Don’t pay more for features you aren’t going to use. Know what you really need, and make sure the platform you select delivers on those.
Flexibility comes at a cost. Most providers know that it takes months to see results, so they tend towards a longer commitment than oine month to give them time to show results, knowing that they can and will deliver if given the time to do so. Others prefer offering flexibility for those that are not sure.
You shouldn't have to take out a mortgage to get started. Some vendors require full payment upfront - tying up valuable marketing dollars that could otherwise be spent on execution. Look for a provider that offers month-to-month billing and no long-term contract.
Don’t be enticed by lower tiers that limit functionality. You’ll want the full power of marketing automation once you get started, and third-party add-ons for specific features add to the total cost. Also, pay attention to the limits. If a lower tier has limits on contacts and sending, think of how often you’ll have overages, especially if your business is in a growth phase.
There are several great sites where you can go to hear what actual users are saying about the various platforms on the market. These independent review sites, like TrustRadius, MarTech, Capterra and others, allow you to get insights that professional reviewers just don’t have.
An all-in-one system provides all the functions you need to market in the digital world, including: CRM, content management system, blogging tool, landing page builder, forms builder, etc. Be wary of a specialty system that only covers a part of the tasks involved in being a successful digital matketer.
Look for a platform with its own ‘ecosystem’ of providers that it integrates with – either natively, through plug-and-play, or using a provider like Zapier or PieSync. This will allow you to seamlessly extend the power of your investment and lower the total cost of ownership.
Choose a solution that provides clear, concise reports that show the end-to-end ROI you're looking for on your marketing and sales efforts. Ask to see a sample and shop it around internally to make sure it’s going to be impactful.
Look at the interface. Is it user-friendly? Is there contextual help (e.g. videos, virtual tours, articles) available in case you get stuck? An intuitive platform will save you countless hours both upfront and long-term.
Some providers hide fees here, so beware. Does the vendor provide comprehensive onboarding to give your team confidence in using the platform? If so, what's the cost? Is ongoing support unlimited and free, or are there caps and additional costs? And ask if you get a dedicated person you can call when support can’t help.
While many platforms are user-friendly, there's legwork involved in setting up a marketing automation program that produces results. And ongoing efforts are needed to maintain and update your campaigns, add new ones, and produce regular reports. If you can’t allocate someone in-house to lead the charge, consider using a marketing agency that specializes in these services. Ask the marketing automation vendor if they have a network of agency professionals that can help you achieve your goals.
There have been some notable acquisitions in the marketing automation space recently. Be sure you are signing up with a vendor that is committed to your long-term success and is investing in platform innovation, support, and other services.