The number of marketing automation tools available on the market today is increasing. With options like email creators, social media automation platforms, and all-in-one solutions, it can be tricky to select the one that will provide you with the most long-term value.
Researching all available options is the first step to knowing your options and giving you an idea of the tools that are readily available. From there, formulate a list of goals you want to achieve with your platform and find the software most able to accomplish those goals. Take these goals and talk to the experts: the marketing automation providers.
Talking to marketing automation providers is a valuable task that can provide you with a lot of information about the tools and allow you to make comparisons between different systems. Before you pick up the phone to call though, be sure to read through this list of questions to ask before you buy any marketing automation software to help you make an informed decision.
How will I get my existing data into the platform?
The ideal marketing automation platform will have an easy way to import your existing data into its system. Whether it's through an API connection, CRM integration, or simple uploading process, getting your existing data into your new platform should be an easy and straightforward task. After all, the basis of your marketing is going to be this data so it's important that starting to use it is not a complicated task.
What channels does the platform have?
Even if you're only interested in email communications, ask what other channels each platform has. As you continue to use marketing automation and your audience increases, it is likely that you will want to incorporate other channels into your strategy in order to offer more to your leads. Especially in the case of SMS and social media communications, that are increasingly growing in popularity, you want to be able to stay ahead of the communication trends. So, choosing a platform with limited communication channel options is not ideal for potential growth.
Is support available?
Marketing automation is a new technology and, as such, you may require support from the marketing automation provider to get started. Most will get you started with an onboarding session but always inquire about additional costs associated with training and support. Some platforms include phone, email, and live chat support, but ask to make sure it's included in the platforms you are interested in to avoid hidden costs.
What aspects of the customer lifecycle does the system manage?
Most marketers want a system that can handle the customer through all stages of the customer lifecycle – not just when they're leads or prospects. Make sure that the system can handle all types of contacts and create campaigns that are appropriate for each stage in the lifecycle.
How scalable is the solution?
As your company grows, you want a marketing automation solution that can grow with you. A system that allows for different packages based on your needs will allow you to start small and increase as you grow instead of paying for a large package that you don't need.
Before buying a marketing automation platform, check to see if they offer a free trial so you can familiarize yourself with the system. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of SimplyCast's marketing automation platform, SimplyCast 360, to get started.