Quick note about this diary… not all companies have the same opinions, nor should they, about software. Like we always say, what works for your friend’s company might not work for yours. So, in the interest of making this diary a reflection on the process of buying marketing automation software and not on the vendors themselves, we have decided not to mention the vendors by name. This blog will be an open and honest reflection of our experience, but we don’t want others to base their purchasing decision solely on what we thought of a particular solution. That would be silly and against everything we stand for. Just putting that out there in case you wonder why I’m being so mysterious in the rest of this post. Okay, moving on…
We had our first demo today—one of five that we’re planning over the next couple of weeks. Mike (Capterra’s CEO) already had a scheduled call with this popular marketing software vendor, so he looped me in on the call to take a look at their software and see if it would be a good fit for Capterra.
After talking to Cari, I knew that we needed to get buy-in from our sales team and discuss how marketing automation would impact their processes. After all, this whole lead generation/nurturing thing has a lot to do with them. But we hadn’t scheduled the meeting with sales yet, so I was worried that we may have been jumping the gun on this demo. We’d thought a lot about what we’d like the software to do in terms of email nurturing and campaign tracking, but we hadn’t really thought at all about lead scoring or profiling (which is typically the first part of a marketing automation implementation).
Despite my hesitations, our first demo was very informative and definitely helped prepare me for future demos. The main thing Cari had told us to look out for was whether the system has an API (application program interface) so that we can integrate our marketing automation data with our in-house CRM system (called “CapMain”). Fortunately for us, the vendor did have an open API, so we’d just have to talk to our tech team about how the integration might work.
After going through the demo, I jotted down the pros and cons. We actually spent 1 ½ hours on the phone (will all the demos be this long?!), so I felt like I got a pretty good sense of the software, but I’m sure we’ll have more questions once we get further into the process.
Here were my take-aways:
- The interface is clean and seemed easy to use. Also, the system included features that marketers really need nowadays— like social media and blogs. We don’t necessarily need those capabilities since we’re pretty set in those areas, but it’s nice to know that the software is up-to-speed with the industry. There’s also great analytics and tracking so it’s easy to see who’s engaging with your content.
- SEO Optimization for blog posts (as you’re writing a post, it will look at your desired SEO keywords and suggest tags and “grade” your writing).
- Easy landing page creation that would not require help from our tech team. We can import existing landing pages or build them on a custom template. I could see us using this for content downloads, webinar sign-ups, contests- all sorts of things.
- They don’t have a survey tool. We create a lot of surveys with our email marketing software, so we would essentially be losing that functionality when we switched.
- The email tool seems a lot like our current email marketing provider, which is great, but the reason we’re looking for marketing automation is because we’ve outgrown that system. There is also a limit of 50,000 contacts. Tip- definitely figure out how many contacts you have in your database before you start demos!
- Trigger emails only come with the advanced package. Also, it didn’t seem like you could customize the email sender name based on the sales rep (that’s a huge time suck for us right now because we have to create multiple lists for each email we send based on our individual reps’ clients/prospects).
- Lead scoring is an external application, outside of their main marketing automation interface, and the tie-in with the CRM seemed difficult to me. We’d need to do more research on the API connection.
After this first call, I knew we needed to schedule a time to discuss with our sales teams how they would use/benefit from marketing automation. Also, I made a note to collect answers to all the questions the vendor had asked on our call because I knew I’d need that same info to share with subsequent vendors.
Stay tuned, because my next entry is going to share that demo prep list (and if you’re looking for MA, you’re gonna need it!)