Four Tips for Buying Marketing Automation Software
Which Marketing Automation Package is Right for You?
Marketing teams are under intense pressure to “do more with less” – add new programs to their mix and generate more qualified leads, with smaller budgets and fewer resources.
Marketing automation software can help these teams improve the way they plan and execute their cross-channel campaigns, so they can increase staff productivity and minimize costs, while boosting response and conversion rates.
However, there are hundreds of marketing automation software packages on the market today, and finding the right one can seem like an overwhelming task. Here are four quick tips for finding the best solution for your business.
1. Create a Requirements List
What kind of marketing automation software you’ll need will depend on the complexity of your marketing strategy.
Start by looking at the types of campaigns you manage, and the frequency with which they are run. Then, ask marketing staff for their input about where process breakdowns occur, and where improvements are needed. This will help you define the list of capabilities you’ll need in your marketing automation software.
2. Find the Right Vendors
Where do you begin your research? Start by reading the latest industry analyst write-ups, or the software reviews that are frequently published in popular trade journals.
This will help you narrow it down to a short list of three or four possible marketing automation software providers, so you can begin comparing their features to those on your needs checklist.
As part of the initial process, you may also want to issue a request for proposal (RFP), a formal document that asks pointed, detailed questions about a product’s features and functionality.
You’ll also want to perform a thorough check of each vendor’s history and financial status, and speak to several current customers, preferably those in your industry or with similar business goals and challenges.
3. See It For Yourself
Live demonstrations are a great way to review the capabilities of each marketing automation solution, and see if they will address your requirements. Ask for a customized demo that simulates workflows that are similar to yours. Or, if you want a more accurate picture of how the solution will perform in your environment, ask to trial the software for a few months.
4. Negotiate Your Price
Software negotiations can be complex, and marketing automation software is no exception. Use these suggestions to get the best possible price from your vendor:
- Use the standard discounted price – not the list price – as the jumping off point for your negotiations.
- Don’t stop evaluating other marketing automation software packages. Your vendor will be far more generous if he knows your decision isn’t yet final.
- It may be tempting to take the free features or modules the vendor offers in lieu of a price cut. But, unless they are on your needs checklist, don’t fall into this trap.
- Customer testimonials are “gold” to software vendors. Agreeing to serve as a reference can give you quite a bit of leverage during negotiations.
Look for discount opportunities in other areas, such as consulting, maintenance, training, and other add-on services.