The trio of a solid CRM program, an engaging website and innovative technology that are tailored to the way you do business has often been cited as the winning formula for successful lead-to-revenue marketing. For many businesses, the most challenging of the three is the technology fork. With hundreds of available software packages vying for the attention of businesses, making the right marketing technology decisions has become more of an art than a science. It is arguably more difficult than ever to identify which software is most likely to provide the greatest return on investment.
Horror stories abound. The vendor’s pitch and demonstration seemed so appealing, and everyone was excited about the promised advantages of the new software, but a disconnect with the company’s culture and infrastructure caused enthusiasm to wane when great expectations never seemed to come through. Change is always difficult, and a combination of training issues and hostility to new ways of collecting and interpreting data has often resulted in the new software sitting forlornly on the shelf, unloved and unused. Such nightmares place management in the unenviable position of spending even more capital outlay to purchase different software or abandoning the effort altogether in favor of continuing to do what the company has always done while achieving the same lackluster results.
How can your business avoid such a fate? Your first line of defense is to understand what’s out there toward a goal of finding a good match for your needs.
Analytics focus on wading through “big data” to make sense of what the sea of numbers means for attracting customers to your business and obtaining loyalty that makes those customers impervious to the temptations of the competition. This category of software includes marketing data analysis, business intelligence, dashboards, web and mobile analytics and predictive analytics. The best fit for your company may depend on whether your goals include analyzing the performance of your website, predicting the behavior of current and potential customers, or something else.
Content management software is geared toward ensuring that the information on your website, in your advertising and in your public image, along with the way it is presented (GUI, look and feel), closely aligns with the needs of your customers. This category includes SEO, sales enablement, content marketing and display marketing software, as well as programs assisting in the development of events and webinars.
Campaign management software includes key account management, email marketing, marketing automation and CRM packages.
Social media marketing software, including search and social ads packages, can help you achieve the right balance between different social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and blogs.
Marketing cloud software can help businesses leverage the “anytime, anywhere” power of the cloud via email, advertising, social media, mobile and web applications.
Confusing? There is no one right answer, with the most appropriate software for a particular company depending upon business practices. With so many different types of software available, many businesses elect to go with an integrated platform such as Sitecore that encompasses aspects of all these approaches in the pursuit of business optimization.
Ultimately, however, managers will need to identify those marketing areas in which their businesses already excel, those in which they could use a little help and those in which there is clearly a need for improvement. While there is no sense in duplicating existing efforts or fixing what isn’t broken, the key to success lies in seeing the big picture. Which of your business processes are no longer effective or aren’t keeping up with the technology used by your customers? Starting with modernization and improvement of those processes and after selecting software that comports with those goals will likely be your winning ticket.