It’s 2017, which means that it’s officially The Future. I know, I was hoping for more flying cars too, but the positive thing is that as marketers, we have plenty of advanced technology to wield as we search for the right prospects and the best ways to communicate with them. As marketing technology becomes more and more advanced and segmented, it gets tougher to choose one without some major fear of missing out on something that could be better.
The (sort of) good news: there is no magic marketing technology stack that works equally well for all organizations, so there’s no one right answer that you’re overlooking. But there are definitely options that work better than others, and there are some that might be better for the particular needs of your organization than they are for solving someone else’s problems. At the end of the day, there is really just one constant: the three basic functions every modern marketing department must support through their marketing technology.
- Lead capturing: Collecting information about leads that come through online and offline channels
- Lead nurturing: Turning leads into opportunities, sales, repeat buyers, and brand enthusiasts
- Attribution: Measuring the performance of your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts
These are by no means the only functions in which you can or should invest, but they are necessary parts to every effective martech stack. You cannot get by without them in today’s marketing industry.
Okay, But How Do I Achieve These Functions?
You might be thinking now: well, that was fast! I wasn’t expecting to learn The Three Basic Functions Your Martech Stack Must Achieve this early in the blog post! But the question doesn’t end there. Maybe even more important than knowing what to do is knowing the best way to do it. While there are many categories that facilitate these efforts, your most surefire solutions are to invest in:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) software solution
- A marketing automation system
- A digital analytics system or systems
And, of course, as important as these systems is the time and technology to connect them, and the time and ability to actively use them. If your organization hasn’t properly implemented and utilized all of these necessary martech components, stop what you’re doing and focus on them right now.
Let’s talk a little more about what each one is, and what they can all do for your marketing efforts.
Digital Analytics Systems
An important step to great marketing is having the ability to know how your marketing is performing. After all, you can’t say for certain whether you’re doing great work or not if you don’t have detailed results on hand. A comprehensive analytics system can help help you measure the performance of your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts, so you know what’s effective and what needs improvement (or what you should abandon altogether).
This is not – and never should be considered – a “set it and forget it” setup. It should always be seen as a process that will take an active investment in time. After all, as your marketing and sales environment changes – new products, new pages, new offerings and campaigns – all of these things will need to be considered within your analytics platform. New material needs to be tagged, tracked, and verified so you can continue to receive useful, actionable data to improve efforts moving forward and feed the best insights back to your marketing decision-makers and sales frontline.
Marketing Automation Systems
You simply don’t have time to manually execute every part of a marketing strategy that has the necessary complexity to turn a shopper into a prospect and then into a customer. Automating some of the process can help. A marketing automation system will facilitate lead generation and nurturing, through channels like email marketing, social, forms, landing pages and more. Just create the assets and load them into your automation system, and when prospects satisfy certain requirements (taking a specific action on your site, for example) they will automatically enter your marketing pipeline and each subsequent action will be managed within the system.
Again, this cannot be approached as another “set it and forget it” effort; if it is, you’re wasting your investment. Just as in analytics, you will need to adjust, update, and review your automation systems throughout the lifecycle of software use. Their power is in their ability to connect users to content – as new content and new users come in, the systems will need updating to make sure you’re taking advantage of what’s available and most effective in your marketing ecosphere.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
If your marketing is working well, you’re going to end up making contact with a lot of people. That’s great – but what are you doing with that information? Are you getting everything you can out of it, or do you just have contact lists sitting around gathering dust? A CRM can help; it stores contact information, accounts, leads, and opportunities in one easily accessible central location, and it facilitates sales and service interactions with these stakeholders. It takes the spoils of your marketing successes and helps you leverage them intelligently.
I am sure I don’t need to remind you about the effort needed here to be successful – sustain review and updating, to make best use of the insights your sales staff will gain. Put those insights to use as your collected systems work together to ensure maximum value.
The CRM, Marketing Automation, and Digital Analytics Solutions We Use
By now you’re probably yelling at your computer screen, “okay, I get it, martech is important, but could you just tell me what to buy already?!” Remember, as I said earlier: there’s no one right answer, there’s no magic bullet software that’s going to make you the queen of marketing. Of course, we’re marketers ourselves, meaning we have hands-on experience with some of these software options. And, of course, there are some we like more than others. We can’t guarantee that they’ll be perfect for you unless we know your business’ situation, though, so if you really want to know more, let’s chat. But as a starting point, here are a few martech solutions that we use ourselves. Take a look at them, but remember: your mileage may vary.
- Salesforce CRM
- HubSpot CRM
- Sugar CRM
Marketing Automation Systems
- Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Digital Analytics Systems
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Bing Web Analytics
Of course, this isn’t the end of your marketing technology journey. You have a whole list of other decisions to make before you can settle on the perfect martech solutions for your business – like who’s going to run the systems and how. But our help doesn’t end here. We put together a Marketing Technology Purchasing Guide to help marketers and businesses through the process of choosing, buying, and implementing a new marketing technology stack. Take a look, and if you have questions – or if you want some expert advice, personalized for your needs – go ahead and let us know. We’d love to help.
As the Digital Marketing Director for Element Three, Dustin works with the Element Three digital marketing department to determine the best combination of data analysis, marketing technology, and storytelling for driving our clients' bottom line. His background in journalism, digital communication, and ecommerce positions him as a unique voice in the cluttered digital marketing industry. When he's not writing about the forefront of digital marketing, you can find him jamming with a guitar or at home with his wife and two children.
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