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How to Choose Marketing Automation Software If You Are a Private Equity Or M&A Advisory Firm

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Financial Services CRM

As private equity and M&A advisors become increasingly marketing-focused, they need software to send mass emails, newsletters, thought leadership pieces and signed deals.  But many are unsure what kind of software to buy, since they come in so many labels such as marketing automation software, mass emailing software, email campaign software, etc.

If the goal is to send out deal announcements and, maybe, a quarterly newsletter and not much else, you’re better off sticking to a simple system that can send mass emails. If you’re further down the sophistication curve, there is some more due diligence required.

Let me break it down in more detail.

Scenario 1: I Just Need Something to Send My Emails 

If you’re a firm that sends out a few mass emails per quarter, say a deal announcement and some industry commentary, then a simple email marketing service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Sales Genius, or Exact Target should satisfy all your needs. Most of these products are fairly simple-to-use, without a lot of training. They provide email templates for your campaigns that you can use in accordance with your firm’s branding. You can track the open and click rates to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Most of these products will also allow for A/B testing, which is a method of comparing two versions of an email against each other to determine which one performs better. For example, you could send out a newsletter with two different subject lines and the tool will randomly select one group to get ‘Subject Line A’ and another group to get ‘Subject Line B’ to see which one has a higher open rate.

The pricing for this type of software is usually based on the number of emails being sent. If you have a small mailing list of less than 2,000 subscribers, your cost could be fairly low. However, as your list of recipients increases in size, this can get pricey and it may be better to consider a marketing automation system which gives you much better ability to track your recipients’ interest in you over time for the same spend.

Scenario 2: We’re Hosting Events/Webinars and Publishing Blog Posts     

If you’re still reading, you’re probably going to need a more sophisticated system like HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot. These systems are more complex, but they give you more control and insight into all your marketing channels, such as your website, events, webinars, emails, videos and social media. I’ll elaborate on each:

  • Events/webinars/videos – Through easy integrations with tools like GoToWebinar, Eventbrite, or Wistia, you can see who has watched your video or registered/attended your events.
  • eBooks/subscriptions – Set up an alert to see when someone downloads your ebook or subscribes to your newsletters.
  • Website/Blogs – See which contacts have visited each of your pages or blog posts.
  • Social media – Manage all your social media assets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) from one platform. Monitor who has liked, followed, retweeted, or engaged with you.

All this information collected across various channels shows exactly how and when each individual has interacted with you over time. This allows you to “score” each recipient based on the action they take so you know who is more highly engaged. For example, a person who attended an event would get a higher score than someone who only opened the email. Over time, this type of intelligence scored over many touch-points will allow you to hone in on the best leads.

When evaluating this type of software, it is important to keep usability in mind. For example, I find Hubspot to be more user-friendly whereas Marketo offers more features but requires some coding skills.

A Final Note – How does Navatar integrate with these different tools? 

Happily, the software described above can easily integrate with Navatar, which tracks your deals, investors and portfolio. Anything less would mean having to jump around systems to manage your relationships. For instance, marketing software will tell you when a LP opened your email or visited your webpage, whereas a platform like Navatar pairs that data with the investor’s fund preferences, allocations, co-investments and all past correspondence. Expect more and more private equity and M&A firms to leverage both technologies as they upscale their marketing efforts in the time ahead.

Still unclear? Post a comment and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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