Herding cats? The Hidden Costs of Multiple Marketing Tools

Herding cats The Hidden Costs of Multiple Marketing Tools FI Herding cats? The Hidden Costs of Multiple Marketing Tools

(If you’re wondering how you stack up against your peers, here’s the research: A Winterberry white paper, Marketing Data Technology: Cutting through the Complexity notes that almost 52% of marketers typically use 5–10 marketing toolsets; 27.3% use 11–20; 3% use 21–30; and 9.1% use a mind-boggling 31 or more toolsets.)

Oh, the opportunities!

If you’ve been in marketing longer than five years, then you know how profoundly digital marketing has changed everything. Digital media has opened a whole new world of ways to learn about your customers and interact with them.

Email, web sites, landing pages and forms, social media (in all its many ever-changing splendors), webinars, interactive media, infographics, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) ads, virtual events, website visitor tracking, and a host of other channels and apps – all are critical tactics in some marketer’s tool chest. They provide highly flexible and effective methods for finding and engaging prospects, increasing demand, building solid relationships with prospects and customers, extending the brand, and driving revenue.

However, using multiple tools makes for a complicated technology environment … and where there’s complication, there’s cost.

And headaches.

Oh, the headaches: Managing multiple marketing tools

Headache #1: Time.

You can run out of bandwidth long before you run out of things that need to be done. You can spend more time managing your systems than managing your campaigns. And if one of your systems requires assistance from your IT department, you may have to wait for the help you need. Some larger marketing teams have a dedicated marketing tech resource, but most of us juggle tech duties with other tasks.

Headache #2: Consistency and continuity.

It’s easy for your messaging across tools and channels to get out of step and out of sync. Does your brand look like one company on LinkedIn and quite another company on Facebook and yet something still different on your website? Are you making single-channel offers that don’t get repeated across your platforms?

Headache #3: 

Data. Analysis may be the foundation for marketing in our networked age, but when you’re depending on separate point tools that deliver discrete reports, data continuity turns into a manual process. (There’s that time thing again.) And it can be hard to see the big picture when the little ones don’t relate to each other. Reconciling critical information across multiple tools can be difficult and frustrating, setting you up for error and data loss.

Show of hands: How many of you are using spread sheets to move data around? How many of you are entering data by hand, into your CRM system or some other tool? How many of you are looking at your Google Analytics and wondering who those people are?

One more headache: Alignment

The whole point of lead generation is to find highly qualified leads, nurture them to the point where they’re ready to talk to sales, and then hand them over into sales’ tender care for timely follow-up. To do this, marketers must have a very clear idea of how sales recognizes and defines a qualified lead.

And once that lead is identified as qualified, timing takes on a special significance. You need to get that lead to the sales team, with context, so sales can follow up. And sales needs to follow up within an agreed-on time.

Striking when the iron is hot requires the marketer to have a way to read the temperature of the iron. It’s hard, and often impossible, to coordinate readings from disparate tools to identify or profile prospects, or to know just who is engaging with you, downloading or viewing what. Your sales people may be operating in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, adding yet one or more tools to the mix your company uses.

Consolidate those tools in an integrated platform

Marketers need a way to consolidate the various tools they use – and the information that flows from those tools. They need real-time situational awareness of what’s happening on their websites, in campaigns, with events – and with leads and customers.

Adopting an integrated, automated marketing platform is one solution that’s working very well for a significant number of companies. A Gleanster report notes that 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than two years. In an Adestra study, marketers say that the biggest benefits of automation are saving time (74%), increased customer engagement (68%), more timely communications (58%), and increased opportunities, including up-selling (58%).

Such platforms generally have a user interface that makes it easier to manage the tools you integrate, such as webinar management apps, content management tools, and testing programs. If your sales team uses a CRM, this is a particularly helpful integration: Sales people never have to leave their CRM to use marketing automation features such as prospect activity histories or marketing-created email templates.

On the data side, the marketing platform integrates prospect and lead data from multiple sources, including point tools and CRM, and provides content and campaign management and coordination across multiple channels. It develops and delivers a common operating picture that lets marketers visualize prospect status and take appropriate action at pre-determined points.

Certain platforms (Act-On’s is one) let you incorporate CRM-related tasks into an integrated marketing workflow, which takes your nurturing programs far beyond just email. You’ll be able to create campaigns that combine real-time prospect behavior across multiple channels (for instance, website + social + email) with an automated workflow to route data directly and immediately to the appropriate sales rep for follow-up.

What tool and data consolidation does for sales

When multiple tools track and record a lead’s engagement, it’s useful if their data can be consolidated into one activity history. When your marketing automation platform and CRM are integrated, the prospect’s engagement history is tracked in both, which means when the sales rep gets the lead, they can see every email sent to this lead and every one they clicked on; what they’ve downloaded; which pages of your website they’ve visited, and for how long; whether they registered for and attended any of your webinars; and more. In short, the sales rep can see the pattern of interest and engagement, and usually get a fair idea of where to begin a conversation. This all happens inside the CRM.

Why an open platform is necessary to integrate marketing tools

If the multiple-tool issue is resonating with you, and you’re thinking about an integrated platform, be aware that some are open – that is, you can integrate tools you already use (or plan to buy) into them, and some are more-or-less closed systems. A closed marketing automation system, for example, might include its own version of a CRM system, and it might be difficult to integrate the CRM you already use with it.

Marketers need every advantage to hit their marks

The ultimate goal, of course, is to build your company’s health and profitability. Marketing’s role is growing for three main reasons:

  • Buyers do more research and self-education now, which means they’re in marketing’s purview for a longer portion of the sales cycle than they used to be. That means marketing must be prepared to engage more contacts at more touch points.
  • Account-based marketing is having a resurgence, due to improved technologies that automate the processes, and it requires more planning and marketing coordination to pull off. (It’s worth the trouble; 80% of marketers who measure ROI say ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investment.)
  • And, the fine art of nurturing the post-sale customer marketing is gaining traction. It’s been known for a long time that it’s less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to gain a new one; it’s also been known that the profit margin is higher. And, a recent Sailthru study pointed out that great retention boosts your market share, which aids in acquisition (talk about a virtuous circle!). What’s been largely lip service is becoming a new reality as budgets for retention and expansion are growing.

This all means marketers are being evaluated in new ways, which are driven by new metrics and ways to measure ROI. What you need are technologies that enable and empower your strategies and processes, and give you a way to prove marketing’s contribution to revenue. Not a cluster of technologies that eat up your time and get in your way.

After all, it’s the applied intelligence of your planning and execution that matters. Drivers – not cars – win races.

Conclusion: You can mitigate the complexity of multiple marketing tools

Given the challenges facing marketers today, the complexity of multiple tools – using them, getting data from them, figuring out the big picture – is decidedly unwelcome. Time cycles are too short; and accurate, timely information is too important.

We think an automated marketing platform is the best way to ensure critical information is effectively captured and applied to create a meaningful picture of a prospect’s interaction. A marketing automation system gives marketing credibility and sales immediacy; maximizes the attention paid to most-likely buyers; and delivers measurable results. (Yes, we’ve got a vested interest in this, but the proof is in: marketing automation helps companies achieve your goals.)

Most importantly, it helps simplify marketers’ environments and lets them focus on what’s truly important – their campaigns.

By providing real-time situational awareness and metrics surrounding prospect behavior, campaign execution and results, both marketing and sales can be more effective in the pursuit of the primary goal: revenue. By embracing change, marketers can be the catalyst for significant improvements to the bottom line, ensuring they can continue to build the company’s profit and extend its reach.

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