(Sometimes, You Just Need a Shovel)
Metaphors can be fun – here is one about marketing software. Read on to find the shovel reference, but you probably already get the idea – don’t be distracted by tools. Focus on the task.
All Businesses Need Marketing
As a business-to-business marketing agency, we have tried many of the leading software tools available and here are some of our thoughts. And no, we don’t sell any of this stuff, so we’re (fairly) objective. But we do advise businesses on marketing – so give us a shout here!
The Explosion of Marketing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Marketing and sales software is available to analyze and hopefully improve, every aspect of your sales funnel. From analyzing and improving your search engine optimization (SEO) to sales intelligence about who is visiting your site, to landing pages and email automation to nurture leads and close sales.
There are tools for – everything. There has been a huge increase in the number of offerings available during the last 10 years – the graphic below from Martech that shows the 8,000 marketing technology tools currently available in 2020:
What Software is Best for You?
With so many options, where do you start and what should you pick? Salesforce, Hubspot, Keap, Marketo, LeadIQ – the list can go on for quite some time. Many of these types of platforms perform multiple functions – read more about Marketing Automation here. Many solutions include a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) aspect and add other functions such as lead intelligence, lead scoring, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Platform Solutions and Point Solutions
Platform solutions combine a wide range of marketing, sales and other functions that businesses need and point solutions are software that solve only one or two functions. There is a spectrum – some of the most elaborate and complex platform solutions are Salesforce or Hubspot, that combine many, many tools. Keap is primarily a CRM that has some other functions as well. And a simple point solution is LeadIQ, which allows you to find and save email addresses, for example. And there are solutions like Zapier that exists simply to connect other programs together.
The advantages of platforms are that they offer multiple interlinked features that may help you fully digitize your business. Whereas point solutions offer simple shortcuts. However, platforms are very expensive, are complex and have steep learning curves. Sometimes the sum may be less than the parts – more is not always ‘better’. Point solutions are simple, and very inexpensive.
Make sure you understand all these aspects; cost, subscription term, learning curve and productivity benefits, before you decide on a tool. This requires understanding exactly how your business creates value and the critical business processes that achieve that. This analysis alone is fairly challenging.
I recently asked the CEO of a digital marketing agency, who was very good at keeping in touch with me by email, what type of marketing automation he was using to send me these timely and personal ‘nurture’ emails. And he said he wasn’t using any! Just a spreadsheet to keep track of his leads.
The right software tools can be powerful productivity enhancers. But wrapping your business around expensive tools that are overly complex can also be a destroyer of productivity. Putting together a few point solutions that streamline your processes may be all you need. It is important to really understand what is available (shameless plug – we can help, contact us here).
About that Shovel
Imagine you just bought a new property and want to plant a couple of shrubs in the yard. You could head to your local Tractor Supply store and buy a tractor with all the attachments including a hole digger. It will cost a lot and probably have a pretty steep learning curve to use. And will have many more tools and functions than you will likely ever need.
Or, you could just buy a shovel to plant those shrubs.