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Five Tips for Buying Search Marketing Software

How to Buy the Right Search Marketing Software for Your Business
Many companies have discovered that their paid search campaigns, such as Google AdWords, are critical to achieving their sales goals. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising provides a predictable flow of highly targeted leads that boost revenues and profitability. However, as search engines become more sophisticated (and complicated) and competitors become more search savvy, marketers face a growing challenge in getting the greatest value from their PPC programs.

Search marketing software helps you meet the challenges of paid search campaign management. But with all the available solutions to choose from, how do you know which one is the right one for your business?

These five simple, yet effective tips will help you find the best Pay-per-click (PPC) Management software for your company.

Clearly Define Your Requirements
Paid search strategies vary greatly from company to company. Therefore, the features and functions you will need in a search marketing software system will depend on many factors – such as which search engines you advertise on, how many keywords you manage, how many different accounts you manage, if your campaigns are global, how competitive your market is, and the size of your PPC budget.

For example if you advertise on some of the lesser known search engines such as Miva, you’ll want to make sure the package you pick supports these engines. And, if your competitors are aggressive bidders, you’ll want to pick a package that has bid jamming. If you change your ad text frequently, you’ll want a system that allows you to do ad creation and editing, without going back to the search engine interface. Finally, if you are an agency, you’ll want to make sure you can run custom reports for each of your clients, and even add your logo to the reports.

Make sure you consider all important aspects of your search marketing strategy, and use those to build a list of capabilities you must have.

Carefully Evaluate and Select Vendors
Once you know exactly what you need, you can start evaluating the search marketing software solutions currently on the market.

Unfortunately you can’t find all the details from a vendor’s website. You will have to ask each vendor for a full list of their product’s capabilities, and cross-check it against your own requirements list. Any vendor who cannot address all your needs should be immediately discounted.

After you’ve narrowed your vendor to only those search marketing software vendors with all the features you need, ask each to show you an in-depth demonstration of their solutions. Request that they custom-tailor their presentation, perhaps to reflect one of your company’s specific campaigns.

Check References
It’s very, very important to speak to several existing customers – preferably those that have the same type of marketing objectives or who run search marketing campaigns that are similar in size and complexity to yours. Be sure to ask each search marketing software vendor for a list of references, and hold an in-depth conversation with the actual users at each site. Be sure to inquire about the initial setup, the vendor’s service and support policies, as well as the product’s functionality.

Check the Company’s Background
You want to purchase your software from a company that is likely to be in business for several years. Search marketing software is a fairly new market, so you shouldn’t expect a company to have a ten year history. Yet, you should select a company that has a stable foundation, good funding, a number of active clients, a strong management team, and a product vision for the future. Signs of a shaky vendor include: difficulty finding someone to contact, no client support, slow to return calls, avoidance in answer your requirements list, failure to supply a client list, and few active clients.

Negotiate The Best Possible Price
Costs for search marketing software solutions range from inexpensive ($200/one-time fee) to quite costly, depending on the scope and complexity of your needs. Most software packages have pricing tiers. Prices can vary based on the number of keywords in your campaigns, or how often each day you set the program to monitor and update your bids. Other packages are priced based on functionality with low, mid, and high-end versions. And finally, some vendors offer different versions for in-house campaigns and advertising agencies.

Either way, don’t assume that a vendor’s first quote is set in stone. The software business is competitive. The vendor wants your business, and will likely offer discounts to get it. One way is to offer to be a reference. So, don’t cave under the pressure, and hold out for the best possible price.