Continuing our How to choose the right brand advocacy software blog series, this week we discuss how you can begin your vendor selection process.
Due diligence is the key to choosing the right advocate marketing software. Now that you know precisely what you need, it’s the time to start doing your research – finding out more about who’s in the market, what they do, and how well their technology lines up with your requirements. If you start calling vendors today, you’ll get a lot of attention from a lot of salespeople – before you are ready to engage. It is important for you to keep control over the pace of your buying process. Many of them won’t even sell what you need, so if you engage too early they’ll waste a lot of your time asking questions while they qualify you out of their own sales funnel. It’s wise to gather initial information anonymously, so that you’re not being continually interrupted by calls from pushy salespeople chasing commissions.
How do you identify who’s in the market?
These days, Google is usually the first port of call for any search for software – it will point you to the companies who provide (or at least claim to provide) the category of technology you’re looking for (in this case: “Brand Advocacy” or “Advocate Marketing” software). However, it’s important to remember that many technology categories overlap – especially in the realm of marketing automation. While many marketing automation vendors may say they do advocate marketing, the strength of their offerings will vary considerably, depending on whether brand advocacy is their focus or just a bolt-on module for a larger suite of software.
Finding vendor websites via Google and other search engines will give you a broad picture of who’s in the market and – with a bit of research – help you to identify the scope of what each tool will do for you (again, using your requirements matrix as a check list). With your requirements list in hand, check out each vendor’s website. Fill in your evaluation spreadsheet, check off each feature and factor, and score their ability to fulfill your requirements.
Using review sites (like www.g2crowd.com) can also help provide you with a list of options to review. It’s worth using one of these sites to validate the completeness of your own search. It can be embarrassing – and damaging to the credibility of your selection process – if at a late stage somebody asks if you have looked at a certain vendor they know – and you’ve never heard of them.
If you have a subscription with Gartner, Forrester or another industry analyst firm that covers the marketing technology space, they will be able to assist you on who is in the market and which vendors you should look at.
Don’t jump the gun
Just about every cloud software vendor offers an instant-access trial environment, so it’s tempting to take a quick test drive as soon as you hit their website. Often, people take a trial to check out what the software looks and feels like, instead of what it does. This can be a mistake because it can transform your selection process into a “beauty parade” where the coolest-looking interface wins. If you stick to the plan – and follow a process to narrow the field – you can avoid wasting time evaluating software options that won’t make the short list.
If you missed our earlier blogs in the series you can find them here:
- Choosing the right advocate marketing software – Step 1: Form the right team
- Choosing the right advocate marketing software – Step 2: Work out what you need (and why).
If you want to fast-forward and find out the other steps to choosing the right advocate marketing software, download the full whitepaper below…