All businesses with an online presence have their priorities. But as companies mature, the technology needs trend toward the following things:
- Deploy page edits and changes to the site quickly, without needing to edit hundreds of pages for things that need to be rolled out to the entire site
- Store and track leads all the way to the sale
- Make hot leads “pop” without manual digging, so you can identify prospects regularly
- Ensure that you can track all the significant behaviors on the site, and that you can deploy changes to the tools without needing to contact IT
A lot of that turns out to be sequential.
You wouldn’t worry about changing the way your tracking tools work if you can’t edit the web site quickly and do something about the data; you wouldn’t worry about identifying which of your prospects are hot if you can’t store and track your leads.
So for a lot of businesses, it comes down to checking how complete your online marketing stack is.
Start with the Basics: A Capable Content Management System (CMS)
Samples: Acquia, Sitecore, OpenText, WordPress
There was a time when it was acceptable for web sites to not have a CMS. There would be a small legion of developers making all the changes marketers ask for, slowly. If there’s a change that needs to be made to the entire site, well, developers would just have to grin and bear it.
That time is long gone.
Now, a CMS that allows marketers to make the changes directly to the site, without the need for IT, is part of basic table stakes. As is being able to make changes to a batch of pages, or even the entire site, without touching the pages one by one.
Organizations will have slightly different priorities in choosing a CMS.
Some will choose WordPress or Joomla! based on the price point. Others will choose Acquia or EPiServer because they have access to PHP or .Net developers and can enhance the CMS capabilities quickly.
Whatever your considerations, choosing a CMS that matches your requirements is one of the more important decisions you can make on your online marketing business.
Track Your Prospects: A Smart Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool
Samples: Salesforce, SAP, Pipedrive, Zoho
Once you can make changes to the site as needed, it’s time to make sure you can track your leads all the way to the sale.
There are a host of CRM tools that can do this.
There will be companies on a budget choosing Zoho, those looking for niche social capabilities selecting Nimble, and those looking for complete feature sets and good support electing to use Salesforce.
You’ll need to determine what priorities you have for your CRM. You can have a few companies demo their tools or provide a proof-of-concept, while matching your existing tool set, before choosing your solution.
Get Smarter About Leads: A Solid Marketing Automation System
Samples: Pardot, Eloqua, Marketo, Infusionsoft
Once you can track leads all the way to the sale, it’s time to get smarter about the way you do marketing. A large part of that is working with a marketing automation system to check which leads are hot, and to automate certain things like sending emails when users do something in particular.
There are a few core things to think about here.
You’ll need to check whether what’s left on your budget can take on cheaper tools like Infusionsoft, or more expensive ones like Pardot. You’ll need to ensure that the system plays nice with the existing tools you have, especially your CRM tool. You’ll need to check that the contract you pay for includes things you want, because in this space the features tend to be tiered into separate offerings.
Make Your Tools Hum: Deploy a Tag Management Solution
Samples: Adobe Tag Manager, Signal, Tealium, Google Tag Manager
As you improve your technology stack by getting a CMS, a CRM, and a marketing automation tool, your conversion tools are likely to get complicated as well.
Initially, you will likely just have a traffic monitoring tool like Adobe or Google Analytics. And then you’re going to want a tool that serves surveys on exit to get Voice of Customer (VoC) data. And then you’d want a split or multivariate testing tool to optimize key pages. And then you’d want more sophisticated tracking, including for actions like downloading files or playing and pausing videos.
Ten “and thens” later, your site’s code will start to look like soup, the template will start to feel unwieldy, and you’d be longing for something to manage it all.
That’s when you’ll know you’ve hit the need for a tag management tool. Essentially, a tag management tool will house the scripts used by your other tools so it’s the only one you’ll need, and it lets you fire things on demand to capture actions other than page loads.
Putting It All Together
Knowing which set of tools you need next is a pretty big part of the plan. If you understand which capabilities you have and which ones are in the pipeline, you’ll be much better off.