Ready to invest in marketing technology? Here are 6 things to ask yourself before you make a purchase:
Does the acquisition fit into a strategy and roadmap?
Marketing technology is a means to an end, and it’s important to know what that end looks like before purchase. How will it help to achieve your goals? What opportunities or capabilities will it unlock? These questions may sound obvious, but many marketers buy technology without a clear understanding of how it will help them to achieve their top-level objectives and integrate into what they already own. Beyond that, it’s also important to consider the future and what other technology solutions are in the pipeline. Some technologies do not work well together and it’s essential integration issues are pre-emptively evaluated before purchases are made. Finally, you need to determine where your purchase fits into your overall strategy and how reliable its values will be over time; are there any planned future purchases that could render it obsolete?
Does your current tech stack already support your requirement?
Before purchasing any new marketing technology, it’s important to first audit what you have and identify whether any of your (likely under-utilized) software can already meet your requirements. It’s not uncommon for software packages to offer functionality beyond the reason for purchase. Most users buy software for one purpose and use it exclusively for that ONE purpose. Many fail to explore their purchases further to understand the full extent of what they’re buying, and this often leads to untapped potential. Due diligence before you buy could save a lot of time and money. Take a look at what you already own before adding to your increasingly complex tech stack. It’ll help you get the most out of your software and may even unlock previously unknown capabilities.
What are the hidden or variable costs?
As you’d probably expect, cost is one of the greatest characteristics to consider and manage when buying a piece of marketing technology. You know what you want to do, you know how you can do it, now you just need to find the tool that meets your budget while providing the capabilities you require. In principle, this sounds simple, but the reality is very different. Most marketing technology doesn’t come with a one-off upfront cost, many incur running costs, some offer tiered systems that lock away fundamental capabilities, while others offer a great introductory monthly fee before ramping up the cost. You need to look ahead before committing to a purchase; what costs will this piece of technology incur over time and do the benefits justify it? Beyond that, you need to take to take into consideration your particular needs and how they will impact cost, add-ons like data storage and extra seats or users are likely to incur additional fees, and in some cases, these can be significant.
Is there a rich support environment and community?
Is the solution you are considering open source or proprietary? Open source technology will almost by definition have a rich community of developers, wikis and support content you can turn to. If you are licensing open source through a support vendor, they should be your first line of defense for issue resolution.
This is in direct contrast to support for proprietary technology, which has to be shaped by the vendor – supporting communities can vary wildly from product to product. Before purchase, consider how open these support communities are. If you have to be a customer to access support content, there is the potential to limit the number of 3rd party individuals or businesses that can plug into the ecosystem. Also, it’s important to consider how easy it will be to hire staff or freelancers to support you in the roll out and use of the tool. Are there accreditations that users can work towards? If you do an online search, how many users come up offering development services?
What is your enablement strategy?
Getting access to your preferred marketing technology platform is only half the battle. If your users don’t engage with it, your purchase could wither and die before it gets a chance to prove itself. Driving adoption and changing behavior is difficult and requires a robust plan involving documentation, training, feedback and support. Work with your vendor on pulling together supporting content and running on-boarding sessions.
Consider running a pilot to shake out and document the difficulties or quirks of integration and deploying projects. The pilot can also be used as a way of demonstrating benefits, efficiencies or ROI. The other crucial point on enablement is to start early. Involve stakeholders and users during the selection or configuration phase and your engagement phase should meet less resistance.
Don’t forget, enablement is an ongoing thing. Setup a place to receive direct feedback from your users and post questions and answers in a wiki or FAQs.
How are you going to measure impact or success?
How are you going to prove your purchase has been a success? What dial are you trying to move? If you’re building a business case for the purchase this bit should be easy. If you’re going by your gut, it might be more challenging.
By setting out long term objectives for your new platform or solution you’ll be able to establish your baseline and know what to measure. Having something to aim for helps to focus minds on the purpose of technology rather than technology being an end in itself. Try to find measurable data points rather than intangible improvements. Set a timeline – if you are not seeing returns on your purchase, then look at reason why. Are there technical or adoption issues? Ultimately be prepared to change strategy if you are not seeing a benefit.
Still struggling to make a decision? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to advise!
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