This post is the first in a series on how to find, evaluate and, ultimately, choose the right marketing automation software for your business needs – both today and tomorrow. Does that trigger that little voice in your head to ask, “Marketing automation – me? Why, we’re not some big eCommerce company?”
Now that little voice may not fully grasp what marketing automation is, and more importantly, how much your online business can benefit from it. It’s true that marketing automation software is a big step up from a shopping cart, email software and some other online mechanisms and integrations that deliver a rudimentary eCommerce presence.
In short, marketing automation removes barriers and helps your business to scale quickly. A catalyst for that growth is the ability to deliver behavior-based, personalized marketing, which enables clear, actionable analytics for true ROI tracking.
Even better, the advantage of living in today’s marketing software environment and not the world of even five years ago is THIS: the sheer power of marketing automation is no longer the domain of large enterprises and their XL-size marketing budgets.
It’s also not reserved for geeks and math whizzes either. Intelligent marketing systems do indeed exist. In fact, marketing automation sequences can be created and triggered based on any action or lack thereof from your prospects and customers.
Of course, there are different levels of automation. As this series progresses, you’ll see the depth of automation possibilities, including many pre-configured sequences that can be deployed with a single click.
Mindset Before Feature Set Delivers the BEST results
Now, before I share some helpful ways to evaluate your marketing software options, do you realize the opportunity before you? Because it’s a real “breakthrough in waiting” for how you conduct business online.
No pressure, right? Seriously, the time is now because the tools that deliver real marketing automation have never been so robust or more affordable. (And, as you’ll discover with a quick web search, as plentiful).
On its surface, automation just screams cost-savings, doesn’t it? To be clear, this is not automation for pure automation’s sake. It’s automation that is triggered by prospect and customer behavior – even inactivity can generate an email response to rekindle interest.
The benefits of marketing automation are Many. Here’s just a Few:
- Automation saves human time (your own, that of your team and your outsourcers)
- That accrued, saved time also represents opportunity cost, freeing you and your team (if you have one) to pursue higher level activity
- Automation that includes pre-set marketing sequences based on proven success factors lessens risk and increases the likelihood of sustainable online success
- Through automation and analytics, the system “knows” what works and what doesn’t and can deploy a variety of marketing initiatives on autopilot
That’s just a sample of the many delights awaiting you with marketing automation software.
This post (and this entire buyer’s guide series) makes the following assumption …
You have seen the light (and the value) of an “all-in-one” tool that includes several critical marketing components within the same platform.
With that in mind, which digital marketing platform is the best for you?
Sure, you’re on the Kartra blog so it’s only natural we want you to choose Kartra. It’s also true that informed, educated SaaS (Software as a Service) buyers make our best customers. So, we’re happy to share useful information to help you make the best overall decision.
Tip #1: Don’t Buy Marketing Automation Software Like You Buy a Car
During the negotiation process, a car dealer will ask you what appears, on the surface, to be an innocent question: “What’s your monthly budget for a car payment?” Once you give the salesperson that number, you’ve lost the negotiation. Because they know how much or, in many cases, how little car to offer as long at they hit that magic number.
It can play out pretty much the same way when shopping for marketing automation software. If you start with the monthly payment for marketing automation software and work backwards, you’re more than likely to lop off the most viable options for your business.
Does this mean a monthly software budget is NOT a consideration? It surely is, but one that is best pursued later in the evaluation process after you get a handle on what you want and where to get it.
Tip #2: How to Successfully Evaluate Feature Sets of Various eCommerce Software Companies
With any all-in-one eCommerce marketing platform, you’re likely have between five to ten different marketing modules or components included in one app. And within each component are a variety of sub-features.
Word to the wise here: you’ll drive yourself loony trying to compare everything down to the granular sub-feature! Because you’d then multiply that by the number of marketing components and then multiply that by the number of software companies you’re evaluating.
WHOA! That sounds utterly exhausting, doesn’t it?
Some perspective here: are all those sub-features ultimately that important? Sure, they were developed for a reason. Just don’t get hung up on them or by them.
Here are three takeaways to keep yourself sane, save you some coin, and accelerate your evaluation of feature sets from multiple SaaS marketing vendors …
Takeaway #1: no one software is the best at EVERYTHING
Translation: being at parity isn’t a deal breaker. What you want is a tool that provides enough utility to meet your needs.
Take, for example, Kartra’s affiliate program and help desk components. Can you find similar offerings from a competitor, either as a standalone or an all-in-one that have more features? Probably. But do you really need (or will you use) all that extra stuff? Likely not.
Takeaway #2: define the line between just enough and total overkill
Naturally, you want a SaaS marketing automation tool you won’t outgrow. So, use your current business plan (if you have one) as a filter to see how your new eCommerce solution measures up with your own growth projections.
Think of it this way. What if you were renting office space? You rent 20,000 square feet but are only using 5,000 of it with no plans for expansion. Do you really need all that extra space and the cost that comes with it? Nope. So why pay for something you won’t use?
Takeaway #3: the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts
This dynamic often gets lost among all the bright, shiny objects known as “amazing features!”.
For example, Kartra’s greatest strength may likely be how all the different components work together rather than how each component distinguishes itself individually.
Truth be known, this in no way implies that Kartra isn’t jammed to the gills with worthwhile features across every single component your online business needs: shopping cart, email software, marketing automation sequences, membership portal, affiliate program, page templates, analytics, video hosting, helpdesk and more.
You see, the real benefit here is how the entire system performs in unison without you even lifting a finger. That includes each component working and talking to each other.
Here’s just one example: you have a marketing video. You can configure Kartra to send a specific follow-up email based on how much of the video was viewed by each individual contact. Neat, huh?
In so doing, you’ve taken a quantum leap in targeting each prospect and customer as an individual, rather than just blasting out the same generic thing to everyone that views, subscribes or, in the end,hopefully buys.
That’s something to keep in mind especially when evaluating a competitive matrix of the best eCommerce software companies. (Kartra has one too, and it will be published soon.)
Coming up next in this buyer’s guide series:
A peek under the hood of the marketing automation components you’ll likely use the most and exactly what to look for that best supports your business.