There’s a lot to consider when selecting a marketing automation system and, as many of us have already discovered, it’s not uncommon for our list of questions to keep growing as we delve deeper into the process.
Almost all marketing automation systems today are on-demand SaaS applications versus packaged software that you install and run on-premise. So choosing between “rent” and “buy” is no longer a decision criteria. But don’t assume on-demand systems are a slam-dunk, because most aren’t.
Knowing what to ask when talking to marketing automation vendors will help you get a better understanding of pricing and contract terms that will directly impact your cost of ownership. The following are five of the top questions to ask when shopping for marketing automation:
Five Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Marketing Automation
- What will be our real set-up and implementation timeline?
It’s easy to fall in love with the concept of marketing automation, but don’t just assume that it’s going to be easy. Make sure it meets your criteria for “easy.” Get in and try building your first campaign or have your vendor take you through a step-by-step process of building a live campaign. You don’t want to realize, after-the-fact, that the automation system has complicated rather than simplified your life.
- How much training are we going to need and what will we get from our provider?
Marketing automation isn’t just about a technology; you and your staff must also be able to use and benefit from your new marketing automation software. As a result, the answer to this question should focus not only on the training required to use the system, but also the creation of the first campaigns.
- How much support are we going to get ongoing and how much more is it going to cost?
Just because you’ve been trained on your new marketing automation platform doesn’t mean you’ll be without issues or questions. Make sure to inquire about the amount of support available, for how long, and at what cost.
- How long are we tied into this contract?
Contract terms are very important. In SaaS, the value of a subscription-based model for a customer is the ability to pay as you go. This model affords flexibility for customers by allowing them to essentially rent the service as opposed to buying it.
- What exactly are we getting for the monthly price? Is the price related to product modules or usage capacity?
If you’re like most buyers, you expect a clear, straightforward, predictable price for the level of value you anticipate realizing. Unfortunately, marketing automation system contracts sometimes contain hidden costs and complicated contract terms that take away from your control as a buyer.To avoid these hidden costs, it is important to inquire about the structure of the marketing automation vendor’s pricing model. Depending on the vendor, items such as the number of emails you send per month, the number of click-throughs you receive, or even the software features you use, might affect the overall cost of your system.
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