Where to start? According to Capterra’s Buying Guide, we need to articulate our software needs based on our business goals. I decided to call one of my favorite experts on the topic—Cari Baldwin. Cari is the Founder of BlueBird Strategies and was a speaker at CapCon (Capterra’s Software Marketing Conference) a couple years back. She shared so much great information in her CapCon presentations, but since we weren’t really ready for Marketing Automation, it didn’t mean much to me at the time.
My colleague and marketing partner in crime, Katie Hollar, and I went into a conference room, notepads and pens ready, hoping for some guidance. After catching up on kids and dogs and home renovations, it was time to get down to business. Cari’s first question had to do with our CRM: do we use one of the big, popular products that many companies use? That would certainly make things easier, since a lot of the Marketing Automation tools are built to integrate with those. But we don’t; Capterra’s tech team built the system we use to manage our customer contacts. Cari tells us that integration with our system will be the most difficult part of our selection process. She mentions things like SOAP (which I now know has everything to do with the integration and has nothing to do with how well the marketing automation vendors bathe), and gives us a few things to ask our tech team.
Then, we got into features. Do we have a list of what we need, want and don’t need? Of course we do! We talk about it all the time and that list is in our heads. But Cari tells us to put them down on paper. These things need to be very well defined; otherwise it’s easy to get distracted by all the pretty lights. I know exactly what she means because it has happened to me before in demos for other products. I get so excited about all the cool things software can do and forget about what I was looking for in the first place.
Here are some of the things we know we need, but we definitely should get into more detail:
- Landing Page Design
- Web Visitor Tracking
- Lead Scoring
- Dynamic Email Capabilities and Nurture Tracks
Although Capterra always tells businesses not to choose software based on what a friend tells you works well for their company (since all companies are so different), I can’t fight the urge to ask Cari which product she recommends. She names a few that she thinks would work (come on Cari, can’t you just tell me what to do!) and explains the pros and cons of each. And by cons, I mean cons for Capterra specifically. It definitely helps that she understands our business so well.
We close the conversation with a couple more golden nuggets from Cari:
- Try to buy at the end of the month for the best deal—end of the quarter is even better.
- Be prepared for 6 months to a year of implementation once we make a final selection.
- Don’t forget to look ahead at what we will need from the software a couple of years from now, vs. what we need today so we don’t buy something too “small.”
Feeling armed and dangerous (ha!), we close the call and promise to update Cari on how it’s going. I have a feeling we’ll be calling with more questions than updates.