You just received a new lead from your website. Yeah! Now it’s time to do a bit of research before you call them. Do you know what parts of the site they went to? Or what they have downloaded? Or what campaign is the source of the lead? Are they on an email list? Can you do all of that without having to open a half a dozen tools to find out?
According to the CMO Council, only 3% of all companies have all of their sales and marketing systems completely connected. This can leads to low-quality data, gaps in understanding, and loss of leads.
This is compounded by the increase in the size and complexity of the marketing technology stack.
Data from MarketingLand shows that in 2011, there were about 150 companies geared toward marketing technology. In 2016, there are almost 4,000, with investment in marketing technology expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4%. Add to this the fact that Gartner predicts marketing technology budgets will exceed IT budgets by 2017, and it’s clear that this is no trend – technology stacks are here to stay.
Plus the number of solutions is overwhelming. Scott Brinker started producing a graphic (shown below) about the marketing landscape in 2011 and it had 150 products on it. In 2016, it 3,874!
Marketing Technology Stack
Let’s look at the basic elements of the marketing technology stack, which are a website, landing pages, analytics, CRM, SEO, email, social media, and a data platform. We will look at each one and look at what they are plus the advantages and disadvantages of some of the tools.
Websites and blogs are typically driven by a content management system (CMS). The 800 lb. gorilla in this category is WordPress, who has almost a 60% market share, followed by Joomla (7%) and Drupal (5%). The advantage of WordPress is ease of use, a wealth of plugins, and cost. There are many disadvantages, however. First, WordPress users have to learn how to program in PHP to be effective. Secondly, WordPress has frequent updates, which often break part of the site because one needs to update all the plugins every time there is an update. You wouldn’t believe how many times we are doing a WordPress conversion and we find part of the site that hasn’t been operable for awhile because of this. And that ruins the site’s SEO. Finally, WordPress is open source, so it’s vulnerable to hackers. We will discuss some solutions to this later in the article.
Landing pages are designed for lead conversion. They funnel activity from your website, email, ads, etc. and bring them to form to collect data from prospects. Landing page software also provides A/B testing to help determine the best messaging, which increases conversion rates. The leaders in this category are Unbounce, Leadpages, and Instapage. All of them are easy to use and are great for A/B testing. The downside to them is that it takes work to make them look like the rest of your site.
Measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations. According to HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound report, 46% of marketers cited “proving the ROI of our marketing activities” as one of the biggest challenges they face within their company.
One of the biggest problems we see in this category is that when we talk with B2B healthcare companies about analytics, they are using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is fine for understanding high-level trends and where folks are coming from, but Google Analytics tells you what the average visitor to your site does. Unfortunately, the average visitor doesn’t become a customer. So, basing decisions about the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns on what the average person does vs. what a buyer does is not a good idea. Google Analytics can’t identify where a prospect is on the buyer’s journey or what touchpoints your company has had with them.
After Google Analytics, the next biggest analytics provider is Adobe Analytics, which is mostly used by large enterprises. What we see in the B2B healthcare space is those folks who aren’t using Google Analytics are using Kissmetrics or Mixpanel. Of the latter two, we prefer Kissmetrics because it doesn’t require technical acumen. These are powerful tools that give you insight into your marketing efforts. The downside is integration – Did the spike in traffic come from a change in the A/B test or the patient engagement email marketing campaign? To know that you either have to look in multiple tools or have them fully integrated, which takes some technical chops and requires time to maintain those integrations.
A customer relationship management system is the core tool for your team. One problem that a lot of B2B healthcare companies is that they use CRM primarily as a fancy contact manager with some pipeline reporting. In some companies, folks in marketing or customer service aren’t using it well, so there isn’t full insight into the customers.
The big player in CRM is Salesforce. It is great for managing a large sales team, has lots of integrations, and is the best at reporting. The downside is to get the most out of it, you need to do a lot of training. Also, customization can be expensive, since most B2B Healthcare firms don’t have Salesforce technology programmers.
With the right SEO software, you will get one of the key elements in making your website or its content be more searched than other contents – traffic-building keywords. These tools also help you to change your content to maximize your ranking. The biggest problem with leading SEO tools such as Moz or SEMrush is that they are expensive with basic packages starting at $100 per month.
Email software helps you with email marketing and nurture marketing. For it to work correctly there needs to be very tight integration with the website, analytics, and landing pages. The big players are Constant Contact and MailChimp. Both are easy to use and have great templates to use.
One problem area is A/B testing. Constant Contact doesn’t have that feature, so users aren’t learning how to increase their open rate by writing better subject lines. And neither Constant Contact or MailChimp have robust automation and segmentation. Studies have shown that automation and segmentation greatly enhance open and click through rates. For instance, if you are a wellness company, you may want to send different emails to corporate benefits people than to third party administrators.
Social media is one of the most effective ways for you and your business to get more traffic and generate new leads. Having the right social media management tools and a presence on all the major networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn is a necessity these days for any business. Social media management platforms can save time. They also enable you to measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
Sixty seven percent of companies do not measure or quantify social media – increasing to 75 percent for B2B companies (Source: Sametrix)
Hootsuite is the most widely used tool and it has great training, which is needed because the interface is complex. You can also use it for free, but you will probably go to a paid plan when you use it a lot. The downside of Hootsuite is there aren’t any reports and you have to pay to get them. Other tools that are commonly used are Zoho Social and Sprout Social.
Once you have all of the various software packages, you need to connect them together, so you don’t have to go several places to get data when you need it. In order to enable the scenario that is in the at the beginning of this blog, you need a data platform. Data platforms consist of a data warehouse which stores all of your data and connectors which move the data to and from the data warehouse. This puts all of your data in one place, so you have a complete view and allows you to send data where it is needed, such as a CRM system.
This is very important since according to Docurated State of Sales Productivity Report, sales reps only spend ⅓ of their time selling. The rest of the time is spent researching, updating CRM and admin. Thus, automating the process is a very worthwhile endeavor.
Key players in marketing data platforms are Segment and Keen IO. Both are easy to use, but you will need some technical acumen. The poor person’s version of a data platform is using connectors such as Zapier of IFTTT and using Google Sheets as the data warehouse. To do that you will need some good spreadsheet chops. Also, one of the problems with the last method is that when the API’s change, the connectors can break, but there is no alert telling you that, which means sometimes your data is wrong.
Problems with the marketing technology stack
First of all, the stack is very labor intensive and some technical acumen to set up. Secondly, they require regular maintenance and often you don’t know when it is broken. And when things break, sometimes they stay broken because no one on the marketing and sales team has the time and skills to fix them. Additionally, all of those packages add up in costs.
A solution to the problem
There are all-in-one packages, which are tools that have all of the functionality needed in a marketing technology stack and all the modules are integrated, so you can focus on marketing and sales. The downside is the integrated tools aren’t the best of breed tool for everything, so some compromise is needed. But they do fulfill all the functionality most B2B healthcare companies need.
The leaders in the marketing cloud space are Adobe Marketing Cloud, Marketo, and Hubspot. All three are great tools the keep marketers and salespeople focused on what they do, not the tools. At our agency, we use Hubspot for all of our marketing and our clients’ marketing. The reasons why we chose it, it is easier to use, has a fuller feature set, has integrated CRM, requires less technical knowledge, and is less expensive.
At first bluff, the all-in-one packages seem pricey. But, when you add up the cost of all the individual packages, the time to configure and maintain all of the connectors, and lost the productivity of your expensive sales and marketing resources, they are a bargain.