How to Choose the Right Marketing Software: A 7-Step Guide

Feb 15, 2017

Article ImageAccording Gartner, 27% of marketing budgets are spent on technology. Yet with more than 3,500 types of marketing software available, most marketers have a hard time deciding where to start.

Putting your budget on the line for a new platform can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re searching for the perfect email automation platform, social media management tool or cloud-based content calendar, the guiding principles leading up to the decision are the same. Here are seven ways to navigate the options like a pro while keeping your sanity in check:

  1. Start with the “Why” -- Taking a 30,000-foot view before diving deep is crucial when making an investment in software. Why are you pursuing new software in the first place? Listing your top five pain points with your current marketing process is a good place to start. Identifying these issues can provide an overview of problems you are looking to solve. What processes are you hoping to streamline? How will improving these affect the bottom line? Uncovering the “why” behind your decision will lead you to the core features you need from a platform, as well as a set of guidelines for evaluating your options.
  2. Explore ROI Potential -- Software is a big investment. Proving ROI to demonstrate the value of that investment is essential to the process. If your CEO is numbers driven, show him or her some workups of hard data. Let’s say you’re presenting a new email automation software that can test your designs across several email platforms. You know that automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates. You also know your conversion rates from email marketing. Using these two basic stats, you can crunch some numbers to show approximately how much new business you can expect after employing new software.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Share Your Pain -- A doctor cannot diagnose an illness if she doesn’t know the symptoms. When meeting with a rep for a software solution, be transparent about the problems you’re facing. You can feel confident that the whole industry is feeling the same pain. Share your current workflow, warts and all. Let the rep know what’s working and what is not. Software companies are looking for a team fit for their product just like you’re looking for a software fit for your team.
  4. Don’t Fall for the Swiss Army Knife Pitch -- As we mentioned above, there are thousands of marketing solutions available. Marketing executives often fail to think in terms of the best combination of software for their individual needs. The “Swiss Army knife” of marketing tech that can do it all just doesn’t exist. By working with “best-in-breed” products only, you can create a high-level hybrid solution to fit your specific needs. When evaluating potential solutions, consider software that allows for integrations with platforms you already use. While not marketing software per se, Slack is a good example. Slack users can link Google Drive to easily share files. Explore your options through integrations.
  5. Think Macro and Micro -- The best marketing software is useful in day-to-day tasks all the way up to yearly planning. The use-cases in how people of different titles will use the technology is something to consider. Some team members will dive in deep on daily basis. Others will take a zoomed out perspective a few times a quarter. Will the software add value to everyone on your team? How will it impact marketing on an hourly, daily, monthly and quarterly basis?
  6. Don’t Build it Yourself -- Unless you are a marketing software company, don’t build your solution in-house. Regardless of the talent of your IT team, the initial build is only half of the process. When software is left alone for too long, a process occurs that Techopedia calls “software rot.” As the Internet and operating systems change, your in-house solution will find itself at odds with its environment. From here, it will slowly deteriorate, causing unresponsiveness and annoying glitches. The beauty of marketing software companies is that they maintain, support, and update the software as new technologies develop. Taking advantage of the company’s dedication to their own product is your best shot at success.
  7. Avoid Paralysis from Analysis -- While making deliberate, calculated decisions is key to being a responsible business leader, in this case, over analysis will not play to your advantage. If you find a solution you love, or even like a lot, make the decision and then dive in. Technology changes so rapidly that you can’t afford to delay a decision indefinitely. Perhaps the most important thing to keep top of mind is that if you don’t like the software, you’re really just renting it. You have the option of moving on to something better suited to your needs.

Buying marketing software doesn’t have to feel like clearing a forest with a butter knife. What are your software purchasing best practices?

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