Selecting a Marketing Automation system? Consider this!

marketing automation

If you’re selecting a Marketing Automation system, you may be familiar with the graph below. It shows the 300 or so systems available today:

And the number grows each year. But if you read some of the largest vendors’ blogs, it’s easy to assume they’re something totally unique.

The truth is, all the popular vendors (for example Hubspot, Pardot, Marketo) all copy each others’ features. Today’s landscape consists of a bunch of systems that do more or less the same thing.

Features to consider when selecting Marketing Automation

Since all popular systems copy each other heavily, almost all of them have the following core features:

The biggest mistake when selecting your Marketing Automation tool

A large portion of our clients come from having used other systems which they’re not happy with.

I’ve seen clients switch from HubSpot to Pardot and the other way around, and from both of these to SharpSpring which is the system we’re recommending most of the time. They believe switching their system will solve their problems. It never does!


It’s rarely (I’d even go as far as saying almost never) the system choice that was their problem in the first place!

So what’s the problem then?

It’s that the work in itself, regardless of which system you have, is by its very nature going to be complex!

And this complexity keeps getting worse, with more and more possibilities opening up and features being available all the time.

This is especially true the larger the vendor is. The largest vendors out there today, such as Salesforce and HubSpot, are nearly impossible for the average company to do something useful with unless they hire consultants to help them. We’re basing this on the fact that so many companies contact us for help after failing with some of these systems themselves.

The reason, of course, is that the larger vendors naturally want to target the larger and most lucrative enterprise market, which is going to make the system more complex for the SMB market, who don’t need all those enterprise features.

In its essence, a Marketing Automation software is a bunch of stand-alone tools that come integrated with each other in a single package. You can almost always “build” your own marketing suite, which will do more or less the same thing, by using a bunch of stand-alone tools and integrating them yourself (something that is, incidentally, becoming more and more popular today with the growth of integration tools such as ZapierPieSync and many others).

lego of marketing automation features

The benefit of having it all in one package is that it all works (or is supposed to) smoothly together, and that you don’t have to think about integrating and sending information between systems. Data – especially your contacts and information about them – is naturally shared between all the built in tools and components. But in its essence, it’s nothing more than a big box of lego – a bunch of tools at your disposal that you’ll have to build something with.

And the more pieces of lego (tools and features), the more complex it gets.

Simply put, it takes a lot of experience, time and effort to build something that achieves your goals.

So what should you consider when selecting a Marketing Automation system?

The natural conclusion based on the above is this: The system choice is not that important.

You can basically go with any semi-popular system, as long as it works as advertised.

90% of the systems out there will fulfill all or close to all of your needs.

But what makes them different is the key to your choice: What kind of support and help do you get from the vendor?

This – not the system itself – is what makes or breaks your success!

Here are three warning signs when selecting a vendor:

  1. If the vendor tries to tie you into long contracts or try to lock you in in other ways (for example pushing you to host your entire website in their system).
  2. If they charge high onboarding fees, training fees, workshop fees, professional service fees, or other types of fees just to help you use the system you’ve already purchased from them. (Because this strongly indicates that this is how they make money.) The same goes if they try to get you to work with one of their partners or agencies, who will charge the same types of fees.
  3. Whether or not their business model incentivizes them to continue supporting you (for free) after the initial onboarding period or contract term period.

A business model based on the principle that the vendor (or the agency they recommend that you work with) earns their profit by charging a lot of consulting and support fees, and try to lock you in, are good signs that they’re not counting on a long-lasting relationship, but are rather focused on trying to protect themselves from you cancelling the contract.

Instead, select an agency or vendor that doesn’t have long contract terms, have low or nonexistent onboarding fees, and where they make money only if you stay their customer long-term. In the end, this is a win-win situation for both you and the vendor or agency that acts this way.

Of course, at FunnelBud this is exactly what we’re trying to do. Check out our low prices, with no lock-in, and with marketing automation professional services included at our pricing page.

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About the Author

Yusuf Young

Yusuf helps companies use Marketing Automation to grow B2B sales. In his role as a Marketing Automation consultant implementing systems such as HubSpot and Salesforce, he discovered the need for better services at a lower cost. Today, he runs FunnelBud to make the fruits of sales and marketing technology available to businesses worldwide.