With data and analytics driving virtually every aspect of business today, you don’t have to look far to see the impact that technology is having on marketing efforts in organizations both large and small. According to a recent global study, 66% of marketing teams have a Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT) in place, and another 26% are looking to fill a CMT role in the next year.

If your organization is one of the many that is struggling with marketing technology strategy and implementation, including CRM platforms, marketing automation solutions, social media management platforms and other B2B e-commerce technologies, you’re not alone. The need to keep up with consumer demands, reach B2B customers across a variety of channels, develop and implement more efficient and effective lead generation programs, and successfully manage and nurture those leads through multi-point buying journeys is challenging to say the least. And without harnessing the power of marketing technology it’s essentially impossible.

Why? Because as marketers we need to not only develop and implement marketing strategy and plans as we have previously, we also need to bridge the gap between IT and leverage modern marketing tenets. Are you ready?

Pick the Right Tool(s) for the Job

With the number of marketing technology platforms and services in the marketplace today, it can be tough to determine which one will work best for your organization, leverage your unique mix of talent and expertise, and provide the precise level of service and insight you need. Here’s a quick look at some of my favorite martech tools in key areas, including:

  • Inbound Marketing – HubSpot is inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads and close customers. As a robust full-service platform, HubSpot includes all of the tools you need – email, websites, SEO, marketing automation, landing pages, analytics, social media and blogging – along with award-winning service and support to help you master inbound marketing.
  • Analytics – Databox is a business analytics KPI dashboard that gathers all of your metrics in one place, and helps you deliver the most crucial KPIs, such as sales, leads, conversions, and more across multiple devices. While offering several one-click integrations with Google Analytics, Salesforce, HubSpot, Adobe Analytics, social media channels, social advertising platforms, and many more, Databox ensures that the data that matters most to you and your business is always available, wherever you are.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Salesforce is an on-demand, cloud-based CRM suite that offers applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. Salesforce’s capabilities include sales management, marketing automation, partner relationship management and customer service. In addition, HubSpot CRM is a cloud-based, CRM platform that helps companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics.
  • Lead Scoring – Velocify is a sales acceleration software platform that helps sales teams turn more prospects into customers. Velocify’s LeadManager software was built specifically for sales teams to put the right lead in front of the right sales person at the right time.

When researching which tools you should implement, or if you’re wondering whether different options may deliver increased levels of efficiency and efficacy, live demonstrations or free trials are worth their weight in gold. Some websites offer demonstrations and access to trials online with little to no information required, while others encourage you to request a demonstration or talk to a sales representative first. While this may appear inconvenient and annoying, go for it. It’s better to reach out and determine early on that a service isn’t quite right for you than to be blindsided by someone who is frustrated because one of their peers is using a different tool for half the cost and doubling their ROI.

Take Advantage of Training and Tech Support

Once you determine the perfect mix of marketing technology for your organization, it’s not enough to purchase the package, download the software and upload your contact lists. In order to fully leverage your investment, it’s essential to become proficient in how to utilize it. The majority of martech platforms include some form of training as part of your master service agreement.

For example, HubSpot provides its clients with a variety of certification courses, documentation and training programs to learn about all things related to inbound marketing and the HubSpot platform. The course materials are online, presented by HubSpot team members and are very approachable. And, if you experience a problem, their world-class technical support team is always there to help. Other technology platforms and tools offer varying degrees of training and tech support as well because they understand that if you don’t know how to use and be successful with their systems, you’ll leave them and move on to something else.

Leverage the Experience of Others

A great way to build your comfort level and/or quickly boost your knowledge in the field of martech is to reach out to friends and colleagues who are demonstrating success either within their organizations or for others. Starting with a LinkedIn search, InMail message to a connection or an email to acknowledge their expertise is a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Ask about meeting for lunch, coffee or at an upcoming event to talk about their experience with marketing technology and what they’ve learned on their journey. In many cases, they will impart valuable insights and experiences surrounding their entry and early phases of implementing martech in their organizations, offer advice on avoiding pitfalls and mitigating challenges, and tips to bring others along for success.

Engage with Thought Leaders

One of the best ways to monitor the pulse of the rapidly-evolving field of marketing technology is to follow and engage with martech thought leaders. Here are some of my go-to thought leaders in this space, including links to their Twitter accounts:

  • Ann Handley – As the head of content at MarketingProfs, WSJ best-selling author and more, Ann is waging a war on mediocrity in content marketing.
  • Robert Rose – Known for helping marketers creating remarkable experiences and the Chief Content Advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert is one of the most influential voices in content marketing.
  • Pam Moore – As a Forbes’ Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer, Pam has worked with countless global brands and specializes in leveraging social and digital technologies.
  • Brian Halligan – As the CEO of HubSpot and a senior lecturer at MIT, Brian is a font of knowledge in the areas of inbound marketing and sales.
  • Rand Fishkin – If you have questions about anything and everything related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as the founder and ‘Wizard of Moz,” Rand is your man.
  • Guy Kawasaki – As chief evangelist of innovative brands like Canva, Apple and more, Guy provides a wealth of information related to graphic design, marketing and technology.
  • Neil Patel – Neil is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics and Hello Bar, and one of today’s top marketing and analytics influencers.
  • Jeff Bullas – Jeff is a man of many hats. He’s been named the #1 Global Digital Marketing Influencer, a best-selling author, keynote speaker and blogger.

While it’s great to follow these thought leaders on social channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, that’s only half the battle. Not only are these individuals absolutely brilliant in their fields, they live the value of authenticity in their personal brands. As a regular visitor to their newsfeeds and updates, and a registrant of their newsletters and posts, I often find myself nodding along with their content, learning from their “ah-ha” moments and mistakes and inspired by their confidence. I’ve asked questions of them on a variety of topics, and in many cases, have received personalized answers. What questions could they answer for you?

Attend Webinars and Events

One benefit to subscribing to the newsletters, posts and other content from marketing technology thought leaders, is the invitations you will receive to attend webinars and other events related to marketing, sales and technology.

Most often, webinars offered by industry thought leaders and marketing technology partners are held in the middle of the week, usually during midday, and are approximately one hour in length. This makes them relatively easy to attend and a low-friction method to gain additional insight on a particular area, address a pain point experienced by many, obtain new or additional information to guide a martech purchase decision and/or ensure that your technology platforms are delivering on their promise.

If meeting up with other industry professionals to learn about new topics and exchange ideas is of more interest to you, there are plenty of local, regional and national events and conferences taking place on either a weekly, monthly or annual basis. One of many great events that I look forward to annually in Southeast Wisconsin is Experience Inbound. This full-day sales and marketing event was designed to help companies learn how to attract and close more opportunities using inbound marketing and sales. With keynote speeches and deep-dive sessions led by industry experts, it’s a can’t miss. Search online to find webinars and events of interest to you.

It’s Time to Dive In

The good news is that in today’s marketing ecosystem, it’s essentially impossible to own each and every facet of a modern marketing program. A multi-disciplinary team is a vital component to success. But, the effects of completely distancing yourself from martech can jeopardize your seat at the table within the organization overall, or worse, mark the end of your career.

With a little effort, gaining knowledge and proficiency surrounding the latest trends and best practices in marketing technology is not only attainable, but certain to provide you with actionable ideas that you can deploy within your company immediately. If you’re still wondering where to start, how to get comfortable or increase your understanding of marketing technology, let us know how we can help.

Topics: Marketing, Technology