Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Technology has become a significant part of the marketing. And it is getting even more important. Many basic marketing functions have become software dependent. You can choose not to use marketing software but you know this will make you very disadvantaged compared to your competitors and it will make your customers unhappy.
I have been working in software space since 1999. I have bought many third party digital software in different areas including airline software like reservation system, mobile boarding pass software, e-commerce software like web booking engine, analytics software, email software and other marketing technology software like A/B testing, personalization software and tag manager. In some cases I decided to develop the system in house instead of buying. In US Airways while we had our US website developed in-house, we outsourced international sites to Amadeus and I also managed that third party software road map. When mobile era started, we also outsourced our mobile website. So there is never one answer. I have a diverse experience in this area. I worked with ATPCO, Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, SITA, WebTrends, ITA Software, Omniture, Tealeaf, IBM, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Tealium, Google Analytics, Clicktale, Tealeaf, Optimizely, SAS, TOAD, Epsilon and so on.. Years later I used my skills to help companies to buy software since buying software have become more complicated than ever. I have been lucky because I started to learn when digital has just started in the world and I have observed its development over last 20 years. Of course this was never about buying software, software is just a tool to improve our business life. Our objective is to optimize a business process, digitalize a part of business function or decreasing costs. I also started to work with software companies. I have been working with Adobe, IBM, Google, Optimizely, Tealium, Clicktale, Tealeaf, Amadeus, ITA Software and with others.
If you are a marketer with no experience with software or technology, then your job can be very hard. Unfortunately some software companies can sell you the software that you can't use or you don't need. At the end you might end up paying for something that you can't use.
Please do not forget, you don't know what you don't know and technology is very tricky. Things are not as they seem. But with this framework you can make sure that you can still buy software with minimum amount of problems.This is the framework that is the result of my 21 years experience in this space.
Before starting everything ask following questions:
Do I really need this software?
Why I am buying this software
Everybody buys it
Don't buy, stop and reevaluate
I am trying to solve a problem
Explain the problem and tell yourself how this software can help you? what way?
Am I willing to spend budget on people and consulting since software will not work by itself, it will require expense on people.
You need to keep this in mind when you search and negotiate for your software purchase.
1-Keep in Mind that 50% of what the software sales person tells you might be hard to realize
Technology is tricky. A software might have millions of amazing features but these features will be limited depending on your systems, technology, human resources and budget. Many of the features might require extra consulting budget you might not have. Other features might require additional employees or talent which you can't hire. Then there is the integration with other systems, and some of the systems might not be compatible with this software. Your software sales person might not tell you all this or he/she might not know everything in detail himself since he is not technical.
2-Ask for POC (Proof of Concept)
If you can't decide, ask for POC. Good software companies will offer you Proof of Concept where they let you to implement and use the product for a certain of time to give you a better understanding. This is one of the best ways to understand software's compatibility with your own objectives. Just make sure you implement cases you are interested in. But keep in mind that not every software might be suitable for POC.
3-Ask your software company to show you clients with your same objectives
If you can't do POC for some reason ask to the software company if there are other similar clients who achieved what you are trying to achieve. That might be a good way to understand if this software can really help you.
4-Ask your software company similar clients like you and talk to those clients
One of the good ways to understand a software's effectiveness is to talk to the current clients. Software companies will be happy to let you to talk with their happy clients, ask those clients who has a similar business
5-Ask about implementation
Another crucial point. Some software implementations might not be as easy as you might think. You might need more budget and more talent and even more time to realize the implementation. Make sure you know what you are getting here. I know a client who kept paying Adobe Target for 2 years although they have not used it. Because they thought implementation was simpler than it is. They could actually start the contract after their implementation but since they did not have enough know-how they did not ask right questions.
6-Technology security and compliance with GDPR and data privacy practices
You are going to add third party software and integrate it with you systems. This means if there is any security issue with the software, it can also hurt your systems. Make sure you realize what kind of security standards this software company has.
Compliance with GDPR is also very crucial to make sure that company also is secured and cares about data privacy rules and practice. We also want to know they have
Most of the marketing software will require to integrate with other systems and software, make sure these integrations are possible before you buy the product.
8-Check the years of experience
I will always be suspicious toward new software companies as I don't know their performance yet. But if the software well established in this space then you know you will have less issues.
9-Find out about company's focus, research capabilities and technological responsiveness
This is also super important when you invest in software since you want to use it for a long time. Most of these software might be used on your apps, websites, emails and so on..All these technologies are affected by other companies or software like Apple IOS, Google Android and Apple Iphone and so on..These devices and software are all evolving and when they change things in their systems, your software might be very fast to be able to respond. That's why focus of business is very crucial. As an example Adobe Analytics is much better than Google Analytics because Adobe Analytics is one of the important revenue source for Adobe but Google Analytics is not really the significant revenue source for Google so they are little bit slow to add new features to Google Analytics. This is a very crucial because when things change, how fast your software partner can respond to these changes..
Or you can find a person like me to help you to buy this software, an experienced person in this area can help you save significant time and money.
If you want to reach me, please contact me on Linkedin
11-Find Correct Help- Because somebody can create a Software X, this does not mean that they are knowledgeable about all software.
I met a client who bought a software to be installed on their servers but later they realized software was cloud solution. They actually had help, a software company who were developing digital solutions for them. But this company did not have any experience in Adobe Analytics and they sold Adobe Analytics as on-premise. They acted like experts, but they were not. Here of course client is to blame: Why do you trust somebody who never bought or sold a particular software?