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Marketing Software 101: A Beginner’s Guide

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Published: July 8, 2021

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Every successful business understands the importance of a strong marketing strategy. According to data compiled in November 2020 by Web Strategies, Inc., organizations typically devote 5-12% of their total revenue to their marketing budgets. Given the size of this investment, many businesses are actively looking for ways to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their marketing efforts. That’s where digital marketing software comes in.

What Is Digital Marketing Software?

Digital marketing software includes a wide variety of tools available to help businesses and their marketing teams manage their digital marketing campaigns and reach their target audience. Marketing software may be used to nurture leads, pre-schedule social media posts, manage content marketing campaigns, launch adaptive content, analyze data, design marketing materials, and more.

What Are the Different Types of Marketing Software?

Image via Flickr by sac_sae

Many different types of software fall under the umbrella of marketing software. For instance, marketing software can provide any of the following tools, features, and services:

  • Marketing automation.
  • Email marketing.
  • Social listening.
  • Visual design.
  • Content marketing.
  • Project management.
  • Website optimization.
  • Analytics.
  • Video conferencing.
  • Customer management.

In addition to these general solutions, you can find more targeted software to handle specific aspects of your marketing strategy. Businesses that partner with affiliates, for instance, can use affiliate marketing software to organize, manage, and track those efforts. Other software specializes in influencer marketing, SMS marketing, multi-level marketing, event marketing, lead generation, lead conversion, or video marketing.

How Do I Choose a Marketing Software?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of marketing software to choose from. So how do you decide which ones are right for your business? Follow these steps to narrow down the options and make your selection easier:

  1. Consider volume. Many tools and services, especially those that are subscription-based, offer multiple tiers. Higher volume equals a higher price, so crunch some numbers. Calculate how many customers or leads you have, how long your subscriber list is, what your annual revenue is, and so on. Size matters, and knowing exactly how large your business is will ensure that you don’t spend more than necessary.
  2. Clarify goals. What exactly are you hoping to achieve? Marketing software can be a large investment, and it’s important to have a very clear idea of what you want to do with it. You might start by identifying inefficiencies that need to be addressed, or areas where your team could use some assistance. This will help you hone in on the type of software you need.
  3. Identify users. Determine who will be using the software. This is important for two reasons. First, you need to choose a software that supports that number of users. Second, to ensure a smooth transition, it’s wise to get the input of potential users before buying and implementing a new system.
  4. Read reviews. If you have reservations about a software or need to compare two similar options, read reviews and case studies to gain some insight. Learning what worked or didn’t work for other customers — and why — will help you spot potential issues before you purchase.
  5. Find demos. Many companies offer a free trial or demo of their software. Even if a software manufacturer doesn’t advertise an option to try before you buy, it doesn’t hurt to ask. A hands-on experience with the software is the best way to determine if it will meet your needs.

Types of Software

Not sure what type of software you need? Here’s what a few of the most popular types of software can provide:

CRM

CRM stands for “customer relationship management.” As the name suggests, this software provides a centralized system for managing a company’s interactions with its customers. A good CRM system gives your marketing, sales, and customer service teams easy access to all records related to customer relations, which in turn helps them provide more positive, personalized interactions.

Video Conferencing Solution

Video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting can be used to facilitate remote meetings with employees, clients, and collaborators. Some services even feature tools like screen-sharing, analytics, recording, and transcriptions that can make these meetings more efficient and productive than an in-person conversation.

Email Service Provider

The most common email service providers are free services such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. However, businesses that rely on email marketing may want to invest in a paid service, such as email marketing software.

What is email marketing software? This software is used to send marketing emails to a list of email subscribers. This software typically includes a collection of email templates that can be customized for your purposes, often via a simple drag-and-drop building system. You should be able to see a preview of how your email will look on both mobile and desktop sites. Although emails can be sent to your entire list of subscribers, you can also choose to break your list into specialized segments that allow for a more targeted approach.

Marketing Automation Platform

A marketing automation platform enables a business to automate repetitive tasks, such as posting on social media or sending out emails about current promotions. With the use of automation software, these routine efforts can be pre-scheduled and run in the background, freeing up your team to work on projects that require a more personal touch. Although marketing automation requires an investment of time and money on the front end, it can save both in the long run. Once tasks have been automated, your marketing efforts will be more efficient and cost-effective.

