Marketing technology has exploded over the past couple of years. It seems like every day there is a new piece of amazing technology that can solve all of your marketing desires. Be it new tools for emailing, posting, measuring, generating, responding, tracking, analysing, optimising, attributing or a collection or all of the above. I have heard that 20c in every marketing dollar is now spent in technology getting the ad live, targeted, tracked, attributed and optimised.
Getting in early can be of benefit and give you a competitive advantage, but this strategy can sometimes be more of a pot luck gamble than anything else. If you are a smaller business then this maybe the best way forward as you are more than likely nimble and can react quickly to any adverse effects. But if you are an established company then there should be some caution.
We have seen a number of cases where the companies start jumping onto the latest and greatest when in fact their existing technology can do almost the same thing. Usually the internal teams or agencies responsible for the operation are simply not using all of the existing technology’s capabilities.
I am not saying that you should not be continually innovating, assessing and evaluating the latest in technology, as the industry really is moving that fast. But to take a careful consideration around the technology, it’s true impact on the business as well as the ability to roll off it if it does not pan out as expected.
Determine the needs you’re trying to solve
Marketing technology exists for a purpose: to solve a need within your organisation. Every company has different needs, which is why there are so many different options out there.
Get really specific about what your issues are and what you need to alleviate them. Draw up a list of requirements and how the technology will solve this. Make the technology vendor work for your business and have them respond to an RFP and then present a working demonstration of the technology.
Many technology companies will even provide you (a slightly skewed) list of RFP questions to ask, so get a couple of these and combine them together to create a list of requirements that are specific to your needs. Having worked as a Product Consultant for Marin Software and undertaking countless demonstrations, it’s the demonstrations when the client specifies exactly what their issues are that are the most rewarding for both the vendor and customer.
Some companies buy the most popular or most talked about option, then they try to make it solve their organisational challenges. Figure out your business objectives and pain points first and then go find the system or systems that will help resolve them.
Bring in all of the right people up front
Marketing these days and especially the digital marketing components involve most parts of your organisation. Paid search ads quickly move to leads or sales that now involve the sales, billing, customer service, warehousing, procurement, etc etc. Each of these departments should be considered and if the new technology under evaluation impacts them ensure that you have them involved in the discussions – but make sure its not a decision by committee or nothing happen quickly.
Assess multiple options
In a market full of choices it can be difficult to make the right decision for your company. Going with something that is recommended or is a known name may not be the right decision. Remember your needs differ to everybody else. It’s your USP that defines and drives your business so be sure that the decision you make aligns with your goals and not the goals of the company selling to you.
Let’s take the results of a study by Allmand La:, around 90 percent of tech start-ups will fail. If you a start-up or even a well-established business looking for an enterprise solution your needs are more than likely going to change in the coming years. You will need to adapt. New technologies and ways to reach and satisfy your customers are charging, daily. How can your adapt with your choices to maintain leadership in your space.
Besides viability, there are a number of things that eConsultancy suggests you should consider as you compare options:
- Tools and features: This is somewhat obvious, but how well do the tools and features address and solve the pain points you’ve identified? It may be impossible to find one system that does everything you need, but you should evaluate which one comes closest.
- Learning curve: How much time and training will your team need to get up and running?
- Expertise: Is the implementation process complicated? Do you have people on staff with expertise in setting up similar systems and processes or will you need an outside resource to provide assistance?
- Resources: What kinds of resources are available, via customer service, training materials, user communities, etc.
- Scalability: Sure, it works for where you are now, but how about a year from now? Five years from now?
- Integration: How well will the system integrate with others you have or need, like Salesforce.com? Is the API easy to work with?
- Cross-departmental use: Can the system be used to solve more than just your challenges? Are there tools and features that can streamline things across multiple departments?
Consider the stack
How your eDM software talks to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and how that talks to your ad management software and how that talks to your attribution software and does this need to talk to your customer service software….. as you can see everything this day and age is intertwined. There is not one company (to date) that can do it all. You have to consider your complete stack of technologies and how they inter-relate to each other.
Take your time
Technology is a big investment, and we’re not just talking money. When you sign up you’re essentially agreeing to a whole new system, with new processes and a new way of doing things. It requires a commitment of time, personnel, and resources, and in some cases, a whole culture shift to a new way of thinking. With so much on the line, you can see why making a quick decision is not in your best interest, not matter how urgent your needs.
Don’t rush the selection process. Sales people have their targets but don’t let them move you into something you are not ready for. You don’t want to choose something quickly, only to realise in six months that it’s the wrong solution and now you have to start all over again — or worse, you’re stuck with it. Getting out of an agreement usually is a lot harder than getting into one – not just contractually but integration and reverting back to where you were previously.
Take your time to do it right. Talk to people. Watch demos and videos. Ask many, many questions. Weigh the pros and cons. And don’t default to the cheapest (or most expensive) option.
With the right approach, you’ll feel confident that when you do make a choice, it’s the right one.