I work with potential customers of all shapes and sizes who are looking into marketing automation for the first time. With that said, I hear some of the advice that my competitors give to potential customers. It’s advice that on occasion is taken. It’s the worst advice I have ever heard. What advice am I talking about? It’s something along the lines of, “We’re good enough for now. You can grow into a more sophisticated solution later.” Or, “Start with us so you can learn and get your feet wet.” The main premise being a complete solution is not something you need RIGHT NOW. We’re cheap and can get you started. Dear marketers, do not fall into that trap, here’s why:

1) Ease to Use or Just Limited? Some of these products tout how easy they are to use and as a SMB buying marketing automation for the first time, it seems to make sense to get something that’s easy to use. However, you will come to find out that simple also means limited. Limitations hinder results. Something no marketer would want. As a marketer, you should be focusing on what you can do to drive the biggest results. On top of that, don’t take a marketing automation vendors word for it. Look at respectable third party analyst who are unbiased. Such as Forrester, Gartner, Sirius etc… User review sites like G2 or Trust Radius can be misleading too because some users may have only used one solution and can’t paint the full picture for you.

2) The Ability to Listen to the Customer Journey – Limited solutions often do not have the ability to listen to where buyers are along the customer journey. As a marketer, isn’t the whole point to be able to engage with the right person, at the right time, with relevant touches that are conversational? How can you do that if your software has limited listening capabilities? Or even worse tries to define the customer journey for you? Talk about a leaky funnel.

3) Basic Reporting and Analytics Can Lead Your Entire Marketing Department Astray – One of the biggest pitfalls of a basic solution is the lack of reporting or misleading reports. One example being single source revenue reports. Tying all the revenue from won business back to one campaign just makes zero sense. Here’s an example: A customer first found you through a paid ad, then they attended a webinar, downloaded a few whitepapers from your blog, downloaded a demo of your product and finally made a purchase with a sales rep. In this example, a paid ad would get all the credit and you may be adjusting your budget to do more PPC but what about all those other touch points that influenced that opportunity? Do yourself a favor and look for a solution with multi-touch attribution.

Those are some of the big ones. There are a ton more that weren’t mentioned like: limited nurturing, segmentation, scoring and workflows. The bottom line though is that you need a solution that allows you to start small, thing big and scale over time.