In today’s “there’s an app for that” world, one expert has counted almost 7,000 marketing technology tools. CMOs are spending 29% of their budget on MarTech, and that percentage is only expected to rise. Clearly there’s both supply and demand in the sector, but how do you know which functions to automate and which specific tools to invest in?
The first thing you need to know – don’t jump into tech decisions prematurely. Building an effective marketing plan involves four steps: strategy, tactics, analytics and technology.
Each step implements the insights and decisions of the previous step. So you’ll be choosing your tech in order to track (and then improve on) the metrics that illuminate the success of your tactics, which are grounded in your overall strategy.
Ideally, your marketing plan is based on the new sales and marketing model of the Cyclonic Buyer JourneyTM. In this model, prospects move back and forth repeatedly among eight stages. In each of these stages, the prospect has different questions and is looking for different information, so different kinds of tactics are needed to reach them where they are and provide that information.
But not all of the stages are equally important for your prospects. In order to build an effective marketing plan, you need to identify at which stages most of your prospects are most active, and then identify the tactics you should use to reach them there.
Perhaps your product is so revolutionary that your prospects aren’t even fully aware that their pain has been diagnosed, let alone solved. In this case, you’ll be working on Pre-Awareness Stage tactics, such as account-based marketing and pay-per-click advertising. Or if your product involves a long sales process, you’ll be developing Education and Consideration Stage tactics, such as content marketing, lead scoring and website chatbot deployment.
So let’s assume you’ve gone through the pre-steps of determining your strategy and tactics, based on the buyer journey stage(s) you want to support, and identifying your target metrics. Now it’s time to figure out the tools that will help you implement those tactics and improve those metrics.
We have identified a few helpful marketing tools to support efforts in each stage in the Cyclonic Buyer Journey. You may already be using some of these tools; now you need to identify others that can be used to support the tactics you want to focus your efforts on. Some of these tools are directly tied to tracking metrics, while others can be deployed to improve your offerings, which will indirectly help you improve performance.
Tools that are directly tied to tracking metrics (but may also be used tactically) include:
Other tools are designed for creating content and optimizing its deployment. These include tools for:
Once you’ve identified the type of tool you want and narrowed down your choices to one or two (or three) brands, you’re moving from the Consideration Stage to the Evaluation Stage. In this stage, you’ll be looking more closely at each tool or platform to see how it will integrate with what you’re already doing (and using). Consider your current processes and platforms from two perspectives.
Budget will be a major resource consideration, of course, but also take a look at your current staffing. Who is available to help with your sales and marketing campaigns, and how are they currently spending their time?
Some solutions, such as ABM and sales enablement platforms, are designed to streamline processes and save time. By automating tedious or low-payoff processes, your employees’ time is freed up to focus on more productive (and often more lucrative) tasks.
Content creation tools, on the other hand, call for an investment of staff time, so you should take your employees’ skill sets into account before signing up for one of these.
For instance, Ceros, which can be used to create eye-popping experiential content, is a sophisticated tool used mostly by professional designers. But even someone who’s never made a video can usually figure out how to create a Powtoon, often completing their first video in as little as an afternoon.
And if you’re working with an agency, they are probably using many of these tools, and may be a resource for doing the work for you.
Check whether the program can be integrated with your main CRM platform(s). Most of the apps are designed to be used with the major platforms, but tech changes constantly, so make sure whatever you choose can be bolted onto your current system.
HubSpot provides integration information in a single spot. If you’re using Marketo or Pardot, you’ll have to do a little more digging.
In any case, you probably want something that integrates directly with your current systems, to avoid straining your interactive and development resources unnecessarily.