How can you choose the right marketing software?

In today's digital age, technology and marketing go hand in hand.

Companies have access to a range of information, and it would be remiss to not make the most of this data in order to hone their message.

An essential part of this process is choosing the right marketing software to suit your needs, as harnessing this technology could be the difference between being successful and letting potential customers slip through the net. Whether it's for curation, analysis or audience targeting, there is software that can help.

There are over 100 content marketing tools alone, while only ten per cent of firms interviewed by the Altimeter Group have full integration across their existing toolset. But how can marketers make sure they get the right software package?

*Research *
Thorough research will always have a massive role to play. Make sure you take the time to carry out an in-depth study of the options available in the sector. You want to find as many solutions as possible, as this long list can then act as your starting point for finding the solution that best suits your needs. Record all of the options in a spreadsheet so they can be easily referenced and compared.

Narrow the parameters (part one)
Once you have your long list in place, record details of the various features the options offer. Based on this, create smaller sub-groups detailing how likely they are to be a good match for your company. After you have identified the software packages that are unlikely to work, these can be removed from the list.

Narrow the parameters (part two)
Advocacy is an excellent indicator of software's capabilities. Reviews and testimonials will give you a flavour for what really seems to work. Most of the time you'll be able to find a few reviews by organisations that had almost the same needs as you, and so this should give you a good idea of just how suitable a solution it is. By the end of this stage you want to have between three and six options.

There's a reason that free trials are offered, and so it would be very foolish to overlook the opportunity to test out these services. After all, the only way to truly know if the software meets your needs is to gain experience using it. Check out its functionality, look for drawbacks and see if there are unexpected features that will make a big difference to your service. If you're still not sure, why not ask for an extension to the trial period?

Speak to the vendors
Before making your final choice, have a chat with the vendors to see what their future plans are. There is no point signing up for a service if it turns out there are plans to shift the company's focus away from your requirements. If the vendor does not seem capable of moving with the times and staying ahead of industry competitors, it's impossible to be sure they will be the best choice a few months down the line. And don't be afraid to involve other people from your business in the decision-making process!