If you visit the websites of Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot other top marketing automation tools, what would you see?
Lofty promises to grow revenue, get more leads, and make your prospects happier.
I wish it was that simple.
These tools have a ton of power but no one gets that benefit right after they sign up. It takes a ton of work to set up and manage these tools correctly.
Having the right agency to help you wield that power to set up a lead generation machine for your business.
Choosing the right marketing automation agency partner will save you a ton of time and get you a lot more leads.
That’s exactly what I’ll walk you through in this article.
So how do you know if a marketing automation agency is a good idea?
Know Your Goals & Desired Outcomes
One of the best ways to avoid marketing automation failures is to plan ahead of time.
What do you want to achieve with marketing automation?
By setting a good goal, you’ll have a much easier time picking the right agency. And they’ll be more successful.
Let’s explore some examples.
Example #1: Get the right content to the right people
Imagine for a moment that you visit the pricing page of a software product after clicking through from a content piece sent to you via email.
Five minutes in, you’re scrolling through the various pricing tiers, not sure what plan to purchase.
Still confused and undecided, you decide to take your leave. But just when you wanted to exit the page, a pop-up covers the pricing page.
It has a message that reads:
“Don’t know which plan to choose? Read our FREE guide on what each plan gets you.”
You go ahead and open the guide, read it, and finally decide on what plan to choose. However, other events take your time and you forget to complete your purchase at that time.
The next day, you receive an email notification from that company. It reads:
“Hey [insert your name], ready to choose a plan now? See how [a competitor in your same industry] used our tool to increase sales by 31%.”
You loved what you read, and go on to finally make that purchase.
That’s an example of marketing automation using great content to pull people down the funnel instead of pushing them.
At each step, the exact right content hits the prospect at the exact right time. And it happens automatically without anyone of your team triggering it.
Setting up campaigns like this can have a dramatic impact on moving prospects down your funnel.
Example #2: Keeping your data clean for consistent follow-up
Let’s say your business keeps growing.
Now you’re getting leads from everywhere. Phone calls, email, demo request forms, social media, events, partners, it goes on and on.
Even worse, leads from the same company start coming in on different places.
Without the right tool and data management, different sales reps will follow up with different people. That’s a recipe for losing a deal unless your team stays coordinated.
The right marketing automation tool with the right setup will help you maintain control. It’s the only way to keep your close rates high.
But even when you know what you’re after, you’ll still find dozens of agencies vying for your business.
So, what characteristics should you look out for when choosing one?
6 Characteristics That Make a Great Marketing Automation Agency
1. Do they have an area of specialization?
Exceptional marketing automation agencies usually have an area of expertise.
As you saw in the second example above, some only partner with companies to install, implement, or optimize automation on Marketo Cloud, Salesforce, and others.
Others can hack different tech stacks together for companies on a budget.
You’ll also find some specializing in training and working closely with in-house marketing teams to achieve set marketing automation goals.
Who you choose to work with depends on your needs, so an essential characteristic to look out for is whether the agency specializes in that area.
For instance, at Neil Patel Digital, content marketing drives our automation programs.
We start by getting the engaging content to the right people at the right time.
2. Do they have in-house, diversified experts?
Marketing automation requires a ton of different skills in order to do right.
At the very least, you’ll need:
- Deep experience with the tools themselves
- Lead generation
- Content marketing
- Specific channel expertise (social, events, paid, SEO, etc)
- Sales operations knowledge for smooth handoffs
- Funnel design
- Lead nurturing
And that’s just the beginning. Whoever you’re working with, make sure they have strong enough skills in all these areas.
Marketing automation isn’t a growth silver bullet.
It makes a huge impact when it plugs seamlessly into all your other marketing channels and campaigns.
If you really need serious results from your marketing automation, I’d look at agencies that have deep experience beyond marketing automation itself.
Take my agency, Neil Patel Digital, for instance.
Although we help clients with marketing automation, we offer related services like programmatic marketing, data analytics, and others. In addition to the core marketing services you’d expect from a top-tier online marketing agency.
Why is this helpful?
Getting your entire funnel and brand to work consistently across every touchpoint has massive leverage.
4. Do they have clients’ portfolio(s)?
This one needs no explanation.
All experienced marketing automation agencies have a host of past and existing clients in their portfolio.
Look for similar clients to yourself in order to decide whether the agency is a good fit.
5. Do they have real customer testimonials?
How past clients feel about working with a marketing automation agency is an essential characteristic to look for before you partner with one.
And you’ll find this in their customer testimonials.
Just by going through the testimonials and case studies on an agency’s site, you can tell if they’re worth the fee.
6. Do they have a great company culture?
Most companies omit this characteristic when ticking the criteria for choosing an agency of any kind.
It is important that you work with an agency whose company culture aligns with your business values, as most marketing automation partnerships are usually long-term.
