There are so many marketing tools, suppliers, hints and tips out there. How do you know which solutions are worth investing in? Which strategies are worth committing to?
We’ve done some research to identify the tools you should be using, and the benefits they can deliver.
1. Marketing automation
This is a term that can be used to describe a wide range of solutions and systems. CRM systems like Salesforce; email marketing systems like Eloqua; scheduling tools; project management systems – all can be described as marketing automation. We recently looked at the difference between – and different advantages of – automating content production vs automating your marketing processes.
Hubspot – a marketing automation provider – describes it as: ‘the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions’. The technology that enables marketing departments to ‘automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions’.
There’s no doubt that systems like Hubspot can be a huge help to busy marketing teams, and are increasingly ‘business as usual’. A recent blog by email marketing firm Email Monday quoted a 2017 Salesforce study showing that 67% of marketing leaders currently use some form of similar platform.
With capabilities ranging from content posting, social media scheduling and project management tools, a solution like this can dramatically improve your organisation and efficiency.
The number of channels you are expected to use is increasing, as we explored in our recent blog on professional services’ use of digital channels. Producing high-quality content across each one is far easier via tools that push out content across multiple channels simultaneously.
A good automation system can show which content is engaging your audience, enabling you to refine your content, the times you share it and the channels you use. And it can track leads from initial touchpoint to sale – providing valuable evidence to support your sales and marketing strategies.
The ability to create campaigns and publish and archive content according to audience or topic gives you an instant snapshot of previous materials and assets.
2. Automated workflow tool
Automated workflow tools like DotApprove can deliver significant benefits to marketing teams, with efficient project management, time-saving approvals and compliant archiving.The other side of marketing automation addresses not the scheduling and mechanising of content sharing, but how to improve the production process.
In a regulated sector, they can be even more valuable, as they also improve regulatory compliance and reduce Compliance team admin – some of the reasons why financial services firms are increasingly adopting marketing automation.
From best practice online agency briefing, to better collaboration between offices, and in-built approvals, these tools can deliver significant benefits.
Whether you’re publishing digital or hard copy materials, a good tool will enable you to produce websites, emails, brochures, sales presentations and standardised documents like KIIDs or the new IPID, confident that they are professional and compliant.
Not surprisingly, building the business case for marketing automation isn’t usually difficult. Your biggest challenge might be choosing which of the various platforms is right for you. If that’s the case, our 10 things to avoid when selecting a marketing automation platform has some useful tips.
3. Slide library
If your business produces a lot of sales presentations, webinar or seminar slides, proposals or other PowerPoint decks, a slide library could be one of your most valuable investments.
Storing and accessing approved content via an online slide library is particularly useful for regulated businesses, where Compliance team sign-off is a must. But for any busy marketing team, having easy access to accurate data and brand-compliant slides is a huge bonus. A slide library can:
- Enable you to lock down approved data, preventing unapproved or inaccurate content being published by mistake.
- Ensure brand consistency by including correct versions of logos, brand-compliant fonts and approved imagery.
- Allow you to search existing presentations, slides, videos and images, so it’s easy to find and share approved content.
- Automate the creation of branded charts, tables and graphs – making your PowerPoints look more professional in less time.
- Create brand-specific templates, with correct risk warnings, disclaimers and regulated statements.
- Set expiry dates to prevent non-compliant data or PowerPoints being used.
- Automatically update performance data – so you know your presentations are accurate without having to manually update them.
- Speed the compliance approval process, meaning you get products and services to market faster confident that your presentations are compliant.
- Help you to comply with existing regulations, as well as upcoming requirements like MiFID II.
4. Social media scheduling tool
Social media is a core element of many firms’ marketing activity. Sharing content via Twitter, Linkedin or other social channels is central to delivering clicks, shares and likes, driving valuable traffic to your site.
These are often free, with upgrades available at a cost. They enable you to pre-plan tweets and posts on other social channels, often weeks in advance.But finding the time in your business schedule to post can be a challenge. That’s where scheduling tools like Buffer or – again – Hubspot come in.
If you’re going to be at an event you want to tweet about, but know you’ll be too busy with clients to post – schedule a tweet or two ahead of time If a big news day – like the Budget – is coming up, line up a few pre-approved posts to capitalise on the conversation.
Using a social scheduling tool helps you to fit your social sharing into your ‘to do’ list, making it easy to post the best content at the right time.
There’s no shortage of tools and systems to help you be more efficient, more professional, more compliant. Hopefully this round-up has given you an idea of some of the ones we rate.
If you want to read more about how automated workflow tools can save you time and money, you can download our case study showing how the Nottingham Building Society saved over 1500 hours a month by automating their marketing processes. It’s free and you can read a copy here.