Figuring out which marketing automation software to choose can be a challenge. This is a complex software category with wildly varying prices and feature availability. Unlike, say, email marketing, there is hardly a clear choice between two near rivals.
There are, however, a few general rules you should follow when buying marketing automation software:
1. Choose Software that Fits Your Business Size
A golden rule for buying software is to pick something that aligns with your business' size and stage. If you are a startup with zero experience in marketing automation, don't pick something that's clearly designed for established, enterprise customers.
Similarly, bloggers should pick software that's designed for bloggers (like ConvertKit). Small businesses with under 20 employees should pick software meant for businesses their size.
Don't underbuy (i.e. buying software that's too limited for your needs). Don't overbuy. Carefully analyze your business size, goals and future growth to find that "Goldilocks" zone of software that is just right.
2. Pay Attention to Hidden Pricing Issues
Lots of marketing automation tools appear to be cheap, but once you start using it, you realize that's not the case. Some providers indulge in opaque billing practices where you'll learn that you need an 'X' essential feature for extra cash only after you've already signed-up.
Before you start, make sure that you understand that you're getting and what kind of additional expense you can expect.
Also make sure that you understand the billing terms - onboarding fees (if any), contract length, and cancellation/refund policies - before you start.
3. Categorize Your Features
Every business has its own list of "must have" and "nice to have" features. Make sure that whichever tool you choose has your "must have" features. The rest of the features are essentially "garnishing" to make the package look good.
For instance, if having a built-in CRM is a priority for you, then limit your choice to tools that offer this (like Infusionsoft or HubSpot). If you absolutely must have a visual editor for making automations, make that a priority during software selection.
4. Consider User-Experience and Ease of Use
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying software is to only consider the features and overlook the user-experience.
Here's the truth: it's better to have an easy to use software without features than a feature-rich software that's hard to use.
Because the easy to use software will actually get used. But a hard-to-use, feature-rich offering will go underutilized.
This is a part of software deployment few people talk about. Make sure that whatever tool you choose offers a user-experience you are comfortable with.
5. Make Sure it Plays Well with Your Existing Tools
Finally, whatever marketing automation software you choose should play nicely with your existing set of tools. This could be anything - your CRM, your accounting software, your email marketing tool, etc.
Check all integrations before you decide on a tool. Consider whether the software offers free API access to develop custom integrations as well.
Picking marketing automation software can be challenging. Hopefully, our comparisons and marketing software reviews will help you make a better decision.