Truth be told, there’s no best solution out there, only the right solution for that you need. But we believe with Evalato we’ve developed the one that ticks all the right boxes. When choosing a new software solution, one needs to do objective research before making a decision. So with this guide we’re giving you a tested methodology on how to pick the solution that’s right for you. It will provide you with a comprehensive list of things to pay close attention to and will point out some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
How to start your research
When starting a research for any software product, you usually feel overwhelmed by tens of options you’re flooded with. Or simply don’t know where to look for the right solution. Apart from the obligatory Google search you’ll most probably do, we’d advise you to also:
- Ask an (ex)co-worker/business partner/ friend who might be using an awards management solution. That way, you can get some honest and unbiased feedback.
- Check the leading b2b software platforms like Capterra, Getapp, G2Crowd, and read reviews from real customers. Some software databases offer the option to compare solutions based on features, score etc.
- Read some articles listing the top solutions (of blogs/websites that do not belong to the different awards management solutions)
- Check some success stories
That’s only to scratch the surface, though.
It’s more important to know what you should be looking for in an awards management platform so that you can compare the different solutions.
5 Decision-making Factors
The (right) features – naturally, that’s number one on our list – the features you need to manage your awards in a better and easier way. We’ve devoted a whole paragraph on it later in this guide.
For now, we’ll just point out that most awards management platforms have feature-based pricing plans and some of the features you see on their websites are only available for the most expensive plans. So keep that in mind when doing your research.
Evalato is, actually, one of the few solutions that doesn’t hide any of its features behind a paywall.
The price – one of the most important decision-making factors, especially for small and medium awards and programs.
As we mentioned before, there are no free awards management solutions: there are few that offer free trials or have very limited in features free plans, but these hardly ever get the job done. So you’ll eventually go for the paid plan.
When choosing your awards management platform, your goal is obvious – opt for the best value for money solution that has the features you need.
To help you out with your choice, here’s a quick sum-up of the different pricing models out there:
- Feature-based plans – most solutions offer annual plans with limitations on features, the number of programs, admin seats, etc. This model is pretty limiting and one usually ends up either compromising on important features/attributes or upgrading to a more expensive plan in a few months. On top of the annual plan payment, those awards management solutions usually impose setup or training fees. Some go even further and use hidden fees or different kinds of policies that could make you pay more even though you’ve got a prepaid plan. So my advice is – read carefully the pricing pages especially the text written with the tiniest letters.
- By quote only – some solutions don’t display their pricing and require you to schedule a demo to make you an offer. If like us you love transparency, clarity and don’t have time to lose, you won’t be “thrilled” by this model. First, because only to learn the price, you need to lose a few hours of your precious time in a salesy demo and endless email exchanges. And then, you’ll always have that nagging feeling that you might be charged more than another customer just because they’re better negotiators.
- Fee based on the submissions you get – the other pricing model that only a handful of solutions offer is a fee per submission. The fee is usually charged once or twice per month. You might also be charged a one-time program fee when the program starts. These solutions provide all features to their users. That’s definitely the most budget-friendly option for smaller programs that will not generate a large number of entries.
- Evalato pricing model – we’re truly proud of our transparent, simple and yet flexible pricing model. We dare say we offer an improved version of both major pricing model options:
- Fee based on the actual submissions you get – or as we call it “Pay-as-you-go plan”. When launching your program you’re charged a one-time program fee. From then on, you only pay a fixed fee per application on a monthly bases. So you pay only for the number of applications you get – simple as that.
- Annual plan with no features limitations – unlike our competitors’ ones, Evalato’s annual plan has no limitations in terms of features, number of programs, organizations, admin seats, judges, forms, storage capacity, or support. You get the whole package, including all future features we introduce!
And, not that we want to brag about it (ok, maybe just a little bit) but recently Evalato was awarded “Best Value Software” by SoftwareSuggest – one of the leading business software discovery and recommendation platforms.
The ease-of-use – the point of any software is to make your work (and life) simpler. When it comes to awards management software that should apply to the experience of your applicants and jury members too. The ease-of-use is where Evalato undoubtedly steals the limelight. You can literally set up your next award competitions in minutes without any prior demo or training.
If the awards management solution you consider opting for requires training or a person charged with onboarding you, that’s a sure sign it’s not that intuitive.
The level of customization – now, that’s a pretty important factor for 2 main reasons:
- every competition has its specifics and requirements
- your branding should be consistent throughout all your online presence
Unfortunately, most awards management platforms offer customization options only in their more expensive pricing plans.
Luckily, Evalato is different and you can enjoy various customization and branding options no matter your plan!
In fact, Evalato is the only solution that offers the option to embed a totally customizable registration form into your own website. Thus you get an uninterrupted experience. Of course, we also offer the option to create an awards webpage hosted by us, if you don’t have a website..
The customer support – behind every great software, there’s great customer support. Good customer support includes various tools to help you find your way around like: help docs, video tutorials, options for a demo and of course, live chat (with real people, not a bot!).
