Automation is a popular buzzword of the mid 2000s that’s since become a common goal for many digitally present businesses. So, it’s no surprise that marketers have jumped on this trend in hopes of building their own intelligent, responsive campaigns that can keep their brands vibrant with less constant support. As predicted by Forrester and reported by MarTechToday, marketers have already spent more than $11 billion on automation solutions, and are projected to more than double that spending by 2023.
But for a businesses looking to dive in to marketing automation software, there are a large number of considerations to take into account. From cost, to data security, to different models for support, finding the right combination of fit and features can prove complex. Many of these factors all tie back to a single, early stage decision: whether to opt for an on-premises or cloud-based marketing automation solution.
Understanding the deployment difference
Many marketing automation software solutions available today tout a now-familiar software as a service (SaaS) model, where cloud based software is provided on a subscription basis to a client.
This leaves new marketing automation adopters with an interesting question. Should they follow the cloud-based trends of today, or is it possible that an on-premises solution might integrate better with other on-site workloads that are already operational?
A primary difference between these two options is a scale between ease and access. Cloud-based solutions are often backed by large service teams and tech partner expertise which can improve ease of implementation and maintenance. Conversely, on-premises solutions give an in-house team the opportunity to manage systems directly and securely, but can require much of the team’s expertise.
Deciding which of these deployments is best for your brand can set your team up with a strong foundation for marketing success.
3 helpful considerations
Making a choice between a cloud-based or on-premises based marketing automation software can have wide-reaching effects on your business operations. There are 3 key areas to consider when making this decision:
- The threat of downtime: When one of your services snags on an error and falls into downtime, how does your team address it? For businesses with robust and expert staff in their employ, an on-premises solution might be comforting because it gives your tech teams immediate access to address problems. But for leaner teams that might not have an automation expert on-site, a cloud-based solution can be addressed by on-call support teams rather than requiring a specialist to come to your site to address an on-premises error. Considering worst case scenarios for your business and being honest about how you would want to address them is helpful when choosing deployment type.
- Demand for innovation and customization: While many marketing automation software companies might try to suggest that they have a “one-size-fits-all” solution, the reality is that no two businesses look exactly alike. It is almost certain that your business will, at some point, want to customize or innovate on top of your software’s out-of-the-box configuration. For organizations that want to focus on future-facing innovating to gain an edge in their market, on-premises deployment can remove many development roadblocks. The trade-off, however, is that this means you also take on the responsibility for upgrades and maintenance. A cloud based solution can provide key support for ongoing improvements, but at the cost of some flexibility in development.
- Ease of scaling: Every new tech deployment starts small, but presumably the point of taking on a marketing automation solution would be to scale it into wider use over time. This presents an interesting challenge for businesses. Unlike many other on-premises software, the difficulty with scaling automation is less about storage and more about processing uptime: you may not have reams of data to store on-site, but you will have an ever growing list of processes that have to constantly be on, listening, and reacting to your audience. Cloud-based solutions can help your business tackle this in a dynamic way, likely at a lower and more gradual price point. If your primary concern as you scale is more about security and ease of integration, an on-premises solution can perhaps put you in more control, but likely at the cost of growing overhead expenses.
Finding the right fit
Ultimately, the best solution for your business is the one that enables your team to keep your customers consistently delighted with personalized experiences, while providing your business with key lead information. But to keep costs in check, it is essential to consider how much control your team will actually need over your software, and whether or not you have the necessary expertise available for ongoing upkeep and upgrades.
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