A lot of online MarTech companies offer freemium versions of their software. Sometimes with a limited feature set. Sometimes with a limit on usage. Often with both.
I believe as a SMB, you should consider taking advantage of these free offerings. Even when your budget might allow for a paid version. Especially when it comes to things like mailing lists and customer surveys.
You just need to do it with consideration.
Establish a core that may not be freemium
There will be some things that you will consider core to your business. I recommend paying for those and at the level that supports your business.
For me, it’s a solid CRM customer database. I use Salesforce for my CRM. It does mean I synch back customer info to Salesforce. I call it my authoritative customer list. For you it might be your creative tools and you pay for Adobe Creative Cloud. Or something like Tableau for all your data reporting.
Sometimes it’s a personal preference. Sometimes it’s so foundational to your business you benefit from the paid features, and you know you will never move to something else.
Consider what you need by segment
I know I’m a little unusual because I like to sign up to different services so that I can evaluate them for clients. Yet, it’s not a bad idea for you to consider it too.
If you have different segments, then you might look specifically at the needs you have to communicate with that segment over another. The same can be true of different campaigns. Sometimes you don’t need all features for a specific campaign and using a simpler tool is a better use of your time and budget.
Consider how things hang together
If you use different tools, then you need to consider how these different tools work together. Freemium or not. And always document the data and workflow. And you may need to use something to connect them. Or have knowledge of integrations.
It can complicate things. And require an investment in learning.
I’m a fan of Zapier – though it has a cost too. With Zapier, if I swap out a service for another, then it usually means updating my zap rather than changing everything.
If you are a newsletter follower of mine, you might have noticed that I recently rolled back to the free version of Mailchimp. In truth, I wanted to roll forward to ActiveCampaign, but the timing isn’t quite right. So, it was a not now. My website subscription forms are native rather than embedded. So it meant rolling back the zap and testing, rather than changing sign-up forms.
Always consider privacy
Your customer’s privacy consideration is paramount. Using different tools can mean that data about your customer flows between the tools. You need to be upfront about the fact that you are using third party tools – but then you are likely doing that already. Some people declare the specific tools in the privacy statement – if you do then you need to keep the list robust.
You also need to consider the requirements of regions. And for some that can complicate your data flow. As in the GDPR requirement of the right to be forgotten. You have to remove personal information across all tools. But then, you might also consider to segment people by region and use different tools in different regions.
And yes, budget is important too
A typical marketing budget is between 7-12% of revenues. (For me, as marketing is an investment it sometimes needs to be future revenue targets when growth is a priority.) That budget isn’t all for MarTech, even though these days it is a lion’s share of marketing budgets.
How you decide to spend (invest) your budget is as unique as your business.
You also need to consider the costs of setting things up. The cost of people you dedicate to that setup. Free might not end up being totally free.
Yes, freemium MarTech can really be of benefit in our businesses. It allows us to flex and try things out without a huge investment. And it might be just the constraint we need to not over complicate a campaign or communicating to a specific segment simple.
Though we have to watch out for what I call playing with my tech too much. There can be a cost in time and learning to trying things out. And we need to consider privacy regulations. And be able to reverse out, rollback or move on without a lot of reengineering.
It takes thought to make sure we reap the benefits without creating too much overhead.