3 Steps Before Purchasing a Marketing Tool
Whether it’s content production, distribution, measurement, some form of strategic guidance, or a combination of it all, it seems that there is always a new marketing tool that promises to solve your current and ongoing marketing challenges.
It can be tempting to add new tools to your marketing process or blame any current marketing deficiencies on a lack of access to a sophisticated toolset; however, the truth is that it’s difficult to find software that perfectly aligns with your business need—even when you have the resources to do so.
Learn how these 3 steps can help you identify the right marketing software and make a more informed purchasing decision to alleviate your current and growing marketing needs.
Step #1 Analyze Your Marketing Challenges
While an expert consultant or influencer with years of industry experience may suggest an ideal set of marketing tools for your team, since your marketing challenges, internal skill maturity, and customer audiences are inherently unique to your business model, you’ll want to do much of the research yourself.
Start by openly sharing your challenges with your marketing department, company shareholders, and any outside consultants or companies that you are already working with—particularly as they relate to achieving organizational goals. Tie the conversation back to revenue when appropriate and applicable.
For example, let’s say that you have a blogging strategy with a goal to acquire 1000 marketing qualified leads (MQLs) per year. Once you write and distribute your blog content, you net between 5-10 MQLs, but you’re having challenges scaling your blogging process to meet your goal by end-of-year.
To earn decision making help and buy-in from your team, exercise transparency and share your intentions
“At our current rate, it appears that we’ll miss our leads goal by 20%, which could impact our sale’s team goals as well. We either need to get more efficient at producing content or better at distribution and outreach. Do you think we should hire freelance writers, concentrate more on whitepapers, contract with an agency, or purchase software to help us get more organized?”
By assessing how your marketing challenges are affecting revenue goals as well as other department’s performance—and by sharing your findings through a transparent and collaborative approach, you can earn internal support to find a solution, receive additional feedback to analyze, and give leadership teams insight to manage company-wide expectations.
Step #2 Identify Software and Alternative Solutions
After you’ve analyzed your marketing challenges and decided to move forward with software solutions, it’s time to weigh all of your options.
Start by creating a shared document or brainstorm with your team on the company whiteboard. Aim to identify at least 5-6 possible solutions; 3-4 that are similar and a few wild card solutions to mix it up.
If you don’t know where to start, use Google to find comparison articles or in-depth reviews.
For example, if you are researching analytics, a high level query could be, “what is the best marketing analytics software?” While this step seems basic, it’s often overlooked.
After finding a handful of possible solutions, begin searching their competitors with queries such as, “google analytics competitors” or “software like google analytics” or “google analytics alternatives.”
If you follow a trusted writer or publication, you can use Google to search their site specifically with a “site colon” search. To perform a site colon search, enter “site:” followed by the URL of the publication and then your search query.
Your results will only be content from that domain. If you can only find old content, select the tools tab and find results within the past hour, 24 hours, or more.
You can also ask for software recommendations from professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter—or through software review sites such as G2Crowd.
The key is to create a diverse list of options to thoroughly research. Try not to get too caught up with product pricing in this step as researching expensive software can often offer clues to alternative solutions and help you hone in on the best solution.
Step #3 Deep Dive Your Options
Once you’ve identified possible solutions, it’s time for the real research to begin. Start by scheduling a half hour discovery or product demo call with each of your software options and prepare to ask a series of strategic questions.
It’s worth mentioning that even if you don’t plan on using a particular solution, a discovery call can still be helpful if you are tactful and open in your approach.
For example, a colleague may recommend an all-in-one solution such as Marketo for your email marketing needs. Sure, you only need email marketing software and Marketo may be outside your budget, but you can use the discovery process with the Marketo team to learn about what other marketing departments are doing—and even ask if they know solutions that meet your better match your needs.
Ask the following strategic questions during your demo:
- Have you worked with marketing departments or industries similar to ours? If so how?
- How can your software help us execute our goals this quarter?
- How much time do I need to spend in the software to be successful?
- Can you connect me with one of your current customers or share a recent case study?
This process can help you justify the solution that you do end up making and show your team that you really did your research.
“Well, we considered Marketo as an email solution that we can implement once and grow into as a team; however, it didn’t quite match our budget requirements. We found similar pricing problems with InfusionSoft—and MailChimp just didn’t have enough of the features we need. We decided to move forward with the VerticalResponse team for our email solution.”
Other methods for deep diving you software solutions include:
- Reach out to published consultants, influencers, or industry authors
- Ask professionals in your network for their experiences
- Find current users and ask for feedback
- Check review sites and social media commentary
- Follow up on public testimonials
Have you been in charge of onboarding a new marketing software tool? What methods have you used to make an informed decision? Was it challenging to find the right vendor or earn internal buy in? Put your answers and any feedback that you have in the comments below.