The burgeoning online marketing industry has produced a veritable treasure trove of technologies and their associated tools to support your efforts. With this cache of options comes the need to be accurate in your selection, making sure the tool matches the objective.
This article will highlight some basic principles to help ensure that you make the right decision when faced with the choice of ever-expanding options.
Familiarize Yourself With the Terminology
You need to understand the technology and its implications before purchasing any online marketing tools.
It's imperative that you appreciate the difference between an ASP (applications service provider and a hosted solution, between tags and log files, between cookies and key values, between unique users and page impressions/views. If this is not possible, then it's highly recommended to hire or pay a knowledgeable adviser.
Define and Prioritize Your Objectives
It is vital that you define and prioritize your marketing campaign objectives before you start the search. Ask yourself and your team questions such as these: Are you looking for an ad server to improve your trafficking efficiency and manage keyword bids or to serve rich media and do time-lag to conversion analysis? Are you looking for an email tool to push 100 million emails per month or one that can do advanced CRM integration and conditional content segments?
The honest and considered answers to questions such as these will ensure that you do not get lured by features of the tools along the way. Again, if you don't know what objectives are possible, hire an adviser with industry expertise.
Real value and personalized customer relationships can be created only by using the high-end features found on the volume marketing tools you will be evaluating (especially ad serving and email marketing tools.)
Marketers are often led to believe that they don't need all the high-end sophisticated features, all they need is to serve a billion ads or 100 million emails per month. But it is these features that separate you from the pack in this era of spam and increased ad clutter. The increase in impact will support a justifiable ROI.
What Is the Value Gap
A realistic approach to your monthly ad impressions, email transmissions, and site traffic will ensure that you're receiving the appropriate value from the tools you selected. The value gap occurs when there is an overestimation of the use of a tool and commitment to higher fees than the value received from the tool.
Automation and Integration
Make sure your various online marketing tools are well integrated on a technical level. The benefit, for example, of being able to remarket to site visitors via email based on on-site behavior (and being able to do so easily) is enormous. If you are not using tools that are part of the same suite, then make integration part of your contract terms.
Check that your tools can be integrated easily with your site and CRM system. In email marketing, for example, tight integration of your email tool and your CRM system is a vital requirement to ensure CAN-SPAM compliance. An open API is a must—case studies of integration projects done for other clients is highly recommended.
Independence Levels of Various Tools
If independent use of the tool and its multiple features are an important factor in your decision or budgetary concerns, be sure to define those limits exclusive of any selection process. Due to the magnitude of the tools available, be aware that the level of independence in the use of these tools can vary widely.
Training Is the Key to Success
Due to the immense value training provides, it is highly recommended that the guarantee of initial training, and the vendor's ability to provide it, is a top criteria in your choice.
As is true with any industry's technology, the best method for a thorough and in-depth comprehension of high-tech features is to schedule several sessions over a period of 2-3 months, aligned with the hands-on use of the tool.