First and foremost, you’ll need to find an option that fits your organization’s budget.
Some platforms, like HubSpot, offer a tiered pricing system. With platforms like these, you choose a plan based on the features needed. Pricing goes up when you select packages with more robust offerings.
HubSpot offers a number of plans, and pricing varies based on whether you pay on a monthly or annual basis. There is a free tier, but this comes with a limited number of features. On the low end of their paid plans, you’ll be shelling out a minimum of $50 per month (or $600 per year) to access basic features. To enjoy the more robust features of their enterprise plan, you’ll be paying up to $3,200 per month, or $38,400 annually.
What’s more, HubSpot is known for upselling you on features. Though the extra bells and whistles may sound great up front, you may end up locked into a higher-tier plan with features you don’t actually need.
For another example of how marketing platform pricing might shake out, let’s take a look at Klaviyo’s pricing structure. With Klaviyo, you pay for only the email contacts and SMS messages that you need, but that can get pricey fast. Maintaining 50,000 contacts and 500,000 monthly email sends, for instance, would run you $700 with Klaviyo.
Now, compare that to Mailchimp's cost, where the same number of contacts and email sends only runs you $320 per month on the Standard plan.
While the method of pricing may vary with the top platforms, one thing you’ll notice across the board is that plans can get expensive when you include add-ons, training, etc. Even for upgrades like additional reporting features and increased ad spend, you can end up paying hundreds of dollars more per month with services like HubSpot.
Not every marketing platform has all the same service offerings, and some are essential for an effective marketing strategy. That being said, keep in mind the fact that pricier services won’t always automatically be more feature-rich.
Take HubSpot, for example. While its offerings are robust, there are other services that offer similar capabilities at a lower price. What’s more, there are some platforms that provide specific packaged services for a flat fee so you don’t have to upgrade to a level with more features than you’ll use or if you prefer a tiered pricing model.
The best practice here is to consider your specific marketing strategy and compare software options based on how they match those needs—and your budget—as opposed to just chasing down the program with the “most” features.
Just as each platform has its strengths, each of them has their weaknesses as well.
GoDaddy, for instance, offers more limited digital marketing and automation options compared to some of its competitors, and to some, has a confusing interface that makes navigating the software a cumbersome process.
Some software solutions might fall short when it comes to their marketing platforms. Others still might have narrow targeting and segmentation options. On the whole, every option is sure to have its pitfalls, so you should keep your needs firmly in mind while making your evaluations.
It never hurts to check the general reputation of a marketing software brand. Even if you have a good sense of what the platform is and what it does, try looking up some reviews by experts and users on websites like G2 or PCMag.
Previous and current users usually have plenty to say about the software they use, and you can get a fairly accurate read on how a platform might work for your business based on their ratings and in-depth reviews.
You’ll also want to keep a keen eye on the accolades and awards that a platform has under its belt. That sort of praise doesn’t come easy, so if a service has distinguished itself in the industry, you know it’s for a good reason.
Ease of use
Especially when it comes to digital marketing, software should simplify your life, not make it more confusing.
Ease of use is a must-have facet of any marketing software you choose. Beyond simply being a headache to navigate, less-intuitive software can also make a dent in your bottom line. Because more complicated programs take more time and money to train employees to use, they can become a net drain on your resources.
As of the date of this article, Mailchimp has scored 8.7 out of 10 in G2's user satisfaction score for ease of use. Mailchimp understands that e-commerce retailers have a lot on their minds, and trying to figure out how to navigate marketing platforms should not be a primary focus.