It’s a jungle out there and for any B2B organization to survive, it needs to have a well-oiled marketing machine at its heart, generating a steady flow of leads that go on to be turned into results.
But staying on top of everything, whether you’re responsible for marketing within a small company, or part of a huge team in a multinational organization, is never easy. For small teams in particular, it is vital you ensure you are getting the most out of any activity you invest in.
Luckily, there are now loads of tools which can support marketers to fulfill their day-to-day tasks and achieve their goals. These range from the simple to the more complex, the cheap to the expensive.
Here, we’re going to focus on the essentials – the key tasks and issues that marketers face at each stage of the sales process, along with the tools (both on and offline) that can help make life a little easier, as well as links to further information.
The essential tools every marketer needs to know about….
…when writing a marketing plan
Before you run any campaign, it is always wise to put some thought into your strategy. There are hundreds of options out there and you’ll need to decide which is going to be the best one to use. To get a head start, this simple checklist can help you create a successful marketing plan.
…when defining the target audience
When it comes to fleshing out your plans, you need to understand exactly who your target audience is. Buyer personas can be your secret weapon here. Each persona should be a detailed representation of one of your different audience types. Using them will help you ensure that anything you do is tailored to what your target audience will want and is likely to respond to, provided in a way that will work for them.
It’s a topic we’ve covered in detail. See:
- Target markets, buyer personas, customer profiles – what’s the difference?
- Why you need buyer personas for your B2B sales and marketing activities
- The best kept secret for getting your buyer personas right
- 7 issues to avoid when creating your buyer personas
And when you’re ready to start developing your own, we’ve put together this handy Buyer Persona Template.
…when tracking and analyzing data
Tools like Google Analytics, Lead Forensics, your CRM and social media analytics (which you’ll be able to access if you’re managing any social accounts or company pages), will all be able to help you analyze the data you are gathering. For additional advice, see: How to make sense of your web analytics
These tools can provide you with valuable information, which you can use to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience.
Also check out KissMetrics, which is a platform that can help you understand, segment and engage customers based on their behavior.
…when setting goals and KPIs
Working to clearly defined targets is important and you need to invest some time in selecting the most appropriate KPIs. Ensure you have access to all the information you will need to measure and record your results. For more advice on reporting, see: KPI reporting for B2B sales and marketing
Then, once you know the KPIs you will look at, it’s time to look at formulating some goals. Make sure you are setting ‘SMART’ goals. In particular, you need to align your marketing goals with your business goals.
Use this handy goals checklist to ensure you have everything covered.
…when managing social media campaigns
If you have loads of content to post, then Buffer could be the answer. It is a social media management tool that enables you to post your social media content across multiple accounts. You’ll be able to schedule posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+, all in one place.
For monitoring what’s happening across social media platforms, a tool like Brand24 can be invaluable. Rather than having to search around to see what people are saying about you or your competitors, Brand24 can present back real-time information to you, helping you stay on top of things. And don’t forget the importance of remaining an industry expert, even on more “laid back” platforms- Scoop.it has got you covered, so you know the best external content to interact with and share.
Measuring the reach and effectiveness of social media is not that straightforward and the analytics certain channels, such as Twitter provide are limited. Tools such as TweetReach are perfect for marketing teams who need to show the reach and impact of campaigns, or who want to see who their top brand ambassadors are.
There are more great tools to take a peek at in this blog: Top 20 Social-Media Tools to Add to Your Arsenal in 2016
…when running email campaigns
Mailchimp continues to reign in the email marketing world and with more than 12 million users, it must be doing something right. With MailChimp you can do all sorts of things, including create targeted campaigns, automate helpful product follow-ups and send back-in-stock messaging.
Campaign Monitor is another big hitter, offering easy-to-use, professional-grade email marketing and automation tools. There are beautiful templates and advanced analytics, so you can easily track how your campaigns are doing.
…when managing PPC campaigns
Wordstream is a paid for service that provides some amazing PPC management tools. You’ll be able to create, manage, measure and optimize your PPC searches and social campaigns. It also works across platforms, so you can manage Google, Bing and Facebook advertising all in one place.
AdWords Editor is a must-have tool if you’re working on large campaigns in Google and it’s great for bulk editing. Then to check how your campaigns are doing, AdWords Performance Grader is a free tool that can provide you with a thorough audit of your AdWords account in just seconds.