Print Materials & Solutions

Software related to print materials and solutions is often referred to as print fulfillment software. Some software allows you to place an order for large quantities of printed materials like business cards, brochures, flyers, and more. Often, this type of software is web-based rather than downloaded. Depending on the software you select, you may be able to create designs within the software, upload designs created elsewhere, or pay for professional design services. Other print software focuses on managing in-house print jobs to help businesses cut waste and track who prints what.

Data Visualization Solutions

Data visualization is the process of transforming raw data into a more accessible and visually appealing format. Data visualization software can be used to create charts, graphs, maps, and other visuals that make it easier to understand and analyze data. Although this can be done manually, businesses can save time by uploading their data set and letting the software do the work.

CMS

CMS stands for “content management system.” This type of software is used to manage the creation, review, and modification of digital content. Think of it as Microsoft Word or Google Docs with extra project management, collaboration, and quality assurance features. If you outsource your content marketing to a team of professionals, you may not need your own CMS. However, chances are the content writing service you select will have one.

Post-Click Landing Page Software or Optimization Platform

Online advertising makes it possible to reach potential customers with more targeted, customized ads. Post-click landing page software, also referred to a post-click automation (PCA), helps ensure that this personalized experience continues seamlessly after viewers click on your ad. This software allows you to easily build separate landing pages for different ads so that customers are directed to content that more closely matches the ad they clicked on.

Content Marketing Platform

A content marketing platform is similar to CMS, but with a slightly broader scope. For instance, in addition to managing content creation, this software may flag potential SEO issues, generate optimization tips, and highlight opportunities for content promotion. It can also help streamline publication by allowing you to pre-schedule posts and publish the same material across multiple channels simultaneously. Some software includes built-in analytical tools, too.

Visual Editing/Design Tools

Visual editing and design tools can be a worthwhile investment for companies with in-house content creation teams. This type of software allows you to create and edit visual elements for your digital content and print materials. A wide range of design tools are available online, so you can find software that is as simple or complex as you desire. Many options are so intuitive and user-friendly that even those with no formal graphic design training can create eye-catching visuals.

SEO Services & Solutions

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and that’s what SEO services and solutions assist with. The purpose of this type of software is to analyze how well digital content performs in search engines and identify adjustments that can be made to improve that performance. This optimization process can target everything from a website’s structure to its content — anything that factors into SEO ranking. Often this involves tracking things like keyword performance, backlink quality, organic traffic, conversion rates, and user experience metrics.

Social Listening/Analytics Solution

Social listening brings together brand management, customer relations, and audience research. It involves monitoring social media sites for mentions of your brand, your products, your competitors, and other relevant topics. Software designed for this purpose will flag these mentions so that you can respond. Joining these conversations in real-time gives you the opportunity to address concerns, increase brand awareness, and provide prompt customer service. Social listening software may also be paired with analytics solutions that help you collect data, analyze various social media metrics, and put what you learn into practice.

Event Marketing/Management Solution

Event marketing, or event management, software helps streamline event planning, promotion, and execution. This software can help with every step of the process, from designing invitations and creating an online registration form to building event landing pages and posting on social media. Often, event marketing software can be integrated with CRM software to coordinate invitations, RSVPs, and follow-up communications.

Contact Data/Business Intelligence Solution

Business intelligence tools help collect and process data that businesses can use for analysis. This software can be combined with a data visualization tool for easier-to-read results. Either way, the data generated by business intelligence or contact data solutions can help businesses identify patterns, issues, growth opportunities, and market trends. It can be used to track key performance indicators (KPIs), increase efficiency, and guide business decisions. Business intelligence software is often used to collect contact data and generate sales leads.

Banner/Display Ad Solution

Banner advertising, also known as display advertising, refers to the types of easily identifiable ads found in boxes or banners on websites. Banner advertising software makes it easy for brands to create ads and publish them on various channels. Built-in tools allow you to adjust ads to fit different formats or target different markets.

Project Management Technology

Project management software helps facilitate the planning, collaboration, and evaluation necessary to keep any project on track. A marketing team might use this technology to set the budget, schedule, and resource allocation for a specific campaign. It can also be used to track progress, exchange documents, and control quality.

Retargeting Ad Solution

Retargeting ads are designed to remind customers about your products or services. These ads come into play when a potential customer has visited your site but left without making a purchase — hence the term “retargeting.” Investing in a retargeting ad solution can help you keep your brand at the front of mind for consumers.

45 Best Marketing Softwares

Below are a few of the best marketing software products available today:

The list above is only a sampling of the many marketing software options available. These services range from all-in-one marketing automation platforms to more specialized products. The information in this article should help in your search for the right marketing software, but the “best” solutions will vary depending on your budget, needs, and goals.

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