When starting or growing a business, the "fake it 'til you make it" approach may work most of the time. However, you really do have to educate yourself about the latest and greatest technology in order to successfully market your business for the long haul.
You don't have to buy the most expensive and fanciest software or cloud-based applications. You should, however, be aware of what's out there, and make a conscious effort to at least try to keep up with technological advances as they emerge.
Know what your options are, and try to get a few tools under your belt. Knowing what tools are hot in the marketing industry, and how to use them, will definitely give you a competitive edge in your market.
Today's marketing best practices are more complex than ever before. Now there's more than one best way, or "right" way to doing things.
The success of your marketing efforts depend on your target market, and the products and services your business offers. What’s even more important is the skill level of the person or people you have handling the marketing side of things for your organization.
With most marketing being done in the digital world today, having solid computer skills and being generally tech savvy is critical. Your digital marketing strategy is a huge part of your overall marketing plan, and therefore it makes sense to have an expert in the digital sphere executing your efforts.
Marketing Tech Tools & Trends
According to a 2016 study performed by Black Ink Roi, "46% of marketers say their greatest obstacle is gaining access to more advanced analytics and insight to make smarter decisions."
It's difficult to identify the hottest marketing technology trends and tools at any one point in time, because the industry is constantly changing. With each new change comes new challenges and obstacles, creating opportunity for new technological solutions to that obstacle.
As of right now, some of the hottest marketing technology tools and trends on my radar are as follows:
1. Video Marketing
While video marketing may seem scary to those who don't love being in front of a camera, video marketing is here for the long-haul whether you like it or not. The good news is, it doesn't require expensive video equipment, a professional makeup artist or a special studio space. It can be done with a smartphone from just about anywhere.
We suggest brushing up on your YouTube skills and the latest video apps to ensure that your message fits your ideal audience.
Facebook Live makes it easy to do real-time video marketing, and if you're already familiar with this platform, then using Facebook to promote your video should be a piece of cake.
2. Site Analytics
Hopefully, you are already paying attention to metrics like who is viewing your website, how many visitors are converting, or what keywords are driving them to your site. With the many tools available you will be able to easily analyze not only your audience engagement, but that of your competitors as well.
There are so many more analytics tools available today than when this practice first began, and that's a good thing. You have the opportunity to choose the tool that you feel the most comfortable with, and one that fits your budget.
There are several free and low cost tools out there, so there's no need to break the bank. Just a few of the available site analytics tools out there include:
3. SEO Monitoring
If you do any kind of marketing, you have a basic understanding of SEO and how it works. No one has it 100% figured out (no matter what they may say), but it's definitely a topic you want to keep yourself educated about.
Not sure where to begin?
Moz not only offers some great SEO monitoring tools, but they also offer a ton of information about how to analyze the information you gather. If you need to get up to speed, Moz is definitely the place to go for all things SEO.
Other great tools to check out include:
Google Keyword Planner
Bing Keyword Research Tool
For monitoring links that go to and from your website, try:
Bing's Inbound Links Tool
Moz's Open Site Explorer
It's important to pay attention to the quality of the sites that your website links to externally, and to the types of websites that are linking externally to your site. It all impacts your website's overall quality score.
4. Social Media Analysis
When social media first began gaining traction as a critical part of a successful marketing strategy, proving its value was difficult.
Today, there are several tools available to help you monitor, measure and analyze the results of your social media marketing efforts. Knowing how to use these tools is necessary for a marketer, because they help you sell the value of the services you provide.
Tools to try:
Although Twitter does have its own analytics platform, Followerwonk (offered by Moz) offers a way to get a deeper analysis of your twitter audience and engagement.
5. Data and Audience Management
Data and audience management and analysis has recently grown to be a highly significant trend in marketing technology. Gathering data to identify target customers has become critical to implementing successful automated marketing and inbound marketing campaigns.
By gathering as much data as possible on your business's target audience, you can then develop specific personas that can be marketed to in a personal and more relevant way.
Having access to this data and the ability to analyze it allows companies to identify areas where they can improve, and where they are currently having success.
Pro Tip: With so many tools and resources available today, it's important to take the time to assess what makes the most sense for your business, or you could end up wasting a significant amount of time and money. What works for one company may not work for yours, and vice versa.
Time to Give It a Try
Part of being a little tech savvy means simply being able to try out different programs and applications to see whether they would fit into your company structure, culture and the technical knowledge of your staff.
What marketing technology does your business currently use, and which applications are you interested in learning more about?
About the Author:
Lisa Edwards is the founder of Writer by Default, a company which provides writing, editing and social media marketing services to small businesses at affordable prices. When she's not working or watching cute animal videos, Lisa is reading, hiking, skiing, or spending quality time with her fiancé and his two daughters. Follow her on Twitter @writerbydefault.