By Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing, MarcomCentral, 11/24/2015
Modern marketing requires as much technology wrangling as it does marketing know-how, especially as marketing technology stacks become more complex. With over 1,000 companies in the space, (according to IDC there are now 76 categories in MarTech) it can quickly become overwhelming trying to decide what products and services are right for you.
Regardless of where you are in the process, from an initial implementation of a CRM system to leveraging predictive analytics tools, it all comes back to the same starting point– strategy. Don’t make the mistake of letting the technology dictate your strategic direction. Technology companies are very good at showing you all the bells and whistles but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right for you since no one knows your business or customers better than you do. Spend time with the main stakeholders in the organization and whiteboard the strategy. Once you have it locked down, finding the right technology will become a lot easier. Here are a few of the key solutions that are working for us and may work for you as well.
- CRM: Most of us have some form of CRM within our organizations. If you are just beginning down this path, this should be thought of as one of the core building blocks of your technology stack. One of the most important pieces of this technology is the data you’ll collect. If your focus is outbound, then you need to organize your data in a way you can easily target the right audience through proper segmentation. If your focus is inbound or even ABM (account based marketing), the core data for your potential prospects and target accounts lives here so you can easily track buyer behavior and understand roles within an account. For many this becomes what I like to refer to as “the database of record” – everything about your strategy starts with the CRM.
- Marketing automation: These systems have become a standard for marketing teams. Whether it’s Marketo, Oracle’s Eloqua or a host of others available today, the purpose remains the same: automating and scaling marketing efforts. This technology cannot stand alone though, tying it in with your CRM is vital to your success. In our case we use Salesforce for CRM and Marketo for marketing automation. In keeping with our strategy, all paths must lead back to Salesforce so it can continue to be the database of record. The key to ensuring we’re collecting the right data and metrics is through the seamless integration of these two systems. The goal for us is to be able to gain insights from the activity that happens anywhere in our online channels from an e-mail response to a whitepaper download from our website. Understanding the action that was taken and being able to respond in an engaging way is critical to connecting with our audience. This is an ongoing challenge that requires constant monitoring, but with the right technology and strategy in place it can be done.
- Predictive analytics: I am very excited about what the future of predictive analytics holds. We seem to be in the very early stages of this new predictive world, but if a technology can give me the ability to look deeper into the data and understand which of my prospects have the highest propensity to buy or the ability to increase velocity through the sales funnel, you’ve got my full attention. You need the right data to know where to allocate your marketing resources. Predictive analytics tools look at your marketing data and provide lead scoring, so you know which leads have the most potential. Combining these tools with a CRM system creates the opportunity to target your marketing efforts to the right audience, at the right time in the sales cycle.
- Marketing asset management: We are all building these content producing machines within marketing and we need to leverage this content beyond our own efforts. We want to enable the field– sales, field marketing, partner marketing, etc.– by giving them access to marketing and allowing them to customize it as needed while we maintain control of the brand. When marketing departments are tasked with creating materials for global organizations that require local messaging, a marketing asset management tool like our own MarcomCentral, can centralize correctly branded assets for quick access by field teams. Assets can be customized locally and delivered within minutes meaning we’ve scaled our marketing efforts multiplying the effect of our branded content.
Each solution serves a key purpose within the stack, and when they work together they allow you to become more efficient, target the right customers and deliver your brand’s experience at a personal level.
Modern marketing is a diverse landscape filled with devices, channels, and data. In order to manage the sprawl and be able to scale as you grow, marketing technologies offer a way forward. Whether you adopt 5 or 15 is up to you, but it’s clear that in today’s landscape where fast and nimble are crucial, having these solutions in place is the smartest way to reach your audience and achieve your goals.