In general, when considering a marketing automation platform, consider the following:
--You'll also have to invest in data quality--marketing automation will expose bad data quickly.
--While you don't have to be a web developer, it helps to have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS.
--You'll need to have a basic understanding of logic--think about those Venn Diagrams you learned in grade school. List selection is a lot of AND, OR, NOT, etc.
--Take full advantage of peer groups, user communities, online groups etc.
--Talent is tight in the marketing automation space--you're not going to be able to hire someone cheap with 2-3 years experience.
And MOST IMPORTANT: If you don't have a strong marketing strategy, Marketo (or any other MA platform) won't help.
In terms of vendor questions, If I was looking at a marketing automation platform, these are the types of things I'd ask:
1. Can you set up multiple lead scores (one for each customer persona) or are you limited to a single score per lead?
2. Can I create custom fields in the database external to my CRM?
3. Do you have an API (beyond built-in integration with Salesforce and other CRMs) to pass data in and out the marketing automation platform to partners such as webinar providers, social media profiles, etc. Do you have service provider partners (e.g. WebEx) with whom you have canned integration?
4. Is there a user community? How active is it?
5. How long does a typical user take to become minimally proficient? Fully proficient?
6. What type of training is available? Online and In person? Self-directed or instructor led?
7. What type of analytics are available?
8. Am I on a shared IP address? How to you manage it to keep deliverablity rates high? Will I be penalized for the sins of other customers on the same shared IP?
9. Once we're up and running, how long should it take me to create and distribute an email? Build a landing page? Set up a white-paper registration/download or webinar registration?
10. Do you certify trained professionals on your platform?