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If your business or business unit is brand new to marketing automation, and you’ve decided to take the leap (after asking yourself some important questions), you’re probably going to be having a lot of meetings. You’ll need to gather requirements from several different teams—anyone who has a vested interest in sales, marketing, software licenses, marketing budget, and information security will likely need to weigh in on the decision. In some businesses, this might be a committee of two; in others, it might be 20 people or more.
At Yesler, we recommend a formal requirements documentation process, even if your committee is quite small. To start, gather “user stories” from each team the marketing automation platform (MAP) will affect. User stories are used by Agile software development teams and are simple, short sentences that distill what an end user hopes to get out of the system. You can also use a more formal business requirements document (BRD), which will guide you to lay out a plan for several key areas like “business case” and “change management.”

Even if your company doesn’t require a formalized document, taking the time for this step can help immensely down the road, when you’re in the thick of implementation and must make decisions that will affect the people who use the system.

Need a more formal document? Here’s a BRD template we like, and an example of what user stories look like.

How to avoid buying a lemon

Once you have recorded business requirements and user stories, it’s time to do your research. Sites like G2Crowd or TrustRadius can cut through the marketing noise and get you to user reviews, which can help narrow down your choices. At some point, it’s time to call a salesperson for a demo. You can use your user stories to ask questions from different user perspectives. This will help guide the demo to address your needs. 

A few things to remember while you’re selecting a MAP:
  • This is a long-term commitment. Don’t go into a software relationship thinking, “I’ll use this lower-cost alternative to what I think we really need until I prove its value, then move over after a year.” You’ll lose money migrating from one platform to another after just one year. When it’s time to launch, get the funding for what matches all (or most) of your business requirements.
  • The cost of the software is just part of the cost. The system connects (usually) to your CRM, so make sure you’ve worked out how much the integration is going to cost on the CRM side. For example, Salesforce charges for API calls that exceed your daily limit. If you have more than a MAP integrated with your CRM, you might exceed your limit.
  • Think about who will administer the MAP and its CRM integration. What are their skills and where would their work be strongest? If you need to hire, what skills do you need to run the MAP so that your marketing works? (Need more advice on putting together a rockstar marketing automation team? Read our blog post on how to grow your own).
Under the hood
the right map for your crm
If you don't have a MAP, you probably have a CRM system, and your CRM is going to be a major factor in choosing your MAP. Not sure where to begin?

Download the full Marketing Automation Owners Manual to get a vendor comparison chart and helpful shortcuts.
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Trading in for a new map

Maybe you did your homework, worked through your business requirements, and selected a MAP that you thought would fit your needs. After several years, things have changed and it’s apparent that you need a different model.
Is it time to migrate? Maybe. To know for sure whether you need to change MAPs, you’ll need to follow a lot of the same steps for selecting a new MAP—with the added step of sizing up your MAP to your new criteria. (We’ve written about how to do that.) The good news is, your business requirements will be a whole lot clearer now that you've been working with a MAP and understand where your challenges are.
We recommend you start with a systems audit. This can help crystallize pain points and the gaps that are causing frustration with a MAP you’ve likely put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into. An audit is simply a discovery and documentation process, and it’s something you’ll want your marketing operations staff (or whoever is most familiar with your system) to do and bring back to you.

Here's a checklist Yesler uses to help kick off the audit process for our clients. It’s specific to Marketo, but it can help you get started.

Buckle Up

Alright, so you’ve done the work, you’ve chosen the system, you’ve got the staff, you’re ready to launch.


Yes … but let’s make sure you have a plan in place to measure the great success you're about to have.
We’ll go into more detail on how to measure marketing success in the chapter on proving value. For now, think about the pain points you identified in your audit process and among the user stories you gathered. How can you measure success against those?
Some of these concerns might be subjective and the way to measure them isn’t obvious. You’ll have to think of some way to quantify them. For example, if you identified that it is critical that your regional field marketers can access different sets of leads in your MAP, you could measure how often field marketers need to manually reconfigure their lists to find the right leads. Or, if you ditched your old MAP and went through a painful migration process to give your sales team a tool they could use to send marketing email to prospects (like what’s available in Marketo Sales Insight or Salesforce Engage), you could measure how often they use the tool and in which contexts.
Measuring success and holding yourself and your department to a few key results will ensure that you drive the adoption of your new technology—and that it’s not taking you for a ride.

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