Guest post by Ryan Gould.
Marketing software allows you to automate processes and otherwise free up your time, while enabling you to remain on top of lead generation, nurturing, and all the rest of the tasks that consistently fill up your calendar. However, with all the marketing software you have to choose from, you owe it to yourself—and your organization—to be a little selective in your B2B marketing technology choices.
With 75% of marketers expecting their marketing technology (martech) budgets to rise in 2017, whether you’re looking for marketing automation, sales/CRM automation, analytics software, or a unique solution that combines all of the above and more in a concise software package, the following checklist should help.
Here are 10 key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating the various software platforms available.
B2B Marketing Software Evaluation Checklist
Fits Your Requirements: Determine your exact needs and only consider the platforms that meet your demands. Do you want to save time? Increase customer engagement? Engage in more timely communications? Or create better opportunities? Ensure the software is designed for B2B marketers, not just B2C, and look for examples of companies like yours putting the platform to good use. Doing so shouldn’t be difficult, as it’s said that 79% of top-performing companies have been using the same marketing software for more than two years. In other words, marketers tend to find a platform that works and stick to it, which bodes well for your software hunt.
Leverages Account-Based Marketing: Instead of casting a wide net with your marketing campaigns in the hopes of appealing to as many organizations as possible within your target market, account-based marketing allows you to concentrate sales and marketing resources on a specific set of target accounts, then employs personalized campaigns that are designed to resonate with each account. ABM is more efficient and targeted, and is the future of marketing. Therefore, look for marketing software that infuses ABM for better sales alignment and higher ROI, such as the one made by Marketo.
Provides Useful Analytics: Ever find yourself staring at a series of metrics as you attempt to make heads or tails of it all? Useful marketing software will allow you—at a single glance—to determine how well (or poorly) your marketing campaigns happen to be doing at any given time.
Easy to Use: Reviews can tell us a lot about the various software programs on the market. When reading marketing software reviews, look for language that explicitly implies that the software is simple to manage. The last thing you want to do is become first-name chums with tech support because the software you chose was too complicated to figure out on your own. Marketing software should save you time, not waste it.
Focused on ROI: B2B marketing software isn’t cheap, so look for software that will give you the best opportunity to earn an ROI quickly. In other words, the software should identify leads, nurture those leads, and bridge the gap between marketing and sales almost intuitively. While ROI can be difficult to predict, be mindful of any returns you’re likely to make when committing to a purchase, and you’ll be more likely to make a choice that’s right for you. Using the ROI formula ((Investment Gain – Investment Cost) / Investment Cost)) can aid you in your decision.
Scalable: As your brand grows, your marketing software should scale along with it. Ensure the software works well across multiple divisions, including sales and development, as well as geographies, and look for solid examples of the software scaling for a company just like yours.
Taps Into the Socialsphere: Today’s marketing is all about forming connections with prospects and customers across a variety of channels. Ensure the marketing automation software you choose creates an ecosystem that allows you to listen-to and have conversations with your audience via the various social networks.
Open vs. Closed System: Consider whether third parties are prevented from integrating with the software platform’s ecosystem (closed system), or if you can select the products that work best for you and integrate them with ease if you so choose (open system). Closed systems prevent innovation because most are typically comprised of smaller divisions under a major umbrella. That’s how you get an all-in-one solution. But buyer beware. Those smaller divisions can become individually dated and stale, leading to complete devaluation of your software piece by piece. A better solution is an open system that allows you to select the programs you need, then integrate them into a customized all-in-one martech stack that is constantly up-to-date and future-proof.
Employs Lead Scoring: Your software of choice should allow you to qualify, track, and rank the leads you earn. The scoring mechanism is based on specific criteria, such as behaviors the leads engage in (downloading forms, for example) or other data (such as job title and industry). Focusing on the higher-scoring leads allows you to target decision-makers, not lollygaggers, for greater marketing success.
Easy Adoption: The best marketing software is useless if the platform isn’t adopted by everyone along the chain of command. Take time to understand the business needs of everyone involved, and conduct regular evaluations from each team member to find out how the software could be improved upon and what changes need to be made. Purchasing marketing software is only the beginning. After that, it’s all about getting everyone to use it, from executives on down.
When evaluating marketing software, don’t succumb to analysis paralysis. While it is true that you are up against a monumental decision, given how many different types of marketing platforms are available, but persevere, use the checklist above, and remember that your choice of software doesn’t have to be set in stone. If you don’t like a particular selection, find a marketing solution that suits you better.
About the author: Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.