Marketing automation technology is widely being used to achieve effective personalization at scale and higher returns on marketing efforts. But like all SaaS technology, it’s crucial to pick the right system for your company. That means not only outlining your marketing needs, but making sure that the system is compatible with your app, website, and other systems.
The best colleague to help with this aspect of your vendor search is your developer or development team. It will be essential for the marketing platform to sync up with your website and app, so you need your developer involved in selection. Engineers will likely come up with different questions than yours and you may encounter some resistance or have different opinions about which system is best.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you work with your developer during the search process to pick the best system for your company.
Why outsource at all?
One common push back from developers: “Why do we need to buy this system when we could build something ourselves?” While many engineers could build something in-house, there are several good reasons for investing time and money in an existing system.
- A good platform will be user-friendly for everyone working with it. Even non-technical folks will be able to set up campaigns and access data dashboards in real-time. This means your developer shouldn’t need to spend as much time assisting marketers day-to-day.
- Martech companies spend all their time focusing on marketing trends and a strong system should be constantly updated to keep up with these trends (so that your developer doesn’t have to).
- Outsourcing to a vendor frees up your valuable development resources to focus on improving your core product.
- A solid system will also have great customer support to help you build campaigns and answer any developer questions that come up. Again, this should turn into time savings and increased productivity for everyone on your team.
When to bring in your developer
While working with a mobile marketing vendor will save time in the long run, there will be up front time costs and your development team will certainly be involved in SDK implementation and integrations.
It may seem like a good idea to save developers time early on by keeping them out of the loop during your search, but this can lead to frustrations later in the process. Before you dive in, talk with your developer about key questions to ask, functionalities that are crucial for your existing systems, and how he/she would like to be involved in the search.
Once you’ve mapped your most important components, be sure to check in periodically during the process, and especially as you start to narrow to top contenders, so that your developer can weigh in again. Some companies outsource to app developers so involving them in the search may turn into added hours that you’ll need to consider in your budget.
What your developer wants to know
It falls to developers to implement any changes needed by the marketing team so they will likely have some technical questions during your search. Each system is different so your developer will have other questions beyond the below, but here are a few things they will likely want you to investigate:
- The technical flexibility of a system, such as how it makes data available to other systems. You need a two-way system with open and robust APIs and export features so that you can feed info in and get data out when you need it. Flexible data access also means it will be easier for developers to meet the unknown needs of the future. If your vendor is forthright about access to your data, it will be reflected in their product design.
- The quality of technical documentation is critical. Clear documentation and well-written code helps developers understand use cases and specifics of getting up and running with a vendor’s tools. It can be risky for developers to insert outside code into the app if the result isn’t predictable or repeatable. Insist on clear documentation and ask developers to check it out with an eye for what they’ll need during the tactical implementation step.
- What is the support system for bugs or suggestions for improvement? Developers will want to make sure they can connect with the vendor’s developers or other customers through GitHub, for example, or through community sites.
Questions you should both be asking
Outside of developer-specific needs, here are a couple other things to consider during your search:
- Will it allow you to dream big? Sure, you’ll likely have to make some compromises in terms of changing your current processes when you switch to a new vendor, but you want to invest in a system that can springboard you into the future and serve you well with new emerging technologies. It’s important not to get stuck in the capabilities of your current system.
- How does it handle segmentation? Even if you only need limited segmentation and personalization features now, you’ll want the capability to do more down the road.
- Does it support automation across a variety of channels? To make sure your system is truly mobile-friendly, pay attention to the automation device, timing, and channel capabilities.
- What’s the potential for scalability? Can the system support a sudden major increase of customers or engagement? What’s their track record? Who are their current clients?
When the going gets tough, focus on the big picture
Change can be hard but bringing on a new marketing software system that will help you reach your goals is worth the time and effort. The best thing you can do for your team is to make the decision carefully and consult with key colleagues to make sure it will work for you now and in the future.
If you encounter resistance on development, or feel discouraged during the search, focus on the long-term picture. Outsourcing this component frees up resources for more productive work on a company’s core focus in the short-term, reduces technical debt in the long term, and reduces marketing’s reliance on valuable developer time. When developers can be creative about problem solving on their app versus creating new systems from scratch, it increases productivity and autonomy.
Wondering what other questions you should be asking to pick the best marketing vendor? Check out the Buyer’s Guide to Choosing a Mobile Marketing Automation Solution for more hard-hitting questions to ask vendors.