By now, hopefully, we've all stopped writing "2015" on everything. The new year is going strong, winter's finally arrived, and we're probably all working hard to use what we learned last year. Here's what I learned - tools can make or break you in the B2B space. Tools, you say? Building a dog house? No - I'm talking about apps, programs, software, websites, and so on. After making this list at the end of 2015, I've successfully narrowed down my tool suite and am saving time and energy that I can devote to our clients.
As you may know, Acadia mainly does demand generation for manufacturing, industrial and technical companies. Also, we're not huge. We're proud to be a smallish, women-owned business located in Dayton, Ohio. So, even though I'm in marketing, I tend to wear a different hat now and then. Given those parameters, as last year progressed, I realized there were 5 tools I could not live without.
Here they are:
1. Marketing automation. Being a marketer, I listed this one first. But really, marketing automation is tops on many of our lists here at Acadia. It allows us to measure marketing ROI. That's right - we can track return on investment, not to mention which content is most engaging, which landing pages people love and which emails people open. We can tell when someone may need our help or if they're just kicking tires. This of course saves us all time, money and, perhaps most importantly, sanity.
We use HubSpot for all of our marketing automation needs but there are others out there. Systems are improving all the time; if you aren't happy with what you've seen or tried so far, give another demo a go.
2. Customer relationship management. Yes, CRM. Not all of us like it, but we gotta have it. Systems range from free versions with limited capabilities to Cadillac systems with unlimited contacts and all the bells and whistles. In some systems, including HubSpot, you can tie marketing automation in with your CRM, so a contact's journey from stranger, to tire kicker, to serious buyer, to customer is captured. If you're in the B2B space, CRM is a must. Need help with the CRM basics? Contact Us.
3. Project management. When you're B2B, you're juggling clients who barely have the time to be juggled. You need tasks, files, discussions and to-do lists organized and stored in one central location. A good project management tool will do that, and allow you to choose who sees what within each project. Some smaller companies still try to manage projects using email or spreadsheets. If your team (and client) is organized enough to make that work - great! If you're like any other team, you may need something with a little more oomph.
4. Simple design tools. It's true - not all of us may be performing marketing functions within our companies. But inevitably there comes a time when you have to whip something up. Even if you have an entire creative team, you may be called on to create a table tent, invitation or even a Facebook cover photo. Enter a tool like Canva, which walks you through the entire creative process. Need a quick blog graphic? Click the type of graphic you want, choose a template, and fill in the details. If I can do it, anyone can. It won't replace your creative team, but it's definitely saved my life a few times. Wondering why you should bother? Research shows that people following directions with text AND illustrations do 323% better completing that task than people following text-only directions (Levie and Lentz, HubSpot).
5. Stock photos. Which leads me to stock photos.
Most marketers seem to have a love - hate relationship with them. We openly disparage them, but we then spend time creating our own or searching for them online. The bottom line is that people love photos, so we'd better use them.
- When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. If a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of it three days later. (LifeLearn, HubSpot)
- Visual content is over 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content (buffersocial, HubSpot).
- Colored visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (Xerox, HubSpot)
So even if you aren't a marketer, you might be called on to Tweet or write a presentation now and then. Use photos. (I like pixabay).
What are your must-have tools in the B2B or B2C space?