If you’re a business owner or marketer, chances are your marketing automation tools could use a boost—or maybe you’re not using them at all! Just eight years ago we were all trying to figure out ways to shorten links or say what we needed to say in under 140 characters. In 2009, Twitter defaulted to URL shortening by offering its own, and social media was simple again. It was the era of Google AdWords, banner ads and email marketing, but it quickly got more complicated as more moving parts were added. Think @mentions, hashtags and retweets and you can see how Twitter alone was a whirlwind of playing catch-up.
The very first generation of digital marketing automation was Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, which were created by entrepreneurs and are still fantastic tools that have evolved today. They gave you dashboards to manage social media with ease. However, at the same time, platforms like Instagram and Google+ were making waves, followed by Periscope, Meerkat and Vine. Remember we’re just looking at the English platforms, too!
Remember that one of your best “tools” is a human one: your employees and contractors. Hire right and consider those with an online marketing degree or background—it can often better prepare students for the real world work than traditional classrooms.
Simultaneously, the whole mobile readiness priority came into play and now there are 2.7 billion people using smartphones for almost everything, and that rate is going up 39 percent each year. Marketers were excited about the real time readiness they were facing, and the second generation of techies, innovators and social media users made their debut. This involved the launch of Pardot, Marketo and Eloqua, to name just a few. Marketers were figuring out the full power of social, and companies like IBM and Adobe began building their own platforms by acquiring startups that were on top of the latest trends and tech.
Digital marketing as we know it today is a huge business that focuses on marketing with numerous partners and a special focus on managing content and social networking. Marketing is now part art, part science, and everyone knows you need the right tools in order to optimize. The roots are in email marketing, and we still need the “right” software to automate some tasks, minimize human error and measure efforts.
Choosing Your Weapon
There’s not one solution that’s best for everyone. Some tools are better at social, some analytics and some email. User interface plays a big role, too. Marketers are using tools like G2 Crowd to see scores and reviews from the community with ratings based on recommendations of products, satisfaction scores, number of reviews, how recent reviews are and more. According to G2 Crowd, the leader is currently HubSpot with their inbound marketing tactics that help you turn marketing from outbound to inbound lead generation.
At number two is Pardot (part of Salesforce), which is a simple B2B marketing automation suite that lets you up efficiency and revenue with CRM integration, lead nurturing, ROI reports, email marketing and lead scoring. Other top spots go to Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Act-On and LeadSquared. However, these top spots can shift, as your unique needs and goals demand a special product for your situation. Spend a little time researching the marketing automation options, and you’ll be rewarded with a smoother marketing effort.