Marketing software is one of the most important tools for any small business. It provides the power to manage all of your marketing efforts, including email marketing, graphic design, social media marketing, or search engine optimization. Marketing software can help you grow your business by bringing clarity to your efforts.
In today’s knowledge economy, the marketing landscape for businesses has changed dramatically. Companies that hope to effectively spread the word about their offerings, attract customers, engage with them and ultimately retain them, need to adapt to these changes. Those that fail to do so will fall behind. Below are great marketing software that can help companies remain relevant and master marketing in the digital age:
Introduction to Marketing Software
It’s no secret that marketing has been fundamentally reshaped by the internet. What was once a profession mostly entranced by creativity now requires an almost scientific approach wherein marketers form a hypothesis, test it on a small scale, and review the resulting data. More than ever marketing now blends the qualitative with the quantitative.
This data-driven marketing approach was born out of the value businesses could derive from the obscene amounts of data being created online by consumers. Any strategy now needs data to validate its success, and obtaining that data requires new tools calibrated to each marketing medium your organization is using.
For example, a 2011 attempt to identify and classify marketing software applications turned up 100 different vendors. By 2014, there were approximately 947 different products across 43 categories. In 2015 the total number of vendors exceed 1800, and the author admits the final result is by no means comprehensive.1,2
Because consumers often choose or reject businesses based on experiences rather than solely the product or service, it’s tempting to implement marketing programs to ensure that you have blanket coverage for dealing with every consumer interaction. However, this strategy is expensive and has poor business practices.
The software your organization uses should always be based on the needs of your business, rather than trends in any particular market. So in the interest of reintroducing simplicity — and perhaps a bit of sanity – we’ve identified four major marketing software categories that the majority of businesses will need to support their marketing efforts either now or at some point in the future:
Certain categories of software were not included in this guide, namely data-heavy platforms for retrieving, integrating, visualizing, and reporting data. While this software certainly has value for marketers, we classify it as Business Intelligence software. See our Business Intelligence guide for more information.
Marketing Software Apps Used by Today’s Top Marketers
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
With each phone call from a sales rep, every email from a marketer, your prospects (hopefully) inch closer to your ultimate goal: purchase. But, keeping track of them at every stage of the customer journey is no easy task.
When was the lead last contacted? Do they prefer email to phone? What’s the next step in follow-up?
Most times data like this ends up buried in a spreadsheet or lost on a company laptop. With a CRM, entire marketing and sales departments can track every interaction between customers and their business, and maintain relevant communication throughout the buyer’s journey.
What it’s used for Monitoring and tracking customer relationships
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 76% to 76%
Popular tools: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot CRM, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), Zoho CRM
Video conferencing solution
Today, remote teams are more popular than ever, which means so are video conferencing tools that enable face-to-face meetings over the internet. Whether you use them to vet potential clients, interview freelancers, or collaborate with team members, they’re a powerful addition to any marketing stack.
Usage: Collaborating and meeting face-to-face virtually
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 67% to 59%
Popular tools: Google Hangout, ClickMeeting, join.me, Skype, Adobe Connect
Email marketing software
After all these years and updated technologies, email is still marketers’ most valuable channel, producing $38 in ROI for every $1 spent. Service providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact allow teams to segment their leads and customers to send highly relevant messages used to nurture them to sale.
What it’s used for: Nurturing leads to conversion, transactional messaging
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 64% to 61%
Popular tools: MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaigner, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, SendGrid, Mandrill
Marketing automation software
Providing personalization at scale isn’t easy. Your team is only so big, and it has to keep up with a continually growing customer base. Marketing automation was created to help businesses take a hands-off approach to offer relevant buyer experiences.
Tools like Autopilot allow you to track the behavior of anonymous visitors to your website, then guide them all the way to purchase with automated, personalized messages across channels like SMS, email, and direct mail.
Usage: Automating marketing tasks throughout the customer journey while maintaining a personal touch
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 58% to 50%
Popular tools: Autopilot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua
Print material and solutions
According to software solution Priint, more than 25% of touchpoints in the customer journey are relevant for print. Offline marketing collateral like brochures, pamphlets, direct mail — anything you can brand and use to inform and entertain your customer — are still relevant today.
In fact, according to a 2016 report from Content Marketing Institute, the most used paid advertising mediums by B2B businesses rank as follows:
With still so many marketers relying on print materials to guide prospects through the customer journey, businesses must have a way to turn their digital content into print-friendly formats. Plugins from technology like Print allow marketers to integrate creative tools from Adobe to quickly automate the transfer of online designs to offline mediums.
Usage: Converting your digital content into print-friendly formats
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 52% to 50%
Popular tools: Sitecore Print Experience Manager, Print: Suite
Analytics and data visualization solutions
At the heart of every marketing technology ecosystem should be a powerful analytics tool. Without the ability to measure the performance of your marketing efforts, you’ll have no idea if your campaigns are producing positive ROI — which, according to industry reports, is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today.
Who’s visiting your website? How are they interacting with it? What are prospects paying attention to? These are all questions that analytics and data visualization tools can answer. It’s no coincidence that the biggest disparity in adoption between top-notch marketers and all others is in this category.
What it’s used for: Measuring the performance of marketing efforts
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 52% to 33%
Popular tools: Crazy Egg, EyeQuant, Google Analytics, Kissmetrics Analytics, HotJar
Content management software
Back in the early days of the web, you had to know your way around the “back end” of a website to publish and edit any online content. Coding know-how and programming experience were a requirement for anyone who wanted to develop web pages. Today, that’s no longer the case. Tools like WordPress and Drupal allow you to build websites and post content to the internet in minutes without any prior coding knowledge.
