9 Questions to Ask Before You Make a Martech Investment

Posted by Patrick Kilgore on 11/14/16 2:36 PM

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Many businesses have more tech products than they need. The martech market is so full of new and exciting products that it’s easy to be swayed by the possibilities of tech tools that sound great (and even are great), but aren’t necessarily a good fit for your organization.

You don’t want to find your marketing budget blown on a wide array of marketing technology that isn’t actually paying off. The best way to prevent that from happening is to put a process in place that keeps your team from rushing into martech investments.

If every purchase is carefully considered and you take the time to figure out how the product will fit into your marketing plan and help you achieve your goals, you’ll only end up purchasing marketing software that actually moves your marketing efforts forward. Asking these nine questions before each martech purchase should be an important part of your process.

  1. Who will be using this?

Many marketing technology products are predominantly used by people in certain roles. Far too often, those people aren’t actively included in the purchasing process. If you want your staff to actually use the products you buy, they need to be given a say in the process.

For that reason, one of the first questions you should always ask before considering a new product is which people in your department will be using it the most often. Then set up interviews with them early on in the process to find out what their day-to-day needs are, what concerns they have about implementation of a new product, and what priorities they suggest looking for in a martech product.

Give them the chance to evaluate and weigh in on the different products you consider. If they have a say in what tools you buy, they’ll be much more likely get on board with a new product once purchased.  

  1. What does this offer that none of our other products do?

If different departments are taking charge of investing in products for their own needs without talking to other departments, then you’ve probably got multiple products with some overlap in what they offer. You shouldn’t be paying twice for the same functionality.

Before you buy something new, do an analysis of what your current products do. You should only buy the new product you’re considering if it offers something you need that none of your other marketing technology products can deliver. And you might find buying a new product means you can cancel an old one you don’t need anymore to free up some room in the budget.   

  1. What’s the likely ROI?

You’ve got a budget to think about, so you obviously have to consider what new software costs upfront. That number’s easy to figure out. What’s harder to work out, and crucial to making an intelligent purchasing decision, is how much the software will pay off over time.

 Any new marketing technology you buy should either:

  • Save you money by allowing you to cut costs elsewhere or by making your staff members’ lives easier.
  • Make you money by enabling you to make more sales and profits.

Obviously you won’t be able to figure out with 100% certainty how well a new product will pull either of those goals off, but you can make an educated guess. And vendors should be able to provide you with information that helps you do so. Ask for examples of how their technology has helped other companies save or make more money. See if you can get them to provide specific numbers so you can use that in your consideration.

ROI isn’t always easy to calculate – marketers know that as well as anyone – but you should be able to at least figure out an approximate value for what the product will be worth to you. That number will make it that much easier to justify the cost of buying the product.

  1. Is it one-size-fits-all or customizable to your needs?

Every marketing organization is different and for many types of technology solutions that means you need to be able to make the product work for you and your needs. Talk to the vendor about what customization options are available for their product and how complicated the process of getting to the point where the technology is tailored to your needs is.

In some cases, getting the product to you in the version you need will add to your overall costs, so you want to know what you’re getting into upfront.

  1. Does the product fit into how you do things now, or will you need to make changes to your overall process to get the benefits?

Some marketing technologies work best with a general overhaul of how you do marketing .  That can be a good thing. Having an incentive to do an analysis of how things are working for you now and what kind of processes and changes you should implement to do better can lead to overall improvements beyond what the technology itself has to offer. But if you’ll only benefit from the technology if you change up how your organization works now, then you need to be prepared to do so. Otherwise, you won’t get any of the benefits you’re counting on.

Think carefully about what changes you’ll need to make to your marketing processes to use the new technology, and then consider how likely your organization is to truly commit to those changes. If you determine that you are due for an update and committing to a shift in thinking is worth it, then have a plan in place in advance so you increase your chances of accomplishing your goals with the new product after purchase.

  1. What do you hope to get out of the tech?

If you’ve considered the first five questions, then you may already have a clear picture of your answer to this one, but it’s still worth getting your ideas on paper. Clarify your goals for using the new technology and the results you hope to achieve with it. Make sure what you’re hoping to achieve really does match up with the features the product offers and that your goals are realistic within the realm of what the technology makes possible.

  1. What kind of support is provided?

Technology is sometimes fickle and often not as intuitive as its designers had hoped it to be. For that reason, your team should be able to depend on an easy-to-reach, quick-to-answer support team. Many vendors are happy to oblige by offering a strong customer support department and a number of helpful training materials. But you don’t want to realize after purchasing a product that you ended up with a provider that doesn’t bother with those things.

Before you buy, talk to the vendor about the kind of support that’s available to customers. If you know any other companies that have invested in the product, talk to them too so you hear it from an unbiased third party. Customer support can make a big difference to how useful (and how used) a technology product is.

  1. How long will implementation take?

If you spend a lot of money on a new piece of marketing technology and it takes months to a year to get set up, then you won’t be getting any of those benefits you invested in for a long time coming.

Sometimes, the wait may be worth it. Sometimes, you want to get to those improvements faster. Either way, you want a realistic idea of how long you’ll be waiting before you make your purchase so you can make an informed decision and do your best to be prepared. 

  1. What’s your plan for getting your team on board with the new product?

A lot of these questions are ones you’ll want to pose to the vendors you’re considering. This one falls more firmly on your shoulders (although some vendors will be happy to help you with this part).

Before making a purchase, you need to do the work of figuring out what steps to take to help your team get started using the product. You might need to do some persuading to convince them learning the new tech is worth their time. They’ll definitely need some training. And you’ll want to make sure they know who to talk to if they have any questions or concerns as they get going with the new product.

You want to do everything in your power to make the transition to a new piece of marketing technology seamless. Otherwise, you risk no one actually bothering to use the tech you spent so much on.

The right marketing technology can help you save money, make money, make the lives of your staff easier – or all three. But it has to be the right product for you. Take the time to go through each of these questions so you can come out on the other end of your search with the tech product that actually meets your needs and helps you achieve your goals.

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Topics: Hive9, Martech, Marketing Technology

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