Your marketing automation platform vendor and your marketing automation service provider needn’t be one and the same. Platform-independent service providers are available to deliver marketing automation as a service (MAaaS). With 63 percent of companies outsourcing all or part of their marketing automation (MA) strategy planning, choosing an MA partner is a common activity. So, what’s the best way to go about it?

First, you must define your business goals for an MA implementation or upgrade. Detail the business challenges or opportunities you are facing, and describe the gap between what you have and what you desire. Be sure to gather internal feedback and build support for the project from within your organization.

Adhering to a restrictive list of prerequisites will save you time and energy when building your short list of vendors. Break down feature requirements for your MA platform into “must have,” “should have,” and “nice, but could live without” categories to make it easy to identify your top four to six vendors from the hundreds out there.

Present all vendors with the same RFP requirements and time frame so you can make a fair comparison. Based on findings, choose the best two to three vendors to provide in-depth product demonstrations. Create scenarios to test how they would handle them to gain tangible insights.

Platform guidance, support and optimization

Let’s say you’ve done all the above and are happy with your MA platform choice, but you’re not thrilled with the ongoing support and you don’t think you’re experiencing optimal results. Or, maybe you’d like to take a few steps back and get more guidance before selecting your platform.

Here’s where we separate the wheat from the chaff, and consider whether an independent service provider might be your best option going forward.

Following are some of the ways that an MAaaS team can add value to your business:

  • Years of experience have developed into expertise, bringing your organization critical thinking and best practices.
  • The MA services team establishes an MA platform adoption plan based on priorities. The plan will map out a step-by-step implementation so you don’t become overwhelmed, hence, ineffective.
  • You can focus on other tasks while the MA team quickly and expertly sets up your ecosystem, including dialing in MA routines, spam checks and automation tests. Quality assurance is guaranteed, and you’re more productive.
  • Familiarity with current software cloud tools and how they work together as a system means that your MA services team is well-prepared to advise you on how to maximize your investments, garnering you a higher return on your ecosystem.

Choosing your outsourcing MA services provider

So which MAaaS provider is right for your company? To develop your short list, start by checking references and gathering customer testimonials from potential partners. Don’t stop there; do your own research, e.g., LinkedIn provides information from a wide network about potential partners.

To narrow the list further, ensure the selected vendors can answer the following eight questions to your satisfaction:

  1. Do you have clients similar in size to us?
  2. How long have you been in the business/industry?
  3. How have you assisted clients with implementing marketing and sales automation solutions based on their unique business needs?
  4. How will we work together to develop an MA evolution roadmap?
  5. What are your email marketing practices, and do you have experience setting up CRM data synchs and confirming the proper data model to support MA?
  6. We want to use our data more efficiently to sell and market our products. How can you help?
  7. How do you set up lead scoring to qualify leads? Ask for sample performance charts, workflow diagrams and business rules.
  8. What is the process with the client for developing the dashboard? Ask for a sample executive dashboard that tracks online and email marketing, the pipeline and KPIs.

This guidance should help you avoid any missteps when aligning with an outsourced MA services provider. Your new partner will help you reduce costs and gain efficiencies as you leverage the third party’s talent, technology and expertise.

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