CRM and Marketing Automation: Technology evaluation

In the interview Markus Tressl reports how to find the right system

Whether a new CRM system or a new solution for marketing automation - the multitude of technology providers on the market can quickly become confusing. Together with Markus, I would like to make the decision for a system easier for you. In an interview with Isabell Wagner, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Namics, Markus Tressl, Senior Solution Architect, explains how to find the right system.

Markus Tressl und Isabell Wagner
In the Interview: Markus Tressl, Senior Solution Architect, with Isabell Wagner, Senior Digital Marketing Managerin

What do you think is the best way for companies to choose a CRM and marketing automation solution?

Markus: When choosing a technology, the primary concern must be to understand the needs of the stakeholders. Then you can choose a system that best meets them. In the case of CRM and marketing automation solutions, however, we are not only talking about business and IT requirements, but mainly about the needs of a company's customers. These may differ considerably depending on whether your company is active in B2C, B2B and B2B2C.

The following questions will help you to find the right solution:

  • What are the touchpoints of my customers? 
  • How do I want to interact with them in the future?
  • What does your customer journey look like? 
  • Which processes exist within the company? And how do they need to be supported or adapted? 
  • Which existing systems are affected by the introduction of a CRM or marketing automation solution?

It is therefore important to ask the right stakeholders the right questions.  Functional and non-functional requirements become apparent from the derived use cases.

There are currently a large number of providers of CRM and marketing automation solutions. How do I find the right one for me?

Markus: As already mentioned above, it is primarily a matter of defining and understanding goals and achieving them with the chosen solution in the best possible way. In CRM and marketing automation there is always data exchange with surrounding systems, for example with Experience Management Systems (CMS, Ecommerce, Targeting), Analytics and the ERP. Therefore an architecture is needed that also takes into account the interfaces of the systems involved. A middleware or an integration platform, which is often already available in the IT, may be a remedy here.

Subsequently, companies must evaluate the available solutions and providers based on the functional and non-functional requirements. The decision is made on this basis. Costs, whether for licenses or integrations, always play a role of course - but should only be secondary to the choice.

What do companies need to consider besides the right tool?

Markus: Grady Booch, one of the most famous software engineers worldwide and co-developer of the Unified Modeling Language (UML), once said: "A fool with a tool is still a fool".

I think when we talk about CRM and marketing automation we are talking about central systems of digital marketing. But these systems have to fit the existing data sources, internal processes and procedures. Otherwise they have to be adapted and transformed accordingly. It does not help a company if the sales team cannot operate the CRM solution because it is not available offline. Or if the call center needs twice as much time to find a customer case in the system. It is also of no use to marketing to be able to send personalized campaigns if the customer data base is so poor that segmentation is not possible.

You mentioned that the customer perspective is also very important in the selection process. How do I find out what my customers want? And how do I take that into account?

Markus: When it comes to CRM and marketing automation solutions, we don't have just one customer, but many stakeholders. As I said, these include the business, IT, marketing, sales, product management, and the end customer.

Of course it always depends on how much effort I want to invest in such a needs analysis. However, structured interviews with the stakeholders have proven to be very effective. If we use such interviews to understand how people are currently working or interacting, how processes and procedures work today and can be better supported in the future, and where the pain points lie with today's systems and solutions, it is very easy to develop a target picture based on use cases and derive requirements from it.

What do you consider to be the dos and don'ts of technology selection?

Markus: In my opinion, you should definitely avoid Excel tables with thousands of requirements, which are only answered or evaluated with yes/no/possibly and in the end a total sum represents the result. Also a no-go are requirements tables, which are then filled out by a product provider. Not very helpful, because which manufacturer will admit a weakness to his product in the selection phase?

Much better: have the stakeholders tell you in one or more use cases what the process steps, requirements and expectations of the system are, and then answer (and evaluate) these use cases based on the system or product possibilities. In this way, companies can ensure that they do not make technology choices that are not in line with stakeholder requirements. Once the new CRM and marketing automation solution is implemented, these use cases also serve as acceptance criteria.

Isabell: Thank you very much for the interview - with your tips, the next technology selection will definitely succeed! And if you still need support, you can find more information here. Of course our New Business Team is looking forward to your message! By the way, you can find more information about our CRM & Customer Loyalty offers here.

You have already found the right system and want to get off to a good start with Marketing Automation? Then our free whitepaper "Successful digital marketing: People-based Marketing & Marketing Automation" gives you exciting insights.