In our last post on marketing technology for small businesses, we offered a general overview of the application landscape. The tools are seemingly endless and once you start your research, each application promises more value and ability to increase sales than the next. But like everything in small business marketing, which tool truly delivers the best opportunity for your business depends on your business.

Before you sign on for an annual contract (to get the discount!) with a marketing automation platform that may or may not be the answer to your prayers, consider:

  1. What Applications and Tools Do You Utilize Today?

What tools do you use to keep track of contacts, communicate with customers, process sales, and generally run your business? It’s possible that your new application could replace one or more of your existing ones. And if not, you’ll want to consider if the systems already offer out-of-the-box integrations with one another or can be relatively easily connected through applications like Zapier or Parsey. This matters because…

  1. How Do You Plan to Utilize Your New Marketing Technology?

Marketing technology platforms range from basic and straightforward to complex and sophisticated. While you might start down the marketing automation path simply to follow up with those who abandon carts on your website, you may quickly find numerous other ways to keep in touch with customers, automate sales processes, and more. Before evaluating technology platforms, think through you entire customer lifecycle – are there opportunities today or down the road that you might want your new application to help support? With these answers, you can better evaluate the capabilities of the various options. Think about the long term, not only the here and now, because…

  1. How Much Time Can You Commit to Managing Your Marketing Technology?

“You” might mean the small business owner, a marketing manager, other team member, marketing agency partner, or even intern, but ongoing care and watering of your new marketing technology is an ongoing job. While the notion of “set it and forget it” sounds good, for your marketing automation, CRM, or other marketing technology to deliver optimal benefits, someone needs to keep an eye on the system. Especially considering that when the system works as it should, business will grow, new processes and campaigns will become clear, and inevitably, some contacts will need to be manually added and updated. And as you think about growth…

  1. What’s Your Budget?

Of course, at the end of the day, it always comes down to money. People resources are one thing and boundless ideas and opportunities are another. But just as marketing technology ranges in complexity, it also has huge variations in cost from free (seriously, Mailchimp has made automation free) to quite costly. In thinking about budget, don’t just think about the out-of-pocket cash outlay you can handle, but also how much new revenue will offset the expense. What might seem costly at first may quickly become quite affordable if a single deal or couple of repeat purchases from existing customers get you to break even on the investment, and then each additional sale becomes exciting new revenue. Marketing technology is, after all, an investment in your growth.

  1. How Technically Savvy is Your Team?

And who might use the platform? Think beyond just your marketing team to include salespeople, operations managers, etc. As already mentioned, while the marketing technology search might start out to support a simple process, once installed, many additional benefits and opportunities often quickly become apparent. As a result, numerous team members may end up utilizing your new system. How technically savvy are they? What training might you need to provide? And how adaptable are they to changing their work habits and business processes? Some marketing technology platforms for small business are more user friendly than others and they all offer varying levels of support, but sometimes it’s at an additional cost.

Ready to get started? Stay tuned for campaign ideas in upcoming posts.