Starting a business is exciting to say the least! Unfortunately, success doesn’t always happen overnight. Instead, it builds from sound strategies and well thought out investments. Startup marketing in particular, often faces major challenges getting the word out due to limited budget and resources. They have to be sure every effort is well planned and strategically executed. And even then, the traditional marketing strategies may not always work, meaning key technology is necessary to boost marketing efforts. However, when it’s time to build a sound martech stack, marketers at a startup must do their research to make educated purchases.

So what marketing technology do you really need?

With all the demands facing modern startup marketing departments, sorting through 3,874 technology solutions shouldn’t be one of them. The prospect of doing that is intimidating to even the most informed marketers. So as a startup, how do you evaluate your options and determine which technologies you really need to invest in to get the most ROI.

When it comes down to it, there are really only three technologies you can’t live without: CRM, marketing automation and social media platforms.

The Low Down on CRM Platforms

While it may not be the first technology that comes to mind when you are putting together your marketing strategy, a CRM platform is an essential component of the modern marketing environment.

Even when starting out, having a CRM solution is pertinent to sales success. It helps sales teams better manage their relationships with leads and customers, standardize customer data, conduct forecasting and generally be more proactive right off the bat. All of this is critical in helping ensure that the leads your marketing team passes off to sales don’t fall through the cracks.

But CRM alone isn’t enough. Arguably the most traditional use cases for CRM platforms are sales and service automation. It’s common in the startup marketing world for employees to “wear many different hats” (a phrase we’re all too used to hearing), which means there is a lot of room for human error and miscommunication. By integrating your CRM system with your marketing automation platform, you can close the gap between marketing and sales to improve the hand off of leads from one to another.

CRM Best Practices

  1. Integrating your CRM system with a marketing automation platform
  2. Tracking all engagements with prospects and customers in your CRM system
  3. Creating a 360-degree view of customers across their entire lifecycle with your business
  4. Defining key success metrics
  5. Keeping your data clean and relevant by standardizing input formats and checking for duplicates and inaccurate or outdated information
  6. Regularly monitoring pipeline and forecasting data

The Low Down on Marketing Automation Platforms

A marketing automation platform is one of the most powerful weapons in the modern marketer’s toolkit. As Gleanster puts it: “Marketing automation is one of the only ways marketers can actually start to attribute marketing spend to closed sales.” In a startup business where every dollar counts, proving marketing spend relates to closed sales is imperative.

A marketing automation platform is akin to the marketer’s swiss army knife. It can help with everything from aligning sales and marketing, nurturing leads and identifying website visitors to planning and executing campaigns, measuring campaign effectiveness and ROI and the list goes on. As the name implies, these solutions automate previously manual activities in these areas in order to help marketers work smarter and more efficiently.

By helping generate more qualified leads, better engage with prospects and customers, track campaign performance and analyze results, marketing automation platforms allow small business and startup marketers to make more informed decisions to improve future campaigns. Marketing automation platforms can also help engage with prospects earlier on in the buying cycle, which is critical given that SiriusDecisions reports as much as 70% of the buying cycle is completed online before engagement with a salesperson.

Marketing Automation Best Practices

  1. Integrate your marketing automation platform with your CRM platform
  2. Clearly define your buyer’s journey and lead scoring process
  3. Involve sales in the lead scoring process in order to improve the lead-to-revenue management process
  4. Measure ROI of marketing efforts and impact on lead conversion
  5. Execute nurture campaigns with personalized content to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time based on their stage in the buyer’s journey
  6. Segment lists to keep campaigns focused and relevant

The Low Down on Social Media Platforms

With social media continuing to rise as one of the top communication methods, it’s becoming an increasingly important marketing channel for startups to get the word out and engage with their audience. Marketers need to be where their customers are, and more often now than ever, that’s proving to be on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, even in the B2B world.

A social media platform creates a single place where marketers can go to manage their social media presence across all of the networks on which they have presence. Startup businesses can use social media platforms to help share messages and engage with followers, track media activity through analytics to see which channels provide the most value and improve their social listening capabilities by monitoring relevant keywords, people and hashtags.

The social media landscape is massive and continuing to grow at a rapid pace, and that makes monitoring relevant activity and contributing to the social conversation with the right message at the right time a difficult task. While it may be tempting for a startup business to want to be everywhere all the time, a social media platform can help seamlessly manage their activities in order to make their social media efforts more strategic. A social media platform filters through the noise to hone in on conversations about your brand or keywords related to your business, automate outreach to ensure a steady conversation and track data to provide insight on how well you’re doing and what you can do better going forward.

Social Media Platform Best Practices

  1. Schedule posts as appropriate to ensure you maintain a steady stream of content (consistency matters)
  2. Add all social networks to the system in order to centralize your efforts across each and save time (tip – tailor your message based on each network’s style and audience)
  3. Set up your dashboard to track conversations about your brand and any relevant keywords/hashtags so that you can keep a pulse on these conversations and participate as appropriate
  4. Track your activity on each social channel as well as engagement with your followers in order to measure the impact of your efforts

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype

The bottom line is: the marketing technology landscape only has to be as overwhelming as you make it. Rather than approaching the landscape by trying to look at all 3,874 solutions, you won’t get very far. The key is narrow in on the categories that are right for your business based on your maturity, goals and unique customer needs. By doing so, you can expand your marketing technology footprint over time in a pace and order that works well for your business.

If you’re ready to build your marketing stack, check out this post on the 7 considerations you should include in your selection process.