Knowing when to use online marketing automation and what mistakes to avoid are not the only things to get you going with the process, without overwhelming you. You also want to make sure you don’t get lost in the array of online marketing automation tools out there. Depending on who you talk to and where you’re getting your online marketing information, you will see one of two things:
Either the same tools over and over again -or- an arsenal of different tools that will keep you wondering which tool is the best for you.
As an online marketer, I use a set of tools for different marketing tasks and activities (as mentioned in Online marketing automation for your email and social media activities post, Hootsuite is one of them and Zoho is another). Some online marketing automation tools I use because they were presented to me by trusted colleagues, others because of clients who want them or have them in their toolkit, and still others I found on my own and decided based on my needs.
When deciding on my own what online marketing automation tools I wanted to use I considered three things:
- The ease of use in using the tool
- Long-term goals and how the tool plays a role in helping to succeed in reaching those goal
- The reliability of the tool
These three things are important because they will help you use these tools in a way that is helpful to you and not in a way that makes online marketing more difficult or tedious.
The first key, ease of use, is of the utmost importance since you’ll be using the tool. You want to make sure you’re comfortable with the platform you’re using and that it doesn’t keep you super busy in trying to learn how to use it.
Some tools are a bit harder to navigate depending on your thought process and what makes sense to you in how you move around on the backend dashboard of a program. You want to look for tools that are user-friendly. From experience though, some tools that are presented as user-friendly aren’t as intuitive as they make it seem.
An example is Mailchimp when you set up recurring campaigns. Before understanding fully how it worked, I felt somewhat confused and had to run a couple test runs before figuring out their system. Another tool is Thrive Themes, particularly their Content Builder tool. Even though it is supposed to easily integrate opt-in forms from an email platform such as Mailchimp, before it became clear to me how to do this, I set up an opt-in form with HTML code. Only after talking to colleagues was I able to understand that before setting up my opt-in form I needed to connect my Mailchimp account with an API. Once that was done, then the process went much smoother.
The slight confusion I experienced is based on what my brain finds intuitive and how I navigate a dashboard of course; for others, the same process with the same tools might be quite simple and straightforward. It is because of our unique traits that you want to test run the backend of a tool before deciding to use it or not. Product reviews are helpful, but you should still test an online marketing automation tool or at least get a demo to see how it works in practice and what the backend looks like. This will give you a clear idea of how easy or not it will be for you to personally use the tool.
For long-term goals, this is important because you don’t want to end up with a high number of tools that you have to switch around to get things done. Having a ton of online marketing automation tools is time consuming and thanks to the available tools out there, it’s unnecessary to get overwhelmed by online marketing options.
A perfect example is if you plan on having multiple email marketing campaigns in the future that go out for a diverse clientele from multiple industries. In this case, it’s ideal to build your list in a platform that allows you to keep track of your lists in an easy and organized way. Usually, you’ll be looking for a CRM (customer relationship management) to organize your contacts so whatever email marketing platform you pick, make sure it can integrate seamlessly with your CRM or pick an email marketing platform that has a CRM that meets your needs.
When it comes to the reliability of the tool, it means you want to pick tools that won’t disappear on you or that are trending at the moment, but may not be as good as other pre-existing tools. Some ways you can identify reliability is the years the company has been in business, the number of other online marketing applications they’re compatible with (for example email marketing tools with a CRM tool or a landing page tool), and the continuous updates to improve the tool that the company has been applying in time.
Even though the years the company has been in business might not be indicative of reliability as much as one could hope, it is at least indicative of a company doing their best to stay in business. This is important because if you start building your online marketing automation activities with a tool that ceases to exist all of a sudden, you’ll find yourself frantically looking for a substitute or you’ll find yourself without that content and system you put so much effort in organizing. This has happened to a client of mine before. They built a series of landing pages, great landing pages, with a tool that after a couple years shut down and we could no longer use those landing pages.
There are no guarantees of course, but with a little in-depth research you can get a pretty good idea of the lifespan of the tool and if it a good fit for what you need.
No matter what online marketing automation tools you choose to use, there will probably be a learning curve, especially if you’re not a tech savvy person; but if you use these three considerations in the decision making process, you’ll be able to find what works for you and avoid online marketing mistakes that could slow you down in a significant way.