But as anyone who works in tech knows, sometimes the drive to automate everything results in an infrastructure so complex that you end up mired in tool management. Others, like many of the marketers we spoke to, have lumped HubSpot into the marketing automation tool category. But when it comes to keeping constant contact with individual customers, martech is moving beyond CRM. And of course, once the visitors arrive, marketers need to understand how people are interacting their company's website, and there's a huge market for tools to help them do it. I have tested and experimented with the program and really believe it is a tech advancement that will pay high dividends." Online advertising Marketers are sometimes the unique face of a company, reaching out into the world to promote their company's product and brand. More and more of that ad spend is going to social media sites ("due to lower costs," says Uwe Weinkauf, CEO of MW2 Consulting), and as noted above, there are products like AdEspresso that exist specifically to manage your social media advertising. Then at the other end of the spectrum you have reputation management tools that help you track what individuals are saying about you on social media and review sites. "In light of the GDPR, marketing departments are investing in technology that enables them to collect, store and use consumer data in a legally compliant way," says The Programmatic Advisory's Blodwell. He outlines a ladder of ways that data gets acquired, which often involves outlay from marketing departments.
Forty-two percent of respondents to CIO’s recent State of the CIO survey say that their marketing department currently has budget specifically earmarked for investments in technology products and services — almost all of them within the next three years. If that figure sounds high to you, it shouldn’t. As David Ginsburg, vice president of marketing at Cavirin, said when asked about that figure, “What is strange is that only 42 percent have explicitly budgeted for tech. What about the other 58 percent?”
Hopefully IT departments have gone beyond the point where they think of marketing as mere fluff. But they may not be fully up to speed on marketing’s needs — the technology sector that’s become known as martech. We spoke to a broad range of marketing pros to find out just where all that marketing tech spend is going.
Fundamentally, marketers are looking for what any employee wants out of at-work tech: tools to make their jobs faster and easier. Ginsburg calls tools like these “force multipliers”: they make it possible for one person to do work that would’ve taken a whole team in an earlier age. Think of them as the sort of robotic exoskeleton marketers strap on to go boost brand awareness and, ultimately, company revenues.
Of course, force multiplication doesn’t just make the work life of individual employees easier. These tools increasingly automate many marketing processes and make it possible to do more with less — or, as Greg Fitzgerald, CMO of JASKbluntly puts it, “the key is to automate as much as possible so that a person does not have to be hired.” Carolyn Crandall, CMO at Attivo Networks, explains what tasks are being fobbed off onto the machines: “Marketers need tools that automate operations, simplify admin tasks, track analytics, conduct account-based marketing, and ultimately, boost sales.”
But as anyone who works in tech knows, sometimes the drive to automate everything results in an infrastructure so complex that you end up mired in tool management. “You should only purchase or subscribe to the tools you really need, and pick ones with complexity matched to the size, budget and expertise of the organization,” says Cavirin’s Ginsburg. “There are many marketing automation platforms, some of which are easier to maintain than others. There are also specialized tools (e.g., social media marketing, SEO optimization) that larger organizations will deploy. But for smaller organizations, these capabilities bundled within an automation platform work well enough.”
James Pollard, owner of TheAdvisorCoach.com, a marketing consultancy that works with financial advisors, rattles off the tools in his kit: “I personally spend money on AdEspresso software to run my Facebook ads, Ahrefs to improve my SEO and do keyword research, Capsule for my CRM to manage my follow-up process, and Acuity Scheduling to manage my appointments.”
One product that was name-checked by multiple respondents was HubSpot. HubSpot bills itself as an “inbound marketing” tool — essentially, a product category HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan invented, which involves pulling in leads by means of targeted and gated web content. Others, like many of the marketers we spoke to, have lumped HubSpot into the marketing automation tool category. Whatever you call it, it’s pretty popular.
There are a number of realms where tools provide a continuum between human-assisted and human-replacement. For instance, Isabelle Dumont, VP of marketing at Lacework, cites tools that allow in-product chat and support during free trials. That has potential ROI for high-ticket products, and such software can be configured to make it much easier for employees to juggle several chat sessions, unlike traditional phone support.
But sometimes dedicating human resources to low-level customer interaction doesn’t make sense — and that’s where chatbot technology, touted by Verndale CTO Sean Connell, comes in, automating the process entirely. Today’s tech is somewhat primitive, but Connell sees it as having huge growth potential. “Natural language conversation is changing the dynamic for how everyone engages with the world around them,” he says. “Everyone who is not yet thinking about how these will affect their business needs to start today, and putting in effort and dollars to ensure that each element of the overall customer experience pays thought to natural language interaction, be it through a…