A few weeks ago we posted a brief introduction to marketing operations, which has led us to this 4-part series on the pillars of marketing operations—including budgeting, technology, measurement and processes.
It’s hard to overlook technology if you are discussing marketing operations, because without the influx of technology the discipline of marketing operations would not exist. As you may remember marketing operations was developed to help marketers justify their marketing budgets and learn how to pivot and make changes to campaigns—so that efforts are driving measurable revenue. In this article, I will discuss some technologies that are critical to building a performance-based marketing organization.
I am going to start off with a technology category that most marketers are familiar with: email marketing.
It seems like email marketing has been around for ages and there has been clear value in using technology to support this ever prevalent marketing tactic. Email marketing is one of the only communication channels that is private between you and your prospects. It is a unique connection. Additionally, due to all of the restrictions around email marketing, the ever-evasive ‘opt-in’ process helps companies remain less intrusive. While the opt-in process seems difficult and limiting, it provides companies with the ability to stay in front of customers and prospects who have specifically said that they do indeed want to hear from you. This is one of five reasons, as stated in this inc.com article, why email marketing still works.
There are quite a few email marketing technologies that have been around for a long time. Some of the most popular are: MailChimp, Constant Contact and myemma. These tools simplify the process of sending mass emails and tracking effectiveness. As far as marketing technologies go, email is far and away the most adopted and used.
Social Media Marketing
The first step that companies need to understand before diving into technology is they need to develop a true social media strategy. In some cases reviewing the technologies used to support social media strategies can help facilitate the development of a strategy. For starters, there are so many different social sites that you can use depending on the nature of your business. Each social site provides a different opportunity for you to reach prospects and customers, but understand that not all social sites are created equal or intended to be used in the same way. Your social media strategy should take into consideration that each outlet differs on the way it communicates and connects to your audience. By understanding this you can get the most impact from social media.
Many companies are still scratching the surface when it comes to using social media as it was intended. The best companies apply a strategy to each social media outlet—they use sites like Twitter to encourage two-way communication and Instagram to connect emotionally through pictures. In addition to understanding which social media sites to use for which content, it is also important to include in your strategy how you plan to build your social communities and implement “social listening”. Remember without a social media community of followers, your hard work of developing posts and content will fall on deaf ears, instead of building website traffic and attention to your company.
After you have developed your social media strategy, managing the content can seem daunting. Thankfully, tools like Hootsuite and edgar offer easy-to-implement solutions that support large and small companies alike. These tools help you set goals, monitor social media progress and manage your social post editorial calendar. The hardest part for companies is in developing the strategy, but these tools can help you execute your strategy and stay on target to meet your goals. Their ease of use and implementation have high rate of adoption and usage. The beauty of social media marketing is that it crosses all types of companies, large and small and B2C and B2B alike—it should be considered a major component of any modern marketing plan, and it is here to stay as shown in this infographic.
As defined by Webopedia, web analytics is a generic term meaning the study of the impact of a website on its users. The most common web analytics tools are Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics (Site Catalyst). This is a technology many marketers and business owners are most familiar with, and the good news is that you can access these tools for free.
So what do we use these tools for? The output from these tools produces analytics that will help you understand the performance of your website. Here are some ways you can use this data to help your marketing efforts by:
- Understanding keywords better
- Understanding customers by seeing patterns in behavior, then segmenting them
- Targeting consumers better, improve their site experience and provide better products/ services
- Understanding page quality. Pages that are found to NOT be sending users deeper into the conversion path should be rewritten or redesigned to better address goals.
- Highlighting problem areas on your site: fix and handle them.
- Understanding and measuring offline successes.
If you’re not already using Google Analytics (GA)—jump on board, it’s the clear leader in Web Analytics tools and “a whopping 67% of the Fortune 500 websites are using GA and/or a combination of GA and other web analytics tools”(e-nor.com). Also as mentioned above it’s FREE, so there are no excuses and it’s easy to implement for a non-techie! If your company is advanced in analytics, there are other tools like WebTrends that offer full-functionality that advanced users would need. The word on the street is that while there is a high rate of adoption for this technology—most companies are only scratching the surface when it comes to usage and gaining insights that are actionable.
Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP)
Thanks to companies like HubSpot, most marketers are familiar with a new discipline in marketing called Inbound Marketing. Below is a chart that shows the process of inbound marketing and the types of tactics (content) that needs to be developed along the way to run a successful inbound campaign.
The reason I started this off with a chart explaining Inbound Marketing is because it’s precisely the reason companies need to implement a MAP. As you can see from the chart above there are a lot of moving pieces to an inbound marketing campaign and in order to manage them all effectively and see which content or tactic is working best, there needs be help for the modern day marketer. That is where a MAP comes in to play. A MAP is a software that allows companies to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers. In many companies a MAP sits in front of a CRM (customer relationship management) software, like SaleForce, Sugar or MSFT Dynamics CRM and delivers qualified leads to Sales teams in the CRM.
There are many vendors in the MAP software space, here is a SHORT list categorized by business size: SharpSpring, InfusionSoft (small business), HubSpot (small business/mid-market), Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua (mid-market/enterprise).
A MAP is the ‘holy grail’ for CMOs, marketing professionals and marketing agencies across the globe, it helps us ‘justify’ our existence. In addition to moving prospects along into customers, MAP also tracks campaigns and provides campaign analytics that help marketers decide which tactics are working and which are not.
So why are only 16% of B2B companies using marketing automation? According to this VentureBeat article the top reasons that there is a lack or adoption is because there are so many vendors in this space it is hard to choose and MAPs are not easy to implement. While I do agree with these reasons the benefits far outweigh the challenges as stated in this blog post “78% of high-performing marketers say marketing automation is responsible for improving revenue contribution”.
Choosing a Path to Performance
So there we have it—four technologies that are changing the way we connect and market to the mass. There has never been a better time to explore and embrace the solutions we have available to drive marketing performance. And while I must admit technology can be challenging at times—obstacles open the door to opportunities.
On the fence about which solution might work best for your business? Let us know—we’d be happy to help.