The main reason for using marketing automation software is to improve the effectiveness of all marketing efforts, be they online or off-line.
However, not all marketing software solutions were created equal, and some have a better impact than others. In this article, we’ll discuss the landscape of marketing software, how to choose which software package will best serve your marketing needs, and what to look out for when purchasing software.
Let’s start with the marketing software landscape – what is it?
It’s the umbrella term that covers many different software packages aimed at marketing automation. Marketing automation software usually streamlines repetitive, task-oriented marketing processes via an integrated set of criteria-driven steps. That criteria can be either user-defined or preset up front, but in the end, it probably should accurately reflect your business model in some way. This leads to marketing software that automates the lead generation process, follow-up management, and tracking.
There are two main categories within the marketing automation software landscape
Namely, vendors who have made an investment in solid market intelligence technologies and do-it-yourself marketers looking to apply market-changing technologies to their own campaigns. Market intelligence technologies include things like Google Trends, Facebook Insights, Twitter Digest, Quizilla, Corail, Survey Scout, etc. These technologies give marketers unparalleled insight into consumer behavior, enabling them to target more of the market with the same amount of effort and / or knowledge.
On the flip side, do-it-yourself marketers typically create websites, articles, press releases, ads, etc., with little to no market intelligence behind them. When trying to figure out whether you’re using an effective content marketing strategy, it’s important to consider not just how successful your competitors are (or aren’t) but also how difficult it is to convert your prospects into customers. If your prospects have little interest in purchasing your products or services, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with leads.
The next question becomes: What types of activities can be automated?
The answer to this question largely depends on which aspect of your online presence you wish to focus on. Some marketers only wish to automate their email marketing campaign, while others wish to automate their blog marketing campaign. Still yet, others wish to automate both their email marketing campaign as well as their blog marketing efforts.
The problem with relying upon vendors rests in the fact that many of them operate as “content marketing” platforms themselves.
When it comes to truly leveraging the capabilities of your web marketing software landscape, it’s best to stick with platforms that focus on email marketing and other forms of content marketing. Vendors like Getresponse Pro offer several different templates for marketers to choose from. The reason these platforms are able to provide such a diverse template is primarily due to the fact that these vendors focus primarily on selling platforms and services to marketers who own and operate highly active web sites. These marketers typically don’t have the time or expertise to custom build email marketing campaigns, blog platforms, or other types of online marketing content campaigns.
A final consideration when selecting the best marketing automation software landscape for your business needs revolves around the issue of whether or not these vendors offer hosted or SaaS solutions.
While both serve different purposes, they do come into separate categories based upon the level of connectivity between the platforms allowed with your hosted CRM or ERP data. Hosted CRM and ERP solutions are directly connected to the back-end server applications through which they’re hosted, allowing marketers to view all of the same data without having to deal with the various interfaces that exist with legacy-based CRM and ERP applications. While this may not seem particularly useful to some, hosted CRM and ERP solutions can be invaluable when it comes to helping marketers to expand their business by allowing them to take full control of their data through a fully functional CRM or ERP platform. These types of platforms also make it easier for marketers to make full use of social media while building their online presence.