Being a marketer today means running a data-driven operation that delivers sales-ready leads resulting in revenue. That’s pretty scary isn’t it? Most likely, you aren’t a data scientist or a sales expert.
Your expertise probably lies in targeting audiences with creative campaigns, advertising, and content. But increasingly, you are asked to show ROI on your marketing efforts and give sales better leads. How do you do that and keep your marketing efforts on track? Marketing technologies.
Marketing technologies allow you to automate and scale many of the manual aspects of your marketing programs. They help you create and manage scalable sources of qualified leads, track effectiveness, manage suspects and turn them into prospects, and deliver content to multiple devices, among other automation tasks.
In short, marketing technologies make your life easier.
But there are now more than 3,500 marketing technology options to choose from, and even the top ones don’t offer all-in-one-solutions tailored to every industry. Most likely, you will need multiple technologies in your toolbox like analytics, customer relationship management software, email marketing, lead scoring — the list can go on and on.
So, how many do you really need? It depends. The average company deploys more than 35 vendor technologies, according to marketing tag management firm Ghostery. The resulting mix of marketing technologies is what’s referred to as a “marketing technology stack.”
No Magic List of Marketing Technologies
I’d like to say that there is a silver bullet marketing technology stack or a one-size-fits-all. But I can’t. Just like your business isn’t exactly like anyone else’s, your specific needs are going to be different than the needs of others.
So with 3,500 different technologies to choose from, how do you get started? They all seem really cool. The demos are all pretty awesome. They all have logos of cool customers on their home pages that receive massive value by implementing their solutions. And the promise is that you could be just like them.
So, you say, this is easy. Step 1: assemble marketing technology stack. Step 3: become billionaire. Ah, if it were just that easy. It’s that missing step 2 that causes a lot of trouble for many of today’s marketers.
Some marketers jump in and purchase marketing software thinking with just a single click, it provides all the analytics, whiz-bang features, and business value they will ever need.
Six months later, these marketers call us asking for help deciding whether they should stick with the chosen technology or switch to something different. Maybe the software wasn’t implemented correctly, or they weren’t fully trained on the technology. Others didn’t understand how long it would take to get the full value out of the software, or who, in fact, would be responsible for running it.
Begin at the End: Determine Business Value
Before you start evaluating technologies, you need to consider your business needs and decide what marketing, sales, and the overall business want to accomplish. Ultimately, you are trying to understand who your best customers are, and how to help prospects with those same attributes become customers at a faster rate.
You need to figure out how the technology will integrate into your marketing and sales processes, who will be the point person for the technology, and what types of marketing elements and human resources you’ll need to allocate to get the job done. You need to choose technologies that help you drive profitable business actions and use that filter during your evaluations.
Remember to look at total ROI, not just cost of the software – including internal or external resources, training, any new staff or even staff time that will be devoted to technology that was formerly devoted to something else. If a technology doesn’t help you reach your business goals, you probably don’t need it.
What Tech Do You Already Have?
After determining the business value you want to drive, work with IT to identify what technologies you already have in place. Most companies with websites already have content management systems like WordPress or Drupal, and they use analytics software such as Google Analytics to track visitor traffic. New tools should integrate well with existing systems critical to your business operations.
Whether you are building a technology stack yourself or engaging an outside consultant, remember every hour spent properly planning saves dozens of hours down the line in implementation frustration.
Marketing Technology Foundation Built on CRM
The goal of marketing is to reach prospects with the right messages at the right time to help them become buyers. But before marketers can target likely suspects, they need to know who their best customers are. The easiest and fastest way to figure out what your ideal customer looks like is to crack open the company’s CRM system.
It’s no longer the sole domain of sales, but a vital marketing tool. A CRM has critical information such as which leads converted in to customers and the dollar values those customers represent. The CRM is the foundation of your marketing tech stack. Without it, you’ll never get to the “R” in ROI.
Marketing Automation and CRM – the Core of the Stack
One of the key pieces of technology you want to consider putting in place is a marketing automation platform. Without one, it’s hard to handle all the individual steps you’ll need to take as part of your marketing programs such as creating landing pages, creating outbound email functions or a nurture function for people who downloaded content or otherwise raised their hand; or even implementing lead scoring and grading to identify your most qualified prospects.
Marketing automation tools let companies set up lead nurturing programs, automatically add people to an email list, automatically move prospects through a typical buyer journey, automate CRM follow-up tasks, or send a follow-up message after an event. The software allows marketers to truly show return on investment and revenue impact through the campaigns and channels generating it. Major players include Eloqua, Pardot, Hubspot, and Marketo.
For many companies, CRM and marketing automation are the basic foundations of the marketing stack. Many organizations don’t go much further until they have these pieces right.
The Next Components
That said, the next wave of technologies many marketers add to their stack are typically technologies that help drive new prospects into the funnel or reach prospects deeper in the funnel. These can include:
- Advertising platforms such as Google Adwords
- Social media sharing and public relations platforms like Cision
- Search engine optimization programs like Moz
- Lead conversion tools such as landing page testing
- Lead nurturing or remarketing technologies
I’ll tackle the next wave in a future post. It’s most important that you derive the appropriate business value from your foundation before you explore the other 3,500 or so technologies. If you are curious as to what others have, check out Chief Martec.com’s stackie awards, which gives you a peek at 21 different marketing technology stacks.
When evaluating new technologies, remember:
- If the technology is not driving profitable business actions, you probably don’t need it
- Audit technology already in place so you can leverage it
- Understand how the new technology will integrate with legacy systems
Marketing Technology Key to Marketing Success
Marketing technology is a very valuable tool for proving ROI, and elevating marketing to the C-suite. With so much technology available, there is a lot of software to wade through. The key is making sure whatever technology you chose provides the business value you need. If you are not 100 percent sure where to start or need help, ask an expert.
Want to get started on your marketing technology stack? Download “The Five Critical Questions Before You Make the Marketing Automation Decision” to get going on the first pieces of the puzzle. If you get stuck, let us know. We can help with the rest.