It is 2018, and your business must have presence in a variety of online channels to spread your message and reach new potential consumers.
However, whether you utilize emails, flyers, blog posts or social media, it can be challenging to integrate all those different channels while also preserving a harmonious brand message.
This is where marketing platforms come in handy as investing in marketing automation software plays a pivotal role in supporting the growth of your business and assisting you in attracting more leads and sales.
Here is a five-step checklist for choosing the right marketing platform for your business.
- What are your marketing goals?
First and foremost, you want to define your marketing goals. Ideally, in order to maintain synergy within your company, you want your marketing goals to be aligned with your business objectives.
Therefore, obviously, both your business objectives and your marketing objectives need to be clearly defined.
Study what it is you want to achieve through your platform. Is your business seeking enhanced brand awareness? Are you more focused on increasing customer engagement on your social media platforms? Maybe your current focus is to create higher-quality leads for your sales team?
However high your goals are, and no matter what they are, you want to ensure they are clear and agreed on by all the appropriate members of the team.
By having them explicitly stated, you can consult them when picking the right marketing platform for your business.
- What is your marketing budget?
Once you know your goals, it is then time to switch your attention to your budget — a vital part of the checklist. Think of your marketing automation platform as an investment in the same way that you also consider your digital marketing campaigns.
It is crucial that your team recognizes the importance of having the appropriate platform for your business, and proves that by incorporating the necessary costs into your marketing budget.
As long as it is appropriately implemented, the cost of purchasing a marketing platform will be outweighed rewardingly by the results that it produces on your revenue.
- What platforms are there on the market?
So you don’t get swayed by the market offerings, only start researching after you are clear about your objectives and your budget.
However, the research is the fun part!
Start by talking to other friends or contacts in your industry about the marketing automation platforms they are currently using and what they like and don’t like about it.
During your research, assemble a list of personally recommended platforms. Then do some online research for further options.
While you are conducting your online research, narrow down your list. Ideally, narrow it down to about eight different options based on reviews, functionality, pricing and customer support.
Once you have eight options, compare their offerings to your firm’s needs. If you are lucky, you may find one platform that can do it all for you.
However, usually, you will be choosing between a few options. Don’t fret; this is a typical part of the process.
- How do the platforms behave during their trial period?
The next step is to ascertain your top four contenders and create a test project for each. Then, you want your marketing team to analyze each one during a trial period.
After all, you don’t want to commit to a platform and migrate all your content until it has been tested. Ask the members of your marketing team to monitor the platform carefully and keep detailed notes about their experience.
For example, you want to know whether or not it is easy and convenient to create campaigns within the platform and whether they found the software intuitive. Was it easy or trying to interpret the data and analytics, and did the tested campaign end up being successful? How was the layout? The usability? The support team?
Ensure they understand that they must be as honest and as thorough with their reviews as possible, as you will be using their feedback to make a decision.
Most likely, if you are trying out a few different platforms, there are going to be elements that your team disagrees on. Different people are going to prefer various platforms and support their personal choice.
Don’t worry if this happens. In fact, there is a good chance your team will benefit from bouncing the pros and cons off each other, ultimately arriving at a unanimous decision.
- What social media channels do you want to commit to?
Starting and sustaining a social media presence takes a lot of continuous work. After all, some channels need you to create multiple daily posts to engage with the community adequately. (Others may necessitate less activity.)
For this reason, you also have to ascertain how much time you are prepared to dedicate to social media. This will be another step in helping you cut down your list and decide which platform is the right fit for your business culture and workflow.
Focusing your energies on one or two social media channels can be more prosperous than dividing your attention among a wide array of social media options. Only utilize channels that best help you achieve your goals and reflect your brand values.
Once you have established these channels, then you must ensure your marketing team is committed to being an active and responsive part of those communities.
At this point, you are ready to commit to a marketing automation platform for your business. Remember that the implementation, set-up and training are just as significant as the features and should be a fundamental element of the selection process.
By following this five-step checklist, you can be confident that you are choosing and utilizing the appropriate marketing automation solution to get the job done — and not just any job, but your job!
Author Bio: Tomi Saikkonen is the Vice President of Liana Technologies,