ve chosen the best one?
We’re going to explain 4 main questions you should be asking about any new marketing automation platform before you pull out your credit card.
#1. Does it have the features you need?
This might seem obvious, but you’ll always have to look into the marketing automation platform’s feature set to see if they line up with what your retail business needs. What your e-commerce business needs will always be unique, and it’s important to think about what your business will need tomorrow too.
For example, it’s great if a marketing automation platform offers email and SMS. That’s what you need right now, and if the platform is on the cheaper side, it might be worth it right now. But a great marketing automation platform will help your business grow quicker - and if that happens, you might need more tomorrow.
Sure, today you need email. But will you need omnichannel tomorrow? Will you need social media automation? What else could you need? How much of a pain will it be to switch platforms six months down the line because you outgrew your automation platform?
Which brings me to my next point:
#2. Will the marketing automation platform scale with your e-commerce business?
Do your research and think about how often your marketing automation platform adds new features and improvements. If they’re slower to adapt new channels or features, you could be waiting for the features you need and losing revenue in the meantime.
Look carefully at your marketing automation platform’s pricing and scaling options. If you don’t need all the shiniest features right now, that’s okay. If they offer something a bit scaled down for now, it could be perfect for what you need to grow.
What to consider:
- Can I upgrade my account easily?
- What is the probability that I will outgrow these features?
- How easy is it to export my data if I need to switch to another platform?
- Is it easy to downgrade my account if I need to?
- Can I add features from higher-tier accounts as I need them?
What you’re looking for here is flexibility. You want to be able to change and update your marketing automation platform account as you need it- because your business will always be changing too.
#3. Is the marketing automation platform easy to use?
There are tons of marketing automation platforms out there, and they range from simplistic to complex to use. While each and every tool is going to have a bit of a learning curve while you’re figuring out all the different things you can do, some might be harder to use than others.
There’s no point investing the time it takes to import your contacts and set up a new automation platform if it’s too difficult for you to use correctly.
What to consider in ease of use:
- Does the tool sacrifice features for ease of use (or vice versa)? Being feature-heavy doesn’t have to mean that the tool is difficult, or vice versa. Balance is important.
- Is there documentation and support available? Support can be a make or break element, and for those who like the self-service lifestyle, documentation is crucial.
- Does the tool function the way it’s supposed to? There aren’t bugs or UX issues to contend with
So how can you get a gauge for how easy it is to use the tool if you’re just exploring a free trial? Check out customer reviews. Make sure you scan for those who interacted with customer support to get the best idea of how the company takes care of its customers. You want to get the most out of a marketing automation platform, and being able to use it correctly is critical so you don’t waste too much time getting started.
#4. Does it integrate where it needs to?
Integrations are important in a SaaS world, the more applications and platforms that play nice together, the better we all are for it. Your marketing automation platform should be integrating with the apps and tools that you use most often, and those integrations should make your life easier.
The first thing you should check in integrations is your e-commerce platform. Depending on whether you use Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or perhaps something a little more proprietary, it’s important that your marketing automation platform integrate well with your e-commerce platform.
The point of integration is to make life easier. For example, a great marketing automation tool will be able to collect certain kinds of data to make behavioral targeting easier. This is crucial for abandoned cart messages or determining which customers are about to churn.
The second point that you should look at is whether or not your marketing automation platform integrates well with your favorite third-party apps. For example, if it can’t generate the shipping confirmation messages from your shipping app, then this is going to cause you a headache. Not every marketing automation platform will integrate with every third-party app. For the apps that are most important to you, this could be a dealbreaker for many marketing automation tools.
The marketing automation platform you choose for your e-commerce business can make or break your strategy. While it might seem difficult to sort through the myriad of tools available on the market today, hopefully, this list has given you a good launching point.
As always, it’s paramount to do your homework when integrating anything as pivotal as marketing automation. By choosing a tool that you can easily use, with the features and integrations you need, and that can grow with your business, you’ll be sure to find the perfect fit.