6 Questions to Ask When Buying Marketing Automation SoftwareBy Chase Cleckner
Choosing which marketing automation software your company will use is an extensive and, most of the time, exhausting process. We’re writing this post to help make your decision quicker and to provide you with the knowledge you need to make the right choice. Below are six questions to ask yourself to help figure out which automation software is the most effective for you and your organization.
1. What is your price range?
Duh. Pricing is important, so I don’t need to tell you to keep that mind. But one thing that caught me by surprise was that some marketing software companies will show monthly pricing, but will only offer annual plans. There is a big difference between paying $500/month and having to pay $6,000 up front. This doesn’t mean the companies that do annual pricing are bad, but know what the pricing model is so you’re prepared when it’s time to break out the wallet.
2. What type of marketing automation are you looking for?
Below are a few features you will typically find in marketing automation software. Are there some items on this list that are mandatory or some that are not a priority?
- CRM (customer relationship management)
- Email Marketing o Automated Triggered Communications
- Social Media
- I need all of them!
The more all-inclusive the software is, usually the more expensive it gets, so keep that in mind!
3. Does your marketing automation software have to speak with other online systems? (API)
There are some scenarios in which having access to an API (application programming interface) could be extremely helpful. For example, the ability to automatically sync deals closed by the sales team with QuickBooks or a gift given with your donor software. This not only aligns your internal teams, but it takes away the human error, which leads to more accurate forecasting.
Another example would be the ability to send information back and forth between your shopping cart platform and your contact database. This allows you to see which customers bought a specific product or which donors gave a monthly donation versus a one-time gift.
4. How many contacts do you currently have?
The way most CRM and marketing automation software systems work is by adding leads or contacts through their email address. The reason this is important is because some software companies base their pricing model on how many total contacts (email addresses) you have. Quick Tip: In order to import your contacts into a CRM/marketing automation software you will have to have your contacts in a CSV file. For all of you paper folks out there – whew, I feel sorry for the work involved in that, but you won’t regret the chance to get your contact list 21st century ready.
5. Do you need support/training? Is it a requirement?
Customer support will either be a nightmare or a gift from God. I have worked with a few different automation companies in the past where customer service was not high on their totem pole, and then others where it was one of the most important aspects of their business.
Listen closely, training and support matters. A lot. If you can’t get your questions answered in a timely manner by someone who is knowledgeable about the product, it’s not worth your time. Though we all would like to think we’re a marketing genius, I can guarantee you there will be something you don’t know and will need to call support.
6. Do you have someone that will lead the marketing automation efforts?
Just because you paid for marketing automation software does not mean it will be successful. I know that may be a little harsh, but it’s the truth. I truly believe that all automation software will fail unless someone is managing and leading the adoption process within the organization. If your answer is no to this question, then hire someone who can lead this process and keep moving it forward.
Choosing an automation software for your company will be a complex process and can even produce numerous different opinions within your own organization. The key is to know what areas are absolutely essential for your organization, if it fits within the budget, and if you have the correct people to lead the process. Once you know these things, it will become clear which marketing automation software is right for your organization.