I’ve worked in demand generation for about 12 years, and over that time I’ve seen the MarTech space change rapidly. While I’ve been lucky to see new MarTech innovations on a first-hand basis, one of the common themes I’ve noticed across marketing teams is the challenges associated with actually evaluating vendors.

The number of vendors with offerings for each part of the marketing stack continues to grow, which makes the process we use to evaluate what the right solution is for our companies more and more difficult.

Just take a look at this image by Chiefmartec’s Scott Brinker – how are you supposed to make sense of all these solutions?

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic 2016

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to sort through the ‘noise’ in MarTech today and truly understand how a solution can help grow their business.

Throughout my career, I’ve evaluated hundreds of MarTech solutions and personally gone through about half a dozen predictive vendor assessments. Those experiences have proven the impact of predictive for marketing (which is why I now work for one of them), but more importantly, there were challenges that I faced throughout the buying process.

During these assessments, I fell into common marketing pitfalls like the “taste test” fallacy or I simply didn’t have the insights I needed to make a well-informed decision. So, to help others like me (and save them from easily avoidable mistakes), I compiled my top takeaways for fellow marketers who are thinking about adopting predictive for their business.

Key Takeaways For Marketers Assessing Predictive

1) Make sure you really understand predictive capabilities

Predictive is a powerful solution, but it’s not enough to simply just want it, you actually need to understand what it’s capable of. Unlike most MarTech solutions, predictive isn’t just another technology you need to have to validate your tech stack.

Your goal when building your marketing tech stack shouldn’t be to ‘check the box’

Every company has different needs and use cases so when approaching each new piece, make sure to reference back why you’re evaluating predictive and what it can solve for you at every step.

Marketing Challenges - Predictive Marketing - Radius

Here’s a handy resource to help you truly understand predictive capabilities.

2) Identify all the problems you’re trying to solve

As our SVP of Marketing, Shari mentioned, identify what problem(s) you’re trying to solve. Before you evaluate predictive, make sure you understand what your buyer’s journey looks like – what challenges are you facing and how can predictive help bring a competitive advantage to your marketing strategy.

If you’re struggling with too many inbound leads and need to prioritize what goes to sales, predictive lead scoring can help. But, if you need help identifying net new leads, then predictive acquisition might be more relevant for your business.

Identify the problem(s) you’re facing in your business, and then work towards the right use cases that can help address them.

3) Highlight the right use cases for your business needs

Selecting the right use cases is one of the foremost requirements to ensure success with predictive. Contrary to popular belief, predictive can help increase performance throughout the marketing and sales funnel.

Just take a look at this image:

Predictive Marketing Use Case Across The Funnel Radius

Determine your predictive marketing use case and then build it out to fit your needs.

Remember: You’re not buying technology, you are buying a solution to a current problem.

4) Verify that your solution of choice fits seamlessly in your stack

Scroll back up to Scott Brinker’s image and take a look at all the solutions in that list again. Chances are you have a quite a few of those in your tech stack, right? It’s same for us at Radius.

We leverage multiple MarTech solutions to successfully build and deliver a positive buying experience for our customers:

Marketing Tech Stack Radius

But with a diverse tech stack, marketers need to adopt new solutions responsibly. When you’re evaluating any vendors, be sure to understand the integrations they offer with other solutions and how well they fit in your stack.

Integrations are not just nice to haves, they are must-haves.

Look for ways to leverage integrations like Facebook to deploy to your segments as opposed to solely relying on email. Your marketing strategy is made up of multiple channels, so make sure you can leverage the solution across those channels.

5) Net new is important, but it isn’t everything

A common misconception that I’ve seen across evaluations is that predictive is all about net new.

When looking at a predictive partner it isn’t the number of net new leads they can deliver to you that’s most important. Sure, sending new leads that are projected as a good fit for your product to sales sounds like an easy win and something that will be a catalyst for your company’s growth, but it’s not as simple as that.

The key focus should be on what action you need to take after you acquire those new leads, which brings me to my next recommendation.

6) Have a plan in your marketing process after you get the required insights from predictive

You’ve leveraged predictive for your business, the solutions give you the insights you need, now what? As with any solution, it’s important to have a plan before you adopt predictive.

For example, taking the earlier point, you need to have a plan in place once you receive your net new leads. Taking net new leads and pushing them right to sales isn’t how predictive marketing is designed to work. You still need to educate and market to the lead once you obtain that information. You’re doing your sales team a huge disservice (and setting them up for failure) if you hand them cold leads to reach out to.

Make sure you have nurture paths, content throughout the funnel, and your key digital touchpoints & campaigns properly mapped out. Engage with these net new leads as you would with any other lead and make sure they’re properly vetted before passing them to sales.

Here’s an example of an ABM campaign workflow that includes predictive and cross-channel marketing efforts:

ABM Campaign Technology Enabled Workflow

7) Assess predictive with your long-term marketing strategy in mind

When looking at vendors, don’t get swayed only by price, look for long-term value and fit.

Just because a vendor will go low on price doesn’t make them any better of a fit. Reference resources like this to build out your use cases and determine which predictive solution will best help you identify your next customers and fold into your existing marketing tech stack.

Here’s a handy guide from Kerry Cunningham at SiriusDecisions, which highlights different types of predictive vendor evaluations:

SiriusDecisions Predictive Vendor Buying Process - Radius

Wrapping It Up

Predictive marketing has increasingly become mainstream, and as the interest & use of predictive continues to grow, B2B marketers need to be more careful with their approach in evaluating solutions.

The biggest benefits will come to marketers who use predictive to target key marketing problems, evaluate the right vendor that fits in their stack, and build a mature use case model that scales with their business.

If you’re currently evaluating predictive for your business, or want to download the definitive assessment framework for predictive marketing vendors, check out this webinar featuring Kerry Cunningham from SiriusDecisions.

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