Every year, the amount of available marketing technologies seems to be quadrupling. For every pain point your organization might experience, there are 10 (or 20! Or 30!) marketing technology solutions waiting to share their software pitch on how it will make you and your team’s lives easier.
Chief MarTech released its annual Marketing Technology Landscape for 2019, and it features over 7,000 marketing automation technologies. That’s a whole lot of solutions.
It can be overwhelming to sift through the chart above, let alone choose options and start the evaluation process. But, choosing the right marketing technology for your team is imperative to a healthy, productive organization. Whether your budget is low without much wiggle room, or your budget is more generous but you’re unsure of the best way to spend it, it’s essential that you choose your technology wisely.
We’re here to help. These are the best practices to follow when evaluating the right marketing software for your team.
1. Identify the pain points
Whether the pain points are affecting the CMO or a core team member, it’s essential that you recognize the root of the problem in question. Ask yourself: What’s taking too much time? Where are there gaps in productivity? Are pain points compounding upon one another — causing an even bigger problem?
If your team already has a solution and is looking to switch, identify what’s missing and prepare to evaluate software options to enhance your product experience and return on investment. Set realistic expectations around how much more a new tool with more capabilities will cost. The new technology should clearly show how it will save your team the time and money that’s currently being spent making up for what your existing technology lacks.
If you’re new to the marketing software you’re looking for and you’ve identified the pain points it will solve, you should address what the solution will need to have — and don’t be quick to compromise. Evaluate how your team will define ROI for the right software solution to address your marketing challenges.
2. Get key stakeholders involved early
Involving the right people at the outset of the evaluation process will help ensure you’re acknowledging and solving for all of the related pain points the broader team might be experiencing. Plus, getting the team members and departments that have a say in the purchasing and/or implementation process involved in the conversation early will make your life easier down the road.
With all necessary parties involved at the beginning, there’s also potential to expand the budget. Other departments may find value in the solutions and they might have the budget to contribute to this new software that will help solve immediate problems for the broader organization. Involving the wider team will also help you identify future use cases you weren’t setting out to solve at the time of evaluation and better inform how the solution might scale for other teams in addition to yours.
3. Determine a budget for a solution that solves all of your pain points, not just some
Once you’ve identified what your potential software solution needs to have, you can set a budget reflective of that technology. Not sure what a reasonable market price range is for the solution you need? Do some research and make sure you have room for flexibility. Don’t cut corners; just because the cost of a solution looks lower than you expect doesn’t mean it realistically represents the baseline of what that technology solution in the industry should cost.
With marketing software especially, you get what you pay for. Better software typically costs more, but it will also save you more time and money in the long run — simple as that.
4. Identify and evaluate the realistic contenders, then demo, demo, demo
Demos are really important. As an ultimate end user, it’s essential that the product seems intuitive — you should walk away from a demo with a good understanding of how to use the solution. It shouldn’t cause any gut feelings of tool fatigue.
Beforehand, make sure you’ve developed a list of features and functionalities that you need to have from the product. If some of these elements of the solution aren’t addressed during the demo, ask questions and get clarification. Be weary of the demo presenter that seems nervous to show you any aspect of the product. It should function perfectly off-the-cuff, and the demo should instill confidence in the product.
And, even during the demo stage, make sure you’re still keeping an eye on the future. Your marketing plans should match up with the current product offering of that technology, or what exists on their product roadmap to help support any future projects you have planned.
And, don’t just demo one or two marketing technologies that seem like they fit your needs. Multiple demos help you develop a real understanding of the market landscape. Don’t just settle on the first quote you get.
5. Ask for real-life and relatable use cases, activations and integrations
Customer testimonials are huge in showing value, and they help to show you the extent to which you can use and customize the solution to fit your needs. Here at Stackla, we have a hearty supply of case studies, blogs, videos and more to demonstrate the many use cases — and success stories — that our customers have seen.
You can go to a tech solution’s website and see the logos it integrates with, but APIs are much more important. The software should integrate out-of-the-box with your other tech solutions and immediately solve the pain points you have now and those you’ll encounter in the future. You don’t want to feel like the technology you choose is actually going to be a burden. There’s nothing worse than a disconnected marketing stack!
For example, Stackla’s comprehensive suite of APIs and developer tools provide for endless integrations. We know you need data and content in the right places across your technology stack, and that everyone’s stack looks different, so we make it easy.
6. Ensure the solution is a partner that will be constantly innovating and improving with you
This one is especially important. Find a solution that is way ahead of the game as far as features and benefits. Don’t settle for a solution that’s standing still; instead, choose a solution that continually invests in product development and the people that support it.
Ensure everyone you speak to on the team has a clear understanding of the product roadmap, and be sure the product is constantly innovating based on real customer feedback and changing marketing needs. Ask for examples of how they do this. Their team should plan to continually inform and assist you with new releases as well as help you strategize on how to get the most value. They should view your business as a partnership, not just a sale.
Your technology should always reduce your workload — and continually improve your productivity over time.
7. Set a realistic implementation timeline
Identify and plan for what you’ll need from your technology of choice’s solutions team to achieve the implementation timeline you set. What does their onboarding process look like? How do their professional services offerings work? Ensure their implementation process matches your onboarding needs and timeframe.
With Stackla, teams get clear onboarding sessions, including initial training to teach team members how to use the product and quarterly strategy sessions to continually plan out how your team can get the most out of the product.
8. If you’re running into internal pushback, button up and focus on the future value
It’s common for stakeholders to refute the first request, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Be able to clearly articulate the pain points and how this marketing software will solve them — with a focus on what you predict the results to be. Make sure you’re focusing on how the marketing technology will improve your functions and benefit the business today and in the future.
9. Go forth and work smarter!
Your new marketing software should be saving you time, money and headaches.