Tuesday, June 10, 2014

4 Technologies That Improve Marketing Performance

Don't allow yourself to be stagnant in your processes as a marketer. Now, more than ever, there are great technologies that can help you answer the question, "How can I improve my performance?"

As marketers, we are constantly faced with challenges that, in many cases, arise over and over again. We often come up with workarounds, patchwork solutions, and painstaking processes that solve for various issues but don't necessarily provide end-to-end solutions that give us confidence in our output.
Here are four challenges that our marketing team has recently overcome and the solutions that helped us become more efficient and better-performing.

Challenge: Managing Marketing Budgets

We have all wrestled with spreadsheets, plowed through email summaries, and pieced together input from many team members in order to make sense of our budget. And that alone doesn't allow us to tie our expenditures back to the leads, sales, and revenue they generated.

Solution: Budget Management Software for Marketers

Thankfully, there are software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions in the marketplace that are designed specifically for marketers to ease the burden of budget management and that connect expenditures to marketing initiatives. Allocadia is one provider in the space that is leading the pack. They offer planning, budgeting, and analysis solutions that ease many of the burdens marketers face when managing their budgets in less elegant solutions such as Excel or other spreadsheet solutions.

Challenge: Developing Customer Advocacy at Scale

For B2B marketers, we have all heard the request (or demand) from our sales teams, "We need more case studies!" We bite our tongues and say, "OK," while wanting to point them to the plethora of data we have already compiled for their use. In reality, the truth is that there will always be a need for fresh data points, testimonials, case studies, and references. However, continually supplying those pieces of content can become an overwhelming task.

Solution: Automating Customer Advocacy Through SaaS Solutions

A hot trend in the marketing world is automating customer advocacy. This couldn't have come at a better time. Solutions such as Techvalidate and Influitive are leading the way. The impact is immediately felt by both the marketing and sales teams. Most importantly, you can see the impact on the bottom line as your marketing and sales force is better equipped with the content needed to generate demand and provide justification for the purchase of your product.

Challenge: Generating Reliable and Relevant Contact and Lead Data

You most likely subscribe to at least one, if not to three or more, databases in order to build and refresh your lead and contact information. Two issues marketers commonly face is the accuracy of contact and/or company data within these databases and the delivery of relevant contacts. Most of the databases use titles and company names to return search results, which turns into a rough estimate of a relevant contact. In addition, they often pull their information from sources that are only updated one or two times per year. Both of these items lead to mounting frustrations for marketers who need to move with speed and precision.

Solution: Technology That Combines Social Media, Multiple Contact Databases, and Accurate Target Profiling to Extract Contact and Lead Data

Two companies are stepping up in a major way to make pulling lead and contact data fast, reliable, and simple. LeadSpace and Mintigo are both offering solutions that layer social, Web, and interest data on top of traditional databases to provide accurate contact and company information. They both approach the challenge in a unique way but have many things in common that put them at the front of this new approach to acquiring leads. One of the most important aspects of their offering is the development of prospect and account profiles based on your current client dataset (or target set) empowering marketers to move quickly instead of filtering to find the "right" contacts.

Challenge: Organizing and Delivering Content for Sales

B2B marketers spend a significant amount of time building sales decks, brochures, case studies, and many other pieces of content. We all assume this is what the sales team needs and they will know exactly when to use it. However, when most of us upload these documents to a shared drive, internal company portal, or some other system not specifically designed for sales and marketing, we might as well save it on our desktop and just have an auto-reply email set to fire when we get the email asking for content piece "xyz."

Solution: Sales Enablement Software

Many of the major marketing automation platforms offer sales enablement products that are part of their broader offerings. In addition, there are also standalone solutions like SAVO  that focus on solely sales enablement solutions. These platforms offer advanced search and filtering to help sales people find the perfect piece of content for every situation. And they provide excellent reporting so marketers can see how different assets are being used. Depending on your needs, an add-on product or standalone solution might be the right direction. With either choice you are moving one step closer to bridging the gap between marketing and sales.

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