Founder of Prosh Marketing, a Fractional CMO & Marketing Strategy Agency that helps Startups & SMBs build marketing teams and go to market.
When building out a marketing infrastructure, the tools and platforms you chose are essential to your marketing operations. Not only do you need to be able to implement your marketing campaigns and activations, but you also need to be able to measure the efficacy of your efforts to optimize and make smarter decisions by doubling down on what works on your limited budget. Today’s startup marketers need to be tech savvy and know how to use the latest tech stack to augment their marketing abilities. Here are nine categories of tools to consider when building out your startup’s marketing operations and how to choose the right ones for you:
1. CRM: Customer Relationship Management
A central place to host your customer data is a core component of any marketing stack and usually one of the first platforms I start with. Having one source of truth when it comes to data is integral to measuring your marketing down to a conversion level. CRMs often have APIs that allow them to connect to other tools so their data can flow through, including integrations with your calendar app or website.
2. CMS: Content Management System
Being able to change up content in your assets independent of a tech team can be a great advantage to a startup marketing team. A CMS allows a marketing team to update text and images with no technical expertise so they can gain much-needed independence from an already busy tech team. Some CMS tools also allow you to A/B test your content and see what works best to get your target audience to act.
Understanding the efficacy of your marketing is vital, especially when you have a lean budget and tight runway. You can use analytics tools to learn where your traffic is coming from and what visitors are doing on your website. There are also tools that can help you see how your website is performing with heatmaps, recordings and suggestion boxes. For digital product analytics, there are also many platforms that can give you insights and create visualizations to help you understand trends and share them with other stakeholders.
4. Email Platform
As you build your prospect and customer lists, you’ll want to activate your email marketing to announce new products or deals, keep top of mind with helpful content, and move customers closer to purchase. There are many web-based mail platforms that specialize in sending emails, allowing you to share targeted messages to different groups and even create email drip campaigns—also known as workflows. If you’re looking for a multichannel approach, look for platforms with additional touchpoints, like SMS.
5. Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Optimization (SEO) And Digital Ads
Advertising on search is probably the most well-known digital marketing channel, and going where people are looking is an obvious place to start for many startups. However, marketers should not forget about other ad networks or social advertising platforms, which can provide additional self-serve ways to reach customers online. To monitor your SEO campaigns, you should also consider a tool that offers insights into your top-performing keywords, competitor performance and more.
Keeping in constant contact with prospects, customers, partners and vendors can also require a breadth of tools. You might start with a chatbot on your website or in-product messaging. You’ll also want to consider an internal communication tool and video conferencing platforms to host meetings, webinars or virtual customer activations. To book meetings, you can add another tool to assist in finding available times for everyone, and there are even platforms that enable you to leverage video messages to entice prospects to book meetings.
7. Design And Prototyping
Some design suites can be quite expensive. Luckily for startups, there are a number of web-based tools available that can make almost anyone a designer with their drag-and-drop functionality and templates. You might also benefit from a tool that can help you create and collaborate through a whiteboard to, for example, map your customer journey, create prototypes and gather feedback across multiple users.
8. Project Management
With a number of different projects and players, startup marketing teams need to stay organized. There are several tools on the market that offer a variety of features to help with project management, such as timelines, the ability to assign tasks and reports to track how long on average it takes to complete certain types of tasks. Most also have great integrations with calendars, email platforms, cloud storage and CRMs.
9. Social Media
You can also improve the way you approve, schedule and gather data on your social media channels by using marketing tools with a robust set of features to manage your channels from one central place. Not only can you use these tools to review feedback on posts from multiple stakeholders all in one place, but you can also directly post content to multiple channels, answer social posts as a team and review insights across platforms to really see what works.
It can seem overwhelming and expensive to see all the options for a startup marketing tech stack. Firstly, you don’t need to implement all of these tools right away. Prioritize tools that are central to your daily operations, then look to augment as needed. Furthermore, many have free trials, freemium versions or startup pricing that you can take advantage of, test with your staff and evaluate whether they fit into your workflows and systems. Getting feedback from all the different stakeholders who would use the tool in advance can help you attain their buy-in when implementing the tool.
Once you’ve decided on your startup marketing stack, take advantage of onboarding programs and training sessions to make sure you know how to use the tool and all of the features you can maximize within your subscription. Also, leverage account managers and ask for best practices to get ideas on what you could do. Finally, consistently evaluate the use of these platforms and if they’re working for your company. As your business grows, your needs may evolve, and it may make sense to change parts of your tech stack.
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