Okay, that title might be a bit of a tease. There are dozens of marketing automation platforms on the market available to buyers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some specialize in CRM marketing automation, some focus on lead generation, and others are strictly concerned with email features.

The best marketing automation software for your company is the one that produces the most benefits at a reasonable cost. Before you dive into a tool based on nothing more than its name recognition and the fact that they have a cool logo, brainstorm the features you need that you don’t have.

This brainstorm session should expand beyond the marketing department – get sales, branding, development, even client services in on the action. Pose the following questions to the group:

By getting a variety of voices to answer the questions listed above, you’ll be sure to have a baseline for your own, internal marketing automation best practices. This will help you streamline the vendors you compare in your search and get started as a power user once you have chosen and installed a solution.

Be sure to pay attention to marketing automation pricing as well. You don’t want to overspend or worse, get locked down in a long term contract, on a robust tool if you don’t have plans to use some of their more complex features.

However, there’s another side to this coin.

You also don’t want to get caught buying a “cheap” tool. Cheap is a dirty word that I usually try to avoid, but in this case I’m referring to the absolute lowest cost solutions that have very limited functions. While you might only need email capabilities in the first three months of your new software, you’ll soon master that skill and want to advance to the next feature.