Let’s take a moment to imagine your main purpose in life is to cut down trees. You take a lot of pride in this job, and your goal is to cut down an acre of trees every week. The thing is, your tools consist of a handsaw, ax, rope, and a ladder. Those are the only kinds of tools you’ve ever used, and when your ax needs sharpened, you sharpen it. Your employer doesn’t buy you new tools unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Across the road is another forest that was recently purchased by a lumber company different than the one you work for. They are charged with clearing the forest to make room for a new housing development. On the first day they arrive at the worksite, you begin to hear an unfamiliar noise. When you look up, you see they’re using chainsaws, a tool you’d only heard about but had never seen in action.
By the end of the day, the lumber company on the other side of the road has cut down more than 10 times as many trees as you did. Understandably, you feel a little defeated.
The analogy of using antiquated tools is very similar to an issue faced by high-tech businesses every day. It’s common for high-tech companies to focus efforts and resources on operations, and leave the marketing process up to a small team and often times those teams aren’t equipped with the proper tools to succeed. The job could get done with what’s available at hand, but how much more effective could the team’s work be with the right tools?
Marketing automation software (MAS) is to marketing professionals as a chainsaw is to the lumber industry. MAS gets things done faster and more efficiently. They also help small teams scale in a way that is not possible with traditional time management processes and workflows. When the complexity of the workload is reduced, the speed of common, day-to-day tasks is increased.
MAS also equip marketer’s with access to a technical side of marketing, traditionally owned and managed by IT teams or a webmaster. Several MAS tools include the ability for marketers to quickly and easily design landing pages and manage webpage content and elements.
Other MAS features typically include:
- Integrated social media management and reporting
- CRM management
- Advanced SEO Tools such as keyword planners and keyword cluster tools
- Email marketing and reporting
- List management
- Project management
- Integrations with blogging platforms and various other third-party APIs
There are many types of MAS solutions available on the market, and they cater to different sized businesses, industries, and software needs and we picked three; two industry leaders and an up and comer that we thought was interesting.
The leader in MAS is HubSpot, which has more than 41,000 business customers in 90 countries. HubSpot specializes in inbound marketing and sales software designed specifically to move leads through the buyer’s journey. Their entire mantra is ‘don’t interrupt buyers, attract them’, and it’s this philosophy that’s at the heart of the inbound marketing methodology. Some of HubSpot’s primary features include:
- Marketing automation
- Landing pages
- Social media
HubSpot has a partner network that serves as their sales team in a way. Can-Do Ideas is a gold level partner and we pride ourselves on helping clients with their HubSpot deployments, support, code, and design.
Marketo is a marketing automation tool that focuses on lead scoring and activity to determine how the lead progresses through the system. Available to companies of all sizes, Marketo’s solutions include:
- Lead management
- Email marketing
- Consumer marketing
- Customer base marketing
- Mobile marketing
A selling feature of Marketo is that it’s very customizable for every client. As a result, companies, like Elixiter out of Bozeman, MT, base their entire business on supporting Marketo deployments. Elixiter is staffed by highly trained and specialized Marketo architects who work alongside customers to ensure their Marketo deployment is working seamlessly.
TOMIS (tour operator marketing intelligence software) is a more niche form of MAS compared to HubSpot and Marketo. Based out of Missoula, MT, TOMIS specializes in the tour industry and targets tour operators as their primary target market. According to TOMIS’s website, TOMIS blends the services of a marketing agency with the features of traditional MAS to help clients generate more bookings.
TOMIS features include:
- Tracking revenue
- Booking value
- Customer acquisition statuses
- Online bookings
- Marketing automation and recommendations
- Reporting and analytics
There are several more tools available to high-tech businesses seeking ways to maximize their marketing efficiencies and reach new levels of automation, reporting, and customer acquisition. The MAS best suited for your company depends on several aspects, most importantly what do you want the MAS to accomplish. According to Smartsheet, the ten things to consider when selecting a marketing automation system are:
- Develop a plan
- Establish goals
- Map out your marketing funnel
- Choose tools that serve multiple departments
- Build your short list
- Evaluate life software demonstrations
- Test platform against real world scenarios
- Compare quotes
- Make a case to management
- Review software license agreement (SLA)
Successful modern marketing practices require focus and attention to detail. You might be the top marketer in your company, but without the right tools, you’re still not the best you can be. Join the lumber company with their chainsaws on the other side of the road and begin to accelerate your marketing strategy and capabilities with marketing automation systems.