Here is some exciting news for today’s marketers. According to Gartner’s 2016-17 CMO Marketing Spend Survey, marketing budgets are on the rise for the third consecutive year.
Marketers can now expect an average of 12 percent of company revenue to be kicked back into their marketing budget. That is because 57 percent of businesses plan to spend more on marketing in 2017 than in years past.
The increased investment ties back to your CMO’s ability to demonstrate return on investment. Now, more than ever before, marketers can track and prove the success of a campaign with pinpoint accuracy. That increased accuracy means an ability to tie revenue dollars directly to marketing efforts... if you have the right tools to make it happen.
You see, you can drum up the most creative campaigns designed by some of the savviest marketers in the game, but without the right set of tools for data management, process automation, and collaboration with sales, your campaign is likely to fall short.
The good news is, marketing ops teams know this and are investing accordingly. Here are two more stats from Gartner’s survey that support the importance of quality tools. A full 27 percent of marketing budgets will be spent on technology this year. That is the second largest chunk of the budget (labor came in first with 28 percent).
It is also 3.2 percent of overall company revenue being spent on technology, including the tools needed to make your team successful.
But with over 5,000 different martech vendors spanning nearly 50 different categories, it is tough to know exactly where you should be spending your money.
That is why ReachForce has put together this guide to an essential marketing technology toolkit. In this post, you will learn about the best tools available in several different categories of martech.
Each of these tools will arm you with the data you need to report back to the CMO with a comprehensive view of campaign performance.
Sound helpful? Let’s get started.
First, Some General “Rules” for Evaluating Martech Solutions
There are thousands of different solutions in the market today with new ones popping up each week. According to ChiefMartec.com, the vendor marketplace grew 40 percent between 2016 and 2017.
Here are some guidelines to follow for evaluating any martech solution, regardless of category or purpose:
- Universal application for the entire marketing team. Some tools may be more useful for certain members of the marketing team than others. That is okay, but no tool should be built with one singular focus. Any member of the marketing team - regardless of role and responsibilities - should be able to access and extract relevant data from the platform.
- Ease of use. Any platform that requires extensive training or is not reasonably intuitive to the majority of your team is likely to see low adoption. Always take advantage of trial periods and demos with your team to ensure it is a platform that will truly stick and add value.
- Enablement of your team to do their jobs. This might seem like an obvious one, but many platforms advertise the ability to completely automate specific processes, taking the human element completely out of the equation. The goal of technology is not to eradicate your team; it is to build the best support system possible to help them do their jobs better. Steer clear of fully-automated solutions; they tend not to be everything they are cracked up to be.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some specific martech categories to evaluate the best solutions for your budget.
Content Management Systems
Content management systems allow you and your team to easily create and distribute content on the web. You are likely already set-up with a CMS today, but take a look at each of these companies if you are looking to make a switch:
According to Wordpress, 27 percent of the entire internet runs through their product. They are the granddaddy of the content management world and are certainly a reliable solution. With thousands of plugins available and an easy-to-use interface, Wordpress should be a go-to for small businesses looking for a simple, intuitive platform.
For the more advanced team looking to dive deep into SEO optimization, Drupal offers an open source CMS application designed to help you optimize your content and website for Google searches.
Marketing Automation System
You know that keeping up with all the tasks required to keep campaigns running smoothly can be a daunting task. Marketing automation tools help alleviate the repetitive tasks in your team’s day-to-day, freeing them up to focus on more strategic work. It is important to find a marketing automation tool that integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, to ensure sales and marketing can keep an open line of communication and leverage each other’s data.
While other automation platforms also double as a CRM and/or social platform, Marketo is tightly focused on marketing automation and offers robust capabilities in that space. It fully integrates with nearly any system and provides a lot of flexibility and customization, especially as campaigns grow more complex.
- Engagement programs for targeted nurture capabilities
- In-depth ROI analytics
- Real-time lead routing and scoring
- Seamless management of large, complex campaigns
- Landing page personalization and segmentation
If your business uses Salesforce for their CRM, Pardot might be a no-brainer. The tool is built by Salesforce and, in addition to the cool features listed below, is built for real-time integration with your Salesforce data.
- Email marketing with branded templates
- Ability to connect search campaigns through a single platform
- Easy ROI reporting
- Segmentation tools
- Landing page and form builders
Hubspot offers a comprehensive inbound marketing management platform designed to help generate and nurture leads through the entirety of the customer journey. It also has its own CRM, so like Salesforce and Pardot, you can use the two platforms together.
- Easy content creation and multi-channel distribution
- Ability to leverage real-time customer data to create custom brand experiences for leads and prospects
- Lead tracking
- Landing page performance analytics
Advocate Marketing Software
Did you know 84 percent of B2B decision makers start the buying process by asking for a referral?
Did you also know that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend?
Advocate marketing - otherwise known as “brand advocacy” or “referral marketing” - software is a must for your toolkit simply because it can be a complete game changer for how your business generates and converts leads in the pipeline.
Made by Influitive, AdvocateHub is a B2B referral platform that makes the process of generating referrals from your customers simple and even a bit fun! Features include:
- Integration with your CRM and marketing automation software
- Discussion boards for customer advocates to interact directly with your team
- An easy-to-use content sharing platform for advocates
- Curated experiences based on audience or events
Marketing Analytics Software
Your team might be streamlining processes left and right with all the new technology you integrate, but without a means of measuring the success of your efforts, it is all for naught. Sure, individual platforms might offer you data on the performance of that specific tool, but what about a comprehensive, holistic overview of your entire marketing strategy from start to finish?
That is where marketing analytics software comes in. A good analytics platform will simplify your marketing processes and help you ultimately boost your lead conversion rate by optimizing your campaigns and overall strategy.
When you visit Bizible’s website, you are greeted with this opening message: “Align B2B marketing to revenue with Bizible’s marketing performance management solution and get the credit you deserve.”
Sounds pretty great, right?
Bizible cares about proving the ROI of your marketing efforts. Not only can the platform track lead generation across multiple channels, but it can also help you leverage the data to forecast for future revenue (which might help you get a little extra in next year’s budget).
Looker gives marketing team members access to easy-to-understand data usually reserved for data scientists. It is a bit more complex than Bizible and does not necessarily help you draw the same conclusions, but the tool is unmatched as far as overall access to data goes.
What is the one thing each of these martech tools has in common? They all rely on quality data in order to function properly.
There is no such thing as successful marketing automation or analytics measurement without good data to ensure your leads and customers actually see your campaigns. Data cleaning should be a top priority long before you even begin investing in some of the more glamorous martech tools on the market. Here is what a good data management platform can do for you:
- Data validation. Ensure all the demographic information you have for your leads is accurate and up-to-date.
- Data cleansing. Eliminate duplicates, scrub out fake contact information, and leave your data dirt-free for better campaign success.
- Data enrichment. Fill in the gaps in real-time. Tools like ReachForce SmartForms help you get all the information on your leads to ensure marketing and sales can both easily contact potential leads by email, phone, or social media.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization, and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean, and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.