5 Key Features
An awards management software is a true life-saver for any program manager. As such it must have lots of useful features. We cannot list them all here but we’ll stress on the ones you cannot do without if you want to truly automate and streamline your work as awards manager and watch your awards thrive.
Easy application process
Easy application process is actually the result of a few interrelated features. It comprises of quick and easy online registration and individual online working portals allowing applicants to save their entry drafts and resume work whenever they want. That’s a guarantee for an increase not only in the quantity but the quality of the entries you receive (tried and confirmed by Evalato users)
A huge time-saver you can’t do without. With Evalato, for example, you have already set email templates for successful registration, successful payment, canceled registration and new judge invitation. You can customize them as you wish at any time. You can also create emails for pending submission or judges reminder or for submission sent/accepted/ rejected/shortlisted. When the conditions are met, Evalato sends them for you – you do nothing. On top of that, you’ve got the option for custom emails.
Customizable and easy online evaluation
A major feature when it comes to awards management platforms. The software you choose should allow for your evaluation method to be easily set up and implemented. Evalato, for instance, allows for multiple judging rounds each with its own set of customizable rules. It has various voting options: popularity voting, simple review option, points voting and score voting. Second, you need to make sure it’s easy to assign entries to the judges for reviewing and that they’re provided with a personal online judging portal.
Real-time analytics & report dashboards
If you’re like us – a result-oriented freak, you will not only love, but insist on having real-time analytics & reports. Evalato allows you to keep track of and monitor entry volume and status, judging progress & evaluation results and results from special offers though easy-to-scan real-time dashboards. Thus you can react quickly if something is not running as planned. You can also see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your marketing efforts. That’s a tested formula for both the smooth-running and growth of your awards competition.
Last but not least, the features that help you boost your sales by a lot – promo codes, special offers and conversion triggers. Imagine them being set up, managed, shown and used through your awards management platform.
Did someone say 200% conversion increase? Yes siree!!
However, there’s only one solution out there that offers it…and that’s Evalato.
Evalato is the awards management software that provides a registration form where all those special offers and conversion triggers are displayed to entice and make those sales happen! You can:
- set various promo codes that you can provide to partners, sponsors, long-term customers, students etc.
- run different special offers like early bird, 2-for-1, 20% off and any kind of special offer that you wish to implement
- show your original price as a crossed-our-price – one of the most powerful sales triggers
- Show the time when the last entry was purchases – another must-have conversion trigger
If your awards marketing strategy is based on dynamic pricing, Evalato is definitely your one-stop-shop.
5 Obligatory Questions to Ask
Is your data and that of your applicants safe with this service?
We live in a world where this is arguably a joke…
So, you need to make sure your and your customers’ data is safe with the awards management solution you choose.
Evalato is designed with hands down the best security practices to keep data safe. Before making up your mind about the software to manage your awards, check:
- Where and how is your data stored
- What encryption does the service use to protect transferred data
- Is it PCI DSS compliant (for payments)
- Is it GDPR compliant
- Does it ensure the highest deliverability and protection for your email communication
- Is data backed up and how often
- Is access to your data restricted and who has access to it
Does the software integrate with other services and apps you use?
That way, you can literally streamline all your work. Apart from the obligatory Google Analytics integration, Evalato also connects to 1000+ apps via Zapier, allowing you to automate your tasks and speed up your work.
If your awards charge fee for entries
Do the entry fees you collect go directly to your bank account?
We believe that your money should go straight into your bank account. Evalato doesn’t hold your money and don’t charge you any fees from payment gateways.
Does the awards management platform provide different payment methods?
An online payment method is a must but bank transfers and a custom payment method are definitely a big plus and unlike most similar solutions, Evalato provides them all.
If the awards competition is not in English or the currency is not $
Does it have the localization options you need?
It’s really important for your awards management platform to “speak” the language of your entrants – they’d appreciate it! Evalato supports almost any language out there and all currencies available.
Test, test, test
Once, you’ve done your basic research, shortlist 2-3 top solutions on the basis of key factors and features, comes the most important part – test them. And I don’t mean just a demo, where a sales guy has set up everything for you and shows you quickly how it works.
I mean test it yourself!
That’s the only way to see what will work for you and if the platform you’ve chosen “on paper” is truly intuitive and robust enough. We’d also advise you to invite other members of your team to try the platform as well so that you all test how you can collaborate when working with it.
The thing is most awards management platforms don’t give you that opportunity. In the best case scenario they demand to have a demo, and only after a demo, you might be allowed a free trial period with limited features. We don’t get that approach and at Evalato we do the opposite.
Evalato is actually the only software solution that gives you unlimited free testing with all features included.
Want to know why?
Our Co-Founder Simona put it best: “We’re so confident in our product that we offer unlimited free testing of the platform!”
Now you know the ins and outs of choosing an awards management software, go ahead and test Evalato for free for as long as you need.