Where do you start in the world of marketing technology, or ‘MarTech’ as it’s been christened? The landscape is evolving at such a fast pace. Last year’s edition of the marketing technology landscape revealed that 1 in 5 of the solutions weren’t there 12 months prior; in fact, the number of platforms now available is 50 times greater than in 2014.
Let’s be honest it’s a headache! Especially when you add in the salespeople that will approach you, who on each occasion will be stating that their platform is ‘revolutionary’ and is the perfect platform for you!
So, knowing that a number of you are evaluating your tech stack this year, some of whom for the first time, in this blog I thought I’d try and unpack some of the essentials, especially for smaller professional services firms and share some of the factors to consider when you’re exploring different technologies.
Possibly the most important thing to remember is ‘integration’. No matter what technology you decide to implement, your different platforms need to work together effectively.
Remember the idea behind MarTech is to make your life easier and to give you greater insight, this isn’t possible if your technologies don’t ‘talk’ to each other.
So, where to start…
Our advice is always, think of your tech ‘spine’. What are the absolute fundamentals you need in place to be successful? Yes, there are over 7,000 technologies to choose from, but your spine needs to consist of 4 primary tools: Your CRM, a CMS (sorry there are a few acronyms in all this!), a marketing automation/email marketing platform and reporting/analysis. These are your absolute fundamentals before you start exploring any further complex (maybe more exciting!) technologies. Start small and implement the essentials first.
While these will most likely be separate systems, do not buy anything that doesn’t integrate with the other platforms in your spine. Otherwise, you’ll end up with disjointed activities and an inability to accurately identify which marketing activities are truly driving results.
So, let’s take a closer look at this spine:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is essential to any professional services firm. It’s where all your customer and prospect data is housed, and provides a central resource for your sales team and consultants to interact with clients and prospects. Email marketing may be built-in to this technology or procured as a separate platform, but seamless integration is essential between your CRM and email marketing solution. The great thing is there are a good number of CRM’s available and many of which charge by user, which makes them quite attractive to smaller consultancies.
Content Management System (CMS)
Your CMS is the hub of your website content publishing, allowing you to manage your firm’s web presence, including website content, blogs, landing pages, and more. A popular example here is WordPress. Pretty much all CMS platforms will offer ‘plugins’ to connect your CRM/Marketing automation platform through contact and download forms etc, meaning people who contact or download content from your website can go straight into your CRM and/or Marketing automation platform.
Marketing Automation/Email marketing
Email marketing is hugely important for all of us, so having a marketing automation/email marketing platform that integrates with your CRM and CMS is massively important. It will streamline the process of nurturing your leads by initiating specified actions based on client behaviour. The bigger automation platforms such as Hubspot offer a variety of tools over and above email marketing such as social media publishing, improving personalisation, and more.
Finally, monitoring the performance of your marketing activities is essential if you want to understand what is and isn’t working. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Analytics tools provide quantifiable means of measuring the effectiveness of marketing messaging, campaigns, channels, and more. The obvious starting tool for your spine is Google Analytics.
So, from your 7,000 tech options, this has to be your start point. Get the spine in place and make sure they all ‘talk’ to each other. It genuinely isn’t scary! Implement these and get them set-up and working well before introducing more. Other interesting next steps after this would be choosing a Webinar provider that integrates with your stack, or technologies which identify companies that are identifying your website visitors etc. There are a ton to explore down the line.
Of course, each platform is an investment, but having a robust MarTech ‘spine’ in place and all working well will deliver significant results for your firm.
Last year we wrote a blog sharing some of our top tips for getting the most of MarTech this might also be worth re-reading.
Investing in any form of MarTech is a necessary, and potentially big, investment, but it genuinely doesn’t need to be risky. Just map out exactly what you need but start small with your spine. Also, remember that any MarTech is what it says, technology. It’s the way we use and integrate that technology that will empower us and our firms to reach our full potential.