The great thing about being in the marketing world in the 21st century is that there’s so much software to help you do your job. The downside is that there’s so much software to help you do your job that it’s hard to find out what the best options are for your business. According to the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, there are thousands of pieces of marketing technology out there in the landscape, and you can’t possibly be expected to learn or use them all.
It’s not easy to learn about new software, either — you can’t just pick up the phone and call a vendor anymore. When you get on a vendor’s website and download a whitepaper or ask to learn more, you enter a whole nurturing campaign of emails, phone calls, and being passed from one rep to another.
It’s an annoying process, but you need the software to get things done quickly and efficiently. So how do you get your marketing technology ecosystem up and running? We’ve got some suggestions.
Types of Martech Software
First things first: think of your software not in terms of what it can do, but what problems it can solve. Software vendors will throw every tactic in the book at you, bragging about the numerous fascinating features of their product. But take a deep breath. What do you actually need the software to do? What problems are you trying to solve? What processes are you trying to streamline? Those answers will be different for everyone, but there are a few categories to think about:
- Project management: keeping the workflows of your various projects and clients straight can be a daunting task, and you need a way to keep it all organized.
- Digital advertising: advertising is a crucial component of customer acquisition. If you want new customers, you have to get your name in front of them. You need a tool that covers search engine marketing, retargeting, display ads, and paid social advertising.
- SEO: if you want people to find your website and content organically, you need to make sure that you’re using the right keywords in the right way. An SEO tool can help you do that.
- Content management system: you need a central hub to create, edit, approve, and publish your content. A CMS will be the back end of all your content strategy.
- Email marketing: email is alive and well, good for acquiring new customers, building relationships with existing customers, and building awareness of your brand.
- Marketing automation: you can save a lot of time and effort by automating all the processes that are menial and repetitive in your workflow. You can address customer concerns faster and provide a better customer experience.
- Conversion rate optimization: to turn leads into customers, you need to create a customized experience that will convince them to convert.
- Customer relationship management: a CRM will help you track your current and prospective customers, including which ones you’ve contacted and how.
- Web analytics: it’s no good having a website if you don’t know how well it’s working. You need to be able to generate detailed reports on who’s visiting your website and what they’re doing there.
- Customer service: your job doesn’t end when you cash a customer’s check. Digital tools can make it much easier to keep your customers happy and informed.
This sounds like a lot, but don’t worry — most tools can do more than one of these things. Between HubSpot and Google Analytics, you could cover almost every category on this list, and they even integrate with each other for a more comprehensive picture of your marketing situation. Do some research and find the solutions that are right for you, but don’t underestimate the usefulness of a multi-purpose tool.
The Features You Need
Before you start buying any software that catches your attention, take a moment to think about your needs based on your industry, the size of your business, and your marketing strategy. Here’s what you need:
- Integration: whether you’re using a few multi-featured tools or a bunch of smaller tools, you need to make sure they work together. The data that one tool generates has to be readable by the next tool in the workflow — and if it’s not, you need a manual process to bridge that gap.
- Real-time information: this isn’t a problem that comes up much with modern software, but there are still some tools that don’t refresh often enough to tell you what’s happening on a minute-to-minute basis. If your web traffic spikes 1000% in a five minute period, you need to know why immediately so you can address it.
- The ability to talk to your customers: your customers will have positive feedback, questions, and complaints — there’s no way around it. When they do, they might express those thoughts in any number of different ways or on any number of different platforms, and you need to be ready and able to respond no matter what.
- Unified data: however many tools you use, they need to funnel their outputs and reporting to one specific location. You can’t be generating conflicting or overlapping reports when you’re trying to get a handle on how your marketing is working.
A Stack is as Good as its User
This should seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: the best software in the world isn’t any good if your team doesn’t know how to take advantage of it. Your marketing technology stack will always be evolving — software tools will add features and lose them, new competitors will arise, you’ll outgrow some tools and grow into others. It’s ok to change what you’re doing along the way, but make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Teach every person in your organization, from top to bottom, how the stack works and what they’re expected to do with it. Write it all down — when a new hire comes in, you should be able to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. There’s no perfect set of marketing technology for everyone, but there’s a perfect set for you.