Is there anything better? Is there anything cheaper? etc.
When you contract with Marketo, you’re locked in for two years.
As we approached the anniversary of the date we signed with Marketo, we asked ourselves whether we should continue with the software or not, just to make sure we were on the right track.
At the same time, Pentalog was analyzing several options for alternate CRM solutions. This was the perfect time to take a closer look at all our Sales/Marketing support tools.
As we looked for the perfect solution, we reviewed the marketing automation tools on offer from the biggest players on the market, with one major advantage over the last time we did this two years ago: a more mature approach to marketing automation. We also expanded our search to include solutions from start-ups.
In this article I will go over the reasons that led us to renew our license with Marketo (I should note that I don’t own shares in that company!😊).
What do we do when we’re thinking about switching marketing automation tools?
Two years of experience with Marketo has given us a more pragmatic view of the process for analyzing tools we might be interested in adopting because we know what we want.
One of the biggest drawbacks when you start using a new marketing automation tool is that you don’t know what the tool is capable of. That is why you must get help from an expert every time.
What skills does an Automation team need?
To carry out an automated marketing campaign, you need the following skills:
A strategist (the person who will conceptualize the automation program)
A data specialist (someone to analyze the data and who also has a good handle on your databases and a good understanding of other tools)
A designer (for the landing page and e-mail)
A design integrator – excellent HTML skills required (front-end developer)
An automation scenario integrator
While some people have experience in multiple fields, it’s unlikely that one person will be able to do it all. Plus, the influx of users will quickly make it so that this one person will be unable to cope with the growing workload.
To get back to the topic at hand, we selected a Product Owner for it from our team. They performed a traditional needs analysis: evaluating our information system, listing and describing the must-have features for marketing (retargeting, connecting with social networks, web customization, etc.) as well as for sales (sales flow, goal tracking, reporting, etc.). This document put us in a position where we could challenge the different players we were considering.
How much does Marketo cost?
We should note that a Marketo license starts at 100,000 contacts and costs around €55,000/year, a cost that only covers the basic features of the tool and data hosting (hence the importance of cleaning up your data).
Any add-ons like connector modules (with the CRM or with other web services like Zapier), the SSL certificate for your landing pages and newsletter links (keeping in mind that this is required), the module for web customization, the campaign calendar and so on all involve additional costs (several hundred euros per month per module). Your best bet is to design your IS and talk openly with your Marketo Account Manager to get a clear picture of the feasibility and associated costs.
While every market leader has a different pricing structure (Marketo bills based on the number of contacts hosted, Hubspot based on the number of emails sent and Pardot has another system altogether), cost is not really a differentiating factor because there is little variation.
Plus, for a truly smart migration, it would be necessary to have an overlap period where two tools are used simultaneously (the old one and the new one) before completing the switch to the new automation solution (we would therefore have to pay for both during the transition period, which would last around a year, as the big players do not offer shorter contract periods).
Data, the ultimate sensitive subject!
In the two years we have spent with Marketo, we have learned to model our data and plot out the actions that happen every time a contact (an email address) interacts with us on the web.
The data for each contact has been stored in Marketo after being segmented by profile (contact, lead, business conversation, client, ex-client, supplier, employee, freelance, etc.) and then shared with our salespeople and our recruiters (because we do both B2C and B2B) at the right time based on their score.
The biggest challenge for migrating to another marketing automation tool is still continuity. During our discussions about the possibility of migrating from one tool to another, people have told us that we could lose part of how we track the actions taken by our clients. And what we want is to do better, not lose the data we’ve collected.
No tool will be able migrate 100% of the data. That being said, some migration solutions and protocols do exist (such as grouping contacts based on major actions), but these offer little added value and for us there also wasn’t enough time to dig into these kinds of analyses.
Marketo (and the limitations imposed by the GDPR) forced us to review our strategy for the mass collection and storage of data encouraging us to focus on quality: we developed and implemented automated actions for qualifying our data, using external web services that are fully connected to our version of Marketo.
Ultimately, given the current context, and in light of the human and material investments we have made over the past two years, the best course was to continue with Marketo while at the same time ramping up our automation strategy:
We abandoned certain modules that proved less than useful for us and added new ones that were a better fit for our goals (because we now have a handle on them).
We consolidated our synergies with the sales department (implementing comparison scenarios).
We continued smart data collection and storage, using new, more powerful tools.
This strategic decision, coupled with our new CRM tool, has enabled us to accelerate and diversify our actions to sustain company growth, which could have been slowed by changing platforms.