Marketing Automation

6 Vital Features to Look for in Marketing Automation Software this Year

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In 2015, consumers are more empowered than ever before—and they know it. People are using new methods to learn about products and services; shifting the way they navigate sales funnels. Marketers have to adapt to these changes. The single most important improvement companies can make to their marketing strategies is investing in marketing automation software. Automation is the fuel that allows businesses to stay one step ahead of the game.

Marketing automation software is not just a fancy synonym for customer relationship management software. While CRM focuses primarily on sales, marketing automation concentrates on—surprise—marketing! It finds ways to improve the consumer’s experience with a business through real-time data accumulation and targeted personalization.

Companies looking to invest in marketing automation software can choose from a variety of systems—but not all marketing automation platforms are created equal. Even if an enterprise has never worked with this type of software before, making the right choice doesn’t have to be daunting.

Comparing different platforms is simpler when an enterprise knows exactly which features to look for.

Get the overall market evaluation and vendor analysis of 17 marketing automation vendors. Download the 2014 SiriusView Report on Marketing Automation Platforms.

1. Lead Scoring Capabilities

As Wishpond explains, consumers today arrive at buying decisions in unpredictable ways. Instead of following the conversion trajectory set out for them by a business, prospects can pop in and out of the process as they see fit. Lead scoring allows marketers to better understand a prospective customer’s finicky actions by tracking their movements in and out of the funnel. Effective marketing automation software lets businesses assign a value to each and every action an ideal prospect may take at particular steps in the funnel. It tracks leads’ activities and monitors their level of interest and participation. It’s also an expansive, inclusive type of software. People across departments, such as your sales reps, can quickly identify how valuable each prospect is based on its migration through the funnel. This means that your sales reps can identify high-quality prospects more easily and offer targeted assistance should the lead reach out. Already the business has moved a few steps ahead of its consumers.

2. Progressive Profiling

The art of gradually getting to know a lead is called progressive profiling. Instead of bombarding a potential customer with too many questions during her first interaction with a brand, which often drives people away, businesses can start small and work up to obtaining more information about consumers progressively. It’s a great way to avoid scaring off promising customers by digging too deep, too soon. In a strange way, this process is a lot like making connections through online dating websites. After a company has learned a certain amount of information about its lead, a call-to-action can automatically present itself to the customer. This is a crucial step in the personalization process that many consumers expect and appreciate in 2015.

3. Triggered Communication

Automatic communication features are essential to a successful marketing platform. Again, due to the fact that consumers may enter the funnel at any given point, being able to listen to their activity and communicate strategically is of the upmost importance. For instance, marketers may not be able to remember to reach out to customers and prospects if important dates or deadlines are approaching, but a triggered communication system can. This ensures your valued contacts don’t go ignored or forget about a brand and its offerings. At the outset of a buyer-seller relationship, consumers can easily fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Brands need to maintain visibility.

Triggered multi-channel capabilities can also target customers based on their past actions. For instance, if a prospect engages with an email on her desktop computer, your subsequent communications on mobile and social should respond to her initial behavior. Whether it was an initial blog post view, an ebook, or an article download, being able to identify what the person is most interested in will improve her overall experience and increase the likelihood that she remains a loyal customer.

4. Simple Interface

Users need to be able to focus energy on finding out as much as they can about leads and current customers without struggling with a platform’s layout, design, or functions. An intuitive interface that makes it easier, not more time-consuming, for marketers to track and interpret data is essential. Investing in a confusing platform is a waste of time, money, and resources that could be better spent generating quality leads.

5. Flexibility for all Departments

Businesses absolutely must select marketing automation software that serves all departments. Entrepreneur magazine noted that instead of hastily piecing together a variety of platforms to build messy, composite software, businesses should look for a unified system that can keep marketing and sales cohesive. When everyone speaks the same language and views the same layout, communication between departments and co-workers improves dramatically.

6. Social and Mobile Integration

When it comes to lead generation and tracking, marketers who ignore social media or mobile technology are essentially shooting themselves in the foot. Applications for smartphones allow marketers to connect with consumers and leads through push notifications, location details, and in-app messages. In addition, social media provides real-time interaction possibilities with countless prospective consumers.

The value of a software platform that enhances a business’s capabilities to target users through networks like Facebook and Twitter cannot be understated.

Businesses should make 2015 the year that they truly master the customer lifecycle. Engagement can become more effective through personalization and automated communication; profits can increase as more leads are converted into loyal consumers over time. The key to a successful year is investing in marketing automation software that provides all the features a company needs to accurately and effectively understand its consumer base.

How has implementing a marketing automation platform transformed your organization? And, what were the features you looked for? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ensure that you are making an informed decision when choosing a Marketing Automation Vendor. Download The Complete Marketing Automation Buyer’s Kit.