In 2017, ChiefMartec collated a ‘supergraphic’ of global marketing software products.
The number of applications included was 5,381.
Think about that number for a moment. Imagine if you were to go through this list and set up as many as three new marketing tools every day. It would take you five years. Now – of course nobody would do this, but it gives you a sense of the sheer scale of the marketing technology landscape. And the number of solutions keeps growing!
How are we, as marketers, supposed to keep up with all the latest marketing tools and systems when there is such an abundance of choice? I recommend the following three approaches:
1. Learn from your peers
You should look at peer recommendations as often as you can. It’s helpful to investigate what other marketers are successfully using to overcome similar challenges to yours. Ask around at events and tradeshows where you can find other marketers in the same industry, and join online communities – such as the Awesome Marketing Community on Facebook.
2. Learn from influencers
I also recommend keeping an eye on solutions mentioned by the genuine marketing superstars in your industry. Subscribe to blogs and social feeds of people who are at the forefront of marketing innovation and keep an eye on solutions or applications they mention or advocate. What are their teams using? What’s working for them?
3. Read reviews
It’s always useful to stay updated on new marketing tools and applications, as well as updates and improvements to existing solutions. My favourite resource for unbiased information and reviews is the Capterra blog and software review library.
The Big Four
Most marketers will agree that there are certain types of software applications you really cannot do without. Now, in each category there will of course be loads of different options to choose from, but these marketing tools make up the core pillars of functionality to support your sales and marketing efforts.
The Contact Relationship Management system really is the heartbeat of any business. This is where you track your leads through the sales cycle, segment your customer records and create your sales forecasts. There is a huge number of CRM options available, depending on budget and feature requirements, but some of the most popular solutions include CapsuleCRM, SugarCRM, and Salesforce.com.
- Email automation
An email automation system is not just critical for outbound email marketing campaigns, it is also your key tool for managing automatic responses to enquiries and lead generation asset downloads. Again, your budget and needs will dictate how feature-rich your automation tool will be, but there is an increasing amount of relatively advanced solutions at a low cost. Some examples include Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign and Pardot.
There is more pressure than ever to track, measure and analyse marketing performance and report on ROI. This is where analytics tools have come to play a major part. Google Analytics often sits at the centre of your web analytics process, but in order to enrich this data with various other campaign input types, you may also look at using a richer tool such as Funnel, Chartio or Attribution.
- Social media management
Monitoring and managing social media activity natively on several platforms is not a good use of anyone’s time. A business that operates on more than one social channel should always consider using a scheduling and management tool such as Walls.io, HootSuite, or HubSpot.
Allow for experimentation
Even if you already have a suite of marketing tools, you should review your choices regularly and sign up for occasional free trials of alternative applications – to ensure you are not missing out on important features or integrations!
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