I have made quite a lucrative career out of Marketing Technology.  Luck would have it I was coming out of Grad School when Companies like Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop and Manticore (now sales engine) were laying down the road for email automation while Google Adwords was gaining strength, and because of these and my somewhat illogical comfort level with new technology, my career took a turn into Digital Marketing. That said, it took me years to understand what is the secret to an effective Digital Marketing Campaign.

The Secret to Marketing Technology is simple; it is to understand that there is nothing new about it.  I have worked with clients who’s campaigns 10 fold their marketing efforts with a new piece of technology and I’ve had the total opposite. Companies that spend hundreds of thousands on the new Online tool in the market and after a year, they find themselves calling “the consultant”, to tell them why was that new expensive Marketing tool ineffective.  The answer is very simple, the best online tool is no replacement for good marketing planning.

If you have watched more than one episode of AMC’s Madmen (or if you come from that generation) you will realize that beyond all that chain smoking and sexist jokes, Drapper wasn’t only extremely creative but also very strategic about their decisions, and that is the secret to a good Marketing Campaign.  What worked back in the 1950’s will work today.  Marketing Technology opens the door to new channels, new reporting, more speed, etc, but what feeds these tools is nothing but Creativity and Strategy.

This is what you need before you spend ANY money on a Digital Marketing Tool:

For Email Automation:

The best email automation tool will do absolutely nothing for you other than sending email blasts one at a time if you don’t have a fully structured campaign.  Think of what you want to accomplish with the email campaign. These are things you need to think about before you sit and strategize about your email nurturing/automation campaign:

  • Do you need to educate the market before they purchase?
  • How many emails do you estimate would take to engage in a conversation?
  • How long is your sales Cycle?
  • You must have a segmentation of your database in mind (hopefully you already have a database). Blasting everyone with the same message is not only unproductive but annoying if you are on the receiving end.
  • Have an asset worth sharing – If I had a dollar for each email I receive that provides no value to me I would be the next Mark Cuban.
  • Stop talking about how good your product is and explain how is your product a solution to your industry.
  • Have a gradient of messaging – You wouldn’t like to hear my life story in one sitting, and though it is debatable you would like to hear it at all, I bet I stand a better chance if I give you bite size stories that will eventually paint the whole picture. Start with hello we are “the new business in town”, follow up with “how to do xyz”, then on a third message you get to talk about your product or service.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for email marketing if you don’t have these yet, but I would just suggest to hold on to your hard earned cash and go for a more economical approach like MailChimp.com or Campayn.com before you go for the heavy hitters.

For Online Advertising:

There are some many options for online advertising  and they all have their quirks and differences, but the one thing they all have in common is that you need to be prepared to offer some value in exchange for peoples information or money.  If you sell concert tickets, the exchange is very simple; if you on the other hand sell advice, you must be ready to offer some in exchange for my name and email address.

Things to think about before you start:

  • Where is your online audience? – Are they reading blogs, spending all day reading tweets, or do they go to Google to educate themselves?  You must know the answer to this question or you will spend a lot of money and effort fishing in a pond with the wrong type of fish.
  • Do you want purchases, likes, or leads? – I divide them in those three very broad categories.  Purchases is simple, if you sell Baseball Cards, all you need to do is show them.  If you are a singer you probably want to add followers as well as purchases.  If you are a B2B company you most likely will like Leads to follow up on.  Platforms like Facebook and Linked in will let you get away with getting likes, or using your profile page as a lure, while the likes of Adwords will require you to think it through and make a landing page that provides value to the costumer.  Think, messaging, keywords, offering and followup.

For Marketing Reporting:

The proverbial falling tree in the forest comes to mind.  “If there is a report and nobody looks at it, is it really a report?”  Millions of dollars are “wasted” every year in reporting software that nobody looks at.  I know of very well paid analytics people who work very hard at making very impressive reports that end up offering no value to the organization, mostly because there is no one to make decisions based on these.  Most CMO’s and Marketing VP’s out there want to know they can access the information but few know what information they want to access –  Very different things.  So before you go ahead and buy 10 licenses, find out exactly the reports you NEED in order to make educated decisions for your organization.  You will discover than more often than not, Excel or Google Docs Spread Sheets will do the trick just fine.

For Sales Support: The Marketing guy/gal always wants a new website, the same way the Sales guy/gal wants Salesforce.com, and to be honest I love SFDC as much as the next guy, but this a very powerful tool that can become a giant burden in the wrong hands (or without the right ones).  You need to know how do you want to use it before you even look at it.  There are dozens, maybe hundreds of CRM systems out there. The one you want is the one that fulfills all your needs without having to spend time and effort you don’t have customizing things you won’t use. Decide how you will assign leads to your sales-force.  What will be the interaction between Marketing and Sales, what information is relevant to you in order to follow up with your leads.

Things to consider:

  • Do you have the skills in house to set up and maintain the system?
  • How will you make the distinction between Prospects, Leads, Opportunities, Customers, Competitors, etc?
  • Can you use this tool to track your Marketing and Sales effort?
  • How easy it is to export into either CSV files or directly into other tools?

 

In Summary

The same way a good pair of sneakers wont help me play Basketball in the NBA, the most amazing marketing tool will not substitute good Creativity and Marketing Strategy. If your marketing cannot be effectively done in a piece of paper first (or Google Docs), it will NOT be effective with the most expensive Marketing Technology.  If you find yourself saying “I can’t do it, I don’t have XYZ…” or anything in those lines; STOP! YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOURSELF!  Go back to your piece of paper, answer all these questions and think again. You will see that more often than not, all you need is to work a little smarter.

If that doesn’t work, give me a call, I’ll work smarter for you.