For more ideas, see: 29 PPC Tools You Need to Try This Year
…when working on your SEO
Answer the Public, with its super unique website design, is an amazing tool for helping you check what is actually being searched for online. This can be super helpful for defining keywords and giving your content the strongest possible title and headers.
SemRush is an all-in-one SEO suite, known for its top-rated keyword research, business intelligence and online competitor analysis software. It includes a variety of metrics that can help you understand the domains your website competes with and the wider market. Alternatively, check out Moz, where 5 billion searches are performed every day!
For more ideas, see: SEO: Why topic clusters are the new keywords
…when calculating return on investment (ROI)
Another important issue for marketers is being able to track and measure ROI and the overall effectiveness of specific campaigns. This is data which should also form the basis of any decision making moving forward. But measuring ROI is often easier said than done: (See: The issue with proving content marketing ROI’).
As a starting point, this ROI Forecaster tool can help you effectively plan your paid digital marketing activity, accurately forecast ROI and guide you through a thorough ‘What-if’ analysis, so you’re prepared for any situation.
Investing in tools that can accurately track and attribute sales revenue back to specific pages and channels will become essential as we consistently move into a more analytically driven world. Tools such as Unbounce offer easy landing page creation and attribution when looking to understand successful email campaigns or gated content, and correctly measure and understand ROI gained.
Here are links to more advice on measuring the ROI of specific activities:
- Event marketing: How to evaluate your event marketing strategy and define ROI
- Email marketing: Calculate your email marketing ROI
- Social media campaigns: The easy way to measure and grow your social media ROI
- PPC campaigns: 5 essential ROI formulas every PPC manager needs to know
- SEO campaigns: How to measure the ROI of your SEO campaign
…when managing projects
One of the most popular tools used for project management are Gantt Charts. Once you get the hang of them, they can be very useful for ensuring your projects run smoothly. They can help you manage resources, deadlines and generally stay on top of everything.
You can download the Ultimate Gantt Chart template here, which works in Excel and already has many cool features and formulas added for you.
Tools such as Padlet also offer unique forums for teams to gather resources, discuss ideas and get the creative juices flowing- especially good when looking to discover the nest ground-breaking campaign or content!
…when building a content marketing database
It’s easy for a content marketing database to become disorganized if you don’t have the right tools in place. Marketers often start off managing their content using Excel but at some point – usually when the business has grown and more people are involved – an online platform will be far more efficient.
Airtable is a great tool to consider here. It’s a bit like a supercharged spreadsheet. It allows you to build your content database on it and display it any way you like – such as a workflow, a simple table, in a calendar, etc.
…when using automation
Automation can be a secret weapon for marketing teams, helping to keep everything running smoothly and ensuring no balls are ever dropped. There are a number of all-in-one marketing automation tools now available.
Two of the best are Hubspot, which offers a full stack of software for marketing, sales, and customer success, with a completely free CRM at its core, and Marketo, which can be used to easily build and scale automated marketing campaigns across channels to engage your customers in a personalized way.
Another one worth a look is Oracle, which can help you intrigue audiences with brilliantly personalized campaigns across multiple channels including email, display search, web, video and mobile.
…when creating challenging content
As technology advances, our need for exciting content continues, but creating it becomes no easier. If you’re keen to get creative with video, but not get bogged down in the technicalities, look into Animoto, where you can easily turn photos and short video clips into stand out videos.
Easel.ly also provides a budget friendly solution to creating fun, downloadable posters and infographics, with an additional reporting function- what’s not to love?
The good news for marketing teams is that new tools are emerging all the time that can help ensure you get the job done both effectively and efficiently. If you don’t have much time, then introduce one or two gradually, until you have enhanced your whole sales process. Key is to ensure that any tools you do use, are fully aligned and working together for you.
Taking the time to understand a new tool, deploy it and get colleagues on-board is not always easy. For marketers working under pressure, this can be a big issue. But taking the time and making the investment upfront will pay dividends down the line. Any time needed for on-boarding and getting team buy-in now, should be paid back many times over in the long run. You’ll also be able to answer questions from the senior team at the press of a button, making your life far easier.
Remember, it also pays to think about scalability from the start. Think where your business is going and what it needs might be in the next five years or more.