Think back to your most recent purchase for work. Was it a booth display, printer, standing desk, or T-shirts for the team? Or was it something bigger, such as a marketing automation system?
Marketers face purchase decisions that range in size from minor to massive. Across the spectrum, subscriptions to software tools and platforms are among the larger purchases that marketers make.
These days, marketers aren’t just tasked with reaching and engaging buyers in a competitive arena, they’re also charged with measuring ad performance and marketing effectiveness to prove ROI. As consumer paths to purchase become more complex, new technologies help marketers navigate all aspects of the journey.
Today’s technology stacks include core platforms essential to the marketers’ day-to-day, such as CRM (customer relationship management) and marketing automation systems, as well as additional tools for email marketing, online and offline advertising, and more.
But true innovation tends to happen on the edges of these underlying systems. It’s not about simply “tweaking” the core anymore; it’s about adding new technologies that enhance collaboration and facilitate interactions with customers and prospects at every stage of their journey.
Choosing the right tool is challenging. There are typically multiple vendors for each type of solution, and the process of getting quotes and comparing features and functionality can be lengthy.
It’s also frequently difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between two or more solutions. And while a vendor may have made glowing promises in its marketing and sales pitches, when it comes to the actual experience with the solution, some marketers find, too late, that they don’t receive what they expected.
As marketers plan their future technology purchases, there are several key questions they should ask vendors. Here are 10 questions you can ask before making a martech investment. We’ve paired each question with a few tips to help you navigate your research.
1. Does your technology support my goals and use cases, complement my existing tech stack, ensure data integration and generate ROI?
Set your team up for success by outlining your business needs and goals, identifying functionality you don’t have, assessing data integration needs, and defining how you will measure and achieve ROI.
2. How does the technology integrate with my existing solutions?
Siloed solutions get in the way of meaningful interactions with customers. Solutions that integrate seamlessly make it easier to break down silos, coordinate across channels and measure success.
3. How will implementing this solution affect my team’s work processes?
Don’t underestimate the impact on your team. When investing in new or upgraded marketing tools, it’s important not to solely focus on the benefits of the tool itself, but to also consider how the change will affect your team’s work processes.
4. How will this help me understand my customers holistically?
When technologies operate in silos and don’t connect, the insights they yield don’t connect either. Disjointed insights can keep companies from truly understanding customers holistically and from providing a consistent on-brand experience across all channels.
5. How will this solution help drive revenue?
While there is value in saving time, reducing effort and improving productivity, it’s more important to find out if a solution can actually make you money, rather than just costing you.
6. What is your immediate product roadmap and vision for future releases?
Armed with this knowledge, your marketing team, with the expertise of the technology department, can evaluate the software’s roadmap against their combined marketing and IT roadmap.
7. How well does your organization’s culture and strategy align with ours?
Try to prequalify vendors before the demo stage with a series of questions about company viability and growth. This will let you find potential technology partners that have the capability to help you reach your strategic business goals.
8. In addition to serving my immediate needs, can you scale to meet my longer-term goals?
To build a partnership that will help you evolve from your current situation to your future desired state, you need to establish that the technology is flexible enough to keep up with your evolving business.
9. What is the ongoing cost for support, maintenance and evolution/growth of this technology?
Don’t overlook the need for ongoing support and maintenance. Make sure you include future management and enhancement after deployment.
10. Is it possible to conduct short-term tests prior to installation? (If not, why?)
Pilot programs can give you more confidence that a technology will ultimately deliver on its promised returns. By being able to test a solution, you can identify potential implementation challenges early, so that the larger-scale adoption runs more smoothly, saving the organization time and money.
Download our ebook 9 Things Your Marketing Mix Vendor May Not Be Telling You to learn more questions.