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How to Choose Which Online Tools to Use for Your Marketing Campaign

How to Choose Which Online Tools to Use for Your Marketing Campaign

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of online marketing tools available to help you plan, manage, execute, and measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaign.

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All of them claim to be the best, and many of them claim to be the “only tool you need” to succeed, but that can’t possibly be the case. All these tools offer different types of functionality, and at different price levels, so how can you be sure you’re making the right decision for your business?

Assessment

First up is the assessment phase, where you’ll determine your current marketing needs:

  • What types of campaigns are you currently running? Different campaigns have different needs. Social media marketing and pay-per-click campaigns, for example, require intense tracking, measuring, and ongoing analysis to succeed; thus, they usually require robust platforms to maximize their effectiveness. Other types of campaigns, like SEO, may vary in their demands based on your team’s expertise.
  • Where are your current tools underperforming? If you’re currently using platforms for those campaigns, how are they performing? Are there specific areas of weakness that you need to cover? For example, are you good at tracking overall campaign performance, but stuck in some area of execution?
  • What are the weak points and struggles of your marketing team? It’s often useful to “gut check” your social media performance, but it’s much better to have solid, objective numbers backing those conclusions; if your team is used to estimating to determine a campaign’s performance, it may be time to compensate with a more precise form of measurement.

Research

Next, you’ll need to start researching different marketing tools that are available to you. Now that you’re familiar with your brand’s biggest needs, you can start in a specific direction and branch outward. Use a site like Siftery, which offers a comparison tool for different marketing apps, so you can compare and contrast different features, reviews, and customer experiences.

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And make sure to follow some of the most popular marketing blogs in the industry; they’re usually ripe with information on the latest and greatest tools. Start narrowing down your list based on apps that meet or don’t meet your baseline criteria.

Calculation

After you’ve narrowed your list to a handful of prospective candidates, you can dig into some number-crunching to get a better feel for how a given platform is going to perform for you:

  • How much money will this save you? If you’re currently using tools, or if you plan on hiring someone, you could save a significant amount of money by investing in a new tool instead. Just how much money will this tool save you?
  • How much time will this save you? If the tool is designed for automation, or to make some manual process easier, how much time do you estimate this tool to save you and your employees, on a weekly basis?
  • How much will this cost you? You’ll also need to consider how much the tool costs, especially compared to how much it will eventually save you.

Trial

Numbers can be deceiving, however. Once you’ve come up with a best guess for which platform will work best for your company, give it a trial run.

Most marketing tools offer a risk-free trial for a week, a month, or even longer. Hand it to your employees to see how it feels, and judge for yourself if it lives up to the hype. At that point, you’ll be able to tell whether it’s worth bringing into the fold.

Reflection

Even after you’ve adopted the tool(s), if you want to get the most value out of your investment, you owe it to yourself to conduct regular evaluations of its performance:

  • How is this tool performing, compared to your expectations? Your tool may seem intuitive and easy to learn when you first become acquainted with it, but does that impression hold once your employees get their hands on it? Is it doing everything you hoped it would?
  • What are your employees saying about it? You won’t be the only person using this software, so consider what everyone else is saying about it. Do they find it easy to use? Is it helpful? Does it save them time?
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  • Can you estimate your ROI? It’s a bit ironic, since many marketing tools allow you to measure the ROI of your campaigns; however, you’ll also need to measure the ROI of the tools themselves.

If a chosen tool isn’t meeting your expectations, it may be time to switch to a new platform, or add a complementary system to your suite of tools. Most marketers don’t pick a platform and stick with it forever; instead, they mix and match with different options until they find a solution or combination that works for them. Remain patient, and learn what to look for; with every new tool you purchase, the process will get easier.

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Larry Alton

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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