I recently posted on Marketing Magnified about bridging the gap between marketing strategy and sales and thought I'd share an update about it here. The most common way to close that gap is to simplify or facilitate the process to implement your strategy. That means using tools that automate or save precious execution time allowing you to get to market faster. However, the idea that adding technology to the mix will automatically close that gap is a false one. Read through my suggestions below on what to look for in technology so you can get one step closer to bridging the gap.

Considering Marketing Technology?

We’ve all seen them — the big, hairy marketing technology diagrams featuring a bazillion marketing solutions depicted with arrows and lines connecting each solution in an order that somehow relates to another. They look like a mad person’s knitting and just as scary.

Like many marketers, the first time I saw one of these diagrams, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. How would I ever sort through them all, and if I did, which ones would work for me? The common value propositions of each—time-saving, streamlined management and increased productivity—are all worthy goals, but what they all missed was me!

As we all know, the term “user-friendly” is often a misnomer. I’ve learned that companies who take the time to understand the user and identify with the human element in their design are more attractive to my business. Without this focus, they will soon become an expensive burden that widens the gap between marketing strategy and results.

In developing my selection criteria, I focus on two elements. Firstly, platforms should adapt to the way I work as much as possible. Then, I look at what I specifically require the martech tool to accomplish. Here are some of the criteria that I require:

  • Email integration: Tools that can be synced with your email allow you to continue with business as usual while the email content gets pulled into the tech’s database.
  • User interface: When you log in to the tool, how easy is it to navigate? Some tools require in-depth training. Avoid these unless your sole job is to operate that platform. Don’t be swayed by the bells and whistles; be swayed by the ease of use.
  • Self-serve API integrations: You want tools that can speak to each other to help you paint a more complete picture of your project. But more importantly, if you typically work out of one tool, it will help if data from your newly purchased technology flows into that central tool.
  • Google Chrome extensions: Tech with chrome extensions allows you to quickly use the software within your own browser as you are going about your day-to-day activities.
  • Human help: Look for tools that offer managed services or free support to help when you just don’t have the time. Again, the tools that adapt to how you want to work—whether self-serve, outsourced or within your existing tools—will be the tools worth investing in. Real-time, live chat is a huge bonus. If you’re on a deadline and have to wait 24 hours for a customer support response, it can cost you.
  • Freemium or trial versions: While not really a feature, freemium or trial versions will give you a taste of the tool’s efficiency before investing. If a company is not willing to let you take the software for a drive, then it’s usually a sign that the software will take some time to learn.

Martech tools that don’t provide these features are not always to be dismissed, but they may take more effort, and your time is valuable. You can always outsource tech management to marketing partners or agencies, but if you are on your own, focus on implementing the tools that actually make your life easier. My martech toolbox contains:

  • Hubspot: Hubspot is a free CRM and marketing automation tool that is easy to use. And since I live in my email inbox, the email integration allows me to quickly answer sales requests while it pulls the communications into the tool behind the scenes.
  • Hotjar: Hotjar is a heatmapping tool that helps me measure my website performance but also identify areas of improvement make progression faster. I can identify what people are doing on my site so that I can implement user experience enhancements and changes that improve conversion quickly.
  • Buffer: Buffer is a social media posting tool similar to HootSuite. Batch posting across social media channels can help save time when posting on social, but unfortunately, not all tools are made equal. I find that Buffer handles image distribution across social channels much better than some others.
  • Canva: Canva for the win! What an awesome discovery Canva was for me. It is a free design tool that even the non-creatives can develop sharp designs. For marketers on the go, having access to design tools that don’t require a college degree or a design team is critical when things are moving quickly.
  • Wrike: Project management isn’t just a process for product or development teams; these tools help keep our marketing team on track and accountable without wasting too much time on the administrative to-dos that often come with project tracking. I use tools that are made for marketers as these generally understand how we like to work. And, of course, I always look for email integration. Wrike is a top choice for me.

Again, the martech tools that adapt to how you want to work will be the tools worth investing in. While the above are some of my go-to tools, there are plenty of others that are built with you in mind. What martech tools do you use and why?