Usage: Publishing content to the web quickly and easily
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 52% to 51%
Popular tools: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Squarespace
Post-click landing page or website optimization software
Only a depressing 22% of marketers are satisfied with their conversion rates. If you’re not one of them, you’ll want an optimization tool to help you improve your website and post-click landing pages.
Software like Optimizely and VWO will help you figure out which of your pages are performing best, and others like Instapage offer an all-in-one option for creating, A/B testing, analyzing, and optimizing individual post-click landing pages.
Usage: Testing, analyzing, and optimizing (and in some cases, creating) post-click landing pages and other website content.
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 45% to 32%
Popular tools: Instapage, Optimizely, VWO
For more information on how to select the right post-click landing page software for your business, read our buyer’s guide:
Content marketing platform
Respondents from Search Engine Journal’s 2016 State of Marketing Report claim that content marketing is the “most effective aspect of digital marketing.” But, there’s a lot to handle regarding the planning and execution of a strong content strategy. There’s building the right creative team, developing a content calendar – and even when all that’s taken care of – the content itself needs to be created, optimized, and evaluated.
That’s why businesses like Google and JPMorgan use content marketing software to create informed strategies, hire talented freelancers, and publish quality content for their fans.
Usage: Developing a content marketing plan, hiring talent, creating content, and distributing it
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 45% to 30%
Popular tools: Contently, Clear Voice
Visual editing/design tools
As the web becomes more and more visual, so must your marketing collateral. Infographics and compelling imagery have a place in every content marketing strategy, and this is the class of tools to help you create them. Overlay logos, crop photos, and alter images for all your marketing channels with software in this category.
Usage: Creating visually compelling marketing collateral
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 42% to 38%
Popular tools: Canva, PicMonkey, Adobe Creative Cloud, Easel.ly
Nearly 60% of businesses spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on search engine optimization tools every month. That’s not surprising, considering 78% of marketers say they find positions 1-3 on search engine results pages to produce the highest number of clicks. This category of software will help you spy on competitor strategies, find unique link-building opportunities, and optimize your content for search engines.
Usage: Improving your business’s visibility in search engines
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 42% to 47%
Popular tools: Moz, Ahrefs, DeepCrawl, SEMrush
Social listening service
To capitalize on conversations surrounding your brand, you first have to know what people are saying about you. That’s where social listening tools, like Mention, come into play. They’ll allow you to search for content related to your business and see what news the web turns up.
We know what you’re thinking: “Sounds like a search engine.” True, but the tools in this category come with added features, like Mention’s influencer identifier, which points brands to their most valuable supporters, or BuzzSumo’s share counter, which tallies all the social shares a piece of content has generated.
Usage: Identifying branded conversations
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 42% to 22%
Popular tools: Sprout Social, Brandwatch, Mention, BuzzSumo
Event marketing solution
An event post-click landing page, beacon technology, and email follow-up software are all valuable for marketing your event, but integrating them can be difficult. That’s why best-in-class marketers leverage event technologies with all-in-one tools that allow them to see the big picture, and provide prospects with more relevant and on-target communication. They can help teams promote their event before with things like custom invitations, engage with their business via custom apps, and report the results afterward with powerful analytics.
Usage: Providing an integrated marketing experience for events before, during, and after
Top marketers adoption rate vs. all others: 42% to 21%
Popular tools: Event Farm, Cvent, etouches, Attendify
Marketo is one of the biggest and most established marketing automation companies, which makes it easy to launch and manage marketing campaigns. Marketo offers everything marketers need including tools for automating inbound marketing, lead management, social media marketing, sales management dashboards as well as for analytics. In 2012, the company generated revenue to the value of $58.4 million and was recently registered on NASDAQ.
Vocus is a leading cloud-based marketing software that helps with customer acquisition and retention by making it easier for marketers to reach out via social media and other online media channels. Vocus offers a comprehensive suite of tools that integrate social media marketing, search marketing, email marketing as well as effective PR. Vocus reported 2012 revenue of $170.8 million, a 49% increase from the previous year.
HubSpot offers a powerful inbound marketing solution as a personalized and more effective alternative to traditional marketing strategies which can tend to harass consumers. It has developed a host of marketing apps that include tools for blogging, social media, lead management, and even marketing analytics that people love and respond to. Founded in 2006, the company recently raised $35 million.
WordStream aims to optimize search engine marketing and helps marketers get better results out of their SEO and PPC campaigns. It lets marketers effectively manage and create paid as well as organic campaigns. In 2012, the company raised $6 million, bringing its total funding to $16 million.
Act-On is a cloud-based marketing solution that is designed to automate marketing tasks increasing efficiency. Act-On offers tools for organizing marketing campaigns, converting leads, and integrating marketing efforts into sales systems. It has over 1000 customers and a total of $30 million in funding.
CAKE provides real-time analytics and tracking for efficient marketing campaigns. CAKE organizes all information in one place and lets the marketer control everything from location, device, and even traffic source to be targeted. Launched in 2007, the company has a client base that includes ScoreBig, Convert 2 Media, and Lifescript among others.
A lot of marketing software applications is available for small business nowadays. However, most of them are just not worth the money you pay for them. The sad thing is that even if you don’t get any value out of these costly applications, you still have to pay for the software and try your best to use it so that you can get a refund and buy something better.