Five things (beyond budget) to look for in an SEO platform demo

Five things (beyond budget) to look for in an SEO platform demo

A good SEO platform can make a good marketing team great, provided it meets that team’s needs. So, how do you choose from the multiple platforms available on the budget — and survive one or many SEO platform demos? Erin Acheson says that sitting through an SEO platform demo can feel a bit like a roller coaster ride: lightning fast and a bit nauseating.

It can be hard to differentiate between platforms, the agencies behind the platforms, and the reps showcasing those platforms. Don’t lose sight of the priorities and features that make sense for your organization. We’ve talked about the importance of knowing your budget for an SEO platform. But, what other features should you look for? And, what should you expect during and after a platform demo?

Technological integration

Some platforms may focus on a specific “thing” (think keyword analysis or competitive intelligence) but that doesn’t mean that the platform can’t hold more data. Maybe you don’t want to log into multiple platforms and export from multiple tabs! 

Find out whether the platform integrates Google Search Console and Analytics. Some may be able to integrate SalesForce data, data from your CMI or email marketing platform, and more. The DemandSphere platform also offers an API that lets you transfer your DemandSphere data into other platforms. 

Technological integrations can help cross-team functionality work better, cut down on reporting time, and bring you multiple insights. With all of your data in one place, you can perform faster, easier side-by-side comparisons.

Consolidation of multiple tools

If you start each day by cracking open multiple tools across multiple tabs, it’s time to ask yourself two questions. First, what do you like and dislike about each of these tools? Secondly, why are you living this way?

Combining multiple tools for daily operations can be the result of a low budget for those resources, or from not finding a unified platform that covers all of your needs. You’ll want to consider the man-hour cost of having staff process data from multiple places, and consider whether that time could be better allocated. If you’re trying to meet a very specific functional need, consider ways in which teams and technologies could be integrated to provide all of the data you want in a single location.

Teams and workflow integration

Do you have lots of people who need to be using this tool? You may only have a few people digging into your dashboard, or you might be collaborating across teams, with contractors, with clients, or through higher organizational levels. You’ll want to select a tool that works for all of the teams that need to use it. Additionally, consider whether teams can collaborate on collecting data and creating reports. What access should be granted to external contractors or clients? Do your reports need to be sharable and exportable, or are they simply for internal use? Consider who will be reading the data generated, how you want that data to appear, and whether you need to be able to create white-labeled, “pretty” reports.  


Not only will this tool scale, will it scale effectively for you? Think in terms of cost per keyword tracked, competitor investigated, or whatever you may need — how much will cost increase when you want to scale up your reporting? Additionally, will the tools provided work for your team if you add in more keywords, competitors, or sites — or will those tools be less effective when you’re trying to organize a massive amount of data? If you’re planning to eventually track more sites or more audiences, consider international and local capabilities, too. Do you need a tool working across languages and geographies?

Quality of the reporting suite

Does the reporting suite match your organizational and team goals? Consider both the features of the reports and the quality of the report data. Your dashboard should put all of your most important data in one location. In essence, you want your SEO to know:

  • What your customers or potential customers are searching for online
  • How your competition is out- or under-performing you
  • How traffic moves across organic search, paid ads, email, direct, social, and all of your other channels
  • Your rank in SERPs for the keywords that matter to you, and which fixes will best impact rank
  • What types of websites link back to both your website and your competitor’s websites
  • Which content is winning and losing for you

Before going into the demo, establish what kind of data you need. Do you need to track tons of keywords, or dozens of competitors? How many campaigns do you want tracked? How many locations and sites are you working with? And, what functionality and usability do you need the reporting suite to provide?

So, what’s a demo look like?

Erin says that SEO platform demos are a four-part process. Let’s walk through those pieces:

The discovery call

Here, you’ll explain your goals for an SEO platform, and determine whether the platform may be a good fit for you. The sales rep should do more listening than talking as you describe your KPIs and goals. Share your timeline, your must-have features, and your onboarding timeline. Most discovery calls take 15-30 minutes.

The demo

The demo itself should be tailored to your needs, and highlight how this platform will help you meet your goals. Include any decision-makers and critical users on this call. If they can’t be present, and ask for a recording of the demo and allow those users to submit questions. The demo will, ideally, serve as a conversation between your organization and the demonstrator, with the demonstrator keeping your KPIs in mind.

If the tool has a lot of features and functionalities, the person giving the demo will be showcasing an overview of everything the tool can do. So, keep your specific features and goals in mind, and make sure to communicate those to the agency prior to the demo. That way, you can spend the demonstrator’s time deep-diving into those needs. Expecting to leave the demo with a deep understanding of the product may leave you disappointed. Instead, gauge the overall match between your goals and the platform you’re demo-ing. You don’t have to become an expert in an hour or two: that’s what onboarding is for.

The follow-up call

Whether you’re looking at multiple options or have already narrowed the search to a single candidate, request a follow-up after the demo. Either way, you’ll want to walk through details, review proposals, and add in any team members who need final sign-off. You’ll likely think of plenty of “should-have-asked” questions after the demo.

Starting the onboarding process

After a decision has been made, make sure to establish appropriate follow-up. Even after you’re in a contract and have been handed off to an account manager, establish a follow-up plan with both the sales staff and your newly-minted onboarding rep.

  • Create an onboarding timeline that can be updated to meet your team’s needs.
  • Establish plenty of onboarding time for your team to review and understand the platform, get custom set-ups, and integrate with other data sources and technologies
  • Make an ongoing list of larger questions and issues encountered, and schedule a 30-day check-in after a month of onboarding.
  • Review your progress, create a roadmap of KPIs and analyses for the future, and schedule support check-ins. Figure out how you’ll work with possible updates to the platform, and how you’ll address features that aren’t working out.

From the onboarding process, you’re on your way to enjoying your new SEO platform — no nausea remaining.

If you’re interested in finding out more about DemandSphere’s very own SEO platform, we’d love to do a (painless, we promise) demo for you. Schedule your discovery call here.