This ensures that the marketing automation systems, funnels, and campaigns will align with the way you do business. Then you won’t have to rip everything out later.
When marketing agency projects truly fail, it’s usually a culture mismatch with the client.
How to work with a Marketing Automation Company
Let’s look at the steps you can take to ensure a smooth working relationship with any agency you choose.
1. Filling an inquiry form
Filling an inquiry form is usually the first step towards showing your interest to work with a marketing automation agency.
It’s usually really easy to find on the agency’s website.
2. Prepare for a discovery call
Expect the discovery call to be much more detailed than calls for other marketing projects.
Marketing automation serves as the backbone to your lead funnel. It touches every campaign, multiple divisions in your company, and isn’t easy to see form the outside.
So any good marketing automation agency will want to spend a lot of time here to understand where you’re currently at.
Only then will they have any chance at helping you get to your future goals.
3. Expect unique, strategic recommendations
Excellent marketing automation companies take what you told them when filling their inquiry form and over the discovery call as the foundation for conducting further research.
The goal of this research is usually to gain more clarity about your needs and to make strategic marketing automation recommendations unique to your needs.
Most companies would send these recommendations via email or hop on another call to discuss it over with you.
4. A proposal or work contract
Followed by the unique, strategic MA recommendations you should expect in the process of partnering with an agency is a proposal or contract.
This document outlines and details what your company would get working with them. It also states the cost implications and other requirements for working together.
5. Official client onboarding
A lot of mutual understanding is needed to ensure you get the most out of a working relationship with a marketing automation agency.
You may need to invest in tech stacks, re-examine your business and marketing strategy, or retrain your staff.
To ensure both parties are aligned on the job to be done and the responsibilities each party must perform to ensure everything works out well, prepare your team for an official client onboarding.
What You Get From a Great Right Marketing Automation Agency
When you choose a marketing automation agency, you’ll:
- Align your marketing processes with your marketing strategy
- Pick the right marketing tech stack
- Generate more leads and move leads down your funnel more efficiently
- Have the data you need to optimize your funnel for better conversions
The 5 Best Marketing Automation Companies
We reviewed and profiled the top marketing automation companies based on their areas of specialization.
#1 Neil Patel Digital – Best for Content Marketing Automation
A core goal of marketing automation is to deliver the right content to the right people just when they need it, whether that is on social media or email sequence.
Irrespective of your MA set up, content is the foundation for so many parts of your funnel. At every stage, buyers are looking for helpful content in order to make better decisions.
Not only must you create excellent content, you also need to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time..
For my team at Neil Patel Digital, that’s our specialty:
As you know, I practice what I preach.
I’ve built and managed enormous content machines for countless businesses over the years. And the majority of them have been automated. My team and I know exactly how to get the most out of every piece of content for every step of a funnel.
AYou can talk to my team about content marketing automation here.
#2 LeadMD – Best for Tech Stack Integration
For marketing automation to free you and your team from mundane tasks, you must integrate the right tech stack.
And this is one area LeadMD comes highly recommended due to their expertise of setting up complicated marketing infrastructure and aligning it to your strategy,
LeadMD is one of the most reputable marketing automation companies. And their integration expertise has earned clients like IBM and eBay.
#3 CS2 Marketing – Best for Marketing Data Operations
Cs2 Marketing earns its place on our top list of marketing automation because of its experience, leveraging the power of data to power essential automated marketing campaigns.
And dozens of the top tech brands trust CS2 Marketing for its expertise, using data operations to drive automated marketing processes and business.
CS2 Marketing has generated more than $1 billion in pipeline revenue for its clients.
#4 Bluewolf – Best for Salesforce Automation
Bluewolf is our recommended marketing automation agency for marketing automation on Salesforce:
Marketing automation isn’t just about your MA tool, everything has to work perfectly with your CRM. You’ll need experts that know how to integrate the two.
Bluewolf’s clients include T-Mobile, IBM, Autodesk, and others.
#5 Perkuto – Best for Marketo Automation
Perkuto is the leading agency for Marketo. If you need to get ultra fancy with your Marketo implementation, reach out to them.
Perkuto’s team of over 50 automation strategists, marketers, and hardcore engineers help companies make the most of their Marketo implementation.
Reach out to specialists like Perkuto if:
- You have an extremely complicated funnel to implement
- Internal teams or agencies have botched a previous install that you need to untangle
- Other agencies have previously failed at wrangling your funnels
What’s most important when choosing a marketing automation agency?
It depends on your needs.
Do you need help implementing or optimizing your marketing automation tech stack?
Choose an agency with experience in working with your tech stack of choice.
Do you have challenges making sense of your marketing touchpoints?
Then go with a marketing automation agency specializing in data operations.
Do you want to get the absolute best ROI from every dollar invested into marketing automation?
Then work with an agency that has deep experience across marketing channels, knows how to get the entire marketing funnel working together, and will use marketing automation to accelerate the marketing KPIs for your entire company.