Pop quiz: What do you do with a hammer?
The answer: hammer something, like a nail into a piece of wood. What about a saw? Easy — you use it to saw something, like maybe that same piece of wood into which the nail was hammered.
Now it gets tougher: what do you do with a marketing platform?
“Market something” doesn’t really seem to cover it in this case. Yes, it’s a set of technologies designed to assist marketing teams, but if you haven’t used one before, there might be some uncertainty around the scope of what a platform like Marketing Cloud can be used to accomplish.
The big mistake would be to assume a marketing platform is only useful or necessary for large enterprises. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have just as much opportunity to take advantage of marketing platforms to elevate their brand, convert prospects into sales leads and ultimately achieve their growth objectives.
To help you get a better sense of what a marketing platform can do, we’ve come up with a list of areas that can be easily remembered with the acronym PEOPLE — because the best marketing always focuses on making a brand as human and approachable as possible:
Some marketing activities may happen on the fly, but it’s more likely to be a combination of short-term campaigns and more ongoing activity. Both require you do the work up front in order to get the results you want.
By “work,” we mean using your marketing platform to:
The best part about using a marketing platform for planning purposes is that you’re not having to trust your gut or make a leap of faith about using a particular channel or tactic. It’s all based on data, which heightens your chances of success.
Once you know what you’re doing, the next obvious step is to do it! That’s not always as easy as it sounds, through.
A marketing platform not only helps you set up campaigns and ongoing activities but to automate the running of them.
It means being able to have email campaigns that will flow out to your database in a sequence that’s based on a particular segment and how they respond to each message, for instance.
You’re able to manage where ads appear and to whom they’re targeted (or retargeted).
When creative materials need to be updated, it can be done with a click or even on its own by pre-selecting templates in some cases.
Marketing platforms become even more powerful when they are connected to systems and processes used by the sales team. When used in tandem with a CRM, for instance, customers who respond well to a marketing campaign may soon lead to more closed deals, proving the value of the marketing team’s work on the bottom line.
Not every marketing initiative will be a smashing success, but there may be ways to tweak things here and there that make all the difference in the world.
It might start by doing some A/B testing on the subject lines of an email campaign.
You might change up the keywords you’re using within the posts you publish on the company blog.
There could be insights from the data that show you’re better off focusing on video content versus text-based case studies and e-books. Continuous improvement becomes much more manageable with the right platform.
Ideally, you want customers to come to your brand because they’ve heard something good about you, but that doesn’t usually happen unless you make sure your content gets in front of them somehow.
A marketing platform can play a huge role in helping SMBs juggle the tasks of pushing their best work out, and not only through their internal channels like their email database or blog.
Social media represents one of the most dynamic environments where customers are having conversations in real time. SMS, meanwhile, can ensure you’re reaching customers at exactly the right moment on the device they’re carrying with them all day.
The number of potential channels continues to grow, so automation is only going to increase in value here.
Marketing isn’t just a set of tactics. It demands stepping back and looking at the big picture. Your marketing platform is like the frame for showing you that picture through visualizations, charts and artificial intelligence about what’s happening now and potentially in the future
Some of the questions to keep in mind here include:
What you learn through a marketing platform is not only helpful to the marketing team, by the way. It can also be a gold mine for those in sales, finance and other parts of your business.
Finally, marketing is not simply a one-way exercise anymore. You don’t simply push out information and wait for customers to act.
Instead, the most successful brands actively listen to what their customers are saying and responding to their needs.
A marketing platform is critical in helping look for these kinds of moments. Think about the customer who makes a comment on your blog post with an important question, or who complains about your products and services on social media. Delivering an outstanding customer experience is all about being ready to have a dialogue that makes the relationship stronger.
Now let’s return to our original question, the one that might have stumped those who thought our pop quiz was a little too easy.
What does a marketing platform do? A marketing platform addresses PEOPLE needs: the need to plan, execute, optimize, push, learn and engage with all your customers and prospects. And it’s something that’s as powerful for SMBs as organizations of any other size.
To learn more about Marketing Cloud, watch